It shares design aesthetics with the Gear Fit and the prior Gear smartwatches but improved in the sense that it not only has a bigger curved screen but more functionality on top of being far less chunky than its predecessor. Not unlike that of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5 if you think about it.
Under the hood you get a dual core 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB of storage, WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity. The screen is a curved two inch Super AMOLED 480 x 360 touchscreen display. This effectively makes the Gear S into a phone itself, albeit a lot smaller. It’s also has an IP67 rating against water and dust so it’ll take the odd splash and dunking with no issue. Surprisingly, they’ve also completely nixed the camera that was present on the original Galaxy Gear smartwatch, but it was likely due to size constraints.
Not quite the watch it thinks it is
The Gear S does have rudimentary Android smartphone functions on top of the ones you usually find on smartwatches; you can make calls and send messages directly with the Gear S and receive notifications from Facebook, Gmail and Whatsapp to name a few. However, you still need to access your phone to reply to said messages which sort of defeats the purpose of not needing to access your smartphone to begin with.
You can also run a few apps on it like Nike’s running app, play music, view photos (though we aren’t sure why you would want to) S Voice, and our favourite one so far; Find My Device which lets you find your misplaced phone by making it ring. In short it’s more than just another fancy health gadget. However, you still have to connect your phone to it just to load up apps via the Gear S app, which is a little strange considering the smartwatch is supposed to be able to stand on it’s own.
The smartwatch charges via a snap-on cradle which in turn is charged via a USB charger. It also doubles an additional battery as well and is capable of juicing the Gear S up independent of a wall socket, so that’s a plus point. As far as battery life goes, the Gear S happily lasted us for about two days before needing a recharge on moderate use, like reading notifications and taking the random call.
Call quality is pretty good in general, and taking a call on the Gear S is almost as though you’re talking to thin air for the most part. It did feel very ‘James Bond-esque’ to be talking to your wrist though. The on-board speaker isn’t the best but it gets the job done. You can even play music on it, though we probably would ask you why.
It’s cool but still very underutilised
The keys on the other hand, while still relatively small the onscreen keyboard is still much larger than what you find on an another smartwatch (if any) as it takes advantage of the extra screen real estate. Generally we found them a little too small to use most of the time, but you can still get the job done with slow deliberate pecks at the keys.
You can download more apps via Samsung’s app store but it seems to be rather desolate despite being up for so long. Some of the apps do work but the vast majority of them seem more frivolous than helpful. Also you can still pair it up with a non-Samsung phone, but the Gear S will require a forcible reset to factory settings and you still need the Gear Manager in order to get the apps to work. You apparently can purchase a 3rd party Gear Manager on the Play Store but if you’re not willing to part with that extra bit of cash, tough luck.
All in the Samsung Galaxy Gear S it’s still nowhere near ready to take over your phone’s functions proper though it’s a pretty ambitious attempt on Samsung’s part. Sure it’s really cool but given its price at RM 1,099 it might be a bit too expensive given that there are more affordable smartwatches on the market at the moment.
At a Glance
Processor: Dual-core 1.0 GHz
Screen: 2.0” Curved Super AMOLED (360 x 480)
Size: 39.8 x 58.3 x 12.5 mm