Introduction

Samsung is knees deep in the latest trend of gearing up your wrist with an extension of your smartphone. The Gear S however walks the extra mile of offering independent 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity along with full telephony support.

A culmination of several smartwatch iterations, the Gear S packs better hardware and a lot more of it. Samsung is breaking new ground here as the Gear S is actually more of an independent smartphone for your wrist, than an accessory for your smartphone.

The device is equipped with its own SIM card and has all the needed hardware and software to function as an independent _phone_ that just happens to be attached to a strap and be able to sync with your Samsung smartphone.

The ambiguity in nature is a very bold move by the Korean giant, but has a multitude of drawbacks, most prominently - the need to buy a separate monthly data plan just to use the rudimentary smart features of your watch without it being paired to a handset. But more on that later.

Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S

Samsung Gear S official photos

Unlike it's cousins - the Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R - who would try anything to pass as regular wrist watches on quick glance, the Gear S is definitely not subtle in its appearance and seems utterly uninterested in pretending to be a watch. The device is futuristic, with a wide wrist band and curved glass finish, but most importantly, it's huge compared to the competition.

A 2-inch Super AMOLED screen and the rectangular shape instantly paint the picture of a high-tech gadget that can coincidentally tell time, rather than a watch in the traditional since. The bold choice of colors and materials only underline this general feeling.

The lack of a watch crown and the rectangular physical "home button" below the screen represent a decisive step away from the wrist watches of old.

The Gear S definitely deserves credit in the hardware and features department, as Samsung has jammed it with pretty much everything they could fit.

Key features

  • 2-inch curved Super AMOLED multi-touch screen with a resolution of 360 x 480 pixels (300 ppi pixel density)
  • Plastic 67 g body, permanently mounted on a proprietary wrist band, available in black or white
  • Dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset with 512MB RAM and 4GB ROM
  • 300mAh battery (24h battery life) plus a 350mAh battery pack in the charging dock
  • IP67 certified - it's dust and water resistant up to 1 meter of depth for up to 30 minutes
  • Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, heart rate, barometer, UV light sensors
  • Bluetooth v4.1, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, 3G, A-GPS with GLONASS

Main disadvantages

  • Way to big and clunky for most wrists
  • No standard band-replacement options available, and you can only get a black or white one from Samsung

Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S

The Samsung Gear S in action

After taking a quick tour around Samsung's interesting new take on redefining the wearable scene lets dive deeper into what the Gear S has to offer in terms of hardware.

Unboxing

The Samsung Gear S comes in a neat little stylish package with not much room to spare. Nothing too fancy or excessive on the cardboard box itself, but you should remember to hold on to it just like you would for any new _phone_ or at least the IMEI information printed on it, just in case the smartwatch gets misplaced.

Inside the rather minimalistic packaging we find the watch itself covered by a quick-start guide leaflet and underneath it - two compartments - one for the charging dock and another one for the wall adaptor.

Samsung Gear S

The dock doubles as a back-up 350mAh battery, which is definitely a nice little touch. This allows you to charge it separately and carry a handy extra power source with you on the go.

The charging dock is however flimsy at best. Its shape is very oddly curved around all edges, which makes it almost impossible to balance flat on a surface, unlike the one found on the LG G Watch R, for example, which feels right at home of top of your desk.

The way the dock attaches lacks much proper feedback. We often found ourselves having to double check if the pins were aligned and the thing is charging.

Looking at the shape one would assume that it is meant to be carried around while on the watch, but that is totally unfeasible.

Hardware

In terms of hardware the Samsung Gear S packs the guts of a mid-range smartphone, which is an admirable achievement on its own.

The Snapdragon 400 SoC is more than enough to power the Tizen OS, which runs absolutely fluidly with no lag or excessive loading times. That's is to be expected, of course, from a CPU that is still found in some entry-level handsets. 512MB of RAM definitely don't sound much, but seem to be plenty as even after prolonged periods of use of different apps, we didn't spot any performance drops.

The 2-inch curved Super AMOLED touchscreen is nothing short of spectacular and really sets the device apart from the competition. Everything looks amazingly sharp with vivid colors and ample space to go around, which Tizen really seems to take full advantage of.

The GUI is specifically optimized to ease the user experience with additional features and the menus are conveniently placed at the top and bottom ends of the display.

The curve does initially strike as somewhat weird, but it grows on you pretty quickly and is in fact a pretty natural way to accommodate more usable space.

Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S

The gear S boasts a nicely curved body and a physical home button below the excellent display

Viewing angles are not ideal, but perfectly adequate to accommodate pretty much every possible hand position. There is quite a bit of reflection on the device in bright light, but it's still viewable. OLED technology is pretty power efficient and with the proper choice of a minimalistic watch-face, the battery can easily handle the always-on feature.

The device is also equipped with a laser heart rate sensor on the back, which has become more or less a standard feature for smartwatches, but its accuracy is doubtful and so is its consistency. Measuring is a very random shoot and miss process and I am yet to find a "sweet-spot" that raises my chances for success.

Samsung seems to be putting an emphasis once again on sport and health uses for the wearable. A pedometer is also present as one would expect, but again the validity of the tracked data is also very questionable. Either the sensor is not exactly accurate or we should definitely address our oddly consistent midnight sleepwalking (ranging from 50 to 120 steps depending on the person).

The sleep-tracking feature is straight-forward enough though it doesn't help with the bed-time step counting. It shows the percentage of motionless sleep you get each night. That is if you manage to time you battery right to be able to wear it to bed.

The built-in speaker is also a nice addition. It is kind of essential for the watch to behave independently as a phone, like the manufacturer seems to mean it to work, but coincidentally, it turns the Gear S into a convenient Bluetooth hands-free for your smartphone while driving.

At this point, the list of additional hardware found in the little device becomes kind of excessive and arguably does not necessarily act in favor of Samsung's wearable. The Korean manufacturer has also thrown in a UV sensor, intended to warn you against exposure to unhealthy amounts of sun rays.

Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S

The UV sensor is right next to the button

Granted, the option does sound cool and looks to work just fine, but it seems to me that you'd rarely need a gadget to tell you whether you need sunscreen. Most users will not benefit at all from this added feature and yet all of them are paying for having it on-board.

But the list of tech, that ramps up the price of the Gear S does not end there. Besides the obvious Bluetooth connection, Samsung has also opted to throw in a W-iFi module. It does fit into the whole new concept of a more independent wearable, but it also seems kind of redundant. The reason is that most of the time the watch is going to be connected to your Samsung smartphone and draw all its data from there. There is also the separate 3G data connection that is present on the wearable.

The device does include a pretty handy version of HERE navigation, specifically tailored for its controls and screen size. Once paired to a smartphone, however it pretty much functions as a second screen and insists on installing HERE on the phone. It also makes the buit-in GPS redundant as in this case it relies solely on the phone's positioning methods.

The only other interesting use of the location chip inside the Gear S is for the two-way device finding feature. If both devices are out of Bluetooth range, they can still reach each other through their respective internet connections.

It seems that Samsung has gone with its traditional "more is better" approach with the Gear S and has made it a point to fit as much hardware as possible in the wearable. While this does definitely have its appeal, I can't help but feel that the smartwatch is too feature-rich for its own good.

With a price tag a good 50 percent above its direct rivals - the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R and tied down to a significantly smaller proprietary market - it seems the Gear S offers much to impress, but sadly not nearly enough to compete outside the Samsung universe.

It seems the Korean giant has endeavored to conquer all peaks with one all-encompassing device and has ended up with a premium smart watch-phone hybrid that can't decide on its nature, which is my main grudge against the otherwise quality Gear S.

Build quality

The Samsung Gear S feels solid, yet amazingly light. The curved body does help in distributing the weight evenly, but it still takes some getting used to wearing it, especially while you sleep.

The device itself is pretty much wrapped by its watch band on all sides and there are no apparent ways of disassembling it. The wrist band is made out of some sort of rubberized plastic. It looks to be rather durable and stain proof, but more than anything it comes off as cheap and tacky, much like something you would put on a toy watch. The fact that it is available in only a few colors and cannot be replaced by an aftermarket solution is also kind of a letdown.

Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S

The strap and plastic finish look less than premium

The rest of the materials implemented in the smartwatch are not that premium either, or at least don't look like it. The plastics all feel sturdy enough, but are not nearly as nice as the finish on the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R.

The Samsung Gear S does boast an IP67 certification for dust and water resistance and is rated for a meter deep dive for up to 30 minutes. The back of the device seems rather unprepared for a bath, especially around the SIM slot. We could, of course, be wrong, but we found it uncanny to let it near water.

The watch clasp feels heavy-duty and tight enough to prevent accidental unhooking. The way it is attached to the strap is however kind of flimsy and could potentially cause wear and tear problems down the road but we have to see about that.

