Apple Watch Series 2 vs Samsung Gear S3 – Two sports-friendly smartwatches
Samsung has certainly had more attempts at getting its smartwatch formula right, with the Apple Watch Series 2 only being, as the name implies, Apple’s second attempt. With an array of sensors, both smartwatches have some seriously sporty credentials, but which flagship is worthy of your wrist and your wallet?
Watch: Samsung Gear S3 hands-on:
Apple Watch Series 2 vs Samsung Gear S3 – Design
Samsung’s Gear S3 once again opts for a circular design, much like the S2 before it. There are two versions: the Frontier and the Classic, but both look similar. The Frontier has a more rugged strap, while the Classic is slightly more minimalist. The Frontier weighs 62g, while the Classic weighs 57g.
The rotary bezel makes a return, which offers an intuitive way to interact with the watch without obstructing the screen. The display is 1.3-inch full-colour always-on touchscreen with a 360 x 360 resolution. It uses AMOLED screen technology for super-vibrant colours.
Apple’s Watch Series 2 looks the same as the original, but there are some new case materials. There’s now a ceramic white model, which Apple claims is four times harder than steel.
There are 38mm and 42mm cases available, with 272 x 340 and 312 x 390 screen resolutions, respectively. The new Series 2 brings with it a screen that's twice as bright as the original Apple Watch's at 1,000 nits, which should make it much easier to read outdoors.
Apple Watch 2 vs Samsung Gear S3 – Software
The Apple Watch 2 launches with watchOS 3, which brings with it certain performance upgrades. Fitness apps now have real-time access to heart rate. Similar to the Gear S3, there’s an SOS feature built in to alert someone of your whereabouts if you’re ever in a spot of trouble.
Pokémon Go is also now available on the Apple Watch, which might give it the advantage if you’re engrossed in Pokémon catching.
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The Gear S3 once again uses Samsung’s Tizen operating system, which is a bit of a mixed bag. Its app support is nowhere near as strong as that of watchOS, even if Samsung claims there are now 10,000 apps available.
There are at least more native Tizen apps, such as Uber and Spotify. The latter means you can use Spotify directly from the watch with a pair of Bluetooth headphones, so if you have an LTE-enabled Gear 3 then you can really go totally smartphone-free for convenience.
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Apple Watch Series 2 vs Samsung Gear S3 – Hardware
The Samsung Gear S3 has a dual-core 1GHz processor with 768MB of RAM. There’s also 4GB of storage inside. As for sensors, the Gear S3 has GPS, an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a heart rate sensor, making it an all-encompassing sports watch that should be perfect for outdoor endeavours.
The Apple Watch Series 2 uses a new dual-core S2 chip, which Apple promises is 50% faster than the S1 in the original Apple Watch, and has a GPU that delivers double the performance.
It will be hard to make direct comparisons, since both smartwatches run different operating systems, but neither should feel sluggish.
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Apple Watch Series 2 vs Samsung Gear S3 – Sport and waterproofing
Both the Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung Gear S3 now include a GPS sensor, making them a great choice for runners and athletes. It means you get more accurate distance- and speed-tracking, as well as routed maps at the end of a run.
The Watch Series 2 is even available in a Nike+ edition that has a stretchy perforated strap.
The Gear S3 is IP68-rated, which means it can be submerged in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes. The Apple Watch Series 2 has it beat, since it can be submerged to 50m. You also have indoor and outdoor swimming workouts, too, making it a great choice for swimmers.
Apple Watch Series 2 vs Samsung Gear S3 – Battery life
The Samsung Gear S3 has a 380mAh battery, which is a big improvement over the S2. Samsung claims this will last up to four days with the always-on display turned off. You’ll still see two days of use with it turned on, which is very respectable. Like the Apple Watch 2, you can charge wirelessly with its included charging stand.
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Apple didn’t reveal any new details on its battery performance in the Apple Watch Series 2, so we can likely expect the same 18-hour battery performance of the original. Meh.
Apple Watch Series 2 vs Samsung Gear S3 – Price and release date
Samsung hasn’t released a price for the Samsung Gear S3, nor an actual release date. It’s expected to go on sale in October at a similar price to the Gear S2, however. The Gear S2 was available for £249 for the standard model and £299 for the Classic at launch.
The Apple Watch Series 2 will be available to pre-order on 9 September and will cost £369, making it likely more expensive.
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Apple Watch Series 2 vs Samsung Gear S3 – Early Verdict
The Samsung Gear S3 looked set to be a great sports watch, but the Apple Watch Series 2 just might have it beat now that GPS and waterproofing have been added. It can go to greater depths of 50m in the water and its smaller form factor will potentially make it a better running companion.
Arguably, the Gear S3 looks to have sturdier build quality and it has that more traditional watch design going for it. It will more than likely be cheaper and benefit from superior battery life, too.
Needless to say, both smartwatches look like exciting prospects, so check back for full reviews very soon.