The Samsung Galaxy Gear is the latest development on the smartwatch scene and Samsung’s most recent effort at a wearable gadget. A rival to the Sony SmartWatch 2, the Samsung Galaxy Gear is a second-screen companion to a Samsung Galaxy branded smartphone or tablet, and features a 1.63-inch touchscreen display.
With an inbuilt camera and the ability to make and receive calls direct from your wrist, the Samsung Galaxy Gear is attempting to satisfy many needs, but is this enough to justify the hefty £300 price tag?
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With the Samsung Galaxy Gear, Samsung’s design team has managed what it failed with both the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 – a device that looks both appealing and high-end. With a stainless steel face and buckle, the Gear’s premium design looks and feels the part, but, at more than twice the price of its closest rival, it had to really.
The textured plastic strap can be easily adjusted and the buckle is secure and at no danger of coming loose when fastened. The watch looks bulky when compared with a standard timepiece, but when on your wrist it feels light and comfortable. At just 73.8g in weight it is not particularly heavy and causes no discomfort after a day’s use. What’s more, with the body of the watch just 11.1mm thick, it is barely any chunkier than your phone.
The stainless steel on the Gear give it a sturdy look. Unfortunately within a week of collecting it, the buckle is covered with scuffs and scratches that ruin the overall finish. What's more concerning is that the damage has been caused by the buckle rubbing on a desk. We expect more durability from a £300 device.
Scuffing issues aside, the Samsung Galaxy Gear’s has quite a restrained design. A single sleep/power button on the smartwatch's right side makes it look sophisticated and, well, watch-like. With a pair of noise cancelling microphones and a single speaker built elegantly into the watch’s buckle, the Gear’s only major design blemish is its strap mounted camera. It looks like an awkward bulge and does detract from the slim, sleek appearance somewhat.
In a move that continues Samsung's push into more fashionable designs it has launched a range of Galaxy Gear colours. The Samsung Galaxy Gear is available in Black, Mocha Grey, Wild Orange, Rose Gold, Lime Green and the tastily named Oatmeal Beige.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear has come about due to the rapid growth of smartphone screen sizes and so, as you would expect, it features a relatively compact display. The Samsung Galaxy Gear’s 1.63-inch screen actually feels quite refreshing, doing its job without overpowering. Although it features just a 320 x 320 pixel resolution, this is more than enough to give the small Super AMOLED panel detailed and sharp visuals. The 275 PPI (pixels per inch) is actually similar to full-HD 7-inch tablets.
Although small the Samsung Galaxy Gear supports all of the touch commands you would expect from the smartphone it is connected to. The swipe-based interface is swift and easy to navigate and two-finger pinch to zoom can be used within the photo gallery. Being able to analyse pictures in closer detail direct from the watch further highlights the potential of the smartwatch as a standalone device is a handy addition.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear’s screen offers bright colours but slightly weak contrast ratios. Gradients between colours are slightly blocky, with few subtleties in similar hues. It's more detailed than the Sony SmartWatch 2’s similarly sized 220 x 176 pixel display, though.
With Samsung’s phones and tablets renowned for their impressive displays, the Samsung Galaxy Gear’s screen has continued a trend, with good viewing angles, in particular, proving useful on the wearable device.