Review | Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch

By Charlemagne Losaria

The Gear S3 is Samsung’s latest stab at the smartwatch market. It comes in two designs: the formal-looking Gear S3 Classic and the rugged-looking Gear S3 Frontier. Only the physical appearance varies (and the straps that come with them) but the functions and specifications are basically the same. This review is on the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier.

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Build and design

At first glance, the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier can pass for a standard rugged sports watch. Samsung designed the Gear S3 with a classic design approach, improving the already good-looking Gear S2.

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At a hefty 62 grams, it weighs like an actual watch, too. The Gear S3 has a diameter of 49mm, making it Samsung’s biggest smart watch to date. The beautiful 1.3-inch Super Amoled display has a pixel resolution of 360×360 and is protected by Gorilla Glass SR+.

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Like the Gear S2, the Gear S3 features a rotating bezel like that of a typical watch. The bezel is used to navigate through menus and apps, but you can also do so through the touch-screen. The rotating bezel is mechanical and each turn is met with subtle resistance. There are also two physical keys completing the classic watch look and feel.

The Samsung Gear S3 has a built-in mic and speaker so you can answer phone calls James Bond style. It supports vibrate mode as well for needed discreet notifications. The Gear S3 is customizable as the watch straps are replaceable. You can swap any 22mm band to match the occasion.

The Gear S3, having a Super Amoled display, also supports the Always-On technology seen in the S and A phone series. This allows the devices to display the time and notification icons in white text while turning off the other pixels not in use, saving battery consumption.

The Gear S3 is built to face whatever everyday life throws at it. It’s certified to withstand dust, water, and extreme temperature as it has IP68 certifications. That puts it in the same league as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, as well as the Sony Xperia X performance.

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While those with big wrists and hands appreciate the size of the Gear S3, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is yet uncertain if Samsung plans to release a smaller version of the Gear S3.

Functions

The Gear S3 runs on Samsung’s own Tizen OS (pronounced as Tay-zen) rather than the more popular Android Wear. Based on sheer numbers of applications available, it may not be comparable to what the Google Android Wear app environment has for now but is certainly, slowly getting there.

While Samsung relies on Android OS for its phones, it stands by the Tizen OS for its wearables. The Tizen OS has its own app store which offers both free and paid applications.

Built-in functions of the Gear S3 include the S-Voice, which works like Siri (but not yet as capable), step counter, heart monitor, the S-Health app, World Clock, Alarm Clock, Weather, and Reminders.

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Unlike previous iterations, the Gear S3 can be used even if you don’t own a Samsung phone. It works with Android-powered phones running on version 4.4 Kitkat, at the very least. It also works with Apple’s iPhones. The catch here is that some features may not work.

Below is a chart depicting functions enabled for Samsung phones, other Android powered phones, and Apple iPhones.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Performance

Running under the hood is a dual-core processor clocked at 1GHz paired with 768 MB of RAM. It also has a generous 4GB of built-in storage. This is more than enough to power the Gear S3 and support the built-in hardware technology and sensors.

The Gear S3 supports LTE, 3G, NFC, GPS and Bluetooth connectivity. Sensors include a speedometer, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer ambient sensor, and heart monitor.

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Pairing the watch with a phone is quite a simple task. You just have to download the Samsung Gear app on your phone, follow the instructions and should be done in under a minute.

The Gear S3 is very responsive to the touch and I did experience any lag while using it. I used it to track my steps for the day as well as time my night jogs, and also how good my sleep was. The built in S-Health app acts like a personal trainer, constantly reminding you to get moving if you’ve become stagnant.

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Battery life

In a similar fashion popularized by Motorola for its smart watch offering, Samsung went for the wireless charging technology for the Gear S3. It comes with a wireless cradle, with magnets, ensuring the watch stays in seat while charging.

It has a built-in in battery measuring at 380 mAh capable of lasting up to four days (this with Always-On feature deactivated, LTE and GPS de-activated). That is a pretty impressive feat for such a small device.

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The verdict

Smart watches haven’t really flown of the shelves especially in the Philippines. We have seen the evolution of the designs, from square-ish piece of tech to closely resembling actual watches. Hopefully the manufacturers do not give up on the technology and continue to introduce innovations to sway the general consumers into owning one. In any case, here is our verdict of the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier.

The good

• Amazing battery life
• Gorgeous Super Amoled screen with high PPI
• Always-On display has minimal effects on battery life
• Life proof
• Classic-inspired design
• Rotating bezels and physical buttons
• Supports multiple connectivity and sensors
• Large watch face

The bad

• S-Voice needs to be improved
• Small number of third-party applications available
• Size not for those with small wrists
• Design language caters toward men

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