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Samsung Gear S3 review: All-in on a 'more is more' strategy

The quick take

Samsung has in many ways doubled down on a feature-packed strategy with its wearables, making the Gear S3 the largest and most powerful smartwatch available today. It has a bigger screen, standalone software and many more features than you can get from the competition, including the same full GPS support, heart rate and activity tracking you find in its fitness-focused Gear Fit 2. The problem is that means the Gear S3 is too big for many wrists, adding to the fact that it has a bulky and male-focused design that's going to put off many potential buyers.

The good

  • Nice design and materials
  • Always-on watch faces are great
  • Rotating bezel still wonderful
  • Standard watch strap design
  • Enables Samsung Pay for all

The bad

  • Too big for many wrists
  • Pile of features is daunting
  • Clunky interaction with some apps
  • LTE hurts battery, adds little value

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

More is more

Gear S3 Full review

Samsung's Gear S2 of 2015 was a viable alternative to a pile of second-generation Android Wear offerings from a variety of companies, and offered a refreshing smartwatch experience that was thankfully accessible to those without Samsung phones. Its rotating bezel was truly innovative and gave you access to tons of software features you couldn't find elsewhere. It also offered a more compact and lighter form factor, while also giving longer battery life, for those who were put off by the extremely large Android Wear watches.

So it was confusing to many of us when Samsung announced the Gear S3, coming in both a Classic and Frontier design, that was dramatically larger than the Gear S2. Going bigger enabled Samsung to take everything the Gear S2 did and add even more. It still has its rotating bezel, standard watch band connection, tons of software features and optional cellular connectivity, but now it packs GPS, a bigger battery, full Samsung Pay support and new software features to make it even more useful even when your phone isn't around.

But in doing so, Samsung is walking the line of alienating a large portion of the population who just want a smaller, simpler smartwatch that gets the basics done, looks nice and fits on those with average-sized wrists. There's no doubt that Samsung is doing the most out of any company with a single wrist-bound wearable, but is it trying to do too much? We find out in our complete Samsung Gear S3 review.

About this review

I (Andrew Martonik) am writing this review after one week using the Gear S3 Frontier LTE, with service provided by AT&T. The watch was used primarily connected to a Google Pixel during the review period. After an initial software update the day of receiving the watch, nothing else in the software changed. The Gear S3 was provided to Android Central for review by Samsung.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

Go big or go home

Gear S3 Hardware

The Gear S2's offering of your choice of either a sleek sports-style design or classic timepiece look was a somewhat-differentiating factor for the watch, but that's all gone now with the Gear S3. I'm reviewing the Gear S3 "Frontier" model, but it isn't far removed from the "Classic" model — they both have the same dimensions, specs, screen and capabilities (aside from the Frontier's optional LTE), but different external case designs. For this reason, I'll interchangeably refer to both as "Gear S3" unless there's something specific to point out about one model.

More: Complete Gear S3 specs

To quickly point out the differences, you can see my initial hands-on with the watches; the Classic comes with a shinier chrome-like finish, a more understated bezel and classic watch-style buttons, while the Frontier is black and monolithic, with a bulkier gnarled bezel and large rubber-textured buttons. Both are interoperable with standard 22 mm bands, but ship with different styles: the Classic with a basic leather band, and the Frontier with a heftier rubber band.

Something that doesn't come across immediately in product renders online is the overall bulk of the Gear S3. With a 46 mm case (49 mm at the lugs) and perhaps more importantly 12.9 mm thickness, it's both wide and thick in a way that instantly reminds you this is a wrist-mounted computer and not a slick mechanical timepiece. I'm a six-foot four-inch tall guy with large wrists that feel comfortable with watches up to about 50 mm, so I obviously don't have an issue with the Gear S3's size, but I just don't see how this watch will fit comfortably on most people — particularly women. The Gear S3 Frontier's design is particularly masculine and tough, so I get that it's larger; but then you realize that the Gear S3 Classic is the same size even though it has a more gender-neutral look. No matter how much you like the looks, I encourage everyone to go try it on in a store before buying — you may find it to be unmanageably large.

Size aside, the Gear S3 is built to fit in with the top-end smartwatches out there. The Gear S3 is particularly well sculpted out of 316L stainless steel and the two-tone brushed/shiny finish really stands out. The trademark rotating bezel requires just enough effort to spin, making it easy to move a single click for fine selections or several clicks to scroll through a long menu. Both Gear S3 models are IP68 dust- and water-resistant, meaning it can handle all reasonable amounts of contact with water; the Frontier is also MIL-STD 810G rated, meaning it can handle extra levels of shock, heat/cold, pressure and vibration.

It's beautiful and well-made, but positively massive.

The included rubber band fits the Frontier's look well and is capable of fitting in whether you're dressing up or keeping casual. The Classic's leather band is nice as well (recalling from my admittedly short time with it in August), but you can do far better buying something for $25 on Amazon.

Sadly the bottom one-third or so of the watch is a jarring bit of hard plastic that stands out from the fine metal above it and detracts from the feel of the watch on your wrist. The plastic is necessary from the standpoint of having radios in the watch, but that doesn't mean it's particularly gracefully integrated into the design. I really wish there was a more elegant solution implemented here that shrouded your wrist from coming in contact with the plastic and kept it from being seen when viewing the watch from the side. The plastic is somewhat hidden on the Gear S3 Frontier because it's all black, but is particularly easy to see on the Classic, as the black plastic backing stands out strongly from the silver metal.

