Upgrading from an Android Wear Smartwatch to a Samsung Gear S3
It’s been a year since I got myself my first smartwatch – the LG Watch Urbane from 2015, rocking Android Wear.
From a technology standpoint, it changed my life. I no longer have to pull my phone out for notifications I don’t want to mind, I can control music remotely, find my phone, and keep my phone unlocked as long as it’s near me, saving me a lot of time from unlocking.
Not to mention, the ladies love it – classic aesthetics paired with the still relatively new ‘wow-factor’ for smartwatches. It has been an amazing conversation starter.
After 1 year with my Android Wear smartwatch, I could proudly say it wasn’t even close of a time for me to upgrade. The LG Watch Urbane is still fast, scratchless on the display, well-updated (I just got a firmware update this week!), and it even lasts me almost 2 days on a charge, and putting it in the cradle for a few minutes gives me hours of juice. The only thing that showed signs of age were the metal chassis, and the original leather strap that I had to replace for a couple of hundred pesos.
The thing that pushed me to upgrade wasn’t anything written on tech specs – it was just fashion & functionality. The Gear S3 looks gorgeous, and I was torn between the Frontier and the Classic, so I just left it to Twitter for my decision (classic – left, frontier – right).
— Master (@bobfreking) December 27, 2016
There’s so little to innovate on smartwatches. In my experience, I’ve found it useful mostly for notifications, remote control, and Android’s Smart Lock. Have a good AMOLED display, good battery life, good UI, good design, and you’re good to go. To differentiate, Apple did the vibrating speaker thing, and the crown for usability, and Samsung did the rotating bezels on the Gear. I found little to explore with Android Wear. It felt like they made an extension of your phone on your wrist.
So I pre-ordered the Tizen-powered Samsung Gear S3 Classic from Lazada, and it came with 2 extra crocodile leather bands. This thing is large, but it suits my taste just fine. I was so bought on the design and the rotating bezels that it was the main factor that led to my upgrade.
To me, smartwatches are more about design than tech.
After a week, I’d say the decision was well-made with a few ‘buts’.
Here are the things that changed for me on the positive side:
- I found myself using the watch itself more. It has a keyboard / writing space for on-watch replies, and the rotating bezels are perfect for navigating the UI.
- S Health integration is amazing. It tracks the floors I climb up amazingly, and my sleep is well mapped out after waking up. It reminds me to take stretches when I’m too inactive, and a lot more features I don’t find to be able to use because I’m no fitness buff.
- This thing is fast compared to the LG Watch Urbane. I didn’t find my past smartwatch slow, but this is just relatively speedier.
- Changing straps are intuitive as they have a pull down for the lock.
- If I wanted to, I could send photos and music to my watch for independent viewing.
- Answering phone calls on the phone as it has its own speaker! And the speaker is definitely not bad, it’s great!
- Battery life is more than doubled to 3 days (if you leave default settings as is).
- Sensors are more sensitive (powers on instantly when lifting wrists).
The Samsung Gear S3, however, had a few drawbacks for me, as it had me missing features from my 2015 smartwatch as early as a few days.
- It’s relatively warmer after charging.
- I miss Google integration – specifically, Google Keep for all my notes and photo notes.
- Always On Display is off by default deep in the settings. I’m still trying it out to see how strong the impact is on the battery, but it does have an impact and could reduce it by a day. I wanted it to show my time even when I’m not lifting my wrist up or pressing a button.
- Little lack of app support – Spotify doesn’t even support remote audio control on the phone.
- Android Wear had the flicking gestures for the wrist, and I still found myself doing it sometimes. Sadly, if you want to navigate through the watch, you have to use your other hand.
To conclude, I’d say the Gear S3 would be the best smartwatch for independent operations. If you want to be as free from your smartphone, this is a nice device. However, for accessing your device remotely (volume, syncing notes, etc.), I find this lacking.
For more on these devices, feel free to read our reviews. The Gear S3 we had for review was the Frontier version:
But hey, we live and stand by our decisions. The Smartwatch Scene still isn’t perfect, and there are strengths & weaknesses everywhere, but I find this a nice change of pace. If you have questions, feel free to drop a comment here on my Facebook / Twitter (for quick replies).
P.S. I’m selling my LG Watch Urbane here.