Samsung Gear Live Review

Processor and Memory

There’s barely any hint of stutter or lag in this.

Powered by a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 512MB of RAM, the Samsung Gear Live remains responsive with its performance. The more we think about it, we have yet to come across an instance where its performance stutters. All of this top-notch performance helps to deliver an intuitive experience!

Even though it’s stuffed with 4GB of internal storage, it doesn’t really have any bearing on us because it’s not something we can access upfront. Instead, it’s basically used by the platform to store various data and system updates, as well as third party apps.

Connectivity


Relying on Bluetooth 4.0 LE connectivity to interact with an Android powered smartphone (an HTC One M8 in our case), the Samsung Galaxy Gear is able to establish the connection for approximately 25 feet indoors. In order to initially pair it, we’re required to download the Android Wear app from the Google Play Store, which does nothing more than initializing the connection and being a hub to browse for certain compatible Android Wear apps.

Multimedia


Okay, so the only multimedia function that we have access to on the watch is controlling music – and that’s all folks! After selecting a song to play, whether through Android Wear’s “okay Google” function, or merely selecting it through our connected smartphone, the smartwatch is transformed into nothing more than a controller. Not only do we have access to the pause/play function directly from the card, but swiping over gives us forward and reverse functions as well. And that, folks, pretty much sums up the extent of its multimedia offering at the moment.

Call Quality


When an incoming call is being received, we’re given the choice of accepting or rejecting it. Now, seeing that the Samsung Gear Live doesn’t feature its own built-in speaker, we’re left to using our connected smartphone for all of our chatting. One would think that the smartwatch’s microphone could be used for the occasion, but it’s not.

Battery

It’s a battery hog, as we’re given at the most a day of usage.

Right from the onset, one of our primary concerns about this “always-on” smartwatch is that the display is constantly active – therefore, consuming more battery in the process. Unfortunately, the Gear Live’s 300 mAh battery is only enough to get us through a single day of normal usage. In some instances, we found it being less due to our constant interaction. Also, the fact that it has a proprietary cradle for charging, it means that it’ll be tougher finding a replacement right away in the event it’s misplaced.

Conclusion


Although it’s still regarded as a new technology segment, Samsung is a player in the space that has experience in making smartwatches. Seriously, it really shows in the Gear Live’s sophisticated design – one that’s remarkably more preferred over LG’s offering. Despite the obvious Samsung affiliation, the design is where we find its sole distinction. As a timepiece, we really can’t complain of the job that Samsung has done – even though its design is a recycled one.

On the flip side, it’s success in the mainstream hinges mainly on Google’s Android Wear platform. A new endeavor for the search giant, it has its practicalities and usefulness in an assortment of areas. For one, its “always on” Google Now integration is something we’ve yearned for since first being exposed to it on the Moto X – so it’s finally nice to see the function available through a smartwatch. However, the platform still needs much work before it’s in tip-top shape for being the perfect smartphone companion. In comparison, Samsung’s Tizen-powered smartwatches seem to have a slight advantage in terms of the features set over Android Wear – more so when it comes to those fitness oriented services.

Right out of the gate, the Samsung Gear Live is undoubtedly the smartwatch to pick if you’re intent on being an Android Wear early adopter. Well, that’s unless you can wait around for the highly anticipated Moto 360, which is gunning to be THE Android Wear smartwatch to own. Still, pricing is a matter that favors Samsung’s toy, as its $200 cost isn’t astronomically or outrageously expensive to own. Ultimately, though, we’ll simply say that it’s a solid effort on Samsung’s part, but Google will really need to expand on the platform’s features set for it to be a versatile smartwatch platform.

So unless you’re really adamant on having a companion to your Android device that’ll sit on your wrist in the near term, we suggest waiting until the platform receives a good dose of work to give us an all-encompassing experience. If not, you won’t be too upset with Sammy’s work – that’s if you’re jittery and want to be an early adopter.

Software version of the review unit:
Software Version: 4.4W
Build Number: KMV78V




Pros

  • Always on Google Now access
  • Material design gives the platform a flowy look & feel
  • Sophisticated design that mimics a premium timepiece
  • Uses the same interchangeable bands as the Gear 2

Cons

  • Android Wear lacks depth beyond Google Now integration
  • Battery delivers a day of usage at the most

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

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