Samsung of course nailed the display on the Gear S3, bumping up in size to a 1.3-inch circular OLED panel — covered by Gorilla Glass SR+ — with great colors, good brightness and amazing viewing angles — the latter of which being incredibly important for a smartwatch. And because the watch is primarily set up for interaction via the rotating bezel, you spend less time covering and smudging up the display as you use it throughout the day. That's not something you think about at first, but really enjoy when you don't have to wipe down the display on your watch every hour.

This is the best implementation of always-on watch faces yet.

What really makes you appreciate the display is new always-on display modes for the Gear S3's watch faces. There are 16 watch faces included and dozens more available for download, but I settled on a few of the analog-style faces that matched nicely with the Frontier's external hardware. Adapting the same idea introduced on the Galaxy S7, the Gear S3's watch faces dim but keep running when you're done using the watch.

But this isn't simply just turning down the brightness of the display — the watch faces actually shift to a simple, slightly lower resolution version of the face that drains less battery while offering full visibility of time, including a moving second hand. As soon as you raise your wrist the complete watch face comes to life without skipping a beat. This makes the Gear S3 feel more like a "real" watch than the competition, and I love the implementation. While in use the display doesn't offer an automatic brightness setting, per se, but does offer an "auto-low" setting that dims the screen in dark situations — kind of the reverse of what we're used to, but still useful nonetheless.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

A whole lot going on

Gear S3 Software and experience

Samsung already offered considerably more features in its Gear S2 software than what we had on Android Wear, and that basic feature set hasn't changed much a year on — scrolling through the interface and getting into the settings, you won't notice any major visual differences. In fact, all of the non-hardware-dependent software changes will soon be running on the Gear S2 thanks to a software update.

Samsung continues to push to the idea of the watch as a purely standalone device, starting with the Gear S3 Frontier's optional LTE connection (more on that below) but also by allowing you to install and operate apps directly on the watch without communication to a phone at all. Aside from the fact that the Gear S3 can pull in notifications from your phone and let you act on many of them, everything else can work directly on the watch. There's a standalone experience for your calendar, contacts, weather, alarms, to-do list, music player, news reader and more, plus you can install apps like Uber and ESPN that work independently on the watch.

I wasn't interested in poking around on a tiny display to read snippets of news.

It's still all a bit much to manage, even with the larger screen and superb rotating bezel that make navigation as easy as possible on a smartwatch. I quickly settled into a daily routine that had me spending 99% of my time on the watch face, in notifications and in the weather app. I wasn't interested in poking around on a tiny display to read snippets of news or painfully scroll through dozens of calendar appointments. The only time I ever went into the app launcher was to go to the settings.

The best thing about the Gear S3 is that you don't have to use any of the superfluous features — you can pick and choose the few experiences that add to your life, and trash the rest. Just configure the widgets that you want, stay away from the cluttered app drawer and skip installing unnecessary (and generally poorly made) watch apps, and you'll be good.

Samsung Pay

The Gear S3 offers full Samsung Pay support, including Samsung's exclusive MST technology that lets you pay at traditional swiping card readers. Just as importantly, Samsung has expanded Pay to work with non-Samsung phones as well — all you have to do is install the proper add-on to the Gear app on your Android 4.4+ phone, and you'll be able to add your credit and debit cards. Now they won't be able to be used anywhere but the watch, but that's fine; it still gives people a little taste of what Samsung Pay is like, and is great to see included. Samsung could have easily kept this exclusive to its own phones.

Samsung Pay takes a few minutes to get set up, but once you have it configured things are simple. Long-press the "back" button on your watch, rotate the bezel to choose between your cards, then tap "Pay" and hold the watch near the payment terminal. The watch doesn't have to be connected to a network or Bluetooth to make a payment, but instead has a limited number of one-time payment tokens securely stored on the watch and must sync back up to your phone periodically to refresh them. The Gear S3 also requires that you have a PIN lock in order to use Samsung Pay — as soon as the watch comes off your wrist, you'll have to enter the PIN again.

Fitness tracking

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

After using Samsung's Gear Fit 2 as my daily activity tracker for the past couple of months I was already very in tune with the S Health fitness and activity tracking available on the Gear S3, which is identical aside from its slightly different display of information on the larger, circular screen. The Gear S3 can follow your daily steps, take regular heart rate readings, count the number of floors climbed throughout the day and track distance-based activities like running via GPS — it all gets rounded up into a nice 24-hour log of your activity each day.

In all respects it's a full-blown fitness tracker ... except for the fact that it's a big watch. It's huge by fitness band standards, but admittedly about on par in size to fitness-focused running watches (though often have more features preferred by intense runners). The size may not bother you for runs, but won't be acceptable for gym workouts, yoga or team sports in the same way that a small and simple fitness band is. It's also far too big to wear while sleeping, completely negating the sleep tracking functions I quite enjoy on the Gear Fit 2.

Even if you don't use it for sleep tracking or a majority of your workouts, you're going to have to realize that you'll never get a full representation of your activity from a watch that you don't wear anywhere near 24 hours per day and gets less than two full days of battery life. You're going to miss workouts, you'll miss many steps and floors climbed, and you won't be tracking sleep. Get a Gear Fit 2 if you want a fitness-focused wearable — it's a great device.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

Battery life

By using its own operating system and processor, Samsung is able to get solid battery life out of a battery cell that's a bit smaller than the competition. The Gear S3's 13 mm thick case houses a larger 380 mAh battery, which Samsung claims is good for 3 days of "average" use. But with a watch that has so many features, apps, settings and configuration options I'm not sure what it considers to be "average." I found the Gear S3 to consistently use 40-50% of its battery over the course of a full day, meaning two full days wasn't out of the question but it certainly couldn't make it to a third day, let alone complete it.

If you're using always-on watch faces, expect two days of battery at most.

