Samsung took a good watch and added a bunch of new features, such as a loudspeaker, LTE connectivity, and payment support. But is it the world’s smartest watch?
The Gear S2 watch is an excellent watch. It may be the smartest watch around at the moment. On Wednesday at IFA in Berlin, however, Samsung unveiled the next generation of the watch, the Gear S3, which has quite a few new features and improvements over its predecessor.
LTE and payments directly from the watch
First of all, in design it appears that there are no major differences between the watches. Samsung has continued the same successful line of design from the S2, although the watch’s dimensions have grown slightly. It now boasts a 46-millimeter diameter with a 1.3-inch screen and 360X360 resolution, compared with a 44-millimeter diameter and a 1.2-inch screen on the previous watch. The new watch is also fatter, weighing 10-15 grams more than the previous model, and is 1.5 millimeters thicker. The reason for the larger dimensions is probably that the new watch also includes a built-in loudspeaker and a GPS component, making it ideal for runners. Samsung has also kept one of the most surprising and useful elements of the watch – the rotating framework used to control the watch, a successful counterpart to the Crown in the Apple Watch.
The new watch will come in two different models, each with its own design and specifications. The Frontier model, which includes a matte black finish, corresponds to the S2 Sport model. This model also provides LTE connectivity so that together with its loudspeaker, you can walk around with the watch and leave your smartphone at home. In addition, it can receive alerts and send messages independently, without depending on your cellular device. The Classic model, which has a metallic finish, includes only BT and WiFi connectivity, without LTE. Like its predecessors, the S3 will be based on Tizen OS, Samsung’s operating system, instead of on Google’s Android Wear.
Both models are water-proof and dust-proof according to the exacting IP68 standard. This means that a little sweat, rain, and even a wash with tap water will make no difference to the watch. In order to complete the protection, the screen also includes a Gorilla Glass SR+ coating.
Under the motor cover is an Exynos System-on-Chip kit with a dual-core processor, 768 MB in RAM, and 4 GB of internal storage space.
Where its sensors are concerned, the S3 contains a pedometer, gyroscope, barometer, pulse gauge, and lux meter. According to Samsung, its 380mAh battery can be expected to last for four days of activity, although we will of course have to test this for ourselves. The S2 surprised us with the longevity of its battery, but it is important to keep in mind that the new watches also include GPS and LTE – known to be heavy consumers of battery capacity. Like the S2, the S3 also includes convenient wireless charging.
We are excited that both S3 models support Samsung Pay. Thanks to Samsung’s technology, its payments service supports both NFC-based terminals and ordinary MST magnetic terminals. In our opinion, at least, the option of making payments with a watch is a killer feature.
Another interesting feature comes from the device’s screen – an always on screen display, which enables the watch to constantly display the time without turning the screen off. The time is shown in full living color, in contrast to other watches, giving it the feeling of an ordinary analog watch.
Samsung did not disclose the launch date or price of the new watches, but the launch will probably take place towards the end of the year.