The Gear Sport is priced at Rs 22,990.
The smartwatch features a circular display and rotating bezel for intuitive navigation.
The Gear Sport comes with NFC, 50-meter water resistance, built-in GPS and Samsung Pay support.
The worldwide wearables market grew 7.3 percent in Q3 2017, with shipment volumes reaching 26.3 million units, a recent IDC report states. What’s interesting to note here is that the growth is seen in smart wearable devices (that run third-party apps), whereas basic wearables (fitness bands) have seen a decline. In the premium smartwatch segment, you have the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear S3 and a handful of other Android Wear smartwatches.
Earlier this year, Samsung launched the Gear S3 in India, which the company says is its best selling smartwatch, and it has also received the CES Design Award for 2017. Now, Samsung has now added one more smartwatch to its portfolio. Called Gear Sport, the smartwatch is built with serious fitness-focused enthusiasts in mind. Priced at Rs 22,990, the smartwatch is available to purchase from Amazon India and Samsung’s retail network. I’ve been using the Gear Sport for the past two weeks, and after putting it through the paces, here is my review.
Samsung Gear Sport Design and Specifications
The Gear Sport shares a similar design to the Gear S3, with some minor differences. Compared to the Gear S3, the Gear Sport is slightly narrower, shorter and thinner. Due to the smaller size, the Gear Sport comes with 20 mm straps, compared to 22 mm ones on the Gear S3. By default, you get a large and a small silicon strap, which is comfortable to wear, and does not cause any skin irritation, even after sweating. And these straps are replaceable too, meaning you can go to a nearby watch shop and get a new strap to instantly customize the look and feel of your smartwatch.
The body is made from stainless steel, and the smartwatch features a 1.2-inch Super AMOLED full circle touchscreen display running at a resolution of 360×360 pixels, and pixel density of 302ppi. The screen is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection to keep scratches at bay. The display is bright, even at 50 percent brightness, and sunlight legibility is no issue either. Colors look vibrant and text looks sharp. Samsung has also added ‘Always On’ feature that shows you time, date and step counter among others. However, the mode is a battery hog and reduces the battery life with half.
The key highlight of the Gear-series smartwatch is the rotating bezel with an intuitive interface. On the home screen, you can rotate the bezel on the left (anti-clockwise) to access notifications, whereas, rotating on the right, you can access the widgets. There are a lot of widgets to choose from, such as music player, step counter, heart rate, weather, calendar, alarms and more. The widgets are very helpful as they give you quick access to things, without having to open the apps. I can just scroll on the right to play / pause or skip songs, check weather, notifications and even respond to them using quick replies, gesture typing or using the T9 prediction keypad.
On the right, you have two buttons – the top one is back button, whereas the bottom one is menu button. The buttons are sturdy and have a distinct pattern which both, looks and feels good. Turn to the back, and you have the bottom surface made from thick plastic, and it includes a heart rate sensor on too.
Under the hood is a dual-core chipset clocked at 1GHz, paired with 768MB of RAM. There is 4GB of internal storage, out of which you get about 2GB for your apps and media storage. You can even store your favorite songs, that you can listen via a connected Bluetooth headphone during your workout sessions. And as the smartwatch has built in GPS, you don’t need to carry your smartphone to log the distance and route you covered.
Besides Bluetooth, the Gear sport also comes with WiFi connectivity, allowing you to connect the smartwatch to the internet. How does this help? Say you forgot your smartphone at home, and you reach office, till the time the smartphone is connected to internet, and your Gear Sport is connected via WiFi, it will continue receiving notifications, and you will be able to respond too.
The Gear Sport also comes with a gyroscope, barometer, ambient light sensor and NFC connectivity. It supports Samsung Pay to make cashless payments. However, unlike the Gear S3, this one misses out on the MST technology, and only works with newer NFC based PoS terminals. Also, while the Gear S3 includes a speaker allowing you to make and receive calls right from your wrist, the same is missing on the Gear Sport. But it is likely because Samsung added 50-meter (5ATM) water resistance to the smartwatch.