A huge factor in battery life here is the use of the always-on display mode and how you have your networks set. As noted above the always-on watch faces look great and even function with a moving second hand, giving the appearance of a real watch at a glance without having to lift your wrist a certain way to activate it. Always-on display is not turned on by default, and keeping that OLED display lit up (even though it is dim and simplified) puts a drain on the battery. But I think the always-on display is a major feature of the Gear S3, and I wouldn't choose to use it without the feature turned on — for me, it's worth losing almost a day of battery life over. It's that good.

Samsung actually quotes a day less of battery life for the Frontier LTE model, but again that depends how you use it. By default the watch has its mobile network set to "auto" in order to only connect to LTE when Bluetooth is unavailable — so even if you don't use it, just having the radio available and ready to connect takes battery. Indeed when I turned off LTE entirely — replacing it with Wi-Fi set to "auto" instead — my battery life improved by roughly 5 percentage points over the course of the day. Still not enough to reach three days of battery life, but worth considering for those times when you don't expect to need LTE for a while.

LTE connectivity

Just like the Gear S2, you can get a Gear S3 Frontier with its own mobile network connection. This year it's LTE, and at the time of writing you can get service for a monthly fee from both T-Mobile{.nofollow} and AT&T (opens in new tab), with others expected in the future. Pricing differs both up-front and monthly, but you're looking at roughly $249-$399 for the watch itself, plus about $10 per month for the service. That includes features like automatic number syncing for seamless calling on your watch without your phone, and of course the data required to use apps and streaming services on the watch itself.

I see nothing here that justifies paying an extra $10 per month for a watch data plan.

Beyond being able to make calls and send text messages from your phone, the Gear S3 acts identically on LTE as the non-mobile versions act when connected to Wi-Fi. If you enable the proper settings the watch will keep itself in sync with your phone if both are connected to a network, feeding you notifications and keeping apps on the watch current. The notifications are a bit limited, though, as you don't have the ability to archive email or reply to messages — an expected limitation considering the situation.

Do you need a watch with its own LTE connection? I'll be honest, you probably don't. Not for $10 per month, anyway. Wi-Fi is included on all Gear S3s and will handle situations in which your phone is across the house, and pre-loading media to listen to will probably be a fine substitute for Spotify streaming on the watch as well.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

Doubling down on the hardcore

Gear S3 Bottom line

With the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic, Samsung has chosen to keep with its "more is more" strategy of simply adding as many software features and hardware capabilities as possible to its wearables. The result is once again a smartwatch that will do just about anything you ask it to, including function as a full replacement for your phone for short periods. It has its own app catalogue, can use an LTE connection to stream music and will even let you make calls on it. You can type text messages on a keyboard, watch YouTube videos and call an Uber without a phone anywhere near you.

The problem, once again, is that nobody will use anywhere near all of these features.

The problem though, once again, is that nobody will use anywhere near all of these features. When you add up all of the things the Gear S3 does it's easy to say "wow that does a ton of stuff, it's worth the money!" — but you have to take a step back and consider how many things you'll actually use on a daily or even weekly basis. You'll pick and choose a few key features for you, and then disable or ignore the rest.

The Gear S3's hardware and design is great, so long as you can deal with the size of it. Its display and always-on watch faces are top notch. Notifications fully sync with your phone, keeping the bigger device in your pocket more often. S Health fitness tracking is good for casual observation of your activity throughout the hours you have a watch on. Samsung Pay is a fantastic technology, and is truly useful for quick purchases on the go.

Does it all add up to a smartwatch experience that's worth $349, and potentially $10 more per month on top of that for LTE? Well right off the top, I'd say skip the LTE if you're considering a Gear S3 — there just isn't enough there to justify the price. But when it comes to buying the standalone watch, that's a tougher decision. If you've already made the decision that $300+ is an acceptable price for a smartwatch, the Gear S3 is worth looking at for all of its redeeming qualities. For others who may not have spent much more than $349 on their phone itself, it's a tougher sell — the Gear S3 is nice, but when you consider what you'll actually use it for, it'll be hard to spend the money. You may just land on buying last year's Gear S2 or a fitness-focused Gear Fit 2 for far less money and end up being much happier.

