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Samsung Gear S3 review: the best of both worlds

AndroidPIT Samsung Gear Classic Frontier 1299 retouched
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Samsung used IFA 2016 as the stage to present two more smartwatch models, thus expanding its wearables portfolio. The Gear S3 Classic and the Gear S3 Frontier combine the features we already had the pleasure of using on the Gear S2 in 2015, in addition to the more recent fitness tracker functions found on the Gear Fit2. In today’s review, we’ll take a look at what other innovations Samsung has integrated into its latest newcomer.

Samsung Gear S3


  • long battery life
  • simple controls thanks to the bezel
  • well-made
  • water and dust-proof with IP68 certification


  • variety of apps limited
  • the bezel rattles slightly
Samsung Gear S3
Samsung Gear S3
Samsung Gear S3: All deals

Samsung Gear S3 release date and price

Despite the arrival of the Galaxy S3 Classic and the Gear S3 Frontier, Samsung decided to keep its 2015 models available on the market - the Gear S2 and the Gear S2 Classic. Both Gear S3 models are offered for a retail price of $349.99, while the Gear S2 continues to go for the price of $299.99 and the Gear S2 Classic for $349.99. There is, however, the possibility of getting the latter devices for a reduced price depending on the provider.

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The main differences between the Classic (bottom) and the Frontier are the bezel and buttons. / © NextPit

The rather limited choice of color options for the Gear S3 models differs greatly from the bigger selection made available with the Gear S2 and Gear S2 classic. Upon the release of the Gear S3 Classic, the smartwatch only came in silver, while the Gear S3 Frontier was only available in black. The slim choice of colors goes to show just how much Samsung is targeting men, while the Gear S2 models were intended for the female audience.

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Both Gear S2 models remain available on the market. / © NextPit

Samsung has made an LTE version of the Gear S3 Frontier available in both North America and Asia and has yet again put eSIMs to use for both markets. There is also a good chance that this model will be distributed in Europe as well, seeing as a 3G version of the Gear S2 was pushed out several months after the product launch.

Samsung Gear S3 design and build quality

When looking at the design and size of the Gear S3, it’s quite evident that Samsung had a male target group in mind when building the smartwatch. The display grew from 1.2 to 1.3 inches and even the dimensions and the weight have been increased accordingly. In terms of appearance, the Classic model, as its name foretells, has a very classic menswear-type look, while the Frontier has much more sporty chronometer style and includes a rotating navigation bezel.

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The Frontier has a bezel much like a diving ring. / © NextPit

The build of both models meets high standards, however there is one drawback: the bezel on both devices doesn’t sit firmly. There seems to be a just a sliver of extra space between the two parts, causing a slight but tangible rattling sound when you tap on the display. That being said, the bezel feels more secure on the newer models than it does on the Gear S2.

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Which one do you prefer? The Classic (right) or the Frontier? / © NextPit

Just like the Gear S2 and Gear Fit2, both Gear S3 models have two physical buttons on the right side of the watch. The button on the Classic model reminds me of a digital sports watch. Samsung made the call to have a much flatter surface on the Frontier version, while simultaneously opting for a textured material to allow the user to feel for the button without having to look for it. The top button functions as the usual back button, while the bottom one brings the user back to the home screen.

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The pulse sensor is found on the back of the device. / © NextPit

Both Gear S3 models are delivered with the same extras: there’s a wireless charging dock, a power supply with a hard-wired microUSB cable and a short watchband for smaller wrists. The watchband for the Classic is made of leather, while the Frontier comes with a silicone band. Both models are IP68 certified, meaning that they are dust and water-resistant. Samsung has specified that the Gear S3 can be dunked into 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes at a time.

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The Classic model is elegant and slick. / © NextPit

Samsung Gear S3 display

As previously mentioned, the Gear S3 of 1.3 inches is 0.1 inch larger than its predecessor, the S2. The resolution stays the same at 360 x 360 pixels. A Korean spokesperson also told us that the S3 is antialiased, meaning that any overly pixelated effects or step effect that sometimes happens in the edges of images or dials are smoothed out.

