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Gear S3 Frontier Review: Samsung’s best smartwatch, just got better

When I reviewed the Gear S2 last year, I thought it was one of the better smartwatches on the market. Partly because Samsung design their Tizen OS to be a great operating system for smartwatches and wearables.

And the same holds true that the Gear S3 builds upon what the Gear S2 laid out last year,

For the past two weeks, I’ve been using the Gear S3 Frontier and it has become  one of my favourite smartwatches to use and maybe even, Samsung’s best so far.

Design & Hardware

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This isn’t Samsung’s first foray into wearables, there was the Galaxy Gear back in 2013, the Gear 2, then the Gear S, then last year’s Gear S2 and now onto the Gear S3.

The display on the Gear S3 looks great, it is bright enough to look at when outside. It has a 1.3-inch circular Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 360 x 360 and 278 ppi. It has the option to be Always On and is being protected by Corning Gorilla Glass SR+.

Just like the Gear S2 before it, Samsung managed to put an ambient light sensor behind the screen in the Gear S3, so there’s no “flat tire” look like on some other round smartwatches. 00_sm-r760_standard_origin_side_hr

The sensor is used to measure how much light is coming and to better adjust the screen when there are changes in light. For example, if you had auto-brightness on, the display would turn all the way up to full brightness so then you could see it better outside in daylight.

The Gear S3 has a rotating bezel, which was introduced with the Gear S2 and it makes it so much easier to navigate the OS. The display on the Gear S3 is a touchscreen which gives you the option of either swiping around or rotating the bezel.

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Inside the Gear S3, you’ll find 4GB of internal storage, 768MB of RAM and a Dual core Exynos 7270 processor. There’s also a built-in speaker as well as Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n, NFC, MST, GPS as well as a accelerometer, gyro, barometer and a heart rate monitor.

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The Gear S3 is also IP68 dust and water resistant.

The model I tested out was the Gear S3 Frontier, which has more of a rugged outdoor look. The stainless steel body make it feel like a premium watch and the 22mm band is made from silicone.

For battery life, the battery is 380mAh, Samsung claims you get up to 4 days.  But in my testing, I was able to get about 2-3 days of use with the watch before I needed to pop in on the charging dock. If the battery does go low, there is a battery saving mode that will make the display black and white and only show the time and how much battery is left.

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In Canada, both the Gear S3 Frontier (the one I tested) and Classic retail for $469 CAD and is available at Samsung Experience Store or at BestBuy.ca.

 

Software

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The Gear S3 is running Samsung’s own Tizen OS (version 2.3.2) which is based off of Linux (just like Android is).

With the Gear S3, you can receive notifications, make voice searches, reply to messages using your voice and you can set timers and reminders and etc.

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To help give your Gear S3 some of your own style, you can install watchfaces and apps to do more. However, there is significantly not as many apps and watchfaces for Tizen, there are some popular apps like Uber but not a whole lot.

Most of the apps that you’ll find on the Gear S3 are Samsung’s own apps like S Planner or S Voice. One of the more apps that I found pretty useful was the Samsung Briefing app which is powered by Flipboard. It will give you the latest news articles on your Gear S3.

But all of these Gear S3 apps are tied to your phone, they will still need your phone as a data connection. The Gear S3 does have a Wi-Fi chip built-in, so it can still do things when it isn’t connected to your phone but that is very limited.

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The Gear S3 will work will other Android phones besides Samsung ones. It will work with Android phones running 4.4 and later.

Just like Android Wear watches, the Gear S3 is a glorified notification device that do a few more things that say a Pebble watch or even the Apple Watch (which also heavily relies on your iPhone).

Another thing to point is that the Gear S3 along with some Android Wear watches now work with iPhone but in a limited capacity meaning you’ll only really be able to get notifications from your iPhone onto your Gear S3 and not much else.

The watch face you see in my photos is called Blue Pop.

Final Thoughts

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If you are looking for one of best Tizen smartwatches or even just the best Samsung smartwatch, then look no further than the Gear S3. I would recommend getting the Gear S3 Frontier, it looks much nicer and has a better feel.

For some, the Gear S3 might seem too expensive because it is similarly priced to some Android Wear watches.

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Smartwatches haven’t really found their place in the world, they have only really hit mainstream consumers within the last year and people haven’t found the need for a smartwatch just yet.

Tizen seems much more fleshed out than Android Wear and actually works, but there is limited app and third-party watch face support which is where Android Wear is excelling at, and that will hurt Tizen and the Gear S3 in the long run.

Pros

  • Great premium design and feel
  • Tizen is a better smartwatch OS
  • Rotating bezel makes it easier to navigate OS
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Limited app selection, especially high-quality apps and watchfaces
  • Expensive for some

9_CT_Review

 

 




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