Samsung has always been used to being present on all fronts. The manufacturer has been offering for several years connected watches and launched at the end of last year a new product even more accomplished than the previous: the Gear S3. The beauty has been with me for three weeks now and now is the time to take a full look at the operation.
On the technical side, Samsung did not do things by half.
The Gear S3 boasts a 1.3-inch AMOLED display capable of displaying 360 × 360 and is powered by an Exynos 7270 clocked at 1 GHz, with no less than 768 MB of RAM.
It obviously puts the package on the sensors and is therefore entitled to a GPS, WiFi, a pedometer, an accelerometer, a compass and a heart rate monitor, all in a box that does not weigh more of 57 grams and which is additionally certified IP68.
The battery reaches a capacity of 380 mAh and it confers a very good autonomy to the whole as we will see a little further. The price ? It runs between 370 and 399 € depending on the versions.
Samsung has in fact declined its watch in two models: S3 Classic and S3 Frontier. It was the latter who was loaned to me by the builder.
Design & Ergonomics
Whether connected or not, a watch is above all a jewel and so it must have the mouth. On this ground, it can be said that Samsung has rather successful his account.
The Gear S3 Frontier has a lot of charm.
The first thing that jumps right away is that it really looks like a watch. It also reminds many Casio. This applies to the watch itself, but also to some of its dials.
So of course, the Gear S3 Frontier is a thicker hair than traditional watches, but the difference does not jump either. Samsung has done a big miniaturization job behind and can be congratulated for its efforts.
The beautiful also puts the bar very high on the level of materials. It is equipped with a beautiful case in brushed stainless steel, a case tinted in dark gray. The finishes are perfect and just take the time to watch the watch for a few minutes to realize it.
The bracelet makes it a little cheap for it. Samsung has indeed opted for a striated plastic and it does not frankly honor the watch. The good side of things is that it does not fear moisture or perspiration.
In addition, it is removable and it will be enough to pull the metal part inside to remove it. Ah, and the watch is compatible with most standard bracelets on the market then you will have the opportunity to customize it to your liking.
The ergonomics is not badly worked. The toothed wheel located around the screen will allow us to scroll its contents or to jump from widget to widget. It is very pleasant to use and it makes the watch extremely pleasant to maneuver. Only flat, to validate a choice, it will be imperative to press the screen. The two buttons on the right-hand edge are only used to return to the home screen or the previous screen. Finally, it will also be possible to activate S Voice by pressing the bottom button twice.
It is also on this slice that one finds the tiny hole of the microphone.
The heart rate monitor is located inside the dial. The watch has no connector, the charging will be done by induction using the supplied accessory. It will be enough to put the Gear S3 on its base.
Screen, Processor & Autonomy
The Frontier Gear S3 is nice to look at, but you’re probably wondering what’s in your belly, right?
Good news, the time has come to talk about its screen, its processor and its autonomy.
The screen is a little larger than the previous one. It actually reaches 1.3 inches, compared with only 1.2 inches for the Gear S2. Not surprisingly, Samsung has opted for its flagship techno, the AMOLED. The definition of the slab reaches the 360 x 360.
And it works pretty well. The screen of the watch is indeed magnificent, with bright colors and deep blacks. Besides, this detail is far from trivial. AMOLED has many advantages and energy consumption is part of it. Unlike LCD panels, these screens do not need electricity to display black pixels.
The brightness is perfect too. The watch will remain visible on all occasions, even in direct sunlight. The user can fine-tune the luminous intensity of the slab to save even more energy.
The processor ? There is not much to say about it. The Exynos 7210 is more than enough to run the platform and its widgets. In two weeks of testing, I did not notice any latency. The watch remains responsive to any occasion.
The autonomy of the Gear S3 will depend essentially on the use you make of it. Samsung announces a four-day autonomy on its site, but this only applies if you show yourself economical. To reach this threshold, it will be better to disable the GPS and the heart monitor, but also to reduce the brightness of the screen to the maximum.
Moreover, it will also be preferable not to display the dial permanently.
On the other hand, if you do not see the economy, the autonomy will fall between two and three days, which remains anyway well above most connected watches of the market.
Platform & Functions
Unlike most watches on the market, the Gear S3 is not powered by Android Wear, but by Tizen.
This platform has been developed by Tizen since 2012 and is built on Linux, with a good EFL and WebKit dowry in it. In parallel, the Korean brand has developed an interface specifically optimized for its watch, an extremely formidable interface.
