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Samsung Gear Live review

Michael Sawh



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Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Samsung Gear Live


Our Score:



  • Clean, attractive design
  • Bright, vibrant screen
  • Comfortable to wear with exchangeable straps


  • Problems syncing apps to Gear Live
  • Only a day battery life
  • Poor selection of watch faces
  • Navigation still temperamental

Key Features

  • Android Wear 4.4W; 1.63-inch, 320x320 Super AMOLED display; 1.2 GHz processor; Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy; 4GB internal storage with 512 MB RAM; Accelerometer; Digital Compass; Gyroscope; Heart Rate monitor; 300 mAh battery (1 day use)
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £169.00

What is the Samsung Galaxy Gear Live?

The Samsung Gear Live joins the LG G Watch as one of the first Android Wear smartwatches you can buy. This is Samsung's fourth attempt at a smartwatch after the Galaxy Gear, Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo and it's letting Google take the reins on the software as it focuses on making the hardware.

It's £10 more expensive than the G Watch and for a little extra you get a nicer-looking watch with a better screen and a built-in heart rate sensor. Elsewhere, it's near identical to LG's effort and that means it still comes with similar problems that make these first batch of Android Wear smartwatches difficult to recommend.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Gear S2 vs Apple Watch: Do you go Apple or Samsung smartwatch?

Samsung Gear Live: Design

If you think the Gear Live looks familiar that’s because it's clearly inspired by the Samsung Gear 2. There’s now a smooth black plastic watch strap instead of the more textured one on the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, with a more simplistic metal clasp that secures the Gear Live around the wrist, but otherwise it looks very similar.

Like the G Watch, you can swap out the straps and it’s IP67 certified water and dust resistant, so wearing in the shower is fine but it’s not recommended taking it into the sea for a swim.

It doesn’t have a camera, an infrared blaster or a physical home button below the screen, but it does include a single button on the right edge to turn the Gear Live on and off. Around the back you’ll find the built-in heart rate sensor and a row of charging pins signalling another proprietary charging cradle. It’s the same clunky clip-on dock that comes with the previous Gear watches that's not only an irriation to have to carry around -- it's also fidgety to get in place.

Stripping away some of the features that Android Wear doesn’t embrace gives the Live a more elegant, streamlined look especially compared to the G Watch. Weighing in at 59g and measuring in at 8.9mm thick, it’s also lighter and slimmer than LG’s Android Wear smartwatch and just doesn’t look as underwhelming or ordinary around the wrist.

SEE ALSO: What is Android Wear?

Gear Live 3

Wearing it isn’t a problem, either. The pins in the clasp don’t go deep enough into the strap for our liking, but it didn't fall off at any point. The interior of the watch is slightly curved to sit more naturally on the wrist and it’s a comfortable watch to wear during the day. Even taking it to the gym and accidentally falling asleep with it a couple of times wasn’t a problem.

It’s the best-looking Android Wear smartwatch currently available, but in fairness when you only have the LG G Watch to compare it to that’s not saying much. Everyone is eagerly awaiting the circular Moto 360 but if you have to go for one on looks right now, the Gear Live comes out on top.

SEE ALSO: Apple iWatch release date, price, concepts, features and rumours

Samsung Gear Live: Screen

Samsung hasn’t budged from the screen it used on the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, using the same 1.63-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display with 320x320 resolution. Again, that’s a higher screen resolution than the G Watch, albeit on an ever so slightly smaller screen. Annoyingly, the screen bezel eats into some of the potential screen estate -- we’d have loved Samsung to have gone bigger.

Like the other Samsung smartwatches, it’s a stunningly bright, vibrant display with rich colours and sharpness that really shows on text and Android Wear icons. Whether it’s tablets or smartwatch screens, Samsung is really doing a great job on the display front.

There are currently no apps that support video for Android Wear, so it’s currently not possible to see how it handles streaming or playback, although watching video on such a small screen doesn’t make much sense. For images, it faces the same struggles as the other Gear watches. The image resolution doesn’t appear fully optimized and struggles for clarity and sharpness.

We did experience the odd issue with screen responsiveness failing to register screen presses on the first go, which becomes more of a problem when you are on the move. Unlike the G Watch, however, it's easy to view in bright sunlight, which gives the Gear Live another clear edge over its rival.

We really liked the display on the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo and sticking to the same setup for the Gear Live was a good move by Samsung.

SEE ALSO: Android Wear tips, tricks and secrets

Gear Live 2

Samsung Gear Live: Features

Keeping things ticking over on the Gear Live is a 1.2 GHz processor, which is the same Snapdragon 400 CPU inside the LG G Watch. The 512MB RAM and 4GB of internal storage matches the G Watch as well and it supports Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy to make the wireless connection to an Android smartphone running on Android 4.3 Jellybean.

Along with a digital compass, the Gear Live also includes an accelerometer, gyroscope and a heart rate sensor. This is the same heart rate sensor included in the Gear smartwatches and Gear Fit. The sensor flashes a green light against your skin to provide the reading and can measure resting heart rate. It comes with its own dedicated pre-installed app and data can be stored in Google Fit, Google's new health and fitness platform.