Battery life

Battery life on the Gear S is far from ideal, clocking in at a little over 24 hours on the review unit. This held true regardless whether we had a SIM inside or not. That's understandable given the small battery, but still looks impractical for day to day use.

Charging is fairly quick at about an hour on a decent wall adaptor, but the battery life leaves you wondering as to when exactly you are supposed to charge the thing.

Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S

The Gear S looks very high-tech

Arguably, most smartphones nowadays leave you with the same conundrum, but the easy solution is to just let them charge overnight. This is all fine and dandy but if you wish to utilize the built-in sleep tracking function that option is pretty much off the table and if you are constantly on-the-go, finding a slot for charging the Gear S quickly becomes a concern. The 350mAh dock backup battery addresses this issue to a certain extent and is definitely handy, but it still seems that Samsung might have missed a few use-cases during design.

Follow us to the next section to see is the Gear S really does put the S in "smart".

Tizen OS User Interface

The Samsung Gear S is powered by Tizen, the wearable OS of choice for Samsung at the moment and for a good reason. The platform has come a long way since its early days and now offers a very pleasant and fluid experience. It also looks the part with stylish animations and vivid colors.

Almost every menu and function on the wearable feels like a natural extension to their own TouchWiz from the dark stylish color scheme all the way to title bars and menu placements. So if you are accustomed to Samsung's signature UX preferences, you should feel right at home with the Gear S. But even though Tizen delivers a very pleasant experience as a whole, there are a few problems worth noting.

Samsung Gear S

For one, the control scheme seems needlessly overcomplicated and a little counter intuitive. The device features four main swipe gestures, one from each side of the screen as well as a few other, less important ones.

While at the main watch face view, you can swipe left to view notifications and keep swiping to switch between notification groups or in other words the different apps, simple enough.

Swiping right takes you to a series of different screens with what appear to be widgets. Each screen shows one widget at a time and swiping right takes you through media controls, fitness apps, news and calendar, with the final screen left empty. All of them are subject to user customization.

But this is where the confusion starts to set in. Swiping down serves as a back button almost universally across all menus and apps, with the notable exception of the home screen, where doing the same, reveals a pull-down menu with the battery and connectivity status as well as controls for volume and brightness.

Swiping up on the other hand is quite naturally used for scrolling down, again with the notable exception of the home screen, where it opens the app drawer.

Notifications are nicely executed on the device with nice bright colors and clear application icons. Aggregating multiple notifications is somewhat confusing, but the wearable definitely serves the purpose of informing you in a timely matter on you smartphone's activity. One thing that feels missing though is the actionable notifications, much like the ones in Android Wear.

Currently, there is no option for a quick reply with the notable exception of text and email messages, which can be handled through Gear S's own applications for a reply. Perhaps this can be fixed in a future update as it would truly bring a whole new level of freedom to users.

Watch faces are another huge aspect of every wearable and unsurprisingly Samsung has its own take on them as well. The built-in options are not a lot, but they are beautifully drawn and look amazing on the AMOLED display.

Some of the watchfaces are clean and simple with just an analog or digital clock and a few resemble actual watches. One of the nicer features is the addition of shortcuts to various apps right on the home screen as well as the current notification count, steps and other real-time information.

Samsung Gear S

A lot of styling options have been made available on the Gear S. In addition to watch faces there are also wallpapers and color themes, but there's not much downloadable content in this department. The available watch designs are not nearly as plentiful or original as the ones for Android Wear. There are a few apps available for easy drag-and-drop watch face creation, but again, nothing too spectacular.

Speaking of availability of content, Samsung has made some interesting decisions as to how the wearable behaves. Firstly, it does require a Samsung smartphone and preferably a fairly recent one to set up initially. Needless to say this limits the Gear S's target market immensely. Hacks are available to get it running on other devices, even iOS, but this is the only approved way to work with the device so if you don't own Samsung smartphone there is little incentive for you to get the wearable in the first place.

While connected to the smartphone the device is controlled entirely by Samsung's own Gear manager. While it looks simple enough and seems to be a single application doing all the heavy lifting in reality the app is more of a framework. This of course is necessary, so that the wearable may receive access to all the Android functions it needs to access, but it comes at a price with over 10 additional installs during the application setup. All of these components remain very much hidden from the user, but their presence is felt mainly in RAM requirements and to some extent battery life, although that can't be accurately judged while the Bluetooth is connected.

