A major Gear S3 feature has been broken in the U.S. for months, Samsung yet to issue a fix (Update)

Back in April (and as it happens, exactly four month ago today) Samsung pushed out a so-called "value pack" software update to U.S. users of its Gear S3 smartwatch. The update brought a lot of new functionality to the device, but it also seems to have broken one major feature: text message voice input.

The issue occurs when a user tries to send a text message through their smartwatch via voice input: as reported by multiple users on both XDA Developers' forums and Samsung's own Community message board, the feature only works a couple of times before starting to display a "Voice input fail" message. Curiously enough, the feature is broken in U.S. English only, leading some users to speculate that Samsung is planning on including Bixby in a future update, and accidentally broke an existing feature in the process of working it in.

We have tested our own Gear S3 unit running firmware version R760XXU2BQC5 and can safely confirm that the problem exists. We have also contacted Samsung regarding the issue and will update the post when we receive a response.

The community has found a couple of workarounds to get voice reply back: one is simply setting the input language as U.K. English, though most people report having problems with speech recognition due to accent differences. The other fix is a bit more difficult: instead of using voice reply right away, users should instead hit the keyboard input button, rotate the device's crown until the last option is highlighted, and then speak.

However, various users have reported both solutions not working for them — for some, U.K. English input also starts failing after some time, while others say the keyboard workaround does nothing. And lastly, the bug doesn't seem to affect Samsung's S Voice app, or when using the device to make phone calls.

Samsung seems to be well aware of the issue, though it has done almost nothing to communicate that to its customers. A company rep has acknowledged the issue on May 1st and reportedly passed it on to engineers, but a fix is yet to be pushed out, three months later. So for now we advise those of you who haven't updated yet to hold on until the bug is patched, though Samsung doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to do so.

Update: Samsung seems to have quietly pushed out an update specifically addressing the issue, and users are now reporting voice texting once again works for U.S. English. The update bumps the Gear S3's software up to version number R760XXU2BQG4, and the release notes only mention "S Voice - Accuracy and performance improvements."

Thanks for the tip!



1. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

For real? Samsung wants push Bixby to the US Gear S3 by breaking voice-exting? That's creepy, man. Gotta stop the con tactics, Samsung!

3. Kaloyan.C

Posts: 22; Member since: Feb 25, 2017

My apologies — I meant that more in the sense of accidentally breaking stuff with behind-the-scenes additions necessary for Bixby, not deliberately crippling its own software. I've now edited the article to avoid further confusion.

5. HansP

Posts: 542; Member since: Oct 16, 2011

Looking at the comment below, are there more elegant back stroke manoeuvres on the way? iPhoneArena, indeed.

11. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

First off, I dont think Samsung intentionally broke the feature to bring Bixby. To me that's just PA hate of Samsung (or strong dislike if you prefer). When I first got the watch, after not having typed with T9 in over a decade, I tried first to use the drawing and that was OK for simple replies. But I also tried the voice input, and from my experience, it has never worked. I am not gonna flat out just claim Samsung actually broke it or did not. Because to say so without any proof is just hate. Samsung is not known to break stuff intentionally like apple is specifically known to do and is being sued for right now. Now is it possible Samsung took away the function? Sure. But it could have been taken away simply because it doesn't work well. The problem with voice texting is, the original Gear S and the S2, stored S-Voice data right on the device. So the software needed for this feature, did not require server-side access. For all we know, the feature on the S3 may require server-side assistance and maybe it overloads the server or simply doesn't work do they took it away.

2. Zylam

Posts: 1817; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Sounds like Samsung, garbage software and support. 3.. 2..

4. ph00ny

Posts: 2055; Member since: May 26, 2011

It seems to be working on mine (AT&T Gear S3 Frontier - R765AUCU2BQD4)http://i.imgur.com/MxdRLCG.jpg

10. hopper

Posts: 78; Member since: May 08, 2017


6. gigicoaste

Posts: 457; Member since: Feb 21, 2016

"Samsung seems to be well aware of the issue, though it has done almost nothing to communicate that to its customers." classic PA muddy game! How many companies out there are communicating open the issues on their devices ?? Especially before more people are discovering the bug? Did Motorola said something about ghost touches? Did Apple said something about issues with battery and touch ID?

7. darkkjedii

Posts: 31320; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I didn't even notice that.

9. ph00ny

Posts: 2055; Member since: May 26, 2011

Me neither. I rarely use the watch to send text messages other than the preset ones. I tried the voice input after this was posted and it seems to be working fine for me

8. adecvat

Posts: 647; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

I remember BT bug on Note 3 exist for 3-4 months.

12. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

When will PA write a Apple hate article? What I mean by this is this: Every OEM, but especially Apple, does nopt opening report all software or hardware issues, even if it potentially effects all or most of them. So lets look at some facts: Steve Jobs later admitted, they were aware that the iPhone 4 has reception issues. Teh reason it was not brought up is because, the FCC would have made Apple place the device on hold because if there is an emergency and you can't receive or make calls or worry about constant disconnections, this would have been a defective device and the FCC would have made APple wait until they fixed it. Apple also knew the problem was serios, because for the first time in history, Apple made a case of the phone, and it so happen to only cover the sides. That was complete and uttered BS. But did PA write and article against it? NOPE Apple also knew of the Touch issues with the iPhone 6/6S models and the issue with the batteries in the those same models. They also knew the iPhone 6 was easier to bend too, because Apple tests all their devices. A phone should never bend in yoru pocket. Apple knew of all of this and it took class action lawsuits to make them even deal with the latter issues. But yet again, no PA hate article calling out Apple when we can clearly see without any speculation, Apple was being deceitful. But Samsung who likely didn't intentionally break this feature, and even if they did break it on purpose,; did nothing wrong by not telling you first. But because this is Samsung who is hated by most of the writers here, the article was pitched in a negative sense against them. I don't care if you do them this way, your choice. But do them all equally. When you totally have it in for one company, but not for another who has a serious history of deceptive practices, then we know whats up and we are gonna call you bozos hypocrites out on it.

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