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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • I'm loving my Gear S3. Battery life is a solid 2.5 days, build quality is spectacular, and I replaced my S7 Edge with a V20 because the watch has Samsung Pay
  • I'm thinking of replacing my wifes 7edge with a V20 to use with her Rose Gold S2 Classic. Is the Gear phone-side software experience hitch-less like on a Samsung phone? It USED to be that non-Samsung phones had some slight issues with the gear... Thanks in advance.
  • I'm using a Gear S2 with my V20 and it works flawless. The recent update to do SamsungPay without a Samsung phone is awesome too.
  • OK, cool. THANKS!
  • On the V20 you will not be able to view all of the text messages on the watch, but you can reply using the watch. Many of the email apps will show notifications but you will not be able to reply on the watch - this is not a problem with Gmail.
  • Imo, the best thing about this watch is Samsung Pay regardless of what Android you are using! That aside, great review. The design of this watch is just too much for me.
  • Verizon only charging me 5$ a month for my gear s2. Well worth it. I leave my phone at home a lot cause of this.
  • Was there any up front cost? That's tempting... I'm assuming NumberSync is pretty reliable?
  • TMO also only costs me $5 which includes unlimited calling, texting and data.
  • I have the gear s2 classic w/3g on Verizon, if I get a gear s3, it will probably be the classic, and ditch the LTE. In my case, I have found that I just don't really use it as a phone. To answer another commenter or two, yes there is an upfront fee. Usually an upfront full retail price with no ETF (my method), or a reduced upfront price with an ETF, if you want to stop paying for the cell service prior to the end of 2yrs. You will also find that the $5.00 per month that is touted is actually much closer to $10.00/mnth. After taxes and fees if you examine your itemized monthly statement. I'm probably also going to wait and see if Google releases their smart watches in the first quarter of 2017. Just my experience. Also, Verizon does not do number sync, they have call forwarding, which works well, but it is not number sync where all devices share one number. Your watch on Verizon will still have it's own separate number. The Gear S3 is also not available on Verizon, as of yet. And I almost forgot, good review.
  • Awesome review. I have one question though. I have a Nexus 6P. Will I be able to get the S3 Frontier, not pay for LTE, and use the watch for its Samsung Pay?
  • Yes. Token authentication/renewal needs a phone regardless.
  • Yes i did it earlier for the first time.
  • You don't need LTE (or any connection for that matter) to use Samsung Pay. You download the appropriate add-on to the Gear app on your Nexus, input your cards, and can then use Samsung Pay on the watch. As described in the review, it loads a handful of one-time payment tokens to the watch to make payments, and refreshes them periodically when your watch syncs with your phone.
  • I think it's the prefect size. Lte is pointless if you always have your phone on you.
  • Bezel scratches ruin it for me. IMO if I pay this much for a "tough, rugged" watch I don't want it all scratched the hell up. I've read and seen numerous accounts that the black paint of the Frontier scratches too easily. I guess it'll be yet another year of waiting for the perfect watch...
  • Rugged does not mean cosmetic wear and tear damage proofing. It means the device has a higher tolerance for operating with more wear and tear. If you cannot tolerate cosmetic scratches then I would highly recommend you totally avoid brands like Tag, Luminox, Citizen (including the Eco line) and even all of Casio including their highest tier of $1K+ G-shocks. The majority of people looking for a rugged device are not interested in taking part of a fashion show. Don't bother watchig for a scratch proof watch next year or even next decade. They won't exist in 12 months. Scratch proof materials are well too far beyond economic feasibility to be produced. I cannot imagine the Gear S3 would be a big seller of it was machined from treated inconel. If it were made of Tungsten or similar; not only would it be way too expensive to compete, It would weight 1/2 lb or more. I have a stainless steel Citizen Ecodrive collecting dust if you're interested in buying it. It's a super cool watch but feels like a brick so it stays in a drawer.
  • I get your point and thank you for taking the time to respond with the insight. My issue is that I find it acceptable for my $100 Gshock to scratch (although it really hasn't yet in a year of use), but I don't find cosmetic scratches acceptable for a $400 device. It would be OK if there was an option to protect that fragile paint with a clear case of some sort that wouldn't interfere with use, but I seriously doubt that's going to happen. IMO, watches should be both utilitarian AND stylish.
  • It seems you can only buy $100 watch then since ALL watches scratch. I wonder what kind of car you own ....
  • I guess that makes my $100 watch better than this $400 one to.
  • I Don't believe there is a watch in existence that is impervious to scratches. Also, I'm sure covers and cases will be made for the s3. dont always trust the opinion of people who carelessly damage their new stuff within a few days. People often mess their stuff up and the complain it was poorly made, when that is not always the case.
  • Check Amazon, I just got a Glass protector for the face. Made for the S3. I have one on my GearS and Gear2. They work great.
  • Exactly. Just take a sharpie to the scratch
  • Hey! My 15 year old Citizen EcoDrive is still running and looks badass with all the nicks and scratches on the bezel and clasp. 4 of out my 5 Nixon watches have all chipped and I'm not annoyed bcuz none are stainless steel. I'm really interested in The Mission but I wonder what quality is like compared to S3 Frontier
  • Did you get the Uber app to work for you with the Pixel? With my V20, it tells me I need a companion app on the phone but it's not available.
  • Yup i think they're still working out compatibility issues with the companion app for the phone. They had the same issue with the Samsung Pay plugin on Pixels.
  • Everyone excited about smartwatch this, smartwatch that, and I'm just sitting here wishing I had an Omega moonwatch.
  • My FIL has one. It's amazing.
  • I just want to touch on the size of the watch. It is a perfect size men's watch. People who wear watches will feel right at home with the Gear S3. I have had the 1st Gear watch, Gear S2 Sport 3G and now the S3 Frontier LTE . I have worn a watch daily for 30+ years. The Gear S2 felt way too small. I bought the sport version because the classic looked very small for a conventional watch. The sport could at least pass as a fitness band. The S3 feels and looks more substantial and inline with conventional watches. Samsung is continuing to sell the S2 for those who want a smaller device. It has or will have most if not all of the features of the S3. If you are not used to wearing a watch it will seem large for a week or so. If you are used to wearing watches (old people?) it is great. I once bought a watch with a SpeedPass RFID chip in it so I could pay at the pump by waving my watch at it. That was cool. Samsung Pay is a fantastic feature and has worked well for me. It is way cooler.
