Samsung’s Gear S3 was launched a couple of months ago now, at IFA in Berlin back in September, but it’s only just reached availability in Australia now. Likely, Samsung wanted to keep from announcing new products while still dealing with the Note 7 issues, but now that the Note 7 is consigned to history, it’s time for Samsung to get on with what it does best — releasing cool new tech.
We have a review unit coming, but we’ve had the opportunity to have some hands-on time (pardon the pun) with the Gear S3 ahead of its launch.
What’s the Gear S3 good at?
Samsung believes there are a couple of key selling points for the Gear S3 which might put it ahead of other smartwatches on the market, including those running Android Wear, and more limited fitness trackers. Probably at the top of that list is the style and design of the Gear S3 itself; rather than looking like a geeky, ugly smartwatch (think back to the original Galaxy Gear devices, anyone?) the Gear S3 actually looks a lot like a normal watch.
It has a chunky style which fits with the modern stylings in watches, and the always-on display means that it’s not just a blank face most of the time; it looks like a watch whether you’re looking at it or not. The Gear S3 uses the same kind of always-on technology as Samsung’s Galaxy S7 range, including a Super-AMOLED display that uses next to no power to display something all the time. In fact, Samsung says the Gear S3 should last around three days per charge, give or take.
For many who buy a smartwatch, fitness features are at the top of the list, and many who like to go for a run or hit the gym want to do so without having to carry a bulky smartphone around as well. The Gear S3 has its own GPS built in, and can function as a rather powerful fitness tracker whether a smartphone is nearby or not, connecting and backing up your fitness data when it’s back in range. Of course, you can chuck your music on-board as well so — with a pair of Bluetooth headphones — you can listen to your music anywhere, phone-free.
What’s it less good at?
The Gear S3 isn’t all roses, though. Being a slightly larger watch, it will dwarf a smaller wrist, male or female. Finder‘s Alex Kidman, who has a rather thin wrist, found the Gear S3 was a bit too large for his tastes, but with my larger wrists, the Gear S3 looked to be at home. The Gear S3 is also rather expensive, and at $599, it’s more expensive than many other smart watches on the market, and running Samsung’s own Tizen OS (instead of the somewhat more common Android Wear), there might be a bit more of a learning curve to becoming familiar with the Gear S3.
Do you want one?
There haven’t been a great number of great smartwatches released this year, and from initial impressions alone, the Gear S3 looks to be one of the better ones. While the ASUS Zenwatch 3 came out on top of the list for Ausdroid’s Best of 2016, it probably wouldn’t be my first choice — I prefer something that’s a little less gaudy. I really enjoyed Samsung’s Gear S2, though I thought it was a bit small, so a larger Gear S3 with the same classic stylings and standard watch bands is likely to be a big hit. I can see myself liking it quite a bit.
You can buy them for $599 at Samsung’s Online Store and probably from Samsung’s stores as well. They aren’t yet available in JB HiFi, but given the previous model was, it’ll probably show up there sooner or later. Our full review will be coming in a week or two, once we’ve had the opportunity to look through the look, feel, apps, OS and functionality more closely.