Samsung Gear S

6.3/10 AVG.
RATING

  • Samsung Gear S
  • Samsung Gear S
  • Samsung Gear S
  • Samsung Gear S
  • Samsung Gear S
  • Samsung Gear S

Specs / Features


2G: GSM 850 / 1900, 3G: HSDPA+ 850 / 1900 | 2" Super AMOLED Capacitive Multi-Touchscreen | Tizen-based wearable platform, Dual-Core 1 GHz Processor | S-Voice Command, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.1, microUSB v2.0, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS | Internal Memory: 4GB, 512 MB RAM

2G: GSM 850 / 1900, 3G: HSDPA+ 850 / 1900 | 2" Super AMOLED Capacitive Multi-Touchscreen | Tizen-based wearable platform, Dual-Core 1 GHz Processor | S-Voice Command, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.1, microUSB v2.0, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS | Internal Memory: 4GB, 512 MB RAM

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Specification

Brand Samsung
Model Gear S

The "1-Minute" Review

What's good

  • Large screen with high resolution
  • Designed for comfortable wearability
  • Ability to make and receive calls, emails and texts without phone pairing

What's bad

  • Confusing interface
  • Requires phone pairing to start watch and download apps
  • Barren app store
  • Huge and bulky design

While the Apple Watch and Pebble might get all the attention in the smartwatch market, Samsung continues to push the boundaries of what they can include in such a tiny package with the Gear S. The biggest feature of the Gear S is its phone-free communication. It comes with standalone WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth and GPS, essentially making it a smartphone in watch format. You can even respond to emails as it comes equipped with a tiny onboard keyboard.

Of course, in order to fit in all of these features, Samsung had to make some compromises. The most obvious is size. Equipped with a 2-inch curved AMOLED display, the Gear S is much larger than other smartwatches. In fact, reviewers thought it looked "ridiculous" with Engadget calling it a "monstrosity of glass and steel." Despite its bulky size and weight, experts found it rather comfortable to wear thanks to its curved shape. As well, the additional screen real estate made it much easier for them to navigate the various menus and see all the options at a glance. Thanks to the 480x360 resolution of the screen, experts had no pixelation issues with either text or images.

In order to keep the watch buzzing, Samsung has also included 512MB of RAM and a dual-core 1GHz processor. Unfortunately, reviewers experienced significant slowdowns even when navigating the basic interface. While there was no crashes or frozen apps, the lag made using the Gear S a frustrating experience for critics. But it isn't just the processor that slowed them down. It was also the confusing design choices for the Tizen-based software. Rather than easy interactivity, experts felt the interface was too counterintuitive and inconsistent.

The major selling point of the Gear S, of course, is its ability to act as a phone. You can make and receive calls and texts all from the watch. In terms of call quality, critics found it to be as good as using the speakerphone on their normal devices. As for using the keyboard to send text and emails, they didn't see a reason as voice dictation was accurate and, as Android Central puts it, "using the laughably small built-in keyboard…is an exercise in frustration." While Gear S might be marketed as a standalone device, it actually requires a Samsung phone to set up the watch AND download and manage apps. Speaking of apps, reviewers describe the Gear store as "barren" especially as it does not include popular apps like Twitter or Facebook.

While certainly a novel idea, reviewers do not recommend the Gear S over other smartwatches. CNET states, "…the Gear S doesn't…do a good job convincing anyone why you'd want a standalone smartwatch…It has moments of brilliance, but it isn't as fluidly awesome as you'd expect." TechRadar adds, "…the Gear S is simply not better than your run of the mill smartphone. In fact, you're just better off getting the Samsung Note 4 by itself."

Critic Reviews


Brighthand

A cool and surprisingly powerful gadget

from Brighthand

We’re still somewhat skeptical of wearable computing. It’s a cool concept, but continues to lack obvious practicality. The number of people who would find a smartwatch as necessary as a smartphone is going to be pretty low, and the Samsung Gear S doesn’t change that.

But working with the Gear S strongly sells the notion that there is a valuable niche of an always-connected device that extends, rather than replacing, your smartphone. Something that can survive things that regular phones can’t, and is even more mobile, while also being a fun thing to play with. Even with its limitations, the Gear S does a lot of things well, and with surprising practicality...

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We’re still somewhat skeptical of wearable computing. It’s a cool concept, but continues to lack obvious practicality. The number of people who would find a smartwatch as necessary as a smartphone is going to be pretty low, and the Samsung Gear S doesn’t change that.

