#IFA2017 – Samsung is coming to IFA 2017 with a brand new smartwatch, the successor of the Gear S3 Frontier, the Gear Sport is a more affordable and fitness-dedicated smart timepiece.
The Korean manufacturer thoroughly collected users’ feedback to figure out what is the most sought-after feature and which ones needed improvement. During the new wearable products presentation, David Ng, Product Manager, Wearable at Samsung explained that people are using their smart wristbands increasingly more.
According to Samsung, 80 % of smart wrist wearable owners are using them weekly, and 60% do so every day, which is “a huge difference compared to where we were a few years ago” said David Ng. And no surprise, the vast majority of users (92%) focus on fitness features. Then, communication features come in second (88% – calls, text, social media), news and entertainment (mostly music) in third (79%).
Since “health and fitness are the number one purchase drivers worldwide and in the U.S.”, Samsung focused its development efforts on those functions for the new Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro.
"80 % OF SMART WRIST WEARABLE OWNERS ARE USING THEM WEEKLY (SAMSUNG)"Knowing that “music is becoming equally important,” in fact, “60% of runners are listening to music while working out” and almost 80% of users pairs their Bluetooth headset directly to their [wearable] device” said David Ng. So Gear Sport users will be able to pair it with with the new version the Samsung IconX wireless earbuds.
The Gear Sport will be available this fall in blue and black for an undisclosed price, Samsung hinted that the price tag would somewhere between $199 and the Gear smartwatch Series flagship – the S3 launched at $349. We have played briefly with the Samsung Gear Sport and here are our first impressions:
- Product weight 50g (without band)
- Dimension 44.6mm x 42.9 mm x 11.6 mm
- Display Type2″-inch Super AMOLED – always on
- Resolution 360 x 360 pixels 9302 ppi)
- Processor Dual-core 0 GHz
- OS Tizen
- Camera No
- Connectivity WiFi / Bluetooth 4.2 / NFC (NFC only)
- Internal storage 4GB
- RAM 768 MB
- Battery Capacity 300mAh – about two days in regular mode
- Sensors: Gyro/ Accelerometer/ Compass, Heart Rate Monitor, Barometer, GPS, NFC
- Dust and Water Resistance 5 ATM (swimming compatible)
- Salt resistant
- MIL-STD-810G (advanced shock resistant, altitude and more)
- Colors: 2 body color versions blue and black with multiple 20mm bands
Comparison with Samsung Gear S3 and Huawei Watch 2
- Weight S3 Frontier LTE 63g > S3 Classic 59g > Huawei Watch 2 57 g
- Dimensions > S3 frontier & Classic 49 x 46 x 12.9 mm
> Huawei Watch 2 48.9 x 45 x 12.6 mm
- Display Type > S3 1.3″ Super AMOLED > Huawei Watch 2 1.2″AMOLED
- Resolution S3 360 x 360 rotating Gorilla Glas SR+ > Huawei Watch 2 320 x 320 pixels, (326 ppi)
- Processor > S3 Exynos 7270 Dual core 1.0 GHz – Tizen 2.3.2
> Huawei Watch 2 Snapdragon Wear 2100 – Quad-core 1.1 GHz
- Network: S3 Frontier LTE version
> Huawei Watch 2 4G LTE international model only not in the U.S. – nano SIM or e-SIM
- RAM S3 768 MB > Huawei Watch 2 768 MB –
- Internal storage – S3 4GB > Huawei Watch 2 4GB
- Battery Capacity >S3 380 mAh
> Huawei Watch 2 420mAh – about two days in regular mode
- Sensors: Huawei Watch 2 Gyro/ Accelerometer/ Compass, PPG (heart rate monitor, Barometer, GPS, NFC
- Dust and Water Resistance S3 Frontier IP68 and MIL-STD-810G – S3 Classic IP68 > Huawei Watch 2 IP68
(- IP68 certified – dust/water proof over 1.5 meters and 30 minutes – Water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes)
Comparison Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 Frontier and Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 Classic
What’s New? – Comparison with Samsung Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier
Key feature: 5 ATM water resistant and salt resistant, for swim tracking
The new key feature: 5 ATM water resistant and salt resistant, for swim tracking.
