- Excellent autonomy
- Convenient for running without a smartphone
- Clear and fluid interface
- Very good quality screen
We don’t like
- Too big.
- High price
- Not compatible with iOS
- Frequently paid applications
After a Gear S2 that had everything to please last year, Samsung has continued its efforts and provides a very well-made Gear S3 Frontier. We particularly appreciate the watch’s excellent autonomy, its well thought-out crown system to navigate the interface as well as the presence of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, heart sensor and the addition of GPS. The only very big shadow on the board, an imposing size that can be cumbersome on some wrists.
After a particularly successful Gear S2 watch last year, Samsung has decided to continue its momentum with new connected watches planned for this year: the Gear S3 and Gear S3 Frontier. Identical in terms of technical features, they are only distinguished by their design. On paper, both promise much more than the Gear S2 with more power, more battery, more connectivity, but also more clutter.
>>> Find our comparison of the best watches and bracelets connected
The Gear S3 Frontier is a monster. The screen alone measures 1.3 inch diameter, to which the case and the notched bezel must be added. Once it’s attached to the wrist, it’s hard to ignore. If the problem is already annoying for a male wrist, it becomes prohibitive for a woman. A problem all the more important as Samsung only offers onemodel watch and not two depending on the size of your wrist. From there to saying that Samsung has cut itself off from half of the potential consumers, there is only one step that one can take happily.
Of course, there is something for everyone, and this criterion is above all subjective, but we can only regret the change in strategy of the Korean manufacturer in terms of design. If the Gear S2 was thin, compact and slender, the Gear S3 Frontier takes the opposite side with a massive, sporty look and a particularly thick shape. The Gear S2 is 11.2 mm thick, 42 mm in diameter and 42 grams, while the Gear S3 Frontier is 12.9 mm thick, 46 mm in diameter and is 62 grams . Massif tells you.
>>> Find our test of the Samsung Gear S2
Aside from its oversized size, the design of the Gear S3 Frontier is pretty well thought-out and takes up the good ideas of last year’s Gear S2. There is a crown which allows you to navigate simply by turning the watch, without having to put your fingers on the screen, as well as two buttons located on the right side of the case. The top one allows you to go back to the previous screen, while the bottom one will take you directly to the dial that serves as the home screen. We also appreciate the fact that Samsung has opted for a standardwristband on this new model. If the model supplied is made of silicone, it can easily be replaced by another Samsung Watch strap with a 22 mm clasp, whether it is a leather, stainless steel or rubber model.
Battery Life is one of the main criteria for choosing a connected watch While it rarely exceeded one day as recently as two years ago it has made great strides since then with the main models that usually last more than one day, or even two.
Autonomy is at the heart of the Gear S3 Frontier. It is in particular to favour it that Samsung has decided to enlarge its connected watch as much as possible. While the Gear S2 only benefited from a 250 mAh battery, the Gear S3 Frontier can benefit from a 380 mAhbattery. Concretely, if the Gear S2 was already efficient with more than 24 hours of autonomy, the Gear S3 Frontier goes much further. We were able to use it with the display on continuously and the brightness set to 5 (out of 10), for 52 hours. A use essentially based on the consultation of the notifications and the parameter setting of the watch, with screen permanently lit and regular measurement of the heart rate, without autonomous GPS tracking or use of applications directly on the watch. The use of the watch is therefore close to that made by most users on a daily basis and seems more than satisfactory given this autonomy of more than two days.
Note that, as with the Gear S2 and most competitive models, the Gear S3 Frontier is charged using a induction base. It works with a micro-USB cable connected to a power outlet. When you place your watch inside, an LED will indicate whether the watch is charging or already full. In addition, the watch will display the charging status of the watch before turning off.
When it comes to connectivity, it’s hard to beat the Gear S2. Samsung’s previous connected watch model was already Bluetooth, NFC and Wi-Fi compatible, as well as having a heart rate sensor. However, the Gear S3 Frontier goes even further with the addition of a built-in GPS.
This GPS thus allows the watch to be used in complete autonomy, without a smartphone, when you go hiking or want to run without an armband attached to your arm. In practical terms, this means you can part with your smartphone, launch theS Health application on the Gear S3 Frontier and start an activity such as jogging using the watch’s location functions. Now you can also connect a headset or Bluetooth headphones directly to your watch to listen to music stored in the Gear S3 Frontier’s internal memory. This may be one of the main problems of the watch by the way. To listen to a track on the Gear S3 Frontier, you must transfer it from theGear Manager application to your smartphone. In other words, you can’t listen to tracks from Spotify, Deezer or Google Play Music and that’s a shame.
Still within the S Health application, the Gear S3 will regularly take your pulse using a built-in heart rate monitor. It will light up regularly throughout the day, whether you are at rest or not, so that you have a good understanding of your heart rate. It can also be activated automatically when you want to start an exercise. Convenient for the more athletic.
Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and heart sensor, the only thing missing is the connection 4G. And yet, it should arrive soon. Initially planned for the United States and South Korea this completely autonomous model will then land in the rest of the world. Ideal for those who don’t have a watch and expect developers to provide music streaming applications directly on the watch.
Like all connected Samsung bracelets and watches, the Gear S3 Frontier is equipped with the Tizenoperating system.
First of all, the watch requires the Samsung Gear Manager application to be installed on your smartphone in order to be configured. A process that may seem tedious, but we can only applaud Samsung’s efforts when, for the Gear S2, it was necessary to install no less than three different applications in order to use its connected watch.
As usual, it is from this application that the applications for his connected watch can be found, installed and often purchased. Indeed, while Tizen’s open ecosystem allows all developers to offer applications for the Gear S3 Frontier, most of them are still paid, whether simple dials, music players or applications specialized in certain sports such as golf.
In terms of navigation, the smartwatch is relatively fluid. As with most connected watches, the home screen of the Gear S3 Frontier is its dial. From there, you have several options. By turning the crown or by sliding your finger on the screen, you can see, on the left, the last notifications or, on the right, the different widgets to get a quick overview of the weather, your heart rate, the music control interface or your next events. In addition to that, there are the two buttons we talked about earlier. In addition to the return on the dial, the bottom button also allows you to see the list of all the applications installed on the watch. A list in which one navigates, again, with the help of the crown. The set is rather well thought out and pleasant to use.
Like the Gear S2 before it, the Gear S3 Frontier is only compatible with Androidsmartphones. If this is by far the most used system on smartphones in the world, it is no less a question of Samsung cutting itself off from Windows Phone and, above all, iPhone owners.
A problem that often arises when we talk about connected watches. The Apple Watch is only compatible with the iPhone, while Android Wear only reaches its full potential when connected to an Android smartphone Only, with Tizen, Samsung has the opportunity to offer a neutral system that can do without bothiOS and Android, a bit like Pebble has already done.
Aware of the problem, Samsung has already announced that it is working on porting its Gear Manager application to iOS to make the Gear S3 Frontier compatible with theiPhone. A promise that the manufacturer had already kept about the Gear S2 last January. We’re still waiting.