Feature packed and easy to use
Underpowered, poor battery life and a chunky design
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is truly a smartwatch, with a surprisingly large number of features. But you’d probably be better off sticking with your phone for a lot of them, while the battery life is a show stopper.
Samsung is entering uncharted waters with the Galaxy Gear as it’s the company’s first smartwatch and one of only really a handful in existence. If anyone could pull it off, you’d think Samsung could, but has its strategy of throwing as many features at it as possible paid off?
The design of the Samsung Galaxy Gear is a mixed bag. On the one hand it has a brushed metal face, which looks quite good if a little industrial, but at 36.8 x 56.6 x 11.1mm it’s also big and chunky, leaving it looking faintly ridiculous on smaller wrists and a bit oversized even on larger ones.
Its weight of 73.8g isn’t too bad, but it’s unsurprisingly heavier than a normal wrist watch and wearing it day in and day out that difference might get to you.
With an 800 MHz single core processor and 512MB of RAM the Samsung Galaxy Gear is quite a lot less powerful than most modern smartphones, but with a smaller display and less functionality that’s not necessarily an issue.
In practice it runs fine for the most part, but sometimes it can seem a little sluggish and slow to respond, which is frustrating and can make you wonder if it’s really any easier than just using a phone, since it doesn’t really have many unique features.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear has a 1.63 inch 320 x 320 Super AMOLED display, which is just about big enough to be useable but simultaneously feels entirely too big for a watch face.
Size aside the display is of reasonable quality and while it’s not as sharp as the display on the Samsung Galaxy S4 it’s perfectly readable.
Slightly surprisingly the Samsung Galaxy Gear includes a camera, but at just 1.9 megapixels it’s never going to take any particularly good photos. As with so many other features on the Galaxy Gear the issue is that you’re always going to have your smartphone with you anyway, so would you really take a vastly inferior photo on the Galaxy Gear just to save a couple of seconds over getting your phone out? We’d wager that in most cases the answer would be no.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear has a number of supplementary features. It is of course a watch, but it can also be used to receive call and text alerts and even to take calls on. We can’t imagine too many people taking calls on their watch but it works pretty well for giving you a quick overview of new text messages and the like. There’s certainly potential there, but at the moment the implementation of most things is inferior to on a smartphone.
You can also view calendar information and run a number of apps on the watch, such as RunKeeper and Pocket, but while more are sure to come if you expect the same sort of rich ecosystem as you get on Android smartphones you’re bound to be disappointed.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear has Bluetooth 4.0, an accelerometer, a gyroscope and 4GB of built in storage. Its battery is just 315 mAh which perhaps isn’t surprising given the size of the device but it does mean that battery life is severely limited and you’ll likely be charging it every night. We’ve come to expect that from phones but not from watches.
As a first stab at a smartwatch the Samsung Galaxy Gear is a reasonably accomplished device, but there are a lot of rough edges that need to be smoothed over before it becomes anything close to essential. It desperately needs a better battery life but it could also do with a bit more power, more fleshed out features and a more attractive design. Not to mention the fact that right now it’s only compatible with a small number of Samsung handsets, leaving the vast majority of potential customers high and dry.
If you’re desperate to own a smartwatch you could certainly do worse, but with prices starting at around £250 it’s hard to justify the outlay. If Samsung can sort out its issues then the next version may well be essential, but right now it’s a curiosity piece at best.
|Dimensions:||36.8 x 56.6 x 11.1 mm|
|Screen size:||1.63 inch|
|Screen Resolution:||320 x 320 pixels|
|Processor:||800 MHz single core|
|Colours:||Black, White, Rose Gold, Wild Orange, Mocha Grey, Lime Green|
|Launch Date:||Out Now|
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