Samsung Gear Sport: Apps, Performance and Battery Life
On the software front, the Gear Sport runs on Tizen OS and it is compatible with Android smartphones running JellyBean OS 4.3 and Apple iPhones running iOS 9 and above. I have been using the Gear Sport with my Galaxy Note 8, and a couple of days I had also paired it with the Google Pixel XL, and it works without a hitch. You will need Samsung Gear manager app to connect the smartwatch with your smartphone. The app is available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
Talking about apps, the Tizen ecosystem is slightly underwhelming compared to Apple Watch OS and Android Wear counterparts. But then, there is one thing important here – a smartwatch is only a connected device to push notifications so you don’t have to take the smartphone out of your pocket every time. Samsung has also included S Voice, where you can say ‘Hi Gear’ followed by command – how is the weather, show me my appointments, call and more. But honestly, it is a useless feature, which is just there, but I don’t see anyone using it often.
And considering this is a fitness-focused smartwatch, it pretty much has most of the required apps. You have apps such as Under Armour Record, MyFitnessPal, Endomondo, and MapMyRun among others. And because the smartwatch is also targeted at the swimmers, Samsung has also partnered Speedo to release the app that can track strokes, lap time, beats per minute (BPM) and more. I didn’t get to test all the apps, but it gets the basic fitness tracking right.
With sleep tracking, you get details such as the total time you slept, the actual (deep) sleep, and the restless sleep when you were tossing and turning around. You can get the data for a day, week and month. It also shows you trends for the past week and month to give you an idea about your sleeping patterns.
The pedometer is also pretty accurate in its reading, where you get to know the number of steps you walked, distance covered and calories burned. It also shows you the trends for the week and month, giving you an idea of how much you walk over the week and month. What’s important here is that it also logs the floors you climbed. I tested it, and it works pretty accurate.
Lastly, there is heart rate sensor too, with continuous monitoring. It logs your heart beats at a span of every 10 minutes, irrespective of whether you are resting, working out or sleeping. The readings are not pretty accurate compared to the expensive equipment used at hospitals, but close to offering a good reading. During my usage, I was constantly tracking my heart rate and it went between 60 bpm to 114 bpm, maximum.
The Gear Sport can also detect your fitness activities such as walking, running, cycling, dancing or playing basketball, and log the reading accordingly. There were a couple of times when I went cycling and it accurately detected it, but it did fail once. I was riding a bike and it started a cycling workout, but that only happened once.
Lastly, let’s talk about water resistance and battery life. I was excited to try the 50-meter water resistance claim, and I had been wearing the smartwatch throughout – be it while sleeping or while taking a bath. I even took it to the swimming pool for about an hour and it has no issues at all. And then comes the big test – I recently went for Snorkeling and Snuba Diving in Hawaii, and I took the Gear Sport for an adventure for close to two-hours under water. And no surprises here, it survived.
To keep things ticking, the smartwatch is armed with a 300mAh battery, which Samsung claims to offer battery life of up to three days. With the amount of notifications I get, always-on display and GPS tuned on, and brightness at 80 percent, the Gear Sport makes it through the day. With a more controlled usage, by turning off the ‘always on’ display, GPS and keeping brightness at 30 percent, I got little over two days battery life. My only concern is the amount of time it takes to charge, which is a little more than three hours.
For Rs 22,990, the Gear Sport is an interesting proposition for those who want a solid smartwatch. It comes with a sturdy design and build quality, and the intuitive rotating bezel interface is what makes it unique from all the other smartwatches out there. Add 50-meter water resistance and NFC payments, along with fitness tracking features – it makes the Gear Sport a perfect mix between a smartwatch and fitness tracker. After the Gear S3, the Gear Sport too has left me impressed, and I would recommend it to serious fitness enthusiasts.
While there are some hits, there are some misses too. Having MST technology for cashless payments and a speaker for making and receiving calls would have been a bonus. The Apple Watch Series 2 with 50-meter water resistance also comes with a speaker support, so Samsung could have added too. Also, if the battery charging could have been faster, that would have been another advantage.
In the same price range or lesser, there are other Android Wear smartwatches too. There is Fossil Q Wander for around Rs 14,000, there is Titan Juxt Pro for Rs 23,000, Fitbit Blaze for Rs 20,000, and if you want a sport and fitness-centric one, there is Moto 360 Sport for Rs 16,999.