The whole Gear manager suit, while very simple in design does feel a little bloated, mainly because it seems redundant to be implementing proprietary APIs and services when most of the functionality is already available for use by Android Wear devices and will be pretty much incorporated in the OS itself starting with the current Android 5 release. But that is simply just another aspect of Samsung's ever present battle to create a flavor of Android as detached form Google as possible.

Application delivery is subject to pretty much the same presumptions and apps can be installed on the Gear S only through the Gear Manager on a smartphone. Samsung uses its own App store to distribute everything from watch faces to the application themselves. Installing apps on the smartwatch seems to leave no footprint on the phone, which is definitely a nice thing. No separate shortcuts or additional applications are left on you handset. The watch apps are all visible through the Gear manager along with any settings they might have.

Samsung Gear S

The store does have some interesting apps but nothing too impressive. There seem to be only a few active developers, besides Samsung that know what they are doing and utilize the device properly. The selection is not exactly rich and when we take into consideration the fact that many of the apps for previous Gear models also work on the Gear s, its dedicated library really becomes less impressive.

Most basic things are covered and even some advanced features. The availability of a version of Opera Mini is really a nice little touch and makes a lot of sense given the ample connectivity options. It works surprisingly well and is really convenient for a quick Google search on the go.

As a whole, the Gear S is crippled by its closed-off, proprietary nature that inhibits it to partake in the rapid development taking place over on the standardized Android Wear stage.

Typing is expectedly a chore on the 2-inch display. But Samsung has really put a lot of effort into making the most out of what they have to work with. The keyboard works surprisingly well for numbers, but letters are almost impossible to type, let alone fast.

There is a pretty solid prediction mechanism working in the background that learns your typing habits and does a pretty good job of it. It even requests access to certain parts of your handset, like contacts and messages and manages to familiarize itself with the terms and people you refer to most often. Of course, in order prediction to work you need to get the charcters right to begin with which rarely is the case. There is an option for swipe input, but much of the same problems stand. A watch is just something that is not intended for typing.

A lot of the integrated applications on the Samsung Gear S exhibit a very dualistic behavior depending on whether the device is connected to a smartphone and has a working SIM card of its own. Phone, Message, Contacts and Media Player all double as both internal controls for the device itself or remote controls of the connected device. This does get very confusing at times, despite the fact that there are separate logs and menus for some features.

This perhaps is the biggest shortcoming of the Samsung Gear S. And this ambiguity of character plagues the otherwise nice device in almost every possible aspect.

Final words

Smartwatches are obviously here to stay. The smart wearable concept has been the object of experimentation for quite some time but it's only now that it really picks up the pace of development. It seems that every major manufacturer is on board this latest fad, despite the glaring conceptual flaws in the suggested usage scenarios.

But we digress. The discussion whether smartwatches make sense is wide open and we wouldn't like to get too deep into that.

Instead, in this review we focused on the topic of whether the Samsung Gear S makes sense and whether it's up to tasks it has taken upon itself.

Samsung Gear S

The Samsung Gear S is definitely a very cool piece of tech. Samsung has clearly invested a lot of effort into the feature packed device, but they might have gone a bit overboard. The potential is definitely there. With a gorgeous Super AMOLED display, a powerful Snapdragon 400 CPU, 512MB of RAM and a streamlined Tizen OS, this smartwatch has a lot to show and it delivers stellar performance.

The only problem is that it might have ventured a bit too far into smartphone territory and bit off more than it can handle. The Gear S can seems undecided on its own nature - at times it behaves like the standalone, almost full-featured device, it was pitched as, while at other times it's nothing more than an glorified smartphone extension.

Samsung have undoubtedly made a bold step into uncharted wearable territory but the Gear S will be paying the price. Its proprietary, closed-up nature, coupled with the total dependence on a partnering Samsung handset, leaves the Gear S at a great marketing disadvantage as compared to its Android Wear-powered competitors, like the LG G Watch R and the Moto 360. It also comes with a significantly higher price tag, with little to show for it in terms of build quality and usability.

