Lets Talk About Complete Review Of Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

The smartwatch market might be declining, but it’s still generating huge revenue for the top companies in the industry, with Apple currently leading the pack with 1.1 million Watch units sold in the third quarter of the year. Garmin is second with 600,000 units sold during the quarter, followed by Samsung with 400,000 units.
It goes without saying that Samsung can do better and South Korean executives know they have to and this is why the firm keeps investing in smartwatches that could compete with the Apple Watch.

The Gear S3, in both Classic and Frontier versions, is Samsung’s latest attempt at the smartwatch market, trying to offer the best feature mix you can find on the market, without compromising the watch feeling that you’re supposed to get when buying such a device.

Samsung’s main target with the Gear S3 was to make it feel more like a watch, so it designed the new model using features that were originally seen on the S2, but which were tailored to provide a more premium feeling.


DESIGN
Let’s start with a quote of what Samsung says about the smartwatch, and the emphasis is ours:

“The Gear S3 has the aesthetics of a truly premium watch with advanced features built right into the watch design.”

And you know what? Samsung is right. The Gear S3 indeed has the aesthetics of a truly premium watch, and that premium watch is Tag Heuer’s Connected smartwatch. The Gear S3 looks so much like the Connected that, at a quick look, you might have a hard time telling which one is which.

And even the sizes of the two models are very similar:

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: 46 mm diameter / 12.9 mm thickness / 63 grams weight

Tag Heuer Connected: 46 mm diameter / 12.8 mm thickness / 52 grams weight

On the other hand, the Gear S3 comes with a 1.3-inch OLED screen, while Tag Heuer used a 1.5-inch LCD display, both with a resolution of 360x360 pixels.

Tag Heuer Connected and Samsung Gear S3
 Tag Heuer Connected and Samsung Gear S3
But leaving these similarities aside, the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier is a beautiful piece of technology. It truly delivers a premium feeling and its metal body makes it feel even heavier than it is, and this can be nothing but a good thing given that Samsung was aiming for a watch experience from the very beginning.

The rotating bezel on the screen, which lets you browse menus and control calls, is truly addictive and I’ve personally found myself playing with it several times a day without even noticing. As compared to the Gear S2, the new model comes with some sort of tactile feeling when you rotate the bezel, which made me think of the soft vibrations that Apple’s offering on the iPhone 7. Of course, these are entirely different types of feedback, but the feeling is very similar.

“A PREMIUM SMARTWATCH. LITERALLY.”

The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass SR+ (scratch resistance plus) which comes in line with the IP68 rating, which makes the watch water and dust resistant. This doesn’t mean it’s waterproof, but only resistant to water, so you’re not supposed to take it in the shower or wear it when swimming.


HARDWARE
In terms of hardware, the Gear S3 is one of the most advanced smartwatches on the market right now. It’s powered by Samsung’s in-house Exynos 7270 dual-core processor clocked at 1.0 GHz, which has been specifically designed for wearables and optimized for long battery life.

The watch features 768 GB RAM and 4GB storage and offers several connectivity options, including Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, and LTE - cellular calls are only available on the LTE model with embedded SIM (on models without SIM you can still start calls with Bluetooth).

Samsung Gear S3 side view
 Samsung Gear S3 side view
As far as sensors are concerned, there’s pretty much everything you need, including an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a barometer, an ambient light sensor, and a heart-rate monitor. Additionally, you get a microphone and a speaker, which lets you talk with your contacts without the phone.

The Gear S3 uses wireless charging using an inductive system, just like all the other smartwatches out there. It has a 380 mAh battery that should provide 4 days of battery life according to Samsung (that’s not really accurate, though, but read more in the Battery section below).

All in all, there’s nothing you could expect more when it comes to hardware from the Gear S3 because everything you’d ever want is here. The essential package and even more are all included in the S3 and coupled with Samsung’s Tizen operating system, it all offers a mix that you might have a hard time finding elsewhere.


SOFTWARE
As mentioned, the Gear S3 Frontier comes with Samsung’s own Tizen operating system version 2.3.2, which is specifically designed for wearables (there are signs that Samsung could at some point launch a smartphone powered by Tizen as well, but these are just rumors for the time being, so the company sticks with Android for a little longer).

Tizen is nothing more than a good choice for a smartwatch like the Gear S3. It’s not the best, but it’s not awful either, and it certainly does its job very well.

The platform is stable and quite responsive, the interface is straightforward and easy to use, so new customers shouldn’t spend too much time figuring out how to access features or configure the device. The number of apps is continuously growing, as developers see the potential of Tizen, and the number of watch faces that you can download and install is overwhelming - there are plenty of free faces if you don’t feel like paying for customization.

“IT WORKS ON IOS TOO.”

The Gear Manager app needs to be installed on your phone and so does S Health if you want to collect activity data and closely track it. But let’s talk more about the Gear Manager app.

Available on Android from the very beginning, Gear Manager will soon debut on iOS as well, and a beta version is already available for testing should you want to use the watch with an iPhone.

Let me put it simply: if you want to get the most of the Gear S3, you must use it with an Android, possibly with a Samsung phone that already has the necessary software.

