Samsung was one of the earliest brands that came out of the proverbial gates with a smartwatch that combined a fitness monitor and phone into a wearable device. Soon after, all the titans in the mobile technology field came out with their own products as well; that, of course, included Apple.
With the success of the Apple Watch, and later the Apple Watch 2, it was time for Samsung to once again up the ante in this field.
The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier attempted to just that, by including many of the most sought-after features for wearable devices, including GPS, a heart rate monitor, water resistance, near-field connectivity (NFC), activity tracking, an altimeter.
And, their pièce de résistance: LTE service native and exclusive to the watch itself.
As you might guess, the Gear S3 Frontier is an evolution of Gear S2 device, with the former trying to do even more to sway the minds of consumers who believe smartwatches to be an unnecessary and frivolous product.
In terms of the overall build, the Gear S3 Frontier is a sportier and more rugged version of its predecessor, as well as its fraternal twin brother (the Gear S3 Classic).
It’s definitely not for anyone looking for a sleek and dainty device. For those who are smaller in stature, or simply don’t have wider-than-average wrists, the watch is a bit conspicuous. But, as you might imagine with a company like Samsung, there’s a lot that that’s packed into the device.
When you do put it on, you’ll get the feeling of getting every penny’s worth of what you paid for it. It feels sturdy, well-built, and yet comfortable at the same time. The stainless-steel casing of the watch is aesthetically appealing, especially with the serrations on the rotating bezel, which not only make the watch look a bit edgier, but also make it easier to rotate.
On the right side of the Gear S3 Frontier, there are two buttons. The top button functions as a universal back button, while the bottom button serves to return you to the home screen or the app menu on the device’s Tizen Operating System (Tizen OS).
- Unlike Apple Watch devices, which only work with iPhones, the Gear S3 works across different phone brands and mobile operating systems. You can use the Gear S3 with any Android or iOS phone.
- The Gear S3 Frontier can take a licking and keep on ticking, figuratively and literally. It has been specifically designed to handle the elements with military-grade durability, making it resistant to water, dust, extreme temperatures, or impact on hard surfaces.
- Customize your watch by using thousands of colors and designs for your watchface, and swap out your band to make your watch appropriate for adventure, upscale, or everyday settings. The Gear S3 can be paired with almost any standard 22mm watch strap, so it’s easy to update.
- Samsung’s iOS app available on Tizen is much more versatile than what you could access on an Android Wear version, but more importantly, it allows you to remain compatible with apps for iOS.
- Samsung states that “the Gear S3’s battery lasts up to 3 days on a single charge,” but the true battery life for the device has been questioned by many early purchasers. The three-day life seems possible only if you don’t use any apps, but what’s the point of that? Some applications have been reported to use up as much as 10% of the battery in as little as 30 minutes.
- While you’re able to perform essential functions like voice calls, text messages, and emails without needing your phone nearby, you do need the Gear S3 Frontier to be near your phone to receive notifications from Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite sports news service, since there are no viable applications specific to the watch for those as of yet.
- Many users have negative feedback about the Gear S3 Frontier’s heart rate monitoring capabilities. Some have found that the watch takes too long to accurately begin tracking the user’s heart rate while exercising, and others have found that the data tends to fluctuate wildly.
A Simple, Straightforward Solution
One of the chief ideas behind the Gear S3 Frontier was groundbreaking at the time, and something that competitor wearable device manufacturers are now trying to duplicate: the idea of the watch itself having its own LTE data service, without being tied to your phone. In other words: you can still connect to the world through your watch, even if you leave your phone at home.
The Gear S3 Frontier is one of the better products for handling voice calls. The speakers on the watch project the person you’re talking to very clearly, and the person on the other line can also hear you very clearly, even when you’re not talking directly into your watch (i.e., when you hold your hand at your side in a normal standing position).
Buying a watch with LTE service means you’re paying for another LTE product. The Gear S3 Frontier is available with LTE service from either AT&T or T-Mobile, and you’ll have to buy a data plan through either carrier for the watch. AT&T’s service will set you back an additional $10 per month, and T-Mobile’s charges include a $20 activation fee, plus $5 per month added to your mobile plan.
Further, both the Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier support Samsung Pay through both NFC and Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST), even if you don’t have your phone on you. That means you can use just your watch to make payments at almost any checkout terminal; MST is accepted at almost all checkout terminals that have a card reader.
The Samsung Pay application stores your payment information in a way that allows you to make up to 10 transactions before you need to pair the S3 with the phone again.
Through Tizen OS, you can access a growing ecosystem of thousands of compatible apps, including CNN, Yelp, ESPN, Bloomberg, and Spotify. It also allows you to do everyday things through your watch like hail rides through Uber or monitor your home settings through Nest.