  • Exactly what I wanted to say about the size of this watch. Perfect for males not so much for females. Posted from my unlocked S7 Active/ Jet black iPhone 7+/ peerless Note 4/ or iPad Pro 12.9
  • I agree, the S3 looks like the prefect size. I didn't get the S2 because it was so small it looked like a woman's watch on me, the S3 is perfect.
  • i was hoping that the gps feature of the watch was covered in this review particularly on how to enable the turn by turn gps navigation of the watch and suggested/recommended gps apps that work best with the watch. checking on samsung gear app (a downloadable application from samsung to help the watch to synch to your samsung smartphone easily), i noticed that there's a limited map apps/ navigation apps available for gear s3. those limited map apps/ navigation apps, whether it's free or a paid one, have very poor review from people who have tried them.
  • Andrew, I'm not really sure how you can arrive at the conclusion that this watch won't be used to track sleep or activity because of the battery needing to be charged. My watch is only charging when I'm showering/getting ready in the am or pm. That is enough of a battery charge to last me the whole day since a full battery lasts up to about 3 days. So I wear it for all my workouts and to track my sleep and only take it off for the aforementioned times. P.S. How can it be too big to sleep with? You can feel it when you're asleep? I love how the alarm vibrates to wake me without waking my wife. I guess I'm just used to wearing watches as I've worn them all my life. Posted from my unlocked S7 Active/ Jet black iPhone 7+/ peerless Note 4/ or iPad Pro 12.9
  • I have worn this watch to sleep almost every night. You get used to the size. And, it tracks movement of the watch to measure sleep (no movement - sound sleep, etc.). The battery is good for 2-3 days. For example, I put my watch on the charger at about 82% last night at 10pm and put it back on at a 100% 30 minutes later. Its now about 10 hours later and I am at 92% - BUT, i have it set for Do not disturb from 11pm to 7am - that helps a lot, no waking, ringing buzzing etc. during sleep.
  • I tried sleeping with it. It was uncomfortable. And that's coming from being perfectly fine sleeping with the Gear Fit 2 on my wrist. Seriously, you think the average person is OK sleeping with a 46 mm watch on their wrist? Cmon.
  • I have been sleeping with a Garmin Fenix 3 hr on my wrist for six months and have now slept with the gear S3 on my wrist. No issues at all, and I like the alarm functions. According to you, I am not an average person? That's the kind of obnoxious arrogance that permeates your review. Size will be too big, no need for LTE, too many functions to use. Instead of speculating about what you think the average person may consider strengths or weaknesses, why don't you try an objective analysis of the watch's performance and compare it to what's on the market? As someone who owns an AW1, AW2, Huawei, Garmin Fenix 3 hr, MS band 2, and now the gear s3, I think the s3 is the best overall smartwatch currently on the market. Oh yeah, I tried the gear fit 2 and didn't like it...
  • Dude relax
  • Pound for pound, the gear fit 2 is Samsung's best watch.
  • I was excited to hear about this watch and was considering this be my next move from the Huawei watch. Once i heard about the LTE and 46mm i was immediately out. 46mm is way too big for my 6.5 inch wrist.
  • Until you can create a custom workout with multiple exercises, and then sync that workout to the S3 and follow along as it prompts you for each new set of exercises, it will not be that great of a fitness tracker. One only need to look at the MS Band 2 or the Garmin Fenix 3.
  • Just don't try to use number sync with AT&T if you have a unlocked phone such as a Nexus/Pixel. It won't work because HD Voice is not supported on those phones. I was really disappointed by that.
  • Yawp.
  • What makes this watch stand out despite its size is Samsung Pay with MST and a bigger battery.
  • Samsung Pay is a really big deal considering they were able to get MST in there. It's great.
  • Decent review intermixed with dumb, senseless comments. You don't have to knock the watch for being "too big" when it is obviously meant to be a men's watch. Furthermore, why knock the watch for having so many features? Call me crazy, but most people want a larger bright crisp display, larger longer lasting battery, payments capability, and GPS. These are killer features that make a smartwatch worth having. You don't like the $349 price? Apple's mid-tier non-rubber banded smartwatch is $399 and that doesn't even have LTE. Or take a good look at the LG Watch Urbane 2 price of $449 on contract & $499 off contract. It's an even thicker device with a hefty price tag yet you still can't use it to pay for a Starbucks coffee not to mention you'll be swiping through endless "cards" because it uses Android Wear. That's the watch the editor should be warning people against buying. I'm really turned off by someone who reviews a smartwatch but then knocks it for having a tiny screen after complaining that Samsung may have "added too much" by increasing the screen size vs. the GS2. He says he doesn't want to scroll through a small screen for calendar & other notifications. Perhaps the editor doesn't like smartwatches in general and is the wrong person to be reviewing these devices.
  • You stated "THE BAD"
    LTE hurts battery, adds little value" I have the Gear S, and let me tell you had it not had 4G LTE, I might have lost my biggest customer. I swipped down on the face of my watch, touched the "Call Forwarding" and all my calls from my Note 5 were now forwarded to my watch. I had a call from my customer and handled his issue right from the phone.
    So sorry to disagree with you, LTE adds LOTS of value to the phone. Oh yes, on my birthday I will be getting a gift of the Gear 3 Frontier LTE.
  • Although there are exceptions depending on needs and the user, he is right - the LTE is a waste of money and adds very little. The real improvement from the S2 is the ability to answer calls from the watch along with other benefits the speaker gives the watch - sound notifications primarily. A smartwatch provides notifications for the important things you use a phone for - this watch does this very well and you can respond to emails and messages instantly from the watch - that is why I have one. Android wear does the same, but this hardware and software is more user friendly. It does a great job of tracking exercise, heart rate, etc.
