The Samsung Gear S3 – A Hands On Review
To think there was a time when small computers were considered impressive every time they added two numbers together. Nowadays we have accessories performing tasks previously performed by a computer the size of a storage closet. For evidence of the fact, look no further than the new Samsung Gear S3. The smartwatch can play music, track fitness, scroll through photos, hail an Uber and pay for goods using Samsung Pay among a slew of other functions, and yet it looks like a classic, Swiss made timepiece.
The smartwatch also represents a considerable step up from previous instalments and therefore a solid sign of progress for Samsung as a brand. And while it’s not the kind of bold reinvention that makes huge waves, it does point to a future where one could indeed squeeze a computer’s worth of technology into what’s otherwise a fashionable accessory.
The Samsung Gear S3 comes in two versions: Classic and Frontier. The Frontier, which we had to play with, is the sportier of the two, flaunting a little more bulk and able to withstand extreme weather conditions. The Classic, by contrast, is lighter (though it still packs some weight) and more traditionally stylish. In fact at first glance you might not even recognize it as a smartwatch until the watch face gives way to a screen and an array of digital functions.
Between the Swiss engineering and the use of materials like 316L Stainless Steel and Corning Gorilla Glass SR+, it’s most definitely built to last. Pair that with a rotating bezel that partially controls some of the watch functions, a remarkably clear screen and a 3-hour battery life and the Gear S3 exceeds endurance and enters the arena of breathless optimisation.
That screen really is nice, big (1.3 inches) and brilliant, by the way. Courtesy of a 360 x 360 pixel resolution AMOLED display, the touchscreen is simply luminous with colour, sharpness and detail. It’s also adaptive and supremely sturdy and therefore 100% visually and physically reliable all morning, afternoon and night.
The rotating bezel first debuted on the Gear S2 and we’re relieved to see it making a return on the S3. For starters it means less smearing of fingerprints on that nice glass, but personally speaking we enjoy the freedom of being able to choose between using the bezel and touchscreen on a function-by-function basis. And while many tasks still require an organic exchange between the touchscreen and bezel, the interplay is seamless.
Additionally, the bezel (and by extension the watch itself) allows a swift tier of integration with various third party apps, which again hints at a future where it’s the smartphone that starts to feel superfluous. Naturally, that would include some pretty sophisticated camera technology that the smartwatch industry has yet to revolutionise, but at the rate we’re going such a thing could be a few years way–it would really boil down to how many consumers embrace smartwatches and thereby power innovation.
Of course no discussion of the Gear S3 would be complete without mentioning Tizen, Samsung’s OS. You’ll hear no complaints from us regarding Tizen, which keeps things unfettered and accessible. The ability to do things like manage apps, add widgets, track health and receive notifications is all streamlined to maximum efficiency. Sure, you’ll find something to complain about or end up preferring Android or iOS (or Pebble OS) for some reason or another, but that’s simply to be expected because every tech lover has the operating system that he swears by. Given that we cover so much gear here at Man of Many, we’re not necessarily loyal to one operating system over the other. If it covers the basics and doesn’t require a manual to navigate then we’re happy, and therefore we’re happy with Tizen.
Samsung has had what one might call a rocky year, but that surprisingly hasn’t slowed their momentum. The Gear S3 Classic is a smartwatch done right, and one pointing to a future where we might not need our smartphone at all. It’s packed with functions, compatible with third party apps and able to do everything from play music to accept calls to hail an Uber for you.
Sure, there will be users out there describing the Gear S3’s heft as burdensome, or labelling the absence of certain apps (ahem, Spotify) as pure blunder, or saying that the fitness tracker leaves a few things to be desired (as does every fitness tracker on the planet, apparently), but to that we say: be patient. The smartwatch industry is still relatively nascent and we personally love the fusion of classic style with tons of function. It leads us down a road toward pure homogenisation, where superior tech doesn’t impose on one’s sleek sense of style and vice versa. The Gear S3 isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.