New Gear S3 Frontier buyers can also get a full year of Under Armour™ premium apps for free if they purchase their watch prior to June of 2019.
One of the newest and coolest wrinkles to the Spotify app for the Gear S3 Frontier is that you can now save offline playlists to the device, allowing you to play music straight from your watch without needing your phone nearby. You can even sync up Bluetooth headphones directly to your watch, for an even more wireless experience when running or exercising.
From a fitness-tracking perspective, S Health is the app native to the Gear S3 Frontier, and it allows for different functions including tracking your overall activity, heart rate, water intake, coffee intake, and even if you’ve been indoors for too long.
It’ll remind you to stretch, and recommend different stretches if you’ve been sitting down for too long. The app also uses positive reinforcement to increase your “activity streaks” – ie, how long you’ve been doing a certain thing – acting as your own personal fitness trainer of sorts.
Consumers will love how easy it is to navigate through the Tizen OS because of how cleverly Samsung has integrated it into the Gear S3 Frontier with the spinning bezel on the device. In fact, people loved the spinning bezel so much that Samsung decided to use it for a few more things on this year’s model.
If you spin it clockwise, you can get all of your notifications in one place. If you spin it counter-clockwise, you can access the default widgets — like the current weather, favorite contacts, calories burned and what’s in your calendar — or any other one’s you may have added on your own.
Top Features and Specs
- Gear S3 Frontier Specs –The device features a 1GHz dual-core Exynos processor, 768MB of RAM, IP68 waterproofing, and 4GB of internal storage.
- Vivid Display Screen – The Gear S3 Frontier has a 1.3-inch AMOLED screen that’s bright enough to be cleary seen during the daytime or at night. The 360 x 360-pixel resolution of the screen can display up to 16 million colors (doubling the Gear S2’s eight million), making the imagery depicted on the watch look clear and crisp. There’s also the option to setting the Gear S3 Frontier’s display settings to “dimmed,” if you find it to be a bit too bright; turning on this setting provides just the right amount of dimming without making the screen too dark.
- Tizen Operating System – The Tizen OS for the Gear S3 Frontier almost feels like a happy medium of the usual Google or Apple-based operating systems, and some consumers have found it to be more user-friendly than Android Wear. The Tizen OS allows you to swipe left or right to access notifications and recently used apps, create reminders, and check the weather and health stats, among other tasks. You can also download additional apps in addition to the ones that come pre-installed on the device.
- Fitness Tracking – The Gear S3 Frontier is loaded with sensors that include an altimeter, barometer, GPS, and heart-rate monitor, allowing users to track a wide variety of sports and exercises, including elliptical, rowing machines, squats, lunges and cycling; the altimeter and barometer allow you to measure your elevation and the weather. You simply need to touch the start and stop buttons on the display screen to begin and end your exercise sessions.
- S Voice – After previously being omitted from the S2 wearable line, the built-in speaker has been placed in the Gear S3 Frontier. It not only listens to your commands but responds to them. Simply say, “Hi, Gear,” and you can speak to the watch to do things such as send an email, call someone or check the weather. And unlike many of the popular competitor versions, you’ll rarely have trouble with S Voice accurately interpreting what you’re telling it.
What Customers are Saying
The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier is one of the best new devices to allow for users to exclusively use their watch as their sole connected device.Lots of people who enjoy having a larger phone that they’d rather not carry around all the time have called this an excellent option to remain connected with just one device.
As the need and the demand for watches to show more information and allow for more interaction become greater, there’s a fine balance between how much can be shown on the display screen at one time, without the face of the watch — and the watch itself — becoming too cumbersome. The Gear S3 Frontier seems to wrestle with that a bit.
Because of the slightly larger display screen, the watch ends up weighing around 2.2 ounces (without the band), which – as many people point out – is more than twice as heavy as the device’s main competitor: the Apple Watch Series 2, which weighs just under one ounce.
But while the overall design of the watch might be a bit bigger than you’re used to seeing from competitor products, you’ll find that the functionality is greater, the display is sharper, and the overall enjoyment of your watch is better with the Gear S3 Frontier, thanks to all its cutting-edge capabilities. Plus, as other happy users have mentioned, aren’t watches with big faces fashionable hip with today’s trends anyway?
In an increasingly competitive market, the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier is one of the best smartwatch options available, especially for Android phone users. Between the functionality of the watch itself, the eye-catching display, and the ability to function across multiple platforms, it remains a trailblazer in its field.
It’s simply a better product than most of the competitor Android Wear products, and it can easily stand toe-to-toe with the second-generation Apple Watch.
- The Samsung Gear S3 has an always-on watch face and distinctive steel bezel that you can rotate to access apps and notifications.
- Text, call and get notifications directly from your watch through your Bluetooth connected smartwatch.