AndroidPIT samsung gear s3 display
The 1.3-inch Super AMOLED display has 360x360 resolution. / © NextPit

The brightness of the Super AMOLED display is excellent and even in direct sunlight the content on the display is legible. In comparison to the Gear S2, the maximum display brightness on both Gear S3 models is noticeably higher. There is, however, no ambient light sensor on the Gear S3 as there is on the Moto 360, meaning that you often need to manually adjust the brightness. Though the lack of this feature is a shame, you get used to it after a while.

Samsung Gear S3 software

Samsung uses their homemade operating system Tizen on both models of the Gear S3, just like they did on the Gear Fit2 and both versions of the Gear S2. Samsung claims that there are now around 10,000 apps available for the smartwatch platform. The Gear S3 also brought some improvements in terms of software, for example, you can now install apps directly from the smartwatch. This will save users having to use the companion app to get apps on their wearable.

AndroidPIT samsung gear s3 18
Apps can be installed directly onto the watch. / © NextPit

Operating and navigating haven’t changed in that they are accessed via the menus. Thanks to the combination of the touchscreen, the bezel and the physical button, I found that operating the Gear S3 was very easy, as was the Gear S2 before it. Samsung set up Tizen on the Gear S3 so well that you barely need a user manual to figure out how to use it.

There is of course the addition of many new sensors in the the latest Tizen version, which allows the smartwatch to collect and calculate a wide range of fitness data. The barometer can even sense height and speed. The GPS module, in combination with the correct app, are able to track distances so that you can use the Gear S3 as an independant navigation device or speed calculator. These functions also have corresponding apps.

It’s also worth noting that it's possible to make an emergency call and send your location by just pressing a button. This means that if you are in a state of emergency, you press the lower button three times to call for assistance and your position will be sent as well.

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Thanks to the microphone and headphones, you can now make and receive calls. / © NextPit

I was also impressed by the fact that you can connect the Galaxy Gear S3 with Android smartphones produced by other manufacturers. For those who own an iPhone from Apple, you too have the possibility to use a Galaxy Gear S3 with your phone as opposed to the Apple Watch. An iOS app for this purpose was recently leaked and is currently in beta testing in South Korea. If testing proves to be successful, this iOS app will be officially released. While testing the Gear S3, we were also able to download a leaked version of the iOS app and we gave it a try. While the connection between both devices worked without problem, there were still issues with regards to the App Store on the Gear S3. Updates and new apps were difficult to install, and often it was impossible to install apps at all.

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The Gear S3 will soon be able to be paired with Apple's iPhone.  / © NextPit

Samsung Gear S3 performance

As I mentioned a few times already in this review, Samsung has made some small changes to their new smartwatch in comparison to the previous model. This also applies to the hardware running within the smartwatch. It may seem like that Samsung didn’t change anything when you look at the a 1 GHz dual-core processor, however the changes can be found in the details. The processor is now an Exynos and is LTE-compatible.

The new processor is now also paired with 769 MB of memory. 4 GB of internal storage are also available for the operating system, apps and audio data. This means that joggers will be able to go out for a run without needing to lug a smartphone around with them. You can use your Bluetooth headphones for listening and the Gear S3 as an MP3 player.

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You can play music without a smartphone nearby since the Gear S3 has 4 GB of internal storage and speakers. / © NextPit

At no point did we notice any lags or glitches on the Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier. The menus and apps worked smoothly, navigating effortlessly from one screen to another when swiping.

Samsung Gear S3 audio

Another new feature is the possibility of making calls thanks to the integration of a microphone and speaker. Whether you would actually ever use this out in the open is questionable though. This could be useful in the comfort of your own home though so that you don’t always have to carry your phone around with you.