The interface of the Gear S3 therefore relies on several distinct elements.
By default, the watch will display the dial chosen by the user. The choice is wide and there are dozens of different dials. Some are classic, but others are specially designed for sportsmen.
These famous dials are interactive and can therefore be used to activate certain specific functions. This is particularly the case with the 4-in-1 dial, which allows instant access to steps, floors, calories and workouts.
In parallel, the interface also includes a notification center. To display it, you need to perform a vertical scan from top to bottom. There you will see a pictogram representing the state of charge of the battery and five buttons. With these, we will be able to access the music application, switch to airplane mode, activate the do not disturb mode, set the ringer volume or adjust the brightness of the screen.
By performing horizontal scans from the dial, we will be able to scroll through the different widgets activated on the watch. It will also be possible to operate the rotating bezel to go faster.
The widgets on the left of the dial focus on notifications, the right-hand widgets focus more on actions. The list is not exhaustive, but there are widgets for weather, calls, text messages, mentions, reminders, appointments or even activities.
This last widget is the most impressive from my point of view. It allows us to have an overview of our day. Each phase corresponds to a colored line. Blue for sleep, apple green for light activities, gray for inactive periods. The interface is rather pretty, but it is especially very ergonomic and very pleasant to use.
Other widgets go further and one of them will allow us to consult the data recorded by the altimeter and the barometer of the watch. The adventurers will appreciate, even if these data have to be taken with caution. As sophisticated as it is, the Gear S3 is not a scientific measuring device. It is primarily a consumer product.
The message widget is well thought out too and it allows to send quick answers by selecting pre-recorded messages. To go further, it will also be possible to use a keyboard. Or rather to several keyboards dedicated to numbers, letters or even emojis. It will suffice to operate the toothed wheel to pass from one to the other. The childhood of art.
To manage the watch and its applications, it will be enough to go through the application Gear of Samsung. Very well thought out, the latter will display many different information at startup and it will allow us for example to consult the storage space used by the applications or the state of the battery.
The tool will also be able to suggest dials or applications.
The choice is rather limited, but we still find quite a lot of different tools. Spotify, for example, will allow us to pilot our watch lists. Thanks to Goal +, we will be able to know the results of the soccer teams. Flipboard is also present. In parallel, there are also tools to set timers or even to perform simple calculations.
Of all the applications offered, the best is definitely Samsung Health. The tool is directly integrated with the Gear S3 and is extremely complete. Complete, well thought out. In a few moments and in a few shots, you will be able to know the number of steps taken during the day or even the number of calories burned. It will also take a few seconds to start a new activity or to know the state of our sleep. Same thing for heart rate measurement.
And behind that, there are also some very useful pay applications like the Hue Remote, for example, which will allow you to drive your Hue bulbs of your watch. It pays off, but it is worth the price. Same thing for the dials. Most are free, but there are also paying and some rooms are simply sublime.
I had the opportunity to test quite a lot of different connected watches in the past, but this is the first time I put my hand on a Samsung toque.
Accustomed to Android Wear, I was very afraid of not feeling comfortable with Tizen, but exactly the opposite happened. The experience was extremely rewarding and I had a great time with this watch.
The design, to begin with, is simply sublime. The Gear S3 looks like a real watch and its finishes are simply awesome. The wheel is undeniably a plus and is thus very pleasant to use. On the other hand, the operation of the buttons leaves me rather puzzled. It would probably have been better to integrate the backtrack function and the return to home function on a single button (with a short or long press to differentiate the two) and to reserve the second button for validation actions.
Nothing to say about the screen, the processor and the autonomy. The watch operates from the fire of god and it is the most enduring of all connected watches of the market. Finally those that integrate a screen. Especially since Samsung had the good idea to integrate an economiser to be able to extend its autonomy in case of glitch.
The platform is a very good surprise too. I did not expect to find my marks so fast.
Of course, Tizen is less complete than the Google platform, but it’s not really a problem. Not for me, anyway. From my point of view, a connected watch is not supposed to replace the smartphone, but rather to complete it. A bit like a remote screen. And this is precisely the strategy applied by Samsung.
I probably forget a lot of things, but if you have any questions the comments are there for that. Meanwhile, if you are looking for a complete and versatile watch, you can go headlong. I must also know that I ordered a Gear S3 Frontier at the end of this test. Like what, one can also influence oneself.