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Samsung Galaxy Gear - Camera, Battery, Value and Verdict

Luke Johnson

By Luke Johnson


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Review Price £300.00

Samsung Galaxy Gear: Camera

With cameras on smartphones and tablets now a prerequisite, Samsung has decided that watch wearers are in need of an integrated snapper too. The Galaxy Gear has a camera built into its strap, with a 1.9-megapixel sensor bolstered by auto focus capabilities.

Samsung Galaxy Gear

On an image quality front, the Samsung Galaxy Gear’s camera is comparable with the forward-facing snapper on Samsung’s flagship phone, the Samsung Galaxy S4. With good lighting, images are of high enough quality for the likes of Twitter and Instagram but little else. Where the Galaxy Gear’s camera struggles is when faced with less than ideal light or when attempting shots with depth. Colour management, too, is on the weak side, with images looking a little bleak and diluted, while shutter speeds are farcically slow.

Although the Gear can capture 720p HD video content at 30 frames-per-second, clips are limited to just 15 seconds. The only other shooting option is Shoot and Sound, which lets you capture an image with a short audio clip attached. Used at a recent NFL game at Wembley, this really helped bring images to life and better capture the true nature of a moment.

Samsung Galaxy Gear

The Samsung Galaxy Gear features 4GB of internal storage. This slightly limiting capacity is more than enough to ensure you can keep a few dozen snapped images safely stored, even when away from your connected smartphone.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear’s camera is far more a luxury than a necessity, and we can’t help feel it has added considerably to the watch’s price for only marginal gains. What’s more, if the watch’s battery is below 15 per cent, the camera is a no-go.

Samsung Galaxy Gear

Samsung Galaxy Gear: Battery Life and Connectivity

Battery life is another major stumbling block for the Samsung Galaxy Gear. Unlike your standard timepiece, which will go years between battery changes, the Gear will need to be recharged nightly. Although Samsung claims that the 315mAh power pack within the Gear will support 25 hours of continued use, this figure is more than a bit ambitious.

Although making use of a low energy Bluetooth 4.0 connection with the parent device, the Samsung Galaxy Gear is still a bit power hungry. Given its limited staying power, recharging the Samsung Galaxy Gear has been made unnecessarily complicated too. In a bid to aid aesthetics, Samsung has omitted a microUSB port from the Galaxy Gear, instead bundling the watch with a separate dock.

What this charging dock means is that to give the Gear a new lease of life, you either have to carry the dock with you or ensure you charge it nightly at home. Pleasingly, however, the Samsung Galaxy Gear’s recharge times are rather speedy, going from the red zone to 100 per cent in under an hour.

While battery life isn’t the best, connectivity is strong, with the Bluetooth syncing facing no dropping issues during testing. The Samsung Galaxy Gear has a decent range when talking to a parent device, too, giving us alerts at more than 30 metres.

Samsung Galaxy Gear

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Gear?

Frankly, no, not this first generation attempt anyway. The Samsung Galaxy Gear is a foundation on which the company’s smartwatch efforts can build, but it is far from the finished article. Samsung executives have even said so much themselves, stating that the watch “lacks something special” in recent interviews.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear is sure to be superseded in a matter of months, and until the market has developed just a little bit more, you’re better hanging on to your £300, dignity and common sense.

As quirky an idea as smartwatches seem, the novelty quickly wears off. Although you can make and receive calls as well as take pictures with the Gear, you will feel like a bit of a fool or show-off doing so.


The Samsung Galaxy Gear might be the device which brings smartwatches to the fore, but it isn’t the one to convince the masses to adopt them. Its limited compatibility with just Samsung branded phones, and very few of them at that, is a major drawback and has limited the Gear’s market to a niche within a niche. The Gear is under supported, overpriced and feels like a rushed effort, made to beat the competition and rumoured competition, that has failed to achieve its potential.

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September 5, 2013, 7:29 am

Does this take us back to the '70s era LED watch, where your watch no longer showed you the time at a glance, but had to be asked by pressing a button?


September 5, 2013, 8:05 am

Looks ugly as sin, 1.9mp camera, one day battery life (if you're lucky) - so many wins! :-)


September 5, 2013, 10:35 am

It kind of does. But Samsung says you get 10 different clock faces... Surely worth £300 of anyone's money :)


September 5, 2013, 10:36 am

I kind of liked the styling (could have been soooo much worse) but yeah you have a point


September 5, 2013, 11:05 am

but not a patch on the mercurially thought-controlled UI of the dumb watch, which somehow knows when you are glancing at it even momentarily, and mysteriously transmits the time data effortlessly, without any other user input or interaction. Miracle.


September 5, 2013, 11:12 am

but 1.9mp is all that is required for most social media/web type pics. And for candid captures, it could be very adept. I doubt most subjects would react as if a camera/phone were pointing at them when you are apparently just fiddling with your wristwatch. I'm hope that the shutter click is loud enough to deter inappropriate use, however.

htcone lover

September 7, 2013, 11:18 pm

HTC phone here.....Why buy a watch made for a different phone? Silly of Samsung to tie it to their phones....I love the idea but no way I'm buying one.


September 8, 2013, 7:36 pm

Given that most gadget freaks, men, wear a nice piece of bling on our wrists then why would we bother, neither can I do as I do with either my G-Shock or Breitling, jump in the shower, or pool whilst on holiday, for me the primary reason to purchase this would be as an alternative replacement to a watch, seeing as it cannot perform as a watch does in everyday wear, for me, they have a long way to go.