The Gear Sport is now 5 ATM water resistant which means that it will resist the water getting inside the device until the pressure reaches 5 ATM (ATM = Atmosphere, a pressure metric). That kind of pressure in the water is about 50 meters deep. In addition, the device is salt resistant, allowing users to keep it in the ocean. This major upgrade was necessary to keep Samsung in the race against the Apple Watch Series 2.
Real Time Heart Rate Monitoring
Now the Gear Sport features real-time continuous heart rate monitoring, with an automated measurement every second. By comparison, the previous model was making measurements every 10 minutes. Users can opt-in for continuous heart rate tracking during the first reading, if they do not, by default the device will do it every 10 minutes.
Smaller chassis to better fit small wrists
The Gear Sport is thinner, lighter and smaller than its predecessor probably to be more comfortable for people with a smaller wrist. (44.6mm x 42.9 mm x 11.6 mm / 50g vs. 49 x 46 x 12.9 mm – 57g/63g).The battery capacity is also smaller, at 300 mAh vs. 380 mAh for its predecessor, probably to make the chassis smaller.
New health and fitness features, and new partners
Users need more value out of their smart wrist wearable, specifically for fitness and health applications. Additionally, the key weakness of the Tizen OS is its lack of applications, compared to the very rich competitive ecosystems of iOs and Android Wear. Samsung managed to integrate some new features and applications, such as Spotify to listen to music during a workout, Speedo to track swimming, and partners with Under Armour to get its super popular nutrition, sleep, and activity tracking apps.Read the user experience paragraph for more details on this.
What is the same (as Gear S3)?
Extreme sports ready
Just like the Gear S3 Frontier, the Gear Sport passes the military certification MIL-STD-810G (vibration and military transport), and just like both previous models, it embeds a built-in GPS and the usual sensors: accelerometer, gyro, heart rate monitor, barometer, ambient light.
Similar hardware platform
Samsung did not disclose all the details of the hardware platform, and it looks like the SoC might be the same as the one featured in the Gear S3. Labelled “dual-core 1 GHz – RAM 768 MB)” the processor looks the same as the Exynos 7270 Dual-core 1.0 GHz found in the previous flagship smartwatch. Since the Gear Sport is a mid-range product, it would make sense to use the previous-gen processor in this device. At 1.3-inch, the display is a hair smaller but offers a higher screen to body ratio with a higher ppi density than the one found in the Gear S3.
What has changed?
The Gear S3 (both versions) featured Gorilla Glass SR+ a glass developed by Corning specifically to add an extra protection of wearable devices – for this new Gear model, Samsung decided to use the more common Gorilla Glass 3.
The Gear S3 Frontier offered LTE which is not available for the Gear Sport.
Industrial design (Very Good)"GEAR SPORT IS CERTIFIED MIL-STD-810G"The Gear Sport is a mid-range slightly rugged smartwatch with a “military grade design” to deliver advanced sports features. In that regard, the build-quality feels a tad less premium than the Gear S3 Frontier. The Gear Sport has mostly a plastic feel, however, Samsung managed to convey some style by creating a broad variety of stylish 20 mm interchangeable bands that match some of the numerous watch faces.
Since the Gear sport is 5ATM water resistant, the Korean manufacturer offers a “hybrid” band made of a rubber material for the base with hard leather at the top.
The smaller chassis will certainly look better on people like me who have small wrists. However, the the plastic-based body makes it not suitable to wear at cocktail parties with a dress.
As the Gear Sport is certified MIL-STD-810G, we cannot have it all: the device resists hot and freezing temperatures, is altitude and shock resistant, and much more – learn more about MIL-STD-810G.
On the display side, we have the usual high-quality Super AMOLED with a smaller footprint at 1.2-inch (vs. 1.3-inch) with the same resolution (360×360) as the previous model.
Compared to the Huawei Watch 2, the Gear Sport delivers a higher screen-to-body ratio with a higher pixel density: the 1.2-inch display is encased in a 45 mm high body while the Gear Sport measures only 46 mm, for a 1.2-inch display with a higher resolution (360×360 vs. 320×320).
