Monday 19 December 2016

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review

Samsung is no stranger to smartwatches.

The Korean tech giant was one of the first companies to launch a tech timepiece when it unveiled the Galaxy Gear in 2013.

<>Since then they've had numerous attempts at creating the ultimate digital watch with last year’s Gear S2 becoming their best effort to date.

Now Samsung is back with their fourth attempt at getting the world excited about smartwatches.

The Gear S3 Frontier was first shown off at the IFA tech show in September and this rugged watch is finally available to buy.

With a tough design, glorious screen and fitness features galore, there’s plenty to be excited about.

So has Samsung finally created the ultimate smartwatch?


The Gear S3 Frontier is certainly bold but it’s king-sized design won’t be to everyone’s taste.

This is a big watch and, if you're after something subtle or have dainty wrists, this is not the smartwatch for you.

The Gear S3 Frontier features a rugged all-metal design that looks built to survive an SAS mission - in fact, Samsung is even boasting that it’s tested to military level durability.

Its black case, elevated bezel and accentuated buttons add to the gritty feel and this really is one seriously mean looking watch.

The only problem for the Frontier is the people who don’t want something so big and chunky strapped to their wrists.

There’s no size or colour options for this new device and this does massively limit its appeal - not good for a technology that’s still trying to win fans.

Samsung has launched the less daring S3 Classic alongside the Frontier but this is just as big on your wrist.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review

One feature has made a return is Samsung’s unique rotating bezel.

This first appeared on last year’s Gear S2 and is a brilliant way of accessing data on the relatively small screen.

All of the information, such as fitness data, emails and texts can be discovered by turning the bezel on the front of the device and it's an incredibly easy and intuitive way of interacting with the watch.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review

You'd think with such a large design, Samsung would beat the Apple Watch for screen size but strangely the Gear S3 Frontier has only a slightly bigger display.

This Full colour AOD screen is stunning with content looking crisp, clear and packed full of colour.

The display is also covered with Gorilla Glass which should help avoid it getting covered in annoying scratches.

Another nice feature of the S3 Frontier is the inclusion of an always-on display.

One issue with many smartwatches is constantly having to raise your wrist to see the time.

Samsung’s S3 can be set to show a watch face at all times and it makes a huge difference to the usability of the device.

With Apple saying they won’t add an always-on display due to battery life, Samsung should be pleased as punch they've managed to include this must-have feature.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review

Even though this isn't new technology, you still might be wondering what the point of a smartwatch is - and there are plenty of reasons to question the need for one.

Samsung is however trying to add bigger and better features to its smartwatch range to help convince consumers that it’s time to join the wearable revolution.

The Gear S3 Frontier includes plenty of ways to interact with your friends and family including voice recognition and an in-built speaker.

This means you can now respond to texts and messages via your voice or by handwriting on the screen - which is actually far more intuitive than it sounds.

The watch will also display all of your tweets and Facebook messages and it can be used as a music player with in-built Spotify compatibility.

With the Frontier aimed at the sports market there's also an SOS option which sends your location with your closest contacts.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review

Samsung has been really clever with its latest watch by allowing any standard strap to be fitted to the device.

This opens thousands of designs to users and also means straps can be purchased without paying Samsung prices.

Removing the supplied Samsung strap is pretty easy with a simple push of a button releasing it from the watch face.

You then simply add any style that takes your fancy - although removing these non Samsung straps may take a little more patient.


Battery life has always been an issue for smartwatches with most running low on juice by the end of an average day.

However, Samsung seems to have addressed this problem by squeezing a 380 mAh battery inside and the Gear S3 Frontier lasting a lot longer.

In fact, even with the always-on screen activated getting almost 2 days usage on a single charge and this can be improved to 3-4 days with the screen switched off.

This finally means you can head away for the weekend and not have to pack the wireless charging dock in your bag.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review

The Gear S3 has just about every fitness function going.

There’s an altimeter, baramometer, heart rate monitor and speedometer, plus the device is fully IP68 water resistant which means it can cope in water up to 1.5 meters.

The watch can also auto detect which activities you're currently putting your body through and instantly record the fitness data.

This auto detection works with running, walking, cycling and even rowing machines.

Once the S3 has figured out what you are up to it will then guide you through the exercise and even help with warm ups and cool downs.

And its in-built GPS means it can record every run and bike ride without needing a smartphone strapped to your arm.

All of this data is then instantly beamed to the S Health app on your smartphone which can also monitor you daily intake of water and caffeine.

The heart rate monitor doesn’t appear totally accurate at times and because of its size the Gear S3 can feel a little unwieldy when out for a jog.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review

Like the Gear S2, Samsung has stuck with its Tizen OS for the Gear S3.

This operating system certainly looks good and easy to navigate but there's still big problems and it comes in the form of apps.

Unlike its rivals, such as the Apple Watch, there are only a very limited supply of apps for the Gear S3 and it's missing some key names including City Mapper, Google Maps and Twitter.

Many app developers haven’t produced any software for the Tizen OS and users will be disappointed by what's currently on offer.

The unique app store is mainly full of downloadable watch faces and it's something Samsung needs to sort out.

There's also more disappointment as the watch currently can't compete with Apple's wallet-free payment system.

Samsung Pay is coming to the UK at some point in the future and the Gear S3 is compatible but, if you buy one for Christmas, you're still going to need a credit card in your pocket.

Sadly, the device only works if you own an Android smartphone as there's currently no way to connect it to the iPhone and this looks unlikely to change anytime soon.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review

Samsung has built a solid smartwatch with the Gear S3 Frontier.

This device is big, bold and built for people who want a rugged smartwatch strapped to their wrists.

The Gear S3 has a stunning always-on screen which is incredibly responsive and the rotating bezel is still one of the best ways to navigate on such a tiny display.

Battery life is good and there's more features now included to make the device far more useful.

Samsung has also been clever by letting users attach any standard strap to the Gear S3 meaning owners won't be forced to pay extortionate prices to change the style of the watch.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review

This device is huge and its rugged styling is only going to appeal to a limited number of users.

Although its Tizen OS looks good and performs well the app store can't compete with Apple or Google's Android Wear and it's a shame you can't connect the watch to an iPhone.

However, if you're after an almost indestructible smartwatch and you are already hooked into Samsung's eco system, the Gear S3 Frontier could be the gadget you've been waiting for.



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