Samsung has had some hits and misses in the smart wearables game, and this one is definitely a hit. Their commercially successful Gear S2 last year was pretty good, with the rotating bezel navigation and beautifully defined display, but without an adequate number of apps and a speakerphone on the S2, it felt pretty much like an unfinished symphony that deserved to be finished. We conclude that the Gear S3 Frontier, is the finished symphony that Samsung had made to secure their seat comfortably into the wearables future. There are two S3s, one is the Frontier that’s made for the rugged, sporty you, and the Classic, for those moments you get to be in a nice car or the center of attention in your big office meeting. In short, the Frontier comes in a sporty, black dial with serrated edges with an active silicon band and the Classic with a suave, silver dial with a slick leather band.
When this was on my wrist, it intrigued people. They were intrigued by the well-built smartwatch I had on my wrist on for good reason. Often at times they’ve been catching me taking a phone call with it and selecting the next track to play on Spotify. The S3 Frontier is a rugged timepiece with a bezel that rotates easily on its thick stainless-steel body. The smartwatch uses standard 22mm watch bands, making it not a chore to look for something you like out there. Samsung has bands of their own too, and there’s certainly variety there, like their alligator grain leathers, classic leathers and the standard active silicon.
If you’re ever caught in the dark with this watch, you’d be happy to know that it has a really bright 1.33-inch Super AMOLED display that can illuminate really well in such situations. There are reasons why the watch is not small. They’ve put in an LTE radio in there, and of course the microphone and speakers for you to take in calls and dictate messages. Keeping the lights on for a very long time, is a large 380mAh battery, one of the largest we’ve yet to see on a smartwatch. You pair it with your device via Bluetooth v4.2 and NFC. It also sports 4GB of internal memory and 768MB of RAM, providing more than enough space for you to install apps and watch faces. GPS is built-in, along with a Heart rate monitor, accelerometer and barometer.
The Gear S3 uses a 1-GHz Dual core Exynos 7270 to keep the show on the road.
The durability of the Gear S3 is without question. It comes with a MIL-STD-810G rating, which means it has met US military standards, which means the Gear S3 could have gone through extensive stress tests such as high and low pressures and temperatures, fungus and rain resistance, and possibly even pyroshock and rail impact.
As for water and dust, the Gear S3 has the highest rating IP68, which means it has complete protection against dust contact and continuous immersion in water (though not recommended).
The display, even though small, is crisp and sharp, thanks to the Super AMOLED Always on Display. The screen’s native resolution is 360×360 @ 279ppi. On a 1.3-inch display, this is a great combo of definition and color reproduction. Protecting the screen from a warranty claim nightmare is Gorilla Glass SR+, a glass composite made for Smart watches and luxury watches. It claims to be scratch resistant and can withstand up to 4kg of load based on a grit garnet sandpaper scratch test.
We were disappointed that it came with Tizen OS instead of Android Wear. Samsung claims that there are around 10,000 apps in the Tizen Store, but only just a small amount are for the Gear series. I got to play Stack on my Frontier, as well as control Spotify on my phone. Uber does a great job notifiying you that Matthew on his Myvi has arrived to get you.
Tizen however plays well on the Frontier, with the layout of the menu making use of the bezel. Rotating the bezel to the right will lead you to the widgets you’ve added ( weather, spotify, add a contact), and rotating it to the left will lead to a simple notifications centre for you to view all the notifications you received (such as WhatsApp messages, Facebook notifications and emails). Rotating the bezel also allows you to respond to incoming calls too, whether to answer or to reject. If you’re one of those people that sleeps with their watches, you can just rotate the bezel to silence your alarm.
The one thing I loved was the fact that I could reply messages from the watch itself via the phone-style keyboard. You could also preset typical replies and just send it out by just picking and tapping the screen.
Daily use (with battery life)
The S3 Frontier was pretty easy to use on a daily basis. The battery lasted pretty long, and on my usage without switching on the Always On display function I was able to get about nearly 2 days before it went flat. To charge the Gear S3 you will be using its provided wireless charging dock which uses a micro USB to connect the dock to the wwatall for charging. If you intended to use the Gear S3 as a running assistant, it will do a good job, at the expense of battery drain. I used the GPS to track my run around KLCC park, whilst controlling my music playback on the smartwatch and it took away around 12% for 40 minutes of running. I had developed a habit of carrying ther dock and cable with me, along with my powerbank, just incase I needed to charge my Gear S3, which happened only once or twice in a week due to extremely heavy use.
It was pretty much my wrist-sized informant, pushing my Facebook notifications, my emails, what’s playing on Spotify and who WhatsApp-ed me. Just wished there was a Facebook or Twitter app that could let me publish a status or Tweet. Samsung Pay was well intergrated, playing well with my S7 Edge. I completed my Starbucks Card reload in less than 30-seconds which I felt was pretty efficient since Samsung Pay has made their debut in Malaysia, and are slowly trying to intergrate it into all possible retail outlets.
Overall, the Gear S3 managed to impress and served its purpose well as a daily wearable alongside my drivers (S7 Edge and iPhone 7 Plus). With a price of RM 1399 , you’re geting both style and function. I enjoyed using the little keyboard to reply messages, and rotating the volume dial to adjust volume level on my soundbar ( that’s connected to my smartphone). If you could live with not using Android Wear on a smartwatch, look no further.