Samsung Gear S3 frontier smartwatch review
Multimedia and call quality
Gear S3 frontier, and half of that is available for the user’s data – apps, watchfaces, images, and music. Yes, music – the Gear S3 frontier can act as a music player, which I find really cool. The main idea here is that you can leave your phone behind during workouts, and the music stored on the watch can be played directly on a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Listening straight from the built-in speaker is also an option, but I’m not a fan of that. It can’t play music as loudly or as clearly as a phone’s loudspeaker, which is to be expected from a device of this size.
The speaker is good enough to handle a phone call, however. While you risk looking silly in public while talking over your watch, you have the option to do so. And phone calls are clear enough on both sides of the line, although I do admit that I had to turn the speaker volume to the maximum in order to hear the other person properly.
Battery life and charging
As expected, the Samsung Gear S3 frontier can last several days between charges, mostly thanks to its 380mAh battery. Personally, I was using it with the Always-on Display option enabled and the brightness set to 7/10 – not the most economical configuration possible – yet it easily lasted through two full days of usage.
Of course, your mileage will vary, depending on how you’re using the Gear S3 frontier. I noticed that workout tracking with heart-rate monitoring and GPS enabled consumed about 10 percent of battery life per hour. But when used lightly and with the Always-on Display option disabled, the watch would easily last you even longer than the couple of days I was getting.
Speaking of charging, the magnetic charging cradle is an elegant complement to the Gear S3 frontier. It uses wireless charging to transmit power to the wearable, and an LED indicates when the charging process has ended. I only wish that the wire connecting the wall charger with the cradle was a bit longer.
Last year’s Gear S2 was already a great smartwatch. While a little rough around the edges, it set the bar high for what was expected out of a wearable – great performance, ease of use, long battery life, to name a few examples. Because of this, the Gear S3 frontier only feels like a minor upgrade, even though it is still one of the top smartwatches to get this holiday season. And if you’re in the market for a smartwatch, I’d still recommend getting one, although not before pointing out a thing or two.
First of all, I really think the Gear S3 should be improved to be a better activity tracker. There’s no shortage of sensors on it, that’s for sure, but a watch of this class should be able to accurately track a broader range of activities and sports. On the other hand, if you’ll be using yours mostly at the gym or while running in the park, then Samsung’s wearable should suit your needs just fine.
Another drawback of the Gear S3 is that the selection of apps still leaves room for improvement, although I do appreciate seeing a number of familiar names in its catalog: Uber, Yelp, iHeart Radio, HERE Maps, and Nike+, for instance.
That aside, the Gear S3 frontier is a pretty great smartwatch – it is fast, it is durable, it packs a long-lasting battery, and delivers notifications to your wrist with style. As I’m writing these lines, Samsung’s wearable is on sale for $300 at major retailers across the US, which is a more than reasonable price for what you’ll get in exchange.
- Battery can last several days per charge
- Resists water, dust, and shock
- Bright and good-looking display
- Standard 22-mm wrist band can be easily exchanged
- Simple, easy to use interface with convenient rotating bezel
- Samsung Pay support
- Activity tracking capabilities could be improved
- Limited selection of third-party apps
- Limited compatibility with non-Samsung phones, still no iPhone support
- Samsung Gear companion app can be buggy
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