  • Strap on the Nixon Mission for a few days then tell us how you feel about the size of this. That's the newest Android Wear has to offer. Ignore the hourly "Android wear is not responding" messages also. Almost forgot it's $100 more also. Better yet buy a Tag for $1500. You can upgrade in 2 years but have to live with the fact you spent $1500 for a watch that does half of what this does. I'm not hating on Android Wear. I'm a fan but this article is clearly biased. It's a good review with many valid points but they took the negatives and sprinkled in positives when in reality it's just the opposite.
  • So because some Android Wear watches aren't as good as the Gear S3, I'm not allowed to point out the downsides of the Gear S3 itself? I also think the Nixon Mission is big, expensive and runs a less capable operating system ... but that has nothing to do with the Gear S3.
  • But it does have everything to do with the Gear S3. Every review of a device is always relative to what other devices are currently available. You thought the size of the Gear S3 was great yet you condemn it for being too big for small-wristed women as if the design should have been unisex for all wrist sizes. Is this smartwatch really too big for yoga & gym exercise? Have you actually attempted to use this watch at the gym, on a jog, hike, or yoga class? If not, how the heck can you even make a definitive statement about this. This was supposed to be YOUR review about YOUR experience with the GS3 and your article fails to do that. You also state the Gear S3 is too expensive with LTE yet "expensive" is relative to other watches that are currently available and yet you failed to mention the cost of other latest LTE smartwatches currently available. The real question is, what is the right price for an LTE enabled smartwatch? Is $349 too much compared to a similarly priced smartwatch without LTE? How much should the LTE service on a smartwatch be? Should it be less than $10? Your article fails to demonstrate what is the proper price for these features AND WHY. You just make an arbitrary statement about something being too expensive. That's just plain lazy journalism. It's becoming obvious that you're clearly not qualified to review smartwatches or perhaps make any reviews at all.
  • I recieved my TMobile variant Monday. I already owned a Gear S and found the Fronteir appealing as it resembled a more traditional watch. This really is an excellent device. LTE capability is a must for me as carrying my Note around is not always convenient but I still want to be reachable by family The battery life is wonderful thus far. Looks like my current charge (only up to 97%) will hit 3 days, that is with AOD off and using it to track my sleep. As for the size complaints, larger watches are actually quite popular at the moment. The S3 happens to be the same size as a number of Fossil models I have owned for ten years or so and only a hair thicker. While I own smaller watches, they are all of a more formal nature and while nice, I don't really enjoy wearing them as much.
  • Seems I can't edit my comment but I also wanted to add that thanks to TMobile's recent free line deal, the plan associated with my watch is free. That aside, it would only be $5 otherwise.
  • Not sure how AT&T managed this but, I got an S7 Edge, S3 watch ($50 for 3, S2 was totally free), 2016 VR headset, $50 VR credit, Samsung Tab E for phone payments. Tablet is under 2 year If i keep it. I confirmed the watch is not. I just keep it. Purchased on Black Friday in retail store.
  • In addition to being able to forward calls to the watch, I also have an independent number for the watch. My TMO service for the watch is only $5/mo., with unlimited calling, texting and data.
  • Does anyone know if Verizon will sell the 3g version of the s3. Already have the gear s2.
  • Presumably, yes. But Verizon hasn't announced yet.
  • I've been thinking of getting this And selling my Sony smartwatch 3. Sounds like the battery life exceed the sw3.
  • Hmmm...must have missed the review of the ASUS ZenWatch 3, which has been out for a while.
  • If I can't swim with it, I don't want it . . . IP68 is a start, but it's not enough.
  • I don't think swimming will hurt this watch. I shower every day - no issues. Scuba diving - no
  • Swimming is fine for an IP68 device. Diving is a no-go.
  • I wouldn't be so sure. Depth wise it is fine, but the extra pressure of moving your hand through the water could easily exceed the IP68 threshold.
  • The Gear S3 works for me. It does have a ton a features and I don't use them all, but I think the point is that you have the availably of features that you can pick and choose from. I use the always on face, automatic heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, 911 feature. I don't use the altimeter or stop watch. If the device didn't have all the sensors and software, how does one choose what they need? Unless you get a watch custom made, I see no point in the criticism that it has too many features. I think Samsung made a good choice going with this style. The fashioistas will go with the stainless steel or ceramic Apple watch at $1000. I like how Samsung throws in the stainless steel for the $300. On the Engadget podcast, Jerry made the comment that it is as thick as a stack of 14 dimes. I think he should check his math.
  • Ok first off, don't bite my head off. But is it me or is a smartwatch just another gimmick? Especially since a lot of people these days don't even wear a watch. Help me to understand why this is a worthwhile investment.
  • It's not a worthwhile investment. It is an electronic tech item with a relatively short lifespan that will depreciate in value as time goes by. That being said it provides a valuable service for many people who do not have access to their phone 24/7 but still want to remain connected while at the same time providing the classic service of the time at a glance.
  • Why? That is a good question, and a good answer is *If* you can become comfortable with "watch tech" it's useful. (That is a big *if*). For me, the smart watch tells time, reminds me of appointments, shows text messages (not email!), is a workout recorder, and music player, and is a phone. It lightens my load and makes it more convenient to maintain connectivity. I don't worry if my phone is with me or not. When I forget my phone, or if the phone dies (battery or mechanical), I still am connected. As I mentioned in the other post, I would not buy or use a smart watch if it did not offer a "phone-free" option. Oddly, I used to collect and wear many different types of automatic watches. Today, they've lost their appeal, since they "only" tell time! Some folks don't agree, but increasingly more do.