You can also use the Gear S3 as an MP3 player with the integrated speaker. You might not use this every day though seeing as the sound that comes from the integrated mono speaker is rather lousy. If anything, it could work as a party favor or to entertain children.

Samsung Gear S3 battery

Thanks to the larger housing on the Gear S3, Samsung was able to use a larger battery. The Gear S2 had 250 mAh, so both Gear S3’s will last quite a bit longer with 380 mAh. This is 50 percent increase in battery capacity, which is quite impressive.

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The Gear S3 has improved battery capacity with 380 mAh. / © NextPit

With the help of its large battery, both the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic with their optimized 1.3-inch Super AMOLED displays, improved processor and numerous additional sensors were able to run for 2.5 days. If you activate the WiFi toggle so that it is constantly on the lookout for a connection, the battery life will drop down to 1.5 days.

Samsung Gear S3 technical specifications

Final verdict

At first glance, both Gear S3 models put on a good show thanks to the combination of its fitness features like on the Gear Fit2 and smartwatch functions as on the Gear S2, wrapped up in one single device. The Gear S3 has allowed Samsung to further expand their portfolio, especially for the male target group. They now have a complete lineup of wearables for a variety of users.

The Gear S3 versions, however, did not revolutionize the smartwatch market but they have made some worthwhile improvements. The iOS compatibility just needs to be ironed out, at which point I believe many Apple Watch users will switch to the Gear S3.

Is the Gear S3 better than the Gear S2? Technically and functionally-speaking, it only improves over the previous model to a limited extent. I could live without the GPS feature and I prefer the size and weight of the Gear S2, even if that means I need to take it off to recharge every night.

What do you think of the Gear S3? Would you consider buying it, and if so, which one?

  Editor's choice Best smart home control center Best price-performance ratio Best sound Best sound supplement Best display
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Shu On Kwok

Shu On Kwok
Senior Editor

Since 1999, Shu has written about the colorful world of IT and telecommunications. His career started as a presenter at the five-hour TV show NBC GIGA, which led him through several career stages until he finally joined the AndroidPIT team in May of 2015. His passion for mobile devices and gadgets knows no boundaries. Whether Android, iOS or Windows, Shu feels at home with any OS.

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  • Dave 4
    Dave Dec 20, 2017 Link to comment

    I've had mine for several months now and, overall, it's a great watch. I get compliments on it all the time... even from folks using Apple's smart watch. Whoah! What is that? That thing looks amazing! Yep, it does. It's a beautiful watch. I upgraded the band to a chrome one instead of the stock rubber band.

    There are some decent apps available for the device and I love getting my texts and news on the watch. I also use the speakerphone more often that I thought I would, though I wish the sound quality was better. Still, it does the job well and I'm happy. I also use the fitness tracker more than I thought I would. My original reason for buying the device was just because I'm a techy kind of dude and liked the fact that I could use it apart from my phone. But I love getting the fitness updates and my wife and I have used it along with apps to challenge each other and keep track. Very cool.

    The most annoying part about this watch, hands down, is the voice assistant. Samsung Voice remains pure crap! I had hoped that we would get some version of Bixby this year, but no luck. If you're hoping to be able to talk to your watch like you do Google or Siri, forget about it. I can't even get it to call someone in my contact list accurately. Major thumbs down to Samsung on this glaring detail. I still hope they will give us some kind of upgrade, but it is a serious mar on the device in my opinion.

    Another negative is that it doesn't seem to handle GPS apps very well and is pretty much useless on that front. As I mentioned though, there are plenty of useful, cool apps to make up for the lack. Good watch, needs a better voice assistant and a few things, but I remain happy with it over all.

  • John Mitton 2
    John Mitton Jan 23, 2017 Link to comment

    Samsung Gear S3 Frontier- Major update for Samsung’s best Gear S3 Smartwatch.Samsung Gear S3 users are in for a main upgrade after the Samsung Company started rolling out its latest update for Samsung Gear S3 watch today.How to upgrade Samsung Gear S3.

