The Samsung Gear S is so packed full of features that you don’t even need to own a phone - but should you actually consider binning the blower? We went hands-on to find out.
Announced last month, but shown off in public for the first time at the IFA technology show in Berlin this week, the Samsung Gear S takes the smartwatch concept of the Gear 2 and blows it out of the water with extra features, a bigger screen, and even its own SIM card slot - and therefore, phone number and internet connection.
That curved AMOLED display measures two inches from corner to corner and cam show loads of information at a glance - this includes the time and date, of course, but also notifications, battery life and the number sets you’ve walked so far each day.
Running Samsung’s own Tizen operating system - not Google’s android Wear, as found on the Samsung Gear Live - the Gear S displays text messages, emails, Facebook messages and tweets in full (not just previews, as on most smartwatches), and a microphone and speaker means you can take and receive calls.
Also unlike any other smartwatch, the Gear S is big enough to have an on-screen keyboard, meaning you can reply to texts there and then, rather than reaching for you phone.
Having its own SIM slot means a 3G connection (plus Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) and the ability to leave your phone at home entirely. Then, you can either use the Gear S with its own phone number, or set up your Samsung phone to forward incoming calls and texts to the wearable.
Although it isn’t yet possible on European networks to hav two active SIM cards on the same number, Samsung hopes this will soon change, meaning owners of both the Gear S and, say, the new Samsung Note 4, will be able to take calls on either device.
We spent some time with the Gear S and, although well made and with a gorgeous, bright screen, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s absolutely massive. My admittedly childlike wrists were dwarfed by the Gear S, which I can imagine will put off some potential owners.
The watch has a flexible rubbed strap and adjustable metal clasp which ensure a close and comfortable fit - handy, given the integrated heart rate monitor, which takes readings by being pushed against your wrist on the back of the watch’s case.
Using the Gear S is very similar to using your phone - there are apps, notifications, a dialler and a keyboard - but it remains to be seen if enough consumers will take the plunge into a phone less world, or is the Gear S will simply be overkill.
Samsung is yet to announce a price or release date for the Gear S, but we expect it to arrive before Christmas, sporting an appropriately hefty price tag.