Samsung Gear S3 frontier smartwatch review
I have a confession to make – I don’t like watches. I don’t like how they get bumped against doors and get caught in my clothes, I don’t like how they remind me of school, where I had to instantly get from one class to another, I don’t like the idea that they’re intended to serve as a fashion accessory (not unlike a peacock’s plumage), and I particularly don’t like that they can’t do much beyond telling the time – something that my phone does perfectly.
But when I reviewed the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch last year, I actually enjoyed it. The wearable looked good and felt okay on my wrist, but above all, it could do much more than to tell me that I was late for my weekly editorial meeting. That’s why I’m now excited to test the Samsung Gear S3 frontier, which comes with a bigger battery, a built-in speaker, and a dedicated GPS for improved location tracking. Let’s find out if it is worth the $350 asking price.
In the box:
- Samsung Gear S3 frontier smartwatch
- Magnetic wireless charging cradle
- Wired charger (connects to the cradle via microUSB)
- Regular and small-sized rubber wrist band
- Quick Start Guide
The Gear S3 frontier is a smartwatch made for adventurers – thick, solid, tough. The rotating bezel is as reliable as before.
This is no kids’ watch, that’s for sure. It doesn’t look great on a lady’s hand either, unlike the Samsung Gear S2 from last year. Made of stainless steel, the Samsung Gear S3 frontier is big and solid, with a manly look, and is noticeably on the heavy side. It wraps around the wrist with a thick rubbery band providing a tight, secure grip, further strengthened by a metal clasp. So if I were planning on spending a weekend in Bear Grylls’s company, this would be an ideal smartwatch to wear.
The rugged look and feel of the Gear S3 frontier come as no surprise. Samsung is advertising its smartwatch as IP68-certified and compliant with MIL-STD-810G standards for durability. Or in plain words, the wearable is resistant to water and dust ingress, as well as to unexpected falls and extreme temperatures. Keep in mind that the watch is not suitable for use while swimming, but giving it a quick rinse under the tap after an exercise will do no harm. Meanwhile, the raised bezel surrounding the screen protects its scratch-resistant surface against physical damage.
About the bands the Gear S3 frontier comes bundled with, it is made of what Samsung calls “active silicon”. The material is grippy, meaning that it holds on tightly to the wearer’s wrist. I wouldn’t call this the most comfortable or most beautiful band I’ve ever tried, but I grew used to it over time. Besides, given the fact that the smartwatch is meant to appeal to active, sporty people, I’d give its stock band a pass.
I should point out that wearable is compatible with standard, 22-mm wristbands, so if you’re not happy with the stock band, you’re free to exchange it with one of your own. A leather band, for instance, would be a lot more suitable to wear to a fancy dinner, and Samsung has offerings priced at $30 apiece.
On the right side of the Gear S3 frontier are positioned its Back and Home buttons. Both are readily accessible and easy to feel without looking. But to navigate your way through the user interface, you’ll be mostly using the rotating bezel. This is a design approach I really liked when testing the Gear S2 last year, and I’m happy to see that it is as reliable as it was back then. Each twist results in a satisfying, tactile click, and the ridges on the bezel’s outer rim make it easier to feel. My only complaint is that I had the bezel rotate by accident a couple of times, when it got caught in my running jacket’s sleeve during an exercise.