I don’t know exactly when it happened but at some point I became scared of technology. I stopped downloading the latest apps for my phones, I clung to my headphone cable rather than adopting the wireless benefits of Bluetooth, and I greeted every new device I bought with a sense of bemusement that’s only comparable to a caveman seeing fire for the first time.
It was with a similar sense of skepticism that I greeted the concept of smartwatches. I just couldn’t get my head around the idea of a watch that’s also a smartphone, one that you play with and talk into – and have to charge every so often.
So obviously when the opportunity came up to try out the latest smartwatch from Samsung, the Gear S3 Classic, I felt I was the obvious choice.
So here we go…
It looks like a watch
This may sound stupid, but one of the things I liked most about the latest gizmo from Samsung is that it doesn’t forget the ‘watch’ part of the smartwatch equation. Instead of looking like a miniaturized phone that’s strapped to your wrist it actually looks like the kind of chunky, outdoor, sportswatch that never seems to go out of style.
That’s in large part thanks to Samsung’s signature rotating bezel and the chunky stainless steel construction. It’s a solid piece of kit that looks and feels sturdy on the wrist. In short if you like rugged outdoor watches – like I do – then this is the smartwatch for you.
The watch also comes with a range of interchangeable straps as well. From classic leather to silicon and alligator print, it’s a small detail but one that let’s you customize your watch to suit your style.
It’s not just the physical design of the Gear S3 that’s easy on the eye either, the digital aesthetics are pretty eye-catching too. The Gear S3’s always on display means that you can customize the 1.3-inch screen to look like any watch you want. With 15 preloaded watch faces to choose from and plenty more available to download in the Gear App Store you’ll never get bored of looking at it.
It’s difficult to break
Imagine the kind of beating your hands go through every day? Washing your hands, bumping into things, rooting around in bags trying to find your transit pass. And if it’s tough on your hands imagine how tough it’s going to be on the technologically advanced timepiece on your wrist.
You want to actually be able to use your watch, not wrap it up in protective coverings and treat it with kid gloves. The good news is that the Gear S3 can handle just about everything you can think to throw at it. It’s rated IP68 – in layman’s terms that means it’s able to withstand all manner of dust and dirt and can even survive being submerged in up to 1.5 metres of water for up to 30 minutes.
That means that you’re not only going to struggle to break the thing during everyday use, but if you’re the outdoorsy type then this watch can handle just about anything Canada can throw at it.
It’s actually useful
And speaking of outdoorsy stuff, if you like to explore and be active, it has plenty to offer. Whether you’re running, mountain biking, or hurling yourself down a perfectly good mountain on a pair of skis, the Gear S3 will actively collect your data and track your fitness. Equipped with an altimeter, a barometer, a speedometer, and no doubt other types of meters that I don’t understand, the Gear S3 measures tons of different things you need to know about your exercise regime.
I used it while running – a much lighter alternative to strapping my smartphone to my bicep – to track how far I’d gone, how fast, and most importantly how long I’d have to walk to a bus stop after the weather took a turn for the worse.
The built-in GPS is also incredibly useful, whether you’ve taken a wrong turn on an afternoon hike or you’re trying to find a good spot to enjoy some post-work snacks salvation is just a few seconds away. And if you truly do get stuck it also pairs with your phone so you can dial ahead to make a booking or call for help if you need to.
It’s not just in the great outdoors where the Gear S3 comes into its own, it’s pretty handy for everyday life too. With 4GB of internal memory it’s a great alternative to a smartphone as your music player of choice. The ability to use Samsung Pay to, well, pay for stuff was also a pleasant surprise. I mean the 30 seconds I’ll save rooting around for my debit card at the coffee shop isn’t going to change my life, but it does make it that little bit easier.
The battery that lasts and lasts
One of my biggest gripes with modern tech is how often I need to charge it. I mean the whole point of a smartphone is that I want to be on the go, not chained to a power outlet while I struggle to send a Tweet. I was a little worried then that the Gear S3’s downfall would be its battery life, after all it’s tiny so I was expecting to have to recharge it after heavy usage.
I was pleasantly surprised then to find out that not only did the battery life hold up to everyday activity, but it also held up to an entire weekend of heavy use. Samsung claims you can go up to four days between charges*, which from my experience isn’t just hyperbole. And when you do come to charge it there’s no tiny USB cable to fumble into place. Instead thanks to the wireless charging dock you just drop it on its stand and wake up to a fully charged watch.
If like me you’re something of a smartwatch skeptic, then the Gear S3 might be the gadget to push you over the edge. Yes it looks good, and it can survive everyday life but what I liked the most is that I actually got some use out of it. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but whether you’re a city slicker or you love the great outdoors, it’s well worth checking out.
We reviewed the Samsung Gear S3, and while it’s bigger than its predecessor and designed more for a male audience, the Gear S2 is still available for those looking for something a bit smaller. For more information on it, visit Samsung Canada.
*Battery life may vary depending on usage and settings. Based on laboratory testing.