September 9, 2013, 12:36 pm

£300 is way too much for a start. On top of that I don't have their phone. On top of that it looks dumb. On top of that I can't be arsed to charge it every damn day. And to put the cherry on the top of all these reasons why this is a waste of money, my phone is in my damn pocket... why the hell would I want to hold my watch up to my ear like some nutjob?


September 20, 2013, 12:43 pm

Okay so I like the way it looks was really considering to buy one when it comes out but when I found out the price £300 are they real ? The phones alone cost enough . I think it's really stupid that they have to be tied to a samsung phone I have the note 2 and I love it but what's the point in buying this if you have your phone anyway they are going to loose a lot of custom just because people don't have a samsung phone was really looking forward to getting one but I'm not going to bother now.


September 25, 2013, 7:01 am

My phone is HTC,the Gear is useless for me.


September 28, 2013, 12:30 am

just lower that price to about 100$ and ill pay for it.


October 5, 2013, 3:11 am

well, will this support Galaxy SII ?


October 5, 2013, 7:01 am

Seems unlikely. It doesn't even support the S4 and S3 yet.

oscar sanchez

October 6, 2013, 10:12 am

I got to play around with this watch today. I have to say I was surprised to find out it paired with a GS4?! I WAS STOKED to finally get my hands on one. All I keep seeing are negative reviews. I recommend seeing it for yourself because I was ready to jump on the sony smart watch 2 after reading all these reviews. Keep in mind samsung is promoting this as a "companion" to your phone hence the word gear not smartwatch. Imy first thoughts after seeing it for myself ... samsung hit a homerun for its first crack at a new device like this. Dont believe me ? See it for yourself before you make a judgement.


October 7, 2013, 1:19 pm

I got the watch and the note 3 the day it hit US stores and so far I love it. The watch is a great addition to a big phone like the note 3, you can do all your simple tasks with out having to mess with digging your phone out of your pocket. The blue tooth on the watch is great I can leave my phone in my room and still make calls and text from any where in the house. I read some reviews saying that the battery life on the watch was to short, but I haven't found that to be true for me, it's like anything else if you sit there and play with it all day the the battery dies. My only complaint is the video recording time is 15 seconds which really cuts down on the real life usefulness of the video recorder.

Toni F

October 21, 2013, 11:10 pm

I have the watch and its amazing! There is room for improvement though. I as also weary about the watch based on all he neg reviews, but i had to remind myself that these reviews weren't coming from real world users. So i went on to best buys and amazon website and read some reviews, not to many bad things to say about the gear. So I decided to go out and find it to play with it, I must say once you actually handle the gear you begin to look at it much differently, like one person said you want to know if its right for you go out and handle the gear, or do what most people have been doing to me asking for me to demonstrate what it does, i have yet to hear a person whose asked to see it say that it was junk. I've gotten responses such as wow! I want one but there always sold out ect...

I have a couple of things that I'm not happy about when it comes to the gear, video and images would have been a nice touch being able to actually see my prime gmail messages would be great, but i can view my other gmail accounts as well as msn, yahoo and outlook, since you cant view hangouts i had to convince my friends to download chat on, and surprisingly its better than hangouts, not being able to view facebook not really a big deal but would be nice, a gps would have tipped this device and made even more useful, there are more things that samsung could have done with this device, I'm hoping that a future update will address most of the issues I've mentioned.

Lastly I have to address the price yes $300 might be steep to some, but if one is willing to buy a $300 and up designer watch for the name only and maybe the luxury of it also being waterproof then a device like this is worth it. The gear is only submeragable for 30mins it can be worn in the rain, you can wash dishes with it on work out with it, and yuck to anyone who takes a shower in their watch, and or who feels like they never need to take it off.

The gear is not for everyone and that's to be expected, but folks should not put down a device if they have never had hands on experience with it, Real people give real reviews not people getting paid to review products....People use your own hands on judgement

The gear is merely to me a prototype to something much better to come....now everybody else want to throw their hat in the ring again, I say lets keep the innovation going. there's a device out there perfect for everyone


November 10, 2013, 1:37 am

You would expect the Gear to be able to read Email and Twitter alerts as well as being able to reply from the wrist to Text, Email and Twitter updates!


November 10, 2013, 1:42 am

If you forget to charge then you will not know the time the next day. Battery life needs to be at least a week for light usage! On standby the device needs to run for months!


November 15, 2013, 5:45 am

Poor battery life? I disagree....This is a brilliant piece of kit. I was never sold on the idea when it was first announced. I would not be without one now. As for the email and message reads, I can look at the watch and the notifications alone tell me whether or not I need to respond immediately or not, clearly if it is from my good wife responding is a must. This watch is brilliant. Another great feature is the pedometer, it runs even while your walking around the house (obviously) great if your on a strict diet and your counting those calories. I wish I had it in January when I went on my diet.


November 15, 2013, 5:45 am

I agree with you. The watch is amazing.


November 15, 2013, 5:46 am

I got mine free with a phones4u promotion.


November 15, 2013, 5:47 am

I charge mine once every three days, charging is rapid. You don't have to have your watch anywhere near your mouth. I bet if you had one as a demo you would be totally sold.

Chill Will

March 29, 2014, 1:48 pm

i definitely agree with you i use my watch all day reading texts and checking the time even taking occasional pics i love it

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