But there's still a question mark over the accuracy of Samsung's heart rate sensor technology and having tested it against the Polar H7 heart rate monitor chest trap synced to the TomTom Runner running watch, it still throws up some far from reliable readings.

It's not clear how involved Google was in the hardware development, but it can't be a coincidence that specs for the first two Android Wear smartwatches are so similar and will be interesting to see if the Moto 360 and future watches follow suit.

Tim Sutton

July 21, 2014, 2:03 pm

I use a phablet (Nokia 1520) so would be the exact target market for a "smartwatch" (can I ask why exactly they are called smart when they are nothing more than a dumb terminal for a phone?) in that my phone is large and can be tricky to get in and out of a pocket every time I get an alert.

Yet I really don't want one. At all. I don't find it annoying to reach into my pocket. Who really finds that annoying? Really? REALLY?

Honestly, what on earth is the point of a tiny screened phone annex? If I'm too busy to take my phone out, then I'm also going to be too busy to read a text or check Facebook or the weather, and I'm certainly not going to want to do anything about replying on a tiny watch screen.. so to actually DO anything the phone will come out anyway!

I'm baffled by the watchet (watch+gadget, much more accurate term), it's as redundant to me in todays smartphone world as a standalone iPod.

Buy a normal watch and a nice phone instead, people. Everything will be nice if you do.

(exercise bands with mp3 playback are great though)

Alex Walsh

July 21, 2014, 3:28 pm

I'd like one for checking stuff when I'm out and about. Whipping out my phone in central London to check an alert or whatever always strikes me as a bit dangerous, especially just outside the tube stations etc.


July 21, 2014, 4:10 pm

If you still have the device, could you please run a quick test for me if possible? Could you see if it is possible to listen to music with A2DP (or AptX) bluetooth headphones and still control the music using Android Wear?

Tim Sutton

July 21, 2014, 4:41 pm

I've seen that idea trotted out before, as if a huge, brightly shining and expensive watch screen is somehow not going to interest muggers.

Particularly when looking at your expensive watchet tells any spying mugger that you also have an expensive phone on your person too, so are doubly worthy a target.

Even if it were true that muggers ignored watchets, what exactly will you do if your watchet shows you you have texts to reply to or there's breaking news? You'll either pull out your phone, or wait until you're somewhere where you feel safe to take out your phone... which is what you would have done if you didn't have a watchet anyway!

Alex Walsh

July 22, 2014, 7:42 am

Well you're talking to the wrong person about that, I was a very ill advised early adopter with the original Sony LiveView. Of course the watch was appallingly terrible and simply didn't work like it should have but with 4 email accounts, two twitter accounts and so on, it was getting a bit tedious pulling my phone out at every single vibrate, so I thought I'd give it a go. I want to try again, but nothing I've seen, except possibly the Pebble Steel, has made me change my mind...


August 8, 2014, 4:41 am

Navigation on your wrist when you are on a motorcycle or bicycle is fantastic. That, and if you go with the Neo instead of the Live, the standalone music player that will stream to my BT headset is incredible since it means that I can run and/or go to the gym and not need to have my phone with me.

Ernest Contreras

August 25, 2014, 3:21 am

I have one but cannot connect as directed, can it be that it is only Compatible to Samsung devices? Can I Pair it with my HTC Android ? Via Bluetooth?


January 10, 2015, 6:16 am

I agree. The convenience on a motorcycle is one of my primary reasons for owning smart watches.


January 10, 2015, 6:18 am

I owned a LiveView. Even Sony has done better than that since. Give smart watches another try. Just my opinion. ;)


January 22, 2015, 12:56 am

I have had mine for a couple of days now, and here are a few early observations:
- Battery life using the standard settings is just under 30 hours, which is fine with me as when I sleep so too does the watch.
- The strap that came with the watch is hideously difficult to put on, so I quickly changed it to a much better one.
- It took me about 90 minutes to perform my original pairing with my smartphone, but thereafter things have improved.
- The build quality is very nice and the screen is gorgeous.
- I find the amount of notifications to be acceptable, and not nearly as copious as I had ready in several reviews.
- The vibration of the watch is a bit weak, and I have found myself missing notifications.
- The number and quality of Android Wear apps is disappointingly small and for the most part of limited use - But the potential is there!
Overall, a decent smartwatch, but a luxury, even at the $180 CAD I paid for it.


May 21, 2015, 8:32 pm

I have been really unsure about getting one but you have made me realise that I have actually found it really annoying to get my phone out of my pocket loads of times. Maybe the pocket is tight or I can't work out which pocket it's in, or the pocket has got a load of other stuff in. Maybe it isn't even in my pocket at all. It actually sounds like one of these watches might be helpful then.


May 21, 2015, 8:34 pm

Mugging is a matter of convenience too. It is very easy to grab a phone while you are cycling past but much more difficult to take a watch off someone's wrist without them trying to stop you.

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