But working with the Gear S strongly sells the notion that there is a valuable niche of an always-connected device that extends, rather than replacing, your smartphone. Something that can survive things that regular phones can’t, and is even more mobile, while also being a fun thing to play with. Even with its limitations, the Gear S does a lot of things well, and with surprising practicality.

And if money grew on trees, we would probably recommend buying one. But there’s the rub, and it’s a big one. Relative to the hardware it contains, the Gear S is spectacularly expensive. The suggested retail price for our Verizon model is $250 with a contract, or $300 without. Other carriers range from $200 to $350 depending on the terms. If you’re on a subsidized contract, you’d very likely end up paying more for the watch than you would for the high-end smartphone it’s paired to. Even factoring in costs for miniaturizing the hardware, it’s ridiculous.

Granted, this problem isn’t unique to the Gear S. Most other smartwatches command similar premiums for actually far fewer features than the Gear S has. But it does present a self-fulfilling prophecy. Manufacturers assume that only extremely high-end customers will buy a smartwatch, and price themselves right out of anything but the high-end market. Until prices come down, that’s going to be a major roadblock to wide adoption.

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Wareable

A good-looking, expensive, dud

from Wareable

By billing the Samsung Gear S as a standalone device – although not officially in those words – Samsung has delivered a dud. A good-looking, expensive, dud. Without the messy Samsung Galaxy smartphone reliance, the Gear S could have been a unique device that appealed to a certain audi...More

By billing the Samsung Gear S as a standalone device – although not officially in those words – Samsung has delivered a dud. A good-looking, expensive, dud. Without the messy Samsung Galaxy smartphone reliance, the Gear S could have been a unique device that appealed to a certain audience. Instead, it’s a mishmash of impressive features combined with a fiddly user experience that won’t really appeal to anyone. Its limitations and annoyances could have been more easily forgiven if it wasn’t so bloomin’ expensive. $349?! Get real Samsung. Sure, that’s the price of a mid-range smartphone but you’d need to buy another mid-range smartphone (at least) just to get it going in the first place. At $100 less we’d give it another star; the notification features work really well and it looks amazing – but at its current RRP that’s the least you’d expect.

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TechRadar

Isn't very comfortable and definitely not a smartwatch for everyone

from TechRadar

The Samsung Gear S is two steps forward and one step back for smartwatches as a whole. The promise of standalone calling and texting is an amazing and needed feature for smartwatches to really feel useful - but not great in practice if it requires a smartphone. It's sad to say but the Gear S is not a truly independent smartwatch...

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The Samsung Gear S is two steps forward and one step back for smartwatches as a whole. The promise of standalone calling and texting is an amazing and needed feature for smartwatches to really feel useful - but not great in practice if it requires a smartphone. It's sad to say but the Gear S is not a truly independent smartwatch.

It's also not looking good value-wise. You're buying the Gear S for $350, then shelling out another chunk of change for a higher end smartphone, like the unlocked $879 Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Then to take advantage of the Gear S's most touted features - texting and calling - you'll have to pay an additional amount for a data plan.

At this point, the Gear S is simply not better than your run of the mill smartphone. In fact, you're just better off getting the Samsung Note 4 by itself.

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TrustedReviews

Bigger, more feature-packed and less reliant on your smartphone

from TrustedReviews

The Samsung Gear S is big, bold and feature-packed, but it costs to have a smartwatch that can live apart from its smartphone companion.

Read full review

The Samsung Gear S is big, bold and feature-packed, but it costs to have a smartwatch that can live apart from its smartphone companion.

Read full review

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PCWorld

Bigger and badder, but not in a good way

from PCWorld

The Samsung Gear S smartwatch breaks new ground with phone-free communications, but makes too many compromises. With a high up-front price and monthly service charge, buy at your own risk.

Read full review

The Samsung Gear S smartwatch breaks new ground with phone-free communications, but makes too many compromises. With a high up-front price and monthly service charge, buy at your own risk.

Read full review

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Android Central

It's just too big of a tradeoff to make for most people

from Android Central

The Gear S is an incredibly interesting device that really pushes the boundaries of what can be done with a smartwatch today. It’s quite a feat to see something in a watch-like form factor with a 2-inch display be capable of doing all of the basic tasks of a smartphone, even if it does have some compromises in implementation...

