Today I am going to advise you of my final thoughts on the Gear S, and my views versus the competition, Pebble and Android Wear.
Firstly, I know of many people who will be quick to dismiss the Gear S. It’s running a proprietary operating system, Tizen and the watch will only work if you have a Samsung smartphone to initially set it up. Well put those negatives thoughts to one side for a minute. Can any of you see Apple making its Apple Watch compatible on anything but an iPhone? No, nor can I. I can hear the next throwback question. What about apps? Pebble, Android Wear and when the Apple Watch launches all will have a vast app selection. And that’s a valid point to a point. They all have a much better (or will) app eco system. Does it really matter though. Yes and no.
The Gear S is a finished product. It does exactly what it says on the tin. IMO it looks fantastic and futuristic. So that should count for everything surely. Maybe? Well, it is the only watch, let alone smartwatch that I can wear 24/7. It is so comfortable. It also has 2 days worth of battery life, and it’s own sim card, bluetooth, wifi and more. Yep, heart rate sensor, UV sensor, HERE Navigation with the maps pre download and saved on the phone (I have the whole of map of England stored on the Gear S), S Health data, on board music player (so at gym with bluetooth stereo headset you could use the Gear S to listen to music without the need for your Note 4) or music controller for your Phone, apps (phone, contacts, messages, email, schedule, settings, navigator , S Health, Nike+ Running, Music Player, News Briefing, Weather, S Voice, Alarm, Gallery, Find My Device, Timer , Compass, Opera Mini , Find My Car, Stopwatch, Voice Memo, Calculator ). Below is the screen shot from the Note 4 with data retrieved from the Gear S.
It is one of the few smart watches that once setup doesn’t need a companion phone to make calls, send texts or emails. You can even browse the Web using Opera Mini. Or if you have a BMW there is an app that works with the car. I’ve not tested it as I don’t drive one. I really like the way the Gear S disconnects the bluetooth if you leave your Samsung phone at home , then sends a signal to the Samsung Phone that turns on call forwarding and also forwards any notifications from your phone to the watch, all remotely. As another example of its polish, remote connection won’t get triggered if the Gear S is not on your wrist. And being able to make phone calls independently is a unique aspect of this device. As it has wifi too, you can use that for data related tasks. Lastly, the 2 inch screen is 300ppi. That makes reading all notifications simple and clear. In fact let’s not forget the iPhone 6 is only 326ppi. One last point, the on screen keyboard or S Voice both work well. I also like the fact that all the notifications are one swipe to the right, in a neat list. You can read them individually and the respective notification is cleared off the phone. All just clear all and again they are removed from the Note 4 as read. Another bonus with the Gear S is the charging cradle is a battery pack, so you could carry this with you on a longer trip and use the cradle to recharge the Gear S.
One issue with S Health is the lack of exporting the data properly out of the Samsung S Health app. It really needs a Web portal. I had setup S Health months ago on my Samsung S5 and when I entered my login details on the Note 4 my information was transferred across. If Samsung opened up S Health, created a web portal, then it would have more value. There are a number of partner apps that work with the Gear S. These include Instructor Live, Nike+ Running, Mapmyrun, Cigna Coach, Workout Trainer, Lark Activity Monitor and Your MD Sympton Checker. Apart from a range of clock faces available in the Samsung Gear App store other notable apps include Deezer, Top Driver (game), Phone Camera Remote, London Underground, Endomondo Sports Tracker, Samsung Wallet, Glympse, Engadget for Gear S, Financial Times, BMW i Remote Gear, Metro (major cities tube maps and planning). The Gear S is brand new so hopefully there will be better apps in the future but in reality you won’t be buying the Gear S to add hundreds of apps.
So welcome to the Gear S paradise. Well hold on, let’s add some reality. The Gear S does do a lot. It’s a great health and fitness device, a phone but with notifications it is not as strong as say android wear. On the Gear S you can only respond/create to emails and text messages. Android Wear apps include support for replying to WhatsApp messages, tweets or even tweeting from the watch. Also, the developer support for android wear and even Pebble is off the charts already. I cannot see the Gear S getting to that point. In fact, it could be a redundant operating system in a few years time. Does that matter? Depends what you want out of your watch. For me the comfort, S Health app, fitness, looks and communications versatility make it a win for now, but I do slightly worry about its longevity. Maybe, Samsung may switch the operating system to android wear in a future update? Wearables is a fast moving platform in terms of software and hardware. It is far from the finished article and it is moving fast, so whatever device you buy will be out of date rapidly. For me, the Gear S is just what I need. I don’t need to fill it with apps as it does nearly everything I need except for the ability to respond to WhatsApp messages and Tweet.