Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Review: Rivals Apple Watch; Still No Apps

Samsung opted to go with Tizen for its wearables. And 2016’s Gear S2, which boasted a refreshed outlook, was their last smartwatch. While Apple offers the rotating crown in its Apple Watch, Samsung outdid its competition with its rotating dial.

But with the Apple Watch Series 2 in the reckoning, and Moto not bringing the third iteration of the Moto 360, does the new S3 Frontier stand a chance with its premium value?

Pros:

  • Premium, chronograph-like design
  • Works without a phone
  • Multitude of features in tow
  • Long battery life
  • Supports calling

Cons:

  • Still expensive
  • Tizen lacks support for basic apps

What’s Good?

The Gear S3 Frontier can be paired with the S Health app from your phone. (Photo: The Quint)

Samsung has refined the design outlook of the Frontier S3, trying to fit it with the Rs 28,000 price tag this smartwatch comes with. This is a Tizen-running device that manages to pack GPS, work in standalone mode without a phone, and track your fitness data.

Continuing its circular design, the S3 Frontier borrows the rotating dial of the Gear S2 and the functions remain the same. Scroll it right/left and select the features available in this watch.

You can get WhatsApp, email, and SMS notifications as well as calls on the watch. (Photo: The Quint)

The 1.8-inch AMOLED display is bright enough to be visible outdoors, something that's a given with Samsung products by now. You have multiple watch faces pre-loaded that give it a different theme for different occasion. You also get onboard storage, the option to control the phone's music, and even attend calls via the built-in microphone (but don't do it in public).

The watch is GPS-enabled, and features a heart rate sensor too. (Photo: The Quint)

For those with an eye for fitness, the Gear S3 Frontier can count steps, monitor your diet (if manually configured), track your sleep pattern and also transmit all of this to the S Health app.

And yes, before you ask, the watch can last for more than a day. Brands have spoilt us by showing that a powerful, feature-rich device cannot last for more than day. So, it's good to see that Samsung is bucking the trend, positioning it closer to becoming a straight-on Apple competitor.

We managed to run the Gear 3 Frontier for more than 2 days over a week or so. The 400mAh battery does manage to up the battery ante, but just about enough. How long before we get more than a week from these devices? We hope that's next on Samsung’s agenda.

What’s Bad?

The 1.8-inch AMOLED display is outdoor friendly. (Photo: The Quint)

While offering a device for Rs 28,000, Samsung really needs to get app developers on its side, and soon. A lot was promised when the Gear S2 made its debut, but the same old story repeats itself in 2017.

You can access most social messaging apps (linked to the phone) on the watch, but we'd really like to see the native apps making their way to the watch, hopefully in the latter part of this year. Doing that would help Samsung justify its pricing, to some extent at least.

Why Buy It?

The silicon-based strap of the watch adds punch to the weight of the watch. (Photo: The Quint)

The Samsung Gear S3 is a near-complete wearable with a premium design, a host of useful features and it also works without a phone as well.

With Tizen, Samsung continues to show that the world beyond Android Wear has potential. But Tizen quickly needs to find takers who can offer apps for this watch.

The battery life improvement is a welcome move, but more work is needed to make it more than an aspirational product. At Rs 28,000, the Gear S3 Frontier needs to give buyers a better reason to go for it. Or else you should skip buying a wearable completely.