Modern day wrist watches a.k.a Smartwatches these days, often fall into two categories and consumers have the freedom to choose what they want out of these two categories, depending on their lifestyle. The first category is for those who prefer using something more ‘watch’ like with no extra bells and whistles and focus mainly on lifestyle features like showing the notifications and showing the time of course. And the other category is for those who want something which focuses more on fitness and active lifestyle. If you want a smartwatch which looks good and offers more basic smartwatch features then, Huawei has got you covered with the Huawei Watch. But if you want something with more focus on fitness, then you might as well give your money to Fitbit and let them take care of your fitness goals. But if you want best of both the worlds, then you are pretty much out of luck unless you own an iPhone, since Apple Watch is one good option there. But out of wilderness, Samsung decided to step up and do something about this pathetic smartwatch crisis in the world of smartwatches for Android users. What did they do? The Gear S3 Frontier!
Samsung launched the Gear S3 Classic and the Gear S3 Frontier last year, and currently, these two are the top of the line smartwatches that the company has to offer. The Gear S3 Frontier is the one which we are going to be talking about here since we haven’t had the chance to check out Gear S3 Classic. The Gear S3 Frontier is more functional, and it screams ruggedness inside out. Whereas, the Classic, on the other hand, is, well, Classic! The Gear S3 Classic is for those who simply want to wear something that looks elegant. The Gear S3 Frontier which also looks good, if not better than the classic, is the smartwatch to buy if you want to get things done with your smartwatch, more than just showing off. Yes, the Gear S3 Frontier is packed with everything you can possibly think about putting in a smartwatch. Think of it like Note series smartphone from Samsung where they throw in all the possible features as they can. The Gear S3 Frontier packs Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, LTE(not in India), etc. All this is packed inside a ruggedized steel casing with IP68 certification & Gorilla Glass SR on top. Enough of these specs shout-outs right? What does it feel like wearing & using it on a daily basis?
[quote align=’left’] The Gear S3 Frontier is fairly big in size at 46mm. [/quote]With my 3+ weeks of usage, i found out a lot of things to like and dislike about the Gear S3 Frontier, but none of that made me want to get rid of it instantly or made me crazy over it. First of all, it is fairly big in size at 46mm. Coming from an Invicta Pro-Diver (40mm), i found it way too big for my liking. But i got used to it within hours of wearing it mainly because it is not as heavy as it appears to look. Coming in at 63 grams (without the straps), it is easy to handle. But if you are used to wearing small watches, then you should not consider this at all since it is substantially larger than most of the competition. While i had no problems wearing it, i just wish it was not so thick, as it was uncomfortable to get a shirt sleeve cuff over it. Also, the watch comes with a rubber strap which can be easily swapped with something you feel more comfortable since it uses a standard 22mm bands which are dead simple to replace as well using the clasp give at the back of the bands.
Talking about the design, the watch looks sturdy, just as you would expect it to be. It certainly looks very masculine and not many women would be particularly interested in wearing this, and it is mainly due to the size of the watch. The Gear S3 Frontier comes only in one standard casing option which is the stainless steel, however, if you feel like undergoing a makeover for it, then you can buy different watch bands that reflect your style. But the fact that the customization is limited to watch bands might be a deal breaker, but hey, as mentioned earlier, the Frontier is for getting things done, rather than showing off. And the stainless steel design is not particularly bad as it suits well and it looks no different than a regular watch. On the side, there are two buttons on both the Classic and the Frontier, but the ones on the Frontier looks different to go with the more rugged look and it certainly looks like they can take a beating or two.
[quote align=’right’] The main attraction of the Gear S3 is the rotating bezel [/quote]The main attraction of the Gear S3 is however on the front of the watch face, and it is nothing but the rotating bezel. This is what keeps the show running and is mostly one of the main reasons why someone would want to buy a Gear smartwatch from Samsung. The rotating bezel on the front acts as an interface to the watch which is one of the best use that one can think of the bezels. If there’s no use for it, then you might as well just remove it, right? This is something that Samsung had done quite well with the Gear S2 as well, and it is no different with the Gear S3 here. It works perfectly fine, and it is the best way you can interact with your watch other than touching the display directly as it makes you hide the content on the small and restricted as it already is. It is even far better than the Digital crown on the Apple Watch as well since it is right there on top along with the display which you can’t miss it by any means.
Before jumping into the internal components of the Gear S3 Frontier, lets’ take a moment and appreciate the display on the Gear S3. It an absolute beauty to look at and no wonder it is that good since it is a Super AMOLED display after all which is found on most of the Flagships these days from Samsung. The Gear S3 is powered by an Exynos 7270, Dual 1.0 GHz chipset which makes the user experience a whole lot better. It may be due to the software as well, but the UI is buttery smooth, and it is in fact far better than what you get on any Android Wear watch out there in the market. Samsung has really done a great job in that department at least. The watch comes with 768MB of RAM, and it also has 4GB of internal storage for storing your music files and apps, etc. It has all the necessary sensors available as well just like you would find in any other smartwatch. The international variant of the Gear S3 Frontier supports LTE as well which is not available in the Indian variants. The LTE support is also one of the primary reason why someone would want to pick up the Frontier over the classic one, however, in India, that option comes down to looks and form factor now.
