Carl Cabusas

Cebuano with zest for cars, gadgets, watches, travel, food, and real estate.

Smart Watch - Gadget Review: Samsung Gear S3 Frontier and Samsung Gear Sport

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Gear S3 Frontier:

The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier came out around 4th Quarter of 2016 but did not gain much momentum until the beginning of 2017.  The previous model called the Gear S was truly ahead of its design for a smart watch; it curves naturally with your wrist. It was a great design, it had amazing OLED screen but the user interface had much to improve on. It was laggy and battery life was always an issue, hence its cradle was also its battery pack. With the new Gear S3 Frontier, however, the design is now more traditional yet modern. Meaning, the design now resembles more like a normal watch (round watch face with rotating bezel for navigation). The biggest upgrade would be its seamless integration to your Samsung Phone. It initially pairs with your phone via NFC for initial set-up, then via Bluetooth on a daily basis to maximize its Samsung health app and other apps for that matter. However, the Gear S3 Frontier is also built to function as a stand alone watch, still able to keep track of your fitness and health app even when it is not connected to your phone, but on a limited scale (more on this later). But unlike the Gear S that came before it, which could function as a stand alone watch and a stand alone phone with its own nano sim tray, the S3’s function off-line is quite limited to built in apps and functionality of the smart watch alone. That said, while the Gear S was large but had a rather thin profile being elongated in design and curves to your wrist, the S3 Frontier looks rather big on the wrist from out of the box. At about 46mm in diameter, this is one of the biggest smart watches out there in the market today.

My unit came as a bundle, well as a gift from the Telco I subscribe to but it took me 2 months to decide to wear it because I thought I’ve had enough of smart watches with their very limited battery life.  Well, to my surprise, the Gear S3 Frontier actually has long battery life. Connected to your phone via Bluetooth it will last a day and a half to 2 days and 4 days as a stand alone watch. That’s not bad at all.  The best thing I like about this watch is that it’s certified water resistant for up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. Safe to say, I can go take a shower and not have to take the watch off.  This also means that it’s safe to sweat out in the gym or while jogging without having to worry about water getting into your smart watch. Another cool feature that I really like is the built in lifestyle and fitness oriented app and the ease of navigating the app via its rotating bezel. It also helps that you can actually change the watch face from time to time whenever you get bored with the current watch face you are using.  Going back to the apps, it is such a breeze to use and navigate, especially the Samsung Health app.  Samsung’s very own Health app can monitor your stress level, heart rate, Oxygen level in your blood and keeps track of your sleep patterns. It can also keep track of your water intake, coffee intake and blood glucose provided you input them manually. 

My only gripe with the S3 Frontier is that it doesn’t give out an accurate fitness reading when the device is not connected to your phone. Like I have to have my phone connected to the device and my phone has to be near my body in order for it to detect I’m moving in the treadmill or while I’m jogging. There are times you just want to leave your phone in the locker for safety and convenience.  If it does not detect the phone within your body, the device, while using the workout app keeps on pausing from time to time telling you to restart the workout app by pushing the home button. Without syncing the watch to the phone, you will have limited capability while using the fitness/workout app. The workout app will not record distance, calories burned and other information if it’s offline.  I mean, I would have loved it that as a stand alone smart watch, it would be smart enough  to detect that I am moving since I have already pre selected the kind of exercise routine ahead of time.  And since the smart watch is already in my wrist it should be able to do so.  But overall, I am very happy with the S3 Frontier. You can actually use it both in the gym, office and then in your day to day social activity after office hours without having to look weird using it. There are so many things you can do with the S3 Frontier; you can use it as your phone’s camera controller, answer calls and reply to messages from the watch itself,  GPS navigation, Stand lone music player, view appointments, weather and a whole lot more. 

Samsung Gear Sport:

I have yet to write my review on the S3 Frontier and the Gear Sport was already handed to me for testing, the pressure is on. Up close and in the metal, one would think that they exactly looked alike, but upon close inspection, not really.  While the Gear S3 Frontier is gigantic by smart watch standard, the Gear Sport is marginally slimmer and smaller with a rather oval shape case as opposed to the round shape case of the Gear S3 Frontier. There is a certain element of nip and tuck when it comes to the design. You can say that the design is more evolutionary than revolutionary, and that might be a good thing as many liked the S3 Frontier’s design.  A smart watch for me needs to blend in with the person’s lifestyle.  It should not look overwhelmingly futuristic to be consider as a smart watch.

This time around, the Gear Sport has reworked its Samsung Fitness/Work out app and Health app to be better than the S3 Frontier. The Sport in the Gear tells you that it’s more geared towards being sporty and more serious into managing the healthy lifestyle of its wearer.  For starters, the Gear Sport now continuously monitors your heart rate without activating any fitness/workout app.  It’s great because in the S3 Frontier, if you would like to know your hear rate, one has to open the Samsung health app and then the gear activates the heart rate sensor. In the Gear Sport, you don’t have to open any app. Just swipe to the left (4x) and the hear rate is there, real time. Fitness apps have also been simplified with workout routines grouped in 4s in a single window as opposed to different workouts in different windows in the past, forcing the user to swipe further to look for the fitness routine he/she would like to activate. Like the S3 Frontier, the Gear Sport also has an intelligent motion sensor that could sense that you are already working out, running, swimming or walking with out you activating any workout app.  But the biggest improvement in the Gear S Sport is that I can now use the watch as a stand alone workout buddy without the need for me to connect the watch to the phone in order for the fitness sensors to activate and record my fitness goals while I’m using the treadmill or while I’m jogging.  And since the Gear Sport is now rated with IPS 5AT, this means that you can seriously take this smart watch to the pool and record your lap time. In fact, Samsung has already added a swimming fitness app on its workout app. Just click it, set the length of the pool and starting using it. The watch can be used up to 50 meters for a long period of time in the water. 

Another great thing about these 2 smart watches is that it tells you to move and be active, if fact, it teaches you how to be active even when you are stuck in your work table. The watch tells you that you are already inactive for an hour, gives you recommendation on what stretching exercise you should do and just follow the prompt on the watch, it even tells you how many reps you should do and how many you have done so far. If you are serious in kick starting your healty lifestyle, I suggest you get a fitness tracker to help you with your goals. And these two amazing watches are just some of the smart watches at are also fitness trackers that just right for their price, try them out.  These two smart watches puts a serious threat to the other Sports oriented smart watches in the market today. 

 

Update: As I mentioned earlier, my minor complain is that these watches automatically pause when used as a fitness tracker especially while jogging. Fortunately, I found the solution. After choosing the kind of fitness you want to track, you can also manage the settings. Under its settings, you can select to either auto pause or not. Problem solved! These Gear devices are truly useful and are great as a watch and a fitness partner.

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Carl Cabusas
A graduate in Business Administration and Economics, Carl Cabusas works as a real estate professional by day. He has been a car enthusiast at a very young age while growing up in the U.S influenced by his uncle who is an avid car collector. The passion for travel, lifestyle, gadgets and watches is his take on living life in the right balance of yen and yang (work and life balance) in the hopes of encouraging others to work hard but at the same time enjoy life and live it to the fullest and discover their own passion.