Samsung Gear S3 - Performance and Software Review

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Samsung Gear S3 – Performance and software

The Gear S3 runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS 2.3.1 and has a dual-core 1GHz processor. There’s 768MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. Beyond that there’s Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and NFC built-in with support for Samsung Pay.

While the specs have received a healthy upgrade over the Gear S2, the older model never felt slow or unresponsive. So it came as no surprise that the Gear S3 felt swift too.

Jumping between menus and apps, there’s never any sign of slowdown. That’s whether you’re using the touchscreen to swipe around or the rotary bezel to navigate. It all feels really responsive and seamless.

Samsung Gear S3

All this said, the Tizen operating system remains the roadblock to smartwatch greatness.

There are things it does well, though. It makes great use of the rotary bezel interface, there are plenty of watch face customisations, and the widgets approach is good. You can move the widgets around so you have quicker access to your more regularly used apps and information, such as S Health.

Samsung Gear S3

Notifications are well handled, letting you respond easily either through your voice, pre-canned replies or a slightly fiddly on-screen keyboard. They’re still a little slow to actually buzz on your wrist, though.

Clearing notifications at least feels intuitive and natural, and Tizen bundles multiple notifications together from the same app in a logical way, which isn’t always the case – as was seen with the Pebble watches.

But where Tizen shows its shortcomings is around the app catalogue, and that’s something rather important. There’s really a dearth of must-download apps. Where Android Wear and Apple’s watchOS have plenty of convenient options around smart home and navigation, there’s a distinct scarcity of all that here.

Samsung Gear S3

Uber has been added, but there’s no Google Maps, Citymapper or anything else that makes a lot of sense on a watch. There are a few throwaway games if you need something to pass the time, but nothing that will really hold your attention.

Samsung showed off a Spotify app when the Gear S3 was first shown at IFA, but that wasn’t ready at launch. Fortunately, the app has now been released and lets you navigate your playlists and browse music directly from the watch. You can then play music completely independently of your smartphone, either through the watch’s speaker or better through a Bluetooth connection to headphones or a portable speaker. Unfortunately, there’s no option of offline playlists, so you’ll still need to have Wi-Fi access or an LTE model.

Samsung Pay is at least a useful addition that supposedly doesn’t actually require a paired Samsung phone for contactless payments. Some are reporting difficulties getting certain smartphones to work, such as the Google Pixel. A double press of the top button will bring up Samsung Pay ready to be used at a terminal. As Samsung Pay hasn’t launched in the UK, I wasn’t able to test the functionality.

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