Key test findings:

  • Requires a Samsung smartphone to be initially set up and to install apps; also the Gear manager app on the phone is a hog
  • As an independent smartphone it offers very limited features and almost all of them require a separate data plan to function
  • The 2-inch Super AMOLED screen is on the large side, but thanks to the curve it feels natural and produces outstanding colors, brightness and power-efficiency
  • The built-in pedometer and heart rate sensor are not very precise or consistent in their readings
  • The GPS chip, the UV sensor and the Wi-Fi connectivity work just fine but seem redundant and ramp up the device price.
  • The battery will get you through 24 hours with economic use. The backup cell inside the dock helps while you're on the go, but battery life is generally impractically short.
  • Tizen is slick, and it looks and behaves a lot like TouchWiz. It does however have a small library of available apps.
  • The app ecosystem is limited to what Samsung has to offer. Fairly advanced apps are available, but nowhere near what Android Wear offers.
  • The device works fine as a standalone smart wearable in terms of calling and messaging, but using it with a SIM card and a data plan sometimes gets confusing due to its ability to also use the phone's internet connection and Wi-Fi; it's also a serious investment to make for the basic features it offers.

It seems that everything boils down to the point of view. As a smartwatch, the Gear S definitely holds its own and offers interesting features that have all the potential to catch on. As an independent wearable smartphone it's far from it, plagued by its poor battery life and dependency on a Samsung-made smartphone for all sorts of tasks.

If you already own a Samsung smartphone, using the Gear S is intuitive and the two work together naturally. Having the Gear S certainly presents a lot of interesting new concepts for loyal fans, developers and tech enthusiasts alike.

For regular users perhaps the Gear S is a bit of an overkill. It's got way more wireless radios than it really needs, which bring the price up and affect the battery life. For this crowd, we would probably have to recommend something from the Android Wear front. The Gear S is certainly a great device but only if you approach this unconventional gadget with the right set of expectations.

Unboxing

The Samsung Gear S comes in a neat little stylish package with not much room to spare. Nothing too fancy or excessive on the cardboard box itself, but you should remember to hold on to it just like you would for any new phone or at least the IMEI information printed on it, just in case the smartwatch gets misplaced.

Inside the rather minimalistic packaging we find the watch itself covered by a quick-start guide leaflet and underneath it - two compartments - one for the charging dock and another one for the wall adaptor.

Samsung Gear S

The dock doubles as a back-up 350mAh battery, which is definitely a nice little touch. This allows you to charge it separately and carry a handy extra power source with you on the go.

The charging dock is however flimsy at best. Its shape is very oddly curved around all edges, which makes it almost impossible to balance flat on a surface, unlike the one found on the LG G Watch R, for example, which feels right at home of top of your desk.

The way the dock attaches lacks much proper feedback. We often found ourselves having to double check if the pins were aligned and the thing is charging.

Looking at the shape one would assume that it is meant to be carried around while on the watch, but that is totally unfeasible.

Hardware

In terms of hardware the Samsung Gear S packs the guts of a mid-range smartphone, which is an admirable achievement on its own.

The Snapdragon 400 SoC is more than enough to power the Tizen OS, which runs absolutely fluidly with no lag or excessive loading times. That's is to be expected, of course, from a CPU that is still found in some entry-level handsets. 512MB of RAM definitely don't sound much, but seem to be plenty as even after prolonged periods of use of different apps, we didn't spot any performance drops.

The 2-inch curved Super AMOLED touchscreen is nothing short of spectacular and really sets the device apart from the competition. Everything looks amazingly sharp with vivid colors and ample space to go around, which Tizen really seems to take full advantage of.

The GUI is specifically optimized to ease the user experience with additional features and the menus are conveniently placed at the top and bottom ends of the display.

The curve does initially strike as somewhat weird, but it grows on you pretty quickly and is in fact a pretty natural way to accommodate more usable space.

Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S

The gear S boasts a nicely curved body and a physical home button below the excellent display

Viewing angles are not ideal, but perfectly adequate to accommodate pretty much every possible hand position. There is quite a bit of reflection on the device in bright light, but it's still viewable. OLED technology is pretty power efficient and with the proper choice of a minimalistic watch-face, the battery can easily handle the always-on feature.

The device is also equipped with a laser heart rate sensor on the back, which has become more or less a standard feature for smartwatches, but its accuracy is doubtful and so is its consistency. Measuring is a very random shoot and miss process and I am yet to find a "sweet-spot" that raises my chances for success.

Samsung seems to be putting an emphasis once again on sport and health uses for the wearable. A pedometer is also present as one would expect, but again the validity of the tracked data is also very questionable. Either the sensor is not exactly accurate or we should definitely address our oddly consistent midnight sleepwalking (ranging from 50 to 120 steps depending on the person).