  • Think of it as a remote control for you phone. No it's not essential, but can become quite handy in many situations, especially if you are into fitness. It's by no means essential, but I now find myself never leaving home without my gear fit 2 or s2. In many ways I prefer the Gear fit 2 actually. It's very easy to use, affordable, comfortable, and packed with useful features. Being able to leave my phone home with the s2 and loose no connectivity also comes in handy. No you won't need every feature all the time. It's like adding cherries and fudge on top of your android sundae. Trying buying an inexpensiveone like the fit 2 and see if it appeals to you. They can be found on the used markert for steep discount these days. Or buy from a major retailer and test drive for a few weeks. Thankfully I got both for free from Samsung during the note 7 problems. Not sure I would chose to pay 350 for an S3 but the gear fit 2 is fantastic and well worth it.
  • I got the S3 Classic and it really is a well built, beautiful watch. I thought that it will be too big, but it turned out to be a good size for me. I'm 6' 1", average build. Having said that, I wear a lot of dress shirts. This watch does not fit under the cuff of most of them because it is so thick. This unfortunately means that I can only wear it with sweaters and looser fitting shirts. This was not well thought out on Samsung'a part particularly because the Classic is meant to be a dress-up watch.
  • dejanh, I've seen plenty of men wearing watches that exist below the edge of the sleeve rather than getting covered by the sleeve. It all comes down to personal styling choice when buttoning the sleeve. Personally, I prefer to use the tightest button (on shirts with two buttons on the sleeve) so that the cuff always looks and remains tight and crisp rather than loose. Tighter means the roundness of the cuff is maintained. This particular watch, although thick at 12.9mm, isn't as thick as a Tag Heuer Aquarace Blue Sunray at 14mm which only tells time. 14mm is average thickness of Tag watches. Most Tag watches that are purchased are worn by men who wear dress shirts & they don't seem to have a problem with their watches not fitting under their sleeve, so that would be a minor quibble in the greater scheme of things.
  • Thank you a great review! However, I would push back on the following: 1. That the Gear S3 "lacks the restraint necessary to make it a slick cohesive product."
    There are no "slick cohesive products" in Android wear at all.
    But, Samsung's touch-spin-swipe smart watch approach is slick.
    And if you rearrange your Gear S3 first screen and widgets, then it is cohesive, too! 2. "LTE has little value."
    Much was made of the $10 per month, and one must assess one’s own budget priorities. For me, I was happy to reduce $10 a month spending from other areas to increase my freedom and maintain connectivity. It has paid for itself countless times. For example, when I forgot my phone, or the phone battery suddenly died, or the phone suddenly developed some strange mechanical issue, I always still had my watch working perfectly as a seamless back up!
    In all of those cases, I have been able to take calls on the watch, some of which were important not have missed. When I go running, its only take my LTE Gear S2 and BT earphones. No phone. It's lighter and more convenient. If someone calls, I can screen, reject, or accept with one finger,and not stop running. Today, I would not buy or use a smart watch if it did not offer a "phone-free" option. 3. Gear S3 does have a GPS
    But so does my plain old Gear S2 3G (ATT). It has a built-in GPS. Other than those three points it's a great review.
    Thank you!
  • Great review However having the frontier for over a week now I can chime in... For all the complaining about the size its NOT HUGE! my older Gear S is a big watch, I also have a fossil watch that is bigger than my S3F there are other watches that are bigger just google Invicta those are some HUGE watches this is no bigger than a Casio G-shock .
    yes its not for a lady but for a man this is just fine. The problem is not the size its the horrible straps, they are tight and very uncomfortable, thankfully they can be swapped out and mine will be very soon. The only problems is it looses it's Bluetooth connection to my S7edge randomly with out any warning and for no reason.
    Also to use Samsung pay you have to have the screen lock active on your watch. That's beyond Annoying!! yes its a security feature but having to enter a pin# every time you want to use your watch is just beyond silly, its quicker to just take out your wallet or use your phone to pay than to enter a pin number on a tiny screen, if the bezel could be used like a combo lock that would be a better solution.
    those are my only complaints from an otherwise awesome watch and buying it for $299 when it was on sale was a big bonus..
  • You do not need to enter a pin number every time. Only when you take the watch off your wrist and then put it back on do you have to reenter the pin code. As long as it is on your wrist you are good to go.
  • I can confirm what unpilot stated here..
  • Mine asks for the pin number after a short time, my watch is on my wrist for 8+ hours a day is there a setting I missed or is my watch defective?
    I think it may have to do with the random loosing of the Bluetooth connection any suggestions?
  • Same issues with mine. Its hit and miss. sometimes it will lock randomly while navigating through texts or apps. sometimes it will stay unlocked for 5 to 10 minutes and sometimes it will lock if i bring my wrist down and brig it back up.... I think I'm going to return it. So annoying
  • You don;t have to put in the pin every time. It only locks if you take the watch off or if you have not looked at it in 30+ minutes. I am using it on the Gear S2 3g now and it is fine. but like you, I hate lockscreens that require you to enter it to use it every time. This does not
  • I agree with SS1PLUS Andrews reviews are always filled with barbs here and there. The Gear S3, my humble opinion is the most perfect Smart watch on the market right now. A smart watch, and a sometimes dumb review. And Andrew stop sniping at people who make legitimate comments and offer comments constructive criticism about your delivery and reviews.
  • This is an outstanding watch in every way - looks, features /software, battery life (of course everyone wants more, like a week or month without charging but isn't possible w/ today's technology .. I'll settle for 2 days .. recharge every night anyway). .. samsung pay on the watch is the killer app. and is innovation. given the slowdown on the AW watch releases, am very thankful samsung is continuing to invest, including in the developer's kit.
  • This is an outstanding watch in every way - looks, features /software, battery life (of course everyone wants more, like a week or month without charging but isn't possible w/ today's technology .. I'll settle for 2 days .. recharge every night anyway). .. samsung pay on the watch is the killer app. and is innovation. given the slowdown on the AW watch releases, am very thankful samsung is continuing to invest, including in the developer's kit. Also, not sure I agree with the 'pile of features is daunting' .. coming from AW, I think there's a focus on things that work well on a watch, including which apps, including key apps like samsung pay and shealth, and the sensors do add value, including GPS, etc. AW was more like a general purpose computer, whereas samsung has brought focus to what will add value in a wearable (beautiful design / watch faces, AOD, IP68, UI, battery and targeted apps). and I think that makes a huge difference.
