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Samsung Gear Sport hands-on: The Gear S2 refresh we all wanted

When Samsung released the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic, it made the watches substantially larger than the original Gear S2. And in doing so, the Gear S3 lineup kind of lost a lot of its appeal to those who wanted a fitness-oriented smartwatch rather than a general-purpose one. To remedy the situation, Samsung is releasing the Gear Sport: a smartwatch that has its eyes set on fitness and activity, returning to a comfortable size and weight in the process.

Even though the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic are a year old now, Samsung isn't replacing them with the Gear Sport. The new watch actually just replaces the Gear S2, which Samsung was continuing to sell as a smaller, cheaper option to the chunky Gear S3s. Samsung still sees the Gear S3 as the flagship watch with all of the bells and whistles, while the Gear Sport is focused on activity tracking in its design and scaled-back set of features.

The Gear Sport is more or less the same size and weight as the Gear S2, but with the general styling of the Gear S3 Frontier. It has a 1.2-inch circular (360x360 resolution) screen surrounded by a 42.9 x 44.6 mm casing that weighs 50 grams without a band on it. It keeps the side buttons and rotating bezel, which quickly becomes second nature when navigating through the Tizen wearable experience.

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

Gear Sport specs

CategorySpec
Display1.2-inch Circular Super AMOLED
360x360 (302 ppi)
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
ProcessorDual Core 1.0 GHz
Operating systemTizen Wearable OS
RAM768MB
Storage4GB
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.2, 802.11n Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS/GLONASS/Beidou
Accelerometer, Gyro, Barometer, heart rate monitor, Ambient light sensor
Battery300mAh
ChargerWireless charging
Durability5 ATM water resistance, MIL-STD-810G
Dimensions42.9 x 44.6 x 11.6 mm
50 g (without strap)
ColorBlack, Blue
CompatibilitySamsung Galaxy: Android 4.3+
Other Android: Android 4.4+
iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 5: iOS 9.0+

The case is a combination of a couple different textures applied to the 316L stainless steel, paired up with a plastic back that holds the heart rate monitor. It comes in two colors, nominally called black and blue, but the "black" is more of a gunmetal finish like the Gear S3 Frontier and the blue is so dark in some lighting it just looks the same as the black one. I expect most people will just opt for the black to keep it classic-looking.

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

The Gear Sport is extremely light and doesn't feel bulky like the Gear S3 does, which is precisely the idea for a watch that's designed to not get in your way when you're on a run or a swim. The smartwatch is designed to be worn all day, though, and that's why Samsung is highlighting its ability to straddle the look of both a fitness device and also a classier watch. With a swap of the bands and watch face the Gear Sport can definitely change personalities, and because it has the same full operating system of the Gear S3 it's capable of handling all of the typical smartwatch tasks we want.

A smaller, lighter smartwatch that can go with you everywhere.

Samsung has new partnerships for app integrations from Under Armour and Speedo. The former brings Under Armour Record as well as the super-popular MapMyRun and MyFitnessPal for tracking both activity and food intake. Samsung Health is still alive and well, but if you want to use the Gear Sport purely to feed into another fitness platform you may already use, that's now a top-level choice.

With its reduced size, the Gear Sport does lose a couple of things when compared to the Gear S3. It has a smaller battery to match its smaller screen, and also doesn't have an LTE connectivity option. It has Samsung Pay, but only via NFC and not the industry-leading MST tech that allows you to pay at any card swipe-style terminal. Those are small prices to pay for most people considering how much more compact and manageable the Gear Sport is in comparison to its larger sibling.

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

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Samsung Gear Sport

For all of the people who just couldn't handle the size of the Gear S3, or wanted a bit more of a full-featured smartwatch without giving up the sport tracking abilities of the Gear Fit 2, the Gear Sport looks to offer a very happy middle ground. It does a nice job of giving you all of the fitness tracking capabilities you could want, plus the general watch-like form factor that can stay on your wrist without looking out of place with a variety of clothing.

Samsung unfortunately isn't talking about pricing or a specific release date for the Gear Sport yet, simply saying we'll know more around the holidays. Considering that the Gear S3 starts at about $299 for the Classic version, and the last-gen Gear S2 is still on sale (for the moment) at about $200, we can expect the Gear Sport to split the difference around $250.

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

17 Comments
  • Can definitely see the market for this as a replacement for the S2, but was disappointed that they didn't announce an updated S3. LTE as an option completely changes how you can use it. Hard to justify paying full price for a year old watch - even if Verizon just decided to start selling it.
  • What would you want to see in an updated S3?
  • I can tell you what I want to see from the next Gear S: a brighter screen. I can read the Apple Watch Series 2 in direct sunlight. Also, it might be nice if they're able to get the processor more efficient and more battery life.
  • Samsung brings the squircle to smartwatches! Options are great, but IMO the S3 & S2 look way better.
  • Squircle all of the things.
  • I think the old Gear S2 looks better than this. We have one but hardly use it. I also have an S2 Classic with LTE that I really enjoy the LTE feature on.
  • Do you guys think we'll see an update to the Gear S3 this year?
  • Doubt it, guess we'll have to wait until next year. I see now why Verizon wasn't worried about releasing it so late.
  • This was their wearable release for the year. No replacement for the S3 in 2017.
  • I see. I guess I'm gonna get the S3 for now. Had I known, I should've gotten it months ago. Thanks for the info.
  • Aside from better water resistance and grooves on the bezel, this is no better than my current classic S2. I got it refurbed on Amazon for $120. It's been great.
  • I wonder if Jerry still thinks this is a software security dumpster fire. I haven't heard any updates when it came to this.
  • Only one question- Does the new Gear Sport have a speaker? I couldn’t pick one out in the video, so I’m thinking no.
  • I still wear my Gear S2 Classic. Loved it so much, I bought one in Platinum. It does everything I need and still looks the best of any smartwatch to date.
  • I would say that I love my s2 and it's still doing just fine...but now it's just a circle in a squircle world. 😟
  • So a sport watch that doesn't look like a sport watch.
  • Any update on release date for this watch?