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Samsung Gear S3 hands-on and first impressions

Tizen OS-powered Samsung Gear S3 is GPS-equipped and features a rotating bezel. Here are our first impressions.

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Samsung has launched its Gear S3 smartwatch in India. Priced at Rs 28,500, the Tizen OS-powered smartwatch is available in two variants — Classic and Frontier. The successor to the Gear S2 now offers support for LTE. However, it is limited to only the Frontier model. Despite the additional connectivity feature in the Frontier model, it carries the same price tag as the Classic model. With the little time spent with the smartwatch, here are my first impressions of the Samsung Gear S3.

In terms of appearance, the Gear S3 has been improved over the older Gear S2 that offered a smoother bezel design. The bezel design on the successor stands out with its saw-like bezel which is more prominent on the Frontier model. There are subtle but noticeable design tweaks to the design of the smartwatch based on the model. The Classic variant has been designed to look like a standard smartwatch in steel finish while the Frontier model comes with a more rugged appearance and has been designed in armour-style. The Gear S3 also features a larger display as compared to the predecessor. It comes with a 1.3-inch super AMOLED full circular display running at a resolution of 360×360pixels (278 dpi) with Corning Gorilla Glass SR+ protection on top. The smartwatch is also slightly heavy at 57 grams for the Classic model and 62 grams for the Frontier model.

Adding to the looks, the smartwatch comes with 22mm straps which are interchangeable. Samsung has on offer about 39 straps to choose from. However, the Classic model is shipped with a leather strap while the Frontier model comes with a patterned silicon strap. It has been designed to be unisex, but if you have thin wrists like me, it might end up looking like an oversized accessory. Nonetheless, if I have to pick from the two, I would go with the Frontier model for its edgy appeal.

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Carrying forward the bezel design of the predecessor, the Gear S3 also features a circular, rotating bezel. The rotational feature aids in interacting with the smartwatch and works for ‘next’ or ‘back’ function. There are physical buttons on the right, one to wake up/go to home on the smartwatch and the other to go back. The display is legible in indoor conditions with an impressive touch response. The slight improvement in terms of display size makes it more convenient to interact with the device. In cases, you don’t want to use the swipe function to go back and forth in apps you can always use the rotating bezel or the side button.

Other features which have been kept intact from the predecessor include the ‘Always On’ feature that reduces the need to wake up the display every time to check for notifications. The display settings further allow you to tweak brightness, choose the screen time, and also change the watch face and theme.

At its heart is a 1 GHz Exynos 7270 chipset that comes paired with 768MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage which can be used to sync music and photos on the device. Coming to the software, the Gear S3 is powered by Tizen-based wearable OS 2.3.2. The smartwatch operating system has been developed in-house by Samsung and I found it quite smooth to operate. With a couple of swipes and taps, you can move in and out of apps and set functions. Given the use of Tizen OS, the apps on offer will be lesser as compared to the more widely used Android Wear OS.

The smartwatch comes with Accelerometer, Altimeter, Gyro, Barometer, Heart Rate Monitor, and Ambient Light. These sensors bring in the health technology needed to monitor your movement. Whether you are out for a job or climbing stairs, the smartwatch is capable of telling you exactly how much calories you burnt. One of the impressive additions is the GPS support which makes it a self-sufficient wearable which works without the constant need for the connected smartphone to be around. As it comes with dust and water resistance capabilities (protection up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes), the GPS functionality further makes the smartwatch a desirable gadget for health enthusiasts. The Gear S3 further also features built-in speaker to make or receive phone calls.

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One of the interesting additions is the SOS functionality. If you tap thrice on the screen, it will send a notification to your list of trusted members in cases of emergency. We are yet to test out the feature to ascertain how fast the smartwatch is able to detect discreet taps. Additionally, you can choose to add the SOS gesture from settings so that you don’t end up sending notifications accidentally.

Other features offered are Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and LTE (only Frontier model) support. The smartwatch further comes with wireless charging support. Although Samsung has claimed the 380mAh battery capacity can keep the Gear S3 running up to 3-4 days on a single charge, we will reserve our verdict till we test the device in real-life situations.

Research says the abandonment rate of smartwatches is only slightly lesser than fitness trackers at 29 percent. But Rs 28,500 for a smartwatch may seem like a bit of an overkill, especially when you consider the likes of Apple Watch and Moto 360 which are cheaper. Nonetheless, we will reserve our final judgement till we have reviewed the smartwatch. So stay tuned.

  • Published Date: January 11, 2017 5:45 PM IST
  • Updated Date: January 19, 2017 5:01 PM IST