Can you finally leave your smartphone at home? With its own LTE, heart-rate monitor, Wi-Fi and GPS — not to mention mobile payments and voice control — the Ksh. 37,500 Samsung Gear S3 Frontier is the first smartwatch that promises a fully untethered experience. This timepiece also happens to be gorgeous and pretty durable. And yet the 4G execution and app ecosystem aren’t quite where they need to be.
The right side of the S3 has two buttons: The upper one works as a universal back button, and the bottom button serves to return you to the home screen or the app menu. The Gear S3 Frontier is built to take some abuse. Its face is protected by Gorilla Glass, and it’s MIL-SPEC-810G rated to withstand drops of about 5 feet. The watch can withstand being submerged in up to 5 feet (about 1.5 meters) of water for up to 30 minutes. The Apple Watch Series 2, however, can go as deep as 164 feet (50 meters).
Instead of Android Wear, Samsung opted for its homegrown Tizen operating system for the S3. In some ways, it looks like a hybrid of Google’s and Apple’s watch operating systems. For the most part, I found it more useful than Android Wear, as it works equally well with Android and iPhones.
There are two layers to the Tizen OS. From the home watch screen, you can swipe left or right to access notifications and recently used apps, create reminders, and check the weather and health stats, among other tasks. When you press the bottom button on the side, the screen switches to Tizen’s app menu; here, circular app icons are arranged around the edge of the S3’s display. Only eight apps are visible per page, but as you install apps, additional pages are included.
Like the Gear S2, the S3 has a rotating bezel that lets you scroll quickly and easily through menu items, apps and so forth. (You can also swipe the screen to achieve the same result, but it’s nice to have options.) Each turn of the bezel is met with a subtle click and just the right amount of resistance.