Software: Tizen OS and user interface
The Gear Sport runs the Tizen OS that delivers a user-friendly interface. It is still easy to swipe through the circle shaped carousel of application with one finger, or you can use the rotating bezel. The ease of use is comparable to the Huawei Watch 2 with Android Wear 2, and the rotating bezel, a unique feature seen for the first time in the Gear S2, allows to navigate through the menus and the screens even faster. (see Overview video at the end).
Overall the user interface is very responsive and provides quick access to sub-menus in applications. The information is readable and elegantly displayed across all screens, the graphics and even the tiny maps are highly readable.
"THE USER INTERFACE IS VERY RESPONSIVE AND PROVIDES QUICK ACCESS TO SUB-MENUS"The main drawback is the more limited choice of applications compared to the huge offering you find on the competitive platforms Android and iOS. However, according to Samsung, the Gear / Tizen ecosystem is the number two on wearable devices with over 31000 watch faces and applications available, including, Here (navigation), Nest, Uber, and more.
It is true that people use no more than 10 to 20 mobile applications, and even less on a tiny wearable device. So Samsung may have a shot by carefully selecting the top applications that people really need to use while working out or on the go.
The Gear Sport remote controls of Samsung-enabled IoT compatible device via Samsung Connect. The wearable acts as a remote control both for a powerpoint presentation or a Samsung VR headset. (we did not try this).
According to Samsung, more and more Gear smartwatches owners like to pay for purchases directly from their wrist, using Samsung Pay. The Gear Sport is NFC only, meaning it does not support MST, the technology unique to Samsung Pay.
Fitness and Health new Features
Real Time Heart Rate Monitoring
As described in the “What’s new” paragraph, the Gear sport offers real-time heart rate tracking, with a measurement every second, a feature that you can default back to every 10 minutes frequency if you prefer to save more battery life.
Auto Activity Detection:
This is one of my favorites, the Gear Sport will automatically detect if you start walking, running, cycling or performing activities that could include dancing to basketball.
Aiming at adding more value to the wearable experience, all manufacturers now offer new ways to help people achieve their fitness goals. The new Samsung device is no different, so now you can customize your health and fitness plan with goals and alerts.
Samsung enhanced the nutrition tracking with the Samsung Health app and with the addition of Under Armour’s applications.
Coaching session on Samsung TV, or Android tablet and Smartphones (video)
Samsung performed a demo of the coaching programs they are offering for the Gear Sports owners, who can follow up to 50 different exercise routines in front of a Samsung TV, an Android tablet or smartphone.
The user selects a program from the Samsung health app, and then follow the movements performed by the trainer in the video while watching the biometrics data collected from the Gear Sport in real-time on the TV display. (see demo in the video, coming soon)
Speedo On application – New partner
Samsung partnered with Speedo to offer Speedo On, a swimming training app that allows users to track key swim data including lap count, lap time, stroke type and more. (Watch the demo performed on the Gear Fit2 Pro in the video )
Under Armour partnership
By partnering with Under Armour, Samsung added the super popular fitness apps UA Record, MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, and Endomondo for activity, nutrition, sleep, and fitness tracking functions.
Listening to music is the major activity people perform while working out, so naturally, Samsung partnered with the most popular online music service out there. You can control your Spotify playlist directly from your watch, and if you want to use the Gear Sport without carrying a phone when running, for example, you can download your songs in the 4GB internal memory to use it offline.
Communication – emails, text
I briefly checked the email and text messaging functions. It is easy to check your email, read them and answer with preset replies. I did not have time to try Bixby or voice dictation; we will spend more time with the communication features once we get the review unit.
The 300 mAh battery capacity is slightly inferior to the previous model (380 mAh) probably to gain space and make the device smaller on the wrist. We hope that the engineering team has worked on power consumption optimization, to get a similar battery life.
"SERIOUS FITNESS FEATURES AND ADVANCED BIOMETRICS TRACKING"The Gear Sport offers serious fitness features and advanced biometrics tracking capabilities in a durable yet fashionable package. Knowing that the people require more value out of their wearable devices, Samsung has put a lot of efforts in the user experience to provide more wellness services, such as the exercise programs playable on Samsung TVs or Android tablets, advanced nutrition and activity features.
Overcoming the challenge to make the new Gear device truly waterproof, Samsung finally offers swim tracking.