[quote align=’left’] The Gear S3 Frontier is IP68 certified [/quote]The Gear S3 Frontier is also IP68 certified, and hence you don’t have to worry about taking it to the gym for a workout, etc. Since there are a ton of different sensors, it can effortlessly track your workouts automatically or else you can also set the workout manually and have it track it for you as you start. All the workout stats are shown on display and, the same can also be tracked on your smartphones where all the data gets synced with the S Health App. Speaking of display, the Gear S3 has a beautiful 1.3” circular display which i simply can’t talk enough about. It is not the most resolution dense display in the world. However, it has a decent number i.e. 360 x360. The display is nice and secure under the Corning Gorilla Glass SR+ which is first for any smartwatch till now as this is something new by Corning. The watch has a 380 mAh battery which Samsung confidently claims will last for about four days. However, my typical experience was of 2-3 days between the charges. In fact, i am not surprised that it doesn’t live upto the claimed four days considering the hardware components are quite good. The display gets bright enough to be able to see under direct sunlight as well which is not something that you can expect out of every smartwatch in today’s date.
However, if you reside outside India and are using an LTE version, then you may end up draining the battery within two days itself, or maybe you will see yourself throwing the watch into the charger every single night. But on the up side, the included charger is magnetic and charges your watch wirelessly, and above all that, it makes up for being a cool bedside clock. Do make a note that there are multiple reports which claim that the watch cannot be charged with other Qi chargers and hence you always have to take the included cradle with you on your trips. The watch also has a built-in speaker, which is loud enough to wake you up in the morning when used as an alarm. You can also choose to listen to your music through this speaker for some reason, but, if you are thinking of doing that, then get ready to make some sacrifices with the battery life.
Software & User Experience
[quote align=’right’] Hands down, this is Samsung’s best software yet [/quote]The Gear S3 smartwatches are running the custom Tizen-Based Wearable OS 2.3.2. If you ask me, then hands down, this is Samsung’s best software yet. The software nicely rewards you back with quick actions to the interaction which you make either via the rotating bezels, touch screen or the buttons to the side. Yes, for most people, getting used to the rotating bezel thing might take some time to settle in, but you won’t be disappointed to adapt to this new way of interaction with your watch. I wish all the smartwatches come with this kind of interface. Once you wake up the watch, you will be greeted with the watch face. Instead of swapping down for the notifications, they rest to the left of the watch face, and you simply rotate your watch face to get to them. Your other widgets which you choose to display in the carousel stays to the right side of the watch face. All this won’t really take much time to get used to. And yes, it also has an ‘Always-On’ display which for some reason looks fantastic to me in comparison to other smartwatches.
But that doesn’t mean that the software on this thing is flawless. It does have issues from time to time. With my usage, I’ve noticed that the notifications not always show up on the wrist. Now, this could be due to a lot of reasons, and just for the record, the watch was paired to my iPhone via the Samsung Gear App. Hence, if you want to blame the new iOS integration for this, then be my guest. And apart from that, there are a lot of other annoying features that i don’t really use like the S Voice for instance. Now you might think that Samsung might have done something to make S voice better for the watch, but sadly the answer is a big NO. It is the same old S Voice which has my absolute zero interest. Even certain minor issues like the fact that there isn’t a quick way to assign a widget to your favorite action is a huge led down for me personally, and it does affect my overall user experience.
Talking about user experience, i used the Gear S3 Frontier primarily to track my fitness. It fits perfectly in your hands, and you have a sense of confidence while wearing to it the gym or going out for a quick run. The fitness tracking capabilities were beyond my expectations. Having used Fitbit, Android Wear devices, etc. in the past, my experience with the Gear S3 Frontier at least in terms of fitness tracking was on point. I didn’t really find the need to turn on my walking exercise routine from the menu under S health. Simply start walking, and your watch will poke you in 10 mins saying that you are doing a great job. Constant nudges on your wrist asking you to get up on your feet or street while you sit in front of the computer are extra for all the couch potatoes. The health center overall is very smart in this one. Yes, no doubt you will get better metrics from a dedicated fitness band, but the Gear S3 Frontier is not a bad option if you don’t want to buy a separate fitness tracker.
The Gear S3 Frontier and even the Gear S3 Classic are both priced at 28,500 INR in India. Now the question is, is the watch really worth the money? It depends on what you feel about smartwatches and what you expect to get out of them. Yes, there’s no doubt that the Gear S3 Frontier is packed with a ton of great features, but so are the other smartwatches. You are not getting anything revolutionary here and definitely, the Gear S3 smartwatches are not doing anything significantly better than the others as well. Hence if you have already invested in a particular smartwatch then, chances are, you might want to that one. But on the other hand, if you are a smartwatch enthusiast and if you were looking for something different than the same old Android Wear & Apple watch options, the Gear S3 Frontier is a breath of fresh air. Having said that, the price difference between the Classic and the Frontier is nil here in India, and hence it all comes down to your preference that suits your lifestyle. But if you feel that the Gear S3 smartwatches are too big to your liking, then be sure to check out the last years offerings from Samsung as well, as they offer similar user experience on a much smaller form factor or maybe some other Android Wear offering, but i doubt if you will find anything as tough as the Gear S3 Frontier.