Product Review: Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
Products like this Samsung Gear S3 really tug at my heart strings. I love and work in the tech industry (Mobile devices & services specifically) AND I love watches. I never collected watches that were super expensive but I always had a lot of choices on which one I would wear each morning. The smartwatch platform was perfect for me since it solves two problems: Easy notifications when I don’t want to stare at my phone all day and a different watch face anytime I want. The first smartwatch I ever owned was an LG and it was pretty hideous. Since then I have been using the first generation Apple Watch which I really love. Now, we are going to check out the latest offering from Samsung, the Gear S3. This was interesting since I use an iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung exclusively makes Android devices. Recently they released the Gear S3 app for iOS so I was excited that I had some choices. I used this watch for over 2 months before writing this review so I could share my longer term experience. I didn’t pay for it so it really has no real value to me.
Here is a compatibility chart so you know what works with your cell phone. Obviously, if you have a Samsung, the experience would be best.
The model that reviewed specifically is the Gear S3 Frontier. Samsung has 2 versions of this watch: The Classic and The Frontier. The classic has a chrome casing with larger protruding side buttons and a leather strap. The Frontier is all black and the side buttons are more recessed for a sportier look. It also has a rubber strap as standard. On the Samsung website you also learn that the Frontier has 4G LTE built in although I have never used it in conjunction with a cellular network, only with the Bluetooth connection to my iOS device.
In the cool round box you get:
- The Gear S3
- A charging cable
- Wireless charging pad
- Wireless charging doc (the small pad is held by this)
- A smaller bottom strap for skinny wrists
- A Quick Start Guide and a couple of others
The packaging is attractive but when I compare it my Apple Watch packaging, Apple wins this one. The Apple packaging just feels more substantial and special.
The watch itself? It has a really nice authentic look. I like larger timepieces and that was always my gripe with the Apple Watch was the size even though I have the largest 42mm model. Samsung made this piece substantial and made sure that it had the looks, details, and heft of a “real” timepiece. I love having a round dial over a square one.
The charging experience is pretty great. Once you insert the wireless charging pad into the plastic dock piece you simply lay the watch on it in an upright position and the magnets hold it tight. It’s real easy to just unstrap the watch and lay it on here before bed each night but the battery is good enough where I only really need to do this every other night or maybe 3.Usability is simple and intuitive. The bezel around the watch spins with a satisfying click and moves you through the various widgets and notifications. You just pick it up and know what to do. The face is also a touch screen so when it comes to tasks like changing a watch face (press and hold) or the putting the Watch on silent (swipe down), it’s super easy.
Why would you want a watch like this? Wearables are really taking off. Fitness bands are really leading the way in the wearables market and companies like Samsung and Apple are trying to leverage this tech boom. The smart watch provides notifications which are great while you’re driving and much safer than picking your phone up. That combines with the ability to perform all of the fitness band tricks like heart rate monitoring, mileage, steps, calorie counters and much more. It does this through not only pre-installed apps but also a bustling market for downloadable apps. The other reason… you want a watch. Yup, the main function of a watch is to tell time and the Gear S3 does that in an elegant and customizable manner. Listen… if you’re going to buy any watch it needs to be a good timepiece first.
This has the now standard smart watch trick of completely dimming the watch face (if you want it to) and turning on only when it senses you are raising the watch to read it. In the Gear S3, this worked about 60% of the time, unfortunately. With the Apple Watch, it always seems to work.
So would I pay the $349 entry price to own one of these? Most likely. If I owned an Android device like the new Galaxy S8 this would be a better experience for sure as the compatibility is far better allowing you to get the best experience. If you think about buying just any timepiece in the “not too expensive” arena like a Citizen, Seiko or maybe a Bulova… you’re dropping somewhere between $200-$800. For $350 this thing will tell you your heart rate when your mom texts you about not calling her and will let you know when you have been sitting for too long.
- Looks and feels like a real Timepiece
- Nice weight, feels substantial
- Easy to use
- Changeable straps- any 22mm strap
- Dust and water resistant – IP68 rating
- Rubber strap is weird feeling to me
- iOS app is buggy at times and slow. You have to have it running constantly in the background
- Some inconsistency in the heart rate monitor
- Sometimes when I flick my wrist up, the face doesn’t light up
Ease of Use
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Training & Development Director by day; Daddy, Husband and web junkie by night. For years I have benefited by creating many things including : Web Sites, Logos, illustrations, online training courses , writings and much more.