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The Gear S is an incredibly interesting device that really pushes the boundaries of what can be done with a smartwatch today. It’s quite a feat to see something in a watch-like form factor with a 2-inch display be capable of doing all of the basic tasks of a smartphone, even if it does have some compromises in implementation.

In many ways I appreciate what Samsung is trying with the Gear S, and I know there are more than a few people out there who will see the appeal of having so much power in a tiny device on your wrist that — at least for short periods of time — doesn't need a smartphone nearby. The biggest issues with this particular device are in execution.

The Gear S can make it two days on a charge, do just about anything you could want on a watch and has a really nice looking display. But when you turn that display on, you're greeted by software that lacks the polish I expect on a modern wearable, while also being sluggish and somewhat unintuitive for a device with a small (relative to phones) display. It's just too big of a tradeoff to make for most people — especially if they just want a simple smartwatch experience. 

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Cnet

The smartwatch that's also a smartphone

from Cnet

The Gear S isn't necessary, some of its features just don't work well, and it's got way too few actually useful apps. And I doubt its app environment will ever get better with Apple and Google ramping up efforts next year. But at least credit Samsung for trying to break new ground and explore new...More

The Gear S isn't necessary, some of its features just don't work well, and it's got way too few actually useful apps. And I doubt its app environment will ever get better with Apple and Google ramping up efforts next year. But at least credit Samsung for trying to break new ground and explore new ideas. The Gear S feels more like a wearable concept car than a fully baked killer gadget, and it's breaking some exciting new ground for wrist wearables. Whether it ever becomes more than that depends on how fast Samsung's seventh smartwatch comes along.

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Mobile Tech Review

Good looking, comfortable curve, does more than Android Wear watches

from Mobile Tech Review

The Samsung Gear S is a definite step forward, but smartwatches and wearables are still in their grade school years. They Gear S is the most attractive Samsung smartwatch yet, and it can even hang with the more traditionally designed Moto 360. But it's still a big and clunky thing, which is fine...More

The Samsung Gear S is a definite step forward, but smartwatches and wearables are still in their grade school years. They Gear S is the most attractive Samsung smartwatch yet, and it can even hang with the more traditionally designed Moto 360. But it's still a big and clunky thing, which is fine if you're a guy who already wears quite large watches, but less fantastic for those who wear average sized watches. The 1 day battery life that plagues smartwatches, including the Gear S is another severely limiting factor in a world where many of us already have to charge a phone or two, a tablet and a laptop. But the Gear S is the first smartwatch that can almost stand on its own thanks to 3G, WiFi and the way it uses those to stay in connection with your phone beyond Bluetooth range (yes, you could leave the phone at home for your next run or biking session).

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Gizmodo

The Gear S is big and ugly in order to shove in that limited functionality

from Gizmodo

No. There's a lot you could potentially do with a watch that has its own data connection, but the Gear S doesn't do those things. And the Gear S is big and ugly in order to shove in that limited functionality. The trade-off just isn't worth it. Connectivity should be a bonus feature, not something you hang your hat on....

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No. There's a lot you could potentially do with a watch that has its own data connection, but the Gear S doesn't do those things. And the Gear S is big and ugly in order to shove in that limited functionality. The trade-off just isn't worth it. Connectivity should be a bonus feature, not something you hang your hat on.

If you are a normal person—not some crazy businessman who needs to respond to emails instantly on a jog or something—the features that the Gear S sacrifices style and size to gain just aren't going to come in handy that often. And that's without even considering the price of a data plan, which shouldn't cost anywhere near as much as carriers are charging. That, and the Gear S is expensive to start with. It varies by carrier but you won't find it cheaper than $300.

Connectivity might eventually come to smartwatches on a wider scale, and it could be handy when it finally does. But for now the tech is too bulky, the plans are too expensive, and the benefits are too few. Turns out being Dick Tracy is overrated.

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Gizmag

This smartwatch can fly solo

from Gizmag

If you want a smartwatch that's still smart even when your phone isn't around, the Gear S is worth checking out. It has a few annoying holes, and can also be pretty expensive once you factor in a data plan. But it does mark a step forward for wearables and, with the right software support (which...More

If you want a smartwatch that's still smart even when your phone isn't around, the Gear S is worth checking out. It has a few annoying holes, and can also be pretty expensive once you factor in a data plan. But it does mark a step forward for wearables and, with the right software support (which may or may not come), it could become a truly awesome device.

Read full review

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