  • I will simply state what I dislike (not hate) most about this review - the editor chose to use the LTE model for review. Most people won't use the LTE version, that is only specific for some handful of carriers. All across the world, people will use the non-LTE version. Yet knowing this very well, the editor somehow thought it would be a good exercise to review the LTE version. Seriously??
    It's like reviewing a fancy uber-expensive Rolls Royce model. Yes, for sure some people would buy it, but then that would be an exception rather than the norm.
  • Lol.
    The non-LTE model does not have LTE and the rest is same.
  • Totally agree with those questioning the complaints about the size. This has been a trope about the S3 since it was shown, and every blogger makes a focus that somehow this watch is so big, many people would not want it. Total BS (unless they all have ridiculously tiny wrists). There are gazillions of larger watches, and smartwatches. Also, this one, like so many of these reviews don't get the fundamental value of having an Independent connection: leaving your phone at home. But sites like this are chock full of reviewers who have been so connected to their phones for years (it still amazes how many of these guys carry around 2 phones!), that they dont even think of the possibility of leaving it home. No wonder they don't see the value in a useful smartwatch that you can message, respond to apps and email and occasionally use as a phone if you need it. Given the ridiculous fortunes they are willing to pay for smartphone and fiber/cable plans, claiming that $5 or $10 a month is not a good deal is just plain dumb. Some of us would like to carry LESS stuff around, and not be tied to thick rectangles or walk like zombies staring into it on the street. I have had the original Gear S and S2 3g since 9/14. And yes, they are not perfect by any means. But after having phone independence (for way less money than the Apple folks spend on the cheaper versions of its BT watch), i will never go back to a BT only (or WiFi) smartwatch. Those devices are NOT good value propositions
  • Short and simple. I have the Gear 2 and the Gear S and will have the Gear 3 on my birthday (a few weeks). I total agree with sccarlin.
  • "or walk like zombies staring into it [read: phone] on the street"
    And calling on the watch is better?
  • Shame that this is running Tizen. Would be worth considering otherwise.
  • I thought the same thing considering Android wear 2.0 but the reality is that Tizen seems more efficient, especially since the hardware and software are built by the same company. I will miss the google frames (or whatever theyre called) but the watch works well with my Axon 7 and runs pretty good unpaired as well.
  • I personally think android wear is a mess. I've tried different watches and they all went back. The google now cards never showed up on time, the watch would freeze and crash while I'm out and honestly to me that's a deal breaker. I don't want to be fiddling with my devices when I'm out. I would rather focus on my work or having fun than dealing with some half baked OS that crashes at every single opportunity that delivers late information. I've never tried Tizen, but honestly I'm looking forward to it. So far Apple makes the best smartwatch. Will be interesting to see what Samsung has to deliver.
  • Who said a smart watch must be smiler than the regular watches like Citizen, Rogers, Timex etc? Is it a toy or watch?Samsung has become real. This is now a real watch that not only men can spot but even women. We know there are many smart women out there who believe in big beautiful cars , houses and watches. I can't wear a small apple watch which looks like just a time machine on my hand. I need a real watch and for that GEAR S3 has brought some real hope that a smart watch can be really smart.
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  • Everything from Samsung with 3 in the name is a great product. This watch is not an exception :)
  • I think it's valid for the reviewer to mention the size of the watch. He is right that it can alienate some consumers. I have very tiny wrists, so this watch is definitely too large for me. I do think it is probably fine for the majority of men, and even some women, but it's still something worth mentioning. Also it seems the actual reviewer does not prefer the size, so even some men would prefer a smaller watch. It's more of a preference thing, but still something to mention before someone who owned the S2 orders an S3 and is surprised to find it much bigger.
  • I'm looking at this to pair with my pre-ordered Galaxy S8. The deal at AT&T right now is you get this watch for $45 when you purchase a Galaxy device, plus you have to commit to 24 months of service. So at $10/month * 24 + the $45, you are looking at basically free financing of a $285 purchase, making the LTE option a real bargain if you are an AT&T customer. Even the "Certified" refurbished Bluetooth only option on Amazon, was $249.99. The size was a concern for me, but I went into the AT&T Store to check it out and while big, it wasn't too bad. I think I'll be able to sleep with it. I'm not that finicky of a sleeper. I have had the Microsoft Band and the Garmin Vivoactive HR and I got used to charging them in the morning while I shower and get dressed and maybe get breakfast together. I hope an hour or so a day of charging will keep me powered up full time. What I can't find is place to see what apps are available. I know about Uber, ESPN, Yelp and HERE Maps, from reviews, but I'm wondering if any of the ToDo apps like Wunderlist or OneNote or Evernote are on there. I'm wondering what all of the music options are. Will Amazon Prime Music work? Yeah, I think I'm going to march into the AT&T Store and take advantage of the promotion. I'll have LTE for the 24 months and still have paid less than buying the watch outright. I'm going to love running without my phone. I might even go out without my phone since I can still get texts and order up an Uber and take an emergency call either with the mic/speaker or I'll shove my Bluetooth headset in my pocket. If anyone can point me in the direction of where to search for what apps are available, that'd be awesome! :)
  • One man's "unimaginably large" is another's "refreshingly descent" size. I'll be the first to admit that my extremities border on the gargantuan. I had to get two bands for my last watch to have enough pieces to make one band that's big enough. I'm thinking about moving up to the S3 for the built-in gps and getting the version without the cellular connection.