Samsung has never been one to back down from the opportunity to release yet another smartwatch, but the new Gear S, which was initially unveiled last week, proves the company still hasn’t found a sweetspot.
The Gear S, which goes on sale later this fall, is the sixth smartwatch Samsung has released within the last year.
But what makes this one stand apart is the fact that it connect to cellular data networks without having to tether to your phone. That means the Gear S can receive data and make calls, even if you leave your phone behind.
Still, Samsung isn’t marketing this as a smartphone replacement. It’s more like a convenience if you don’t want to lug your phone around.
Featuring a curved 2-inch AMOLED display that quickly draws the eye, the Gear S looks exactly like a wider version of Samsung’s Gear Fit wearable released earlier this year.
But where the Gear Fit was hampered by its sole focus on fitness, the Gear S takes advantage of the curved form factor and extra screen real estate to create full-featured smartwatch that is truly Samsung’s best yet.
Thanks to the curved form factor, the Gear S is actually surprisingly comfortable to wear.
Its thickness, however, hidden from the gracious and slimming angles of the launch photos, causes the smartwatch to fit more like a large Fossil watch. Because of this, women and those with slimmer wrists will probably find the Gear S too bulky, though you can choose a more narrow wristband, but that doesn’t change the heft of the device itself.
So what can the Gear S do?
Interestingly enough, you don’t need a smartphone to use the Gear S, thanks to the built-in 3G connectivity and SIM card. It’s a small inclusion that allows the Gear S to still be useful when you’re separated from your smartphone.
For example, if you’re running errands and leave your phone in the car, you can still answer a call or respond to text messages. If you’re ever lost, the watch’s turn-by-turn navigation will get you home. Samsung is quick to point out that the Gear S is not a smartphone replacement, but it comes as close to one as we’ve ever seen.
Due to the extra width of a 2-inch display, reading notifications, messages, and even the beginnings of news articles was a comfortable experience. Using a finger to scroll along the curved display felt far more natural than the flat displays of other smartwatches I’ve used, and it was certainly the right move for Samsung.
The Gear S also features a full QWERTY keyboard, though it may win the medal for the smallest ever on a device. Shooting off a quick message on the Gear S is feasible, but you’ll have to rely heavily on autocorrect.
Other Gear S features include health tracking and the built-in heart rate sensor, apps for staying on top of your email, scheduling and weather, and a music player. (There’s no headphone jack, so you’ll need Bluetooth headphones.)
Like other Samsung Gear watches, the Gear S will only work with a few select Samsung Galaxy phones.
Samsung hasn’t exactly reinvented the smartwatch category with the Gear S, but it certainly has been listening to feedback. The Gear S looks better than any other Samsung smartwatch out there, and the extra 3G connectivity, curved display, and extra screen real estate are all steps in the right direction.