The sleep-tracking feature is straight-forward enough though it doesn't help with the bed-time step counting. It shows the percentage of motionless sleep you get each night. That is if you manage to time you battery right to be able to wear it to bed.

The built-in speaker is also a nice addition. It is kind of essential for the watch to behave independently as a phone, like the manufacturer seems to mean it to work, but coincidentally, it turns the Gear S into a convenient Bluetooth hands-free for your smartphone while driving.

At this point, the list of additional hardware found in the little device becomes kind of excessive and arguably does not necessarily act in favor of Samsung's wearable. The Korean manufacturer has also thrown in a UV sensor, intended to warn you against exposure to unhealthy amounts of sun rays.

Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S

The UV sensor is right next to the button

Granted, the option does sound cool and looks to work just fine, but it seems to me that you'd rarely need a gadget to tell you whether you need sunscreen. Most users will not benefit at all from this added feature and yet all of them are paying for having it on-board.

But the list of tech, that ramps up the price of the Gear S does not end there. Besides the obvious Bluetooth connection, Samsung has also opted to throw in a W-iFi module. It does fit into the whole new concept of a more independent wearable, but it also seems kind of redundant. The reason is that most of the time the watch is going to be connected to your Samsung smartphone and draw all its data from there. There is also the separate 3G data connection that is present on the wearable.

The device does include a pretty handy version of HERE navigation, specifically tailored for its controls and screen size. Once paired to a smartphone, however it pretty much functions as a second screen and insists on installing HERE on the phone. It also makes the buit-in GPS redundant as in this case it relies solely on the phone's positioning methods.

The only other interesting use of the location chip inside the Gear S is for the two-way device finding feature. If both devices are out of Bluetooth range, they can still reach each other through their respective internet connections.

It seems that Samsung has gone with its traditional "more is better" approach with the Gear S and has made it a point to fit as much hardware as possible in the wearable. While this does definitely have its appeal, I can't help but feel that the smartwatch is too feature-rich for its own good.

With a price tag a good 50 percent above its direct rivals - the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R and tied down to a significantly smaller proprietary market - it seems the Gear S offers much to impress, but sadly not nearly enough to compete outside the Samsung universe.

It seems the Korean giant has endeavored to conquer all peaks with one all-encompassing device and has ended up with a premium smart watch-phone hybrid that can't decide on its nature, which is my main grudge against the otherwise quality Gear S.

Build quality

The Samsung Gear S feels solid, yet amazingly light. The curved body does help in distributing the weight evenly, but it still takes some getting used to wearing it, especially while you sleep.

The device itself is pretty much wrapped by its watch band on all sides and there are no apparent ways of disassembling it. The wrist band is made out of some sort of rubberized plastic. It looks to be rather durable and stain proof, but more than anything it comes off as cheap and tacky, much like something you would put on a toy watch. The fact that it is available in only a few colors and cannot be replaced by an aftermarket solution is also kind of a letdown.

Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S

The strap and plastic finish look less than premium

The rest of the materials implemented in the smartwatch are not that premium either, or at least don't look like it. The plastics all feel sturdy enough, but are not nearly as nice as the finish on the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R.

The Samsung Gear S does boast an IP67 certification for dust and water resistance and is rated for a meter deep dive for up to 30 minutes. The back of the device seems rather unprepared for a bath, especially around the SIM slot. We could, of course, be wrong, but we found it uncanny to let it near water.

The watch clasp feels heavy-duty and tight enough to prevent accidental unhooking. The way it is attached to the strap is however kind of flimsy and could potentially cause wear and tear problems down the road but we have to see about that.

Battery life

Battery life on the Gear S is far from ideal, clocking in at a little over 24 hours on the review unit. This held true regardless whether we had a SIM inside or not. That's understandable given the small battery, but still looks impractical for day to day use.

Charging is fairly quick at about an hour on a decent wall adaptor, but the battery life leaves you wondering as to when exactly you are supposed to charge the thing.

Samsung Gear S
Samsung Gear S

The Gear S looks very high-tech

Arguably, most smartphones nowadays leave you with the same conundrum, but the easy solution is to just let them charge overnight. This is all fine and dandy but if you wish to utilize the built-in sleep tracking function that option is pretty much off the table and if you are constantly on-the-go, finding a slot for charging the Gear S quickly becomes a concern. The 350mAh dock backup battery addresses this issue to a certain extent and is definitely handy, but it still seems that Samsung might have missed a few use-cases during design.

Follow us to the next section to see is the Gear S really does put the S in "smart".

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