Over the past year, we’ve seen Samsung go deeper than any other manufacturer when it comes to diversifying its line of smartphone related products. Diving into yet another totally new segment, the smartwatch one, the Samsung Galaxy Gear is looking to take the field by storm – as it’s one of the first to take a swing at the market. It’s an interesting little gadget, since it combines the timeless function of a watch with the depth of features in a smartphone – so we’re intrigued by this peculiar concoction. It seems practical, but is it really?
Before we begin, it's worth mentioning that, at first, the only device that the Galaxy Gear will be usable with will be the Galaxy Note 3
. Samsung is expected to roll out software updates that will enable the Gear to work with the Galaxy S4
, Galaxy S III
and Galaxy Note II
The package contains:
- microUSB cable
- Wall Charger
- Cradle adapter
Whoever designed the Samsung Galaxy Gear better be working on a smartphone next for the Korean giant, seeing that it’s considerably more premium than any of Sammy’s own smartphones and tablets. It could’ve been a toyish looking watch, but the folks behind the design gave the Galaxy Gear a very pleasant and sophisticated look. Although the majority of the body is made out of this sturdy plastic material, the front casing is actually comprised out of stainless steel, which is further accented by the bolted screws on the corners of its casing. Obviously, there’s no arguing the level of premium that’s attached to it.
At first glance, the thick plastic wrist strap might seem out of character, but it’s necessary because it tucks away ribbon cables that are used to connect the camera and speakerphone to the body of the watch. Depending on the color of the strap, it can either enhance the look of the Galaxy Gear, such as the darker colors, or oppositely, make it appear more toyish in nature. With our specific dark brown review unit, it perfectly accentuates the steel finish of its casing. Thankfully, the strap is adjustable to fit any sized wrist – so it doesn't feel too irritating when it’s used for a prolonged period of time.
In terms of size, it’s definitely on the big side, but then again, watch connoisseurs are probably used to watches that are even bigger than the Galaxy Gear – so there’s not much of a worry here. Overall, we’ll give Sammy credit for the design with this, seeing that it’s absolutely gorgeous looking.
Taking a look around the Galaxy Gear, there’s only a single physical button on its casing – and it’s the multi-function button on the right side of the watch. It’s raised, and has a decent amount of feedback when pressed, but its functions vary. Pressing it once turns it on, while double pressing it by default activates its S Voice feature.
Along the top section of the wrist strap, there’s a recognizable hump that tucks away its 1.9-megapixel auto-focus camera. Meanwhile, the locking mechanism of the Galaxy Gear also houses a speakerphone, which is used in conjunction with phone calls and notification tones. It’s hard to see it, but there are actually pinholes on the left and right edges of the casing. Around the back, there are 5 gold plated circles that work in conjunction with the included cradle adapter to charge the smartwatch. Indeed, we would’ve preferred seeing a microUSB cable built into the Galaxy Gear itself, but it would’ve more than likely increased its size or thickness.
We almost forgot to mention it, but the Galaxy Gear is NOT water resistant – so you really don’t want to get this wet. Knowing this, we’re a bit perplexed as to why it isn’t, seeing that watches as a whole are meant to be worn and forgotten about, unless you need to know the time of course. Meaning, we’re required to remember taking it off before showers, when washing the dishes, or simply taking a stroll if it’s lightly raining. Trust us, you don’t want to fry this one on the first day.
Getting the same love as its flagship smartphones, the Galaxy Gear is outfitted with a 1.63-inch 320 x 320 Super AMOLED capacitive display. Yes, we’ll point out that it’s a tiny thing when compared to smartphone displays, but for a smartwatch, it seems to be the right size actually. Heck, it’s pretty detailed for its size too – enabling us to even read emails with little difficulty from a normal distance away.
Utilizing AMOLED technology, it naturally exudes all the distinctive characteristics we all know and love - it has that pitch black tone, colors have an over-saturated nature, and its viewing angles are simply superb. Sadly, the display is difficult to view outdoors with the sun present. Certainly, “outdoor” mode helps to give us better contrast outside, but the same end results continue to persist.
Interacting with the display is a hit or miss experience, seeing that it sometimes has a delayed response with certain actions. Swiping between the homescreen is pretty intuitive and straightforward, but pinch zooming or double tapping the screen sometime requires multiple tries to get right.
If you’re worried about scratches diminishing the look of the Galaxy Gear, you can sleep easy knowing that it’s protected by the layer of sapphire glass over it – giving it a very slick feel to the touch.