From what I’ve seen on the web, reviewers don’t seem to like the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. We’re one of the few media sources that actually dig the product, in spite of its big price. Samsung Galaxy Gear is the first Samsung smartwatch, that was shown at IFA 2013. It’s priced at $299 and it only works in tandem like Galaxy Note 3, Note 2 and Galaxy S4, plus S III.
The design features a nice construction, a front metal and glass area and back pins for charging. There’s a single button here, an On/Off button placed on the side of the watch, while its speaker is placed on the back of the buckle. We’ve got a rubber band here, with the 1.9 megapixel camera with BSI sensor placed on one side of your wrist, the left side, when the watch is worn normally.
There are two microphones integrated here and the lock of the belt is adjustable for a variety of wrist sizes. The watch measures 11.1 mm in thickness, weighs 73.8 grams, so portability is not an issue. I like this design, but as I said this is a subjective matter. On the hardware side, we’ve got an Exynos 800 MHz processor, that helps the device run Android 4.2.2 and upfront there’s a Super AMOLED 1.63 inch display with a 320 x 320 pixel resolution.
Other specs include a 1.9 megapixel camera with BSI and 720p video capture, Bluetooth 4.0, an accelerometer, gyroscope, 4 GB of storage and 512 MB of RAM. There’s a 315 mAh battery inside, that should be good enough for a day and a half or two of usage. You will use the cradle bundled with the watch to charge it, as shown in the unboxing previously published.
The display included here is a very bright, has good view angles and good behaviour in sunlight. As far as the camera goes, it takes 4:3 1280 x 960 pictures or 1:1 pics with a 1392 x 1392 picture resolution. The pics and videos look surprisingly good and I have to remind you that the camera can only record 15 seconds of video.
You need to tap to shoot and sadly you can’t actually see what you’re shooting, because of the weird angle of the camera. The options here include a focus mode, with macro available and we’ve even got a Sound & Shot option included as well. Overall, this camera offers the same quality as the shooter integrated at the front of a Galaxy S device. I wish it could record more video though…
On the UI side, everything is black and white, although some apps and the picture gallery bring a bit of color to the interface. The watch is the main homescreen and you will swipe to the sides for the other features and options. A swipe down on the small screen equals the Back button, while a swipe up on the home screen triggers the phone dialer.
A swipe down on the same home screen will trigger the camera. You can change the info displayed on the homescreen and the type of watches from the Galaxy Note 3 or whatever device you’re using to control the watch via Gear Manager. In the video review below you can see how notifications are displayed and how you can use S Voice to write a text, call someone or set a reminder. You can also record voice memos and there’s a nice feature that turns what you say into text that can be remembered.
We’ve got a pretty simple gallery and a media controller that handles the play/pause/volume/forward/back aspect of your bigger device and there’s also a Pedometer in the mix here. There’s also a Contacts section, an apps section and obviously Settings on the smartwatch. We’ve got an archive for notifications and I even found a Facebook Quickview app that shows statuses and messages and also one for Twitter that takes forever to load.
We’ve got a Find Device feature on the watch for the bigger handset or phablet and a Find Watch feature in Gear Manager. There’s a huge variety of settings and options to tweak in Gear Manager, most of them having to do with notifications and how you connect the watch to the phone. Among the apps available in the Samsung Apps Store right now for the Galaxy Gear we find Ebay, Evernote, a dice game, a camera dictionary, radio and a variety of customization options. More apps will be released in the future and there are already workarounds to actually use the device in a more standalone way. And now for the Pros and Cons…
Here are the Pros:
- good battery
- nice industrial design
- good S Voice
- decent notifications
- surprisingly good camera
- bright screen
- good view angles
And the Cons:
- price is very high for such a device
- black and white main UI
- depends on a handset
- not many apps available
- captures just 15 seconds of video
We give the Samsung Galaxy Gear a 9.5 out of 10 for design, an 8 for hardware and a 7 for OS and UI. The final grade is 8.16 out of 10, but considering the price we drop that to a 7 out of 10. With an appealing design, nice notifications and several catchy features, this model sounds pretty solid, but in the end it’s too dependent on another Samsung device.