  • 4
    Karin Anderson Jan 12, 2017 Link to comment

    Awesome look and features after this blog I just can't wait to buy this watch. I would help me lot to keep myself updated

  • Jonathan Evans 1
    Jonathan Evans Jan 7, 2017 Link to comment

    I echo your point about how fast this smartwatch is. It's great and better than most Android Wear watches I've tried. I don't feel like I miss out on lack of apps. Maybe down the road, but I limit number of apps using the basics such as text messaging, voice memos, email and S Health. With Health Sync I was able to sync S Health with Google Fit which is pretty cool. Overall I agree with your assessment giving this watch a high score... it's a great watch. Too bad though that Frontier isn't fully waterproof.

  • John B. 9
    John B. Dec 25, 2016 Link to comment

    I think that smartwatches are not doing as good as they were when they first came out. The price point on them is still high in my opinion. I still haven't tried one out yet but I believe that I would if they were around $100.

  • 1
    Olivia Fair Dec 21, 2016 Link to comment

    smart watches , more pointless gadgets just for the sake of it, its not an innovation its just something old put into a new form factor that is not making anybodies life easier by enough to warrant making them.
    i bet 99% of people will only ever use it to check the time
    and do most other things on the bigger screen of their phone.

    They will mess around with it for a few hours thinking its cool to be like dick tracey, when the novelty wears off it will be business as usual. looking at their wrist to see the time. getting their phone out their pocket to check email or texts or whatever.

    So thanks but no thanks,

    I'll be sticking with a stylish quartz watch that ticks reassuringly like a watch should and my phone in my pocket thanks.
    not everything has to be digital. (to be fair tho the Samsung Gear S3 one doesn't look too bad as a watch)

  • 3
    Sunil Ramkissoon Dec 13, 2016 Link to comment

    Can you root it and make it Android wear?

  • 1
    Benjamin A Dec 12, 2016 Link to comment

    Samsung's own press site says that it DOES have an ambient light sensor: "The ambient light sensor helps to adjust the brightness of displayed information"...

  • 1
    Cartoon Games Dec 11, 2016 Link to comment

    There's also a speaker and a microphone to make calls to Gear S3. Small Pay for Smart Pay is also among the features of smart clock.

  • 2
    Avik Sarkar Dec 10, 2016 Link to comment

    I have just gifted an S2 to my brother. Totally banking on its battery life!

  • 8
    Stephen Bradley Dec 10, 2016 Link to comment

    Don't like the look.

    Ann Huebner

  • William Hill 3
    William Hill Dec 9, 2016 Link to comment

    I've had my S3 Frontier now about a week and I love it. Good sound and tons of nice watch faces to purchase for little or nothing. Graphics are outstanding and battery life with display brightness set halfway will have it last more than a day. I wear it in the shower with no problems and it really is a nice addition to my devices. I have a Note 4 running os 6.0.1 and it works flawlessly. Phone calls work like a charm and I just love the sleep evaluation I can show to my Dr and heart rates to my Cardiologist. I'm a Android faithful and I know many who are purchasing the S3 after seeing mine.

    Scott Bensonno freaking way ...OK?

  • 22
    ljhaye Oct 31, 2016 Link to comment

    Tizen is Android Wear, Tizen is a great OS for wearables as it has great battery life. None of the major Android OEMs were going to build Android wear devices this year[2016] causing Google to push back Android Wear to 2017. With Huawei going as far to possibly adopt Tizen as their wearable operating system. Also none of the Android faithful are even buying Android wear devices according to IDC metrics for 2016.

    I know many Android owners who use the gear S2 as their "Android " wearable myself included.

    no freaking way ...OK?

  • 13
    Some Tech Guy Aug 31, 2016 Link to comment

    It uses Tizen. While the watch hardware looks good, proprietary OS on a wearable does not. If it's not Android Wear, I'll pass.

    Joseph White

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