The Android version of Gear Manager has the full feature package and provides the most reliable experience you can get right now - sure, we compare this with the beta version of the iOS app, but the number of features offered to iPhone users is unlikely to change because of Apple’s limitations.

Samsung Gear on Android
 Samsung Gear on Android
The Gear S3 configures and runs well with an iPhone, but the app sometimes crashes all of a sudden, the app store stops working, and the watch disconnects for no clear reason. This doesn’t mean that you lose the synchronization between the watch and the phone, but you can no longer work with the app until the connection is reestablished.

Samsung says that you need to keep the app running on your iPhone to use it with the Gear S3, but this is only partially true. You continue getting notifications no matter the status of the app, but for certain features, the app needs to be running. For example, you won’t get updated weather forecasts if the app is closed and there’s little chance to see this behavior changing even after the app is officially released.


FEATURES
The Gear S3 is both a smartwatch and an activity tracker, and let me tell you one thing: this is clearly one of the most capable wearable devices currently on the market, and the Apple Watch doesn’t even come close. I know this is going to upset many Apple fanboys, but you need to try out the Gear S3 to see how powerful it is.

In terms of fitness tracking, it has everything you need, and it supports the majority of sports out there, including running, cycling, hiking, and others. For hiking, the Gear S3 has a dedicated barometer that can measure pressure, and this is quite an essential feature for fans of this sport. Additionally, it can send notifications when pressure reaches a certain threshold, and this feature works on both Android and iOS because it is directly integrated into the watch.

“ALL FEATURES ATHLETES NEED.”

The Gear S3 automatically tracks your heart rate even when sitting, but it continuously collects information during a workout, so you get uninterrupted information about your heart activity. There's also a GPS that can provide mapping data for activities such as running and cycling, and you can closely inspect this information on your smartphone when the workout is completed.

Battery life is obviously impacted by how you use the smartwatch, so in case you work out every day with GPS turned on, daily recharging is a must. Otherwise, if you're just as lazy as we are, recharging every one day and a half should be enough.

The Gear S3 provides notifications whenever you haven't moved for a while, a thing that most modern smartwatches do these days, but as compared to its rivals, Samsung's model can detect when you're an office guy, and you can't get up and move around. So instead, it provides some stretching tips every once in a while to keep your muscles active.

Samsung Gear S3 step count
 Samsung Gear S3 step count
When it comes to its smartwatch capabilities, the Gear S3 does one thing that the Apple Watch doesn't: it lets you choose where and how you want notifications to be sent to you. You can choose to see them on your watch, on your phone, or on both. This means that notifications can wake up both devices or just one of them, depending on your preferences.

On the Apple Watch, the default settings keep the iPhone silent all the time and notifications only arrive on the Watch. If you want the iPhone to wake up when a new notification arrives, you need to disable wrist detection, which has an impact on your activity tracking monitoring.

Notifications usually arrive correctly on both Android and iOS (even though the latter doesn't yet have a stable app), and delays never occur, which is quite essential for those who want to use the watch for new messages and calls. And speaking of calls, there's a mic and a speaker, so you can start and receive calls without even touching the phone. Call quality is good unless there's a noisy environment, as the speaker isn't very loud.

Screen quality is also good, and I was impressed with how well you can see displayed information in direct sunlight, which for athletes is quite critical.

Samsung Gear S3 rotating bezel. Truly addictive!
 Samsung Gear S3 rotating bezel. Truly addictive!
The Gear S3 also offers an always-on display option that uses a stripped-down version of every watch face to show you the time and other essential information on the screen all the time. The look of always-on depends on the face you are using, and it goes without saying that keeping this feature on impacts battery life.

At the same time, there's also the typical rotate wrist to wake up gesture, and we've seen some users complaining that it is slower than expected. Truth be told, when comparing it with the Apple Watch, for instance, it indeed feels slower, but it should otherwise be fine because it's most of the time quite responsive.


THE BOTTOM LINE
The Samsung Gear S3 is the closest you can get right now to an Apple Watch killer. It works well on iOS, comes with a premium feeling, and has all the features you could expect to find on a smartwatch.

The Gear S3 Frontier is not super expensive either, and offers undeniable value for the money. It's almost as expensive as an Apple Watch, but offers so much more, including customization options that, for some reason, Apple has no intention to implement on its own device.

In its search for a premium feeling, Samsung made the Gear S3 a little bit too big, and its 46mm diameter puts its above the majority of smartwatches currently on the market. It’s without a doubt a men’s watch, but it could take a while to get used to it, especially if you previously had a smaller watch.

The battery life of the Gear S3 is also impressive, although it’s quite far from what Samsung is promising. With an average use pattern, the Gear S3 should easily provide one day and a half, but if you work out every day, you’ll have to recharge it daily.

All in all, the Gear S3 should be considered a possible buy for everyone looking for a smartwatch these days, no matter if they want to use it with an Android phone or an iPhone. The iOS app will get better, there’s no doubt about it, because Samsung, just like its users, knows that bringing its smartwatch on Apple’s otherwise super-restricted playground would be a very smart move.

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