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Samsung Galaxy Gear - Features, Performance and Apps

Luke Johnson

By Luke Johnson



Our Score:


Samsung Galaxy Gear: Features and Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Gear is powered by an 800MHz single-core processor and this is more than ample to handle the tasks required of it, for the most part. Partnered with 512MB of RAM, the watch runs smoothly, although load times for some features and applications (such as contacts and call logs) are lengthier than we would have liked.

Unlike the Sony SmartWatch 2, the Samsung Galaxy Gear is limited to being compatible only with Samsung’s own branded phones. Further restricting the it is that, at the time of writing, it only works with the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Samsung has confirmed that it will work with the 2014 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 when it hits the UK, while compatibility with the Samsung Galaxy S4 has been promised for later this month. For now, however, it’s a party of one. This renders the Gear essentially useless for anyone but a Note 3 owner.

Disappointingly, and somewhat fatally, a selection of the Samsung Galaxy Gear’s key features are not as fluid or effortless as they should be.

Although you can receive email and Twitter alerts direct to your wrist, you can't read the full messages on the Galaxy Gear. Instead the watch offers you the option to open the message on the parent device using Smart Relay. While it is useful to know when emails and social alerts are inbound, the lack of further access from the Gear renders the watch close to redundant. You can, however, read text messages on the Gear.

Another disappointing Samsung Galaxy Gear feature is the incorporated S Voice command options. They supposedly let you make calls and send texts simply by speaking to the watch, but in practice the service is glitchy and struggles to understand what is being asked of it. Annoyingly, the most common reaction is ‘We couldn’t understand...”. It's far from the time saving option it is supposed to be as attempting to use S Voice often takes longer than simply performing the task manually.

Making and receiving calls direct from the Galaxy Gear is a good addition and audio quality is pretty impressive. The touch screen ensures making and answering calls is seamless and, in terms of performance, the Gear’s calling options work well. What is less enticing, though, is how much of a berk you look making calls, talking to your wrist like a 1980’s TV spy. During testing we felt too embarrassed to answer calls on the watch in busy areas on more than one occasion.

One area where the Samsung Galaxy Gear does shine, is a as a fitness tracker, with the integrated accelerometer and gyro-sensor turning the watch into your own pedometer. Communicating with the parent device and the integrated Samsung S Health app, the watch lets you track your daily step counts and set personal targets and conduct pre-set training sessions. Although a suitable all-in-one replacement to the likes of the Nike FuelBand, this is not a big enough redeeming quality to overshadow all of the Gear’s negative points.

On overall performance, the Samsung Galaxy Gear shows faint glimmers of brilliance but comes up short on far too many occasions. Getting email and Twitter alerts would be far more useful if you could actually read the darn things, and while you can read text messages, we would like to see the option to reply direct from your wrist on future iterations.

Samsung Galaxy Gear: Apps

At the time of writing, the collection of available Samsung Galaxy Gear apps makes the Windows Phone Marketplace look like it's bursting at the seams. Less than 100 Galaxy Gear apps available and, sadly, this isn’t a case of quality over quantity. Many of the applications are pointless and bring little to the party, such as dreadful 'mini games' like spin the bottle and roll the dice.

One of the few gems on the Galaxy Gear app store is Evernote, with shopping lists and notes able to be accessed directly from the watch. But solitary useful apps like this are the exception rather than the rule and do little justify the high price tag. Fundamentally, the Galaxy Gear doesn't do a great deal of anything.


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.

Charlie Moritz

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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