Product Review: Samsung Gear S3
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Product Review: Samsung Gear S3

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Tech Trends straps on the latest smart watch from Samsung.

I still remember my first watch. A red and blue, plastic, made in China, digital beauty that was also a Transformer. The fact it told the time was incidental. The reason I loved it was because of all the other crazy stuff it did. If we’re honest, smart watches are the grown-up version of that, still targeted at the same people. The difference is that now the “grownups” of my generation have a bit more pocket money to spend on their toys, and those toys can actually do a lot of the things that we couldn’t imagine back then.

Smart watches are about much more than just telling the time Click To Tweet

Looks are also important, of course. A watch you choose to wear all the time should look the bollocks. I know my Transformer one was the king of the classroom, if only for a week. It’s a great feeling. And that’s the feeling I got as I unboxed the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch, in spite of it looking – sorry Optimus Prime – a whole lot classier than my childhood companion. Papa’s got a brand new toy, and it’s pretty awesome.

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Packed behind the 1.3” Super AMOLED touch screen and safely sealed inside the IP68 certified steel body are a 1 GHz processor, 768MBs of RAM, 4GB of storage and a huge 350mAh battery that promises a 3 day charge. All of this weighs in at 59gms and is attached via a very nice quality leather strap that is conveniently punched for wrists of all sizes.

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So, what is it like to use? Let’s get the obvious out the way first, yes it tells the time but you can choose how, with a multitude of watch faces available and even more that you can download. So whether you’re a classic, analogue or digital person, there’s a watch face for you. So now we’ve got the timekeeping bit out of the way, what else can this baby do? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

Initial setup and linking to my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone was very straightforward, and I soon had the watch synched with my calendar, Gmail and WhatsApp, and impressively the connection was rock solid. Over two weeks testing I never once lost the link between phone and watch. Location detection and weather is useful and accurate in my experience but you need to use a third party app like Here WeGo to get reliable maps and directions working independent of your phone. I did feel the lack of Google maps here but Here WeGo is a functional replacement.

Initial setup and linking to my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone was very straightforward Click To Tweet

A key feature expected of smart watches are fitness aids, and Samsung’s own Health apps tend to get good reviews, so the first thing I did when I strapped on the S3 was get out of the house and start moving. Within a few minutes the S3 detected that I was walking briskly, congratulated me (thanks!) told me how long I had been walking and how many calories I was burning, hooray!

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When I stopped walking, the watch also detected that, and gave me a quick summary of my walk, and based on the number of calories I had burned, classed it as a healthy walk. Of course, it had no way of knowing that my brisk walk had taken me to the coffee shop where I proceeded to have a latte and a bacon sandwich. It’s not THAT smart.

The fitness app worked well, giving me lots of options and suggestions to make me more active Click To Tweet

After a while the app did warn me that I had been inactive for a while and encouraged me to exercise some more, which I did after I finished the last bit of bacon. As you can tell, I’m not the most active of folks, but joking aside this did get me thinking about my physical activity and caloric intake a bit more, and every little helps! And there are a lot more features and functionalities such as setting reminders to drink more water, easily logging how many glasses you’ve had each day. A quick twist of the dial will also show you more info on number of floors climbed, heart rate, number of steps taken, etc. You can also choose how naggy you like the app to be, so if – like me – you get tired of the constant nudges you can tone them down a bit.

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Overall, the wireless charging works smoothly and the battery life held up pretty well even with days of intensive use. The screen is also lovely to look at considering its relatively low resolution. The only downsides to it were that although the buttons were nice, the twist dial that you use to navigate the menus was a bit too delicate, I would have liked a more solid-feeling one like in an old-school watch, but that’s a personal preference. The keyboard was also completely unusable, at least for me.

Downloading new apps for the Samsung Gear S3 via the Samsung Galaxy App Store is easy Click To Tweet

The main complaint I had is the same one everyone makes about Tizen devices – the app ecosystem is nowhere near as advanced as Android or the Apple app store – but having said that, I don’t need my watch to do everything my phone does, I still have a phone for all that, and wearing the Gear S3 I was able to find a good option on the Samsung Galaxy App Store to do everything I wanted, so it’s more of a niggle than a real issue. A huge plus was that downloading new apps via the Samsung Galaxy App Store is easy – done through the Get More Apps option within the S3’s Apps menu – downloaded and installed very smoothly via your phone. Very impressed with that side of things.

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The notifications interface is really nice, where they pop up accompanied by a pleasant vibration and are then stored for review. Twist the dial anticlockwise to see them again and simply swipe up to pop in the trash and dismiss. Twisting the dial clockwise to access widgets is also very neat, adding extra app widgets such as calendar and world clock easily.

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To add app shortcuts – for example Here WeGo – these could only be added to the App Short Cut Screen, which only allows 4 shortcuts, and that felt rather limiting. You can, however add multiple App Shortcut Screens and edit them so each screen shows four different apps. This is great but needs a bit of setting up and I would like to be able to twist the dial to the app I want and just touch to activate it.

The Samsung Gear S3 Reminded me of how much fun watches can be Click To Tweet

I had stopped wearing a watch years ago, but after trying out the Samsung Gear S3 I have become a convert again. Not only is it really useful to be able to see your notifications and read your emails without constantly having to fish your phone out of your pocket, but it reminded me of just how much fun watches can be – even though it doesn’t become a Transformer. Maybe there’ll be an app for that soon though.

Tech Trends is a Samsung consultancy and media partner and this is a #sponsored post. However, we retain full editorial control and all reviews accurately reflect our experience in testing out the products.

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