Samsung’s Gear S3 (Frontier) isn’t revolutionary and if you think smartwatches are useless and unnecessary, this one won’t change your mind. You’ll get access to notifications and you can act on some of them, but the device is more a limited extension of your phone on your wrist rather than a full-blown thing of its own. Still, if you’re in the market for a new smartwatch, the Gear S3 is among your best options.
Is there a better alternative?
The only alternative that’s better than the S3 is the Apple Watch. Unfortunately, you can’t use the Apple Watch with an Android phone so your best bet is the Gear S3 if you’re on Android — especially so if you have a Samsung phone. Android Wear smartwatches just can’t compete.
Do note that Android Wear 2.0 is expected to arrive early in 2017 — it’s a major overhaul of the OS. There are rumors that Google will release a smartwatch to showcase the revamped operating system, though we can’t verify this information.
How long will it last?
The Gear S3 Frontier’s selling point is its rugged and tough exterior. Thanks to the IP68 water resistance rating and Gorilla Glass SR+ screen, the S3 should last you quite a while. Tizen will likely be supported for the foreseeable future, though it’s unclear at what point the watch will stop receiving updates. And given the rate of change in the smartwatch space, you should expect any such device to feel out of date after two years.
Should you buy it?
Yes. If you have $350, are in the market for a smartwatch, and own an Android phone — particularly a Samsung phone — the Gear S3 is the best choice. It has two great designs, swappable bands, GPS, an LTE model, 4GB of internal storage, and you can use Samsung Pay at most retailers. You may want to test out the device at a retailer to make sure it doesn’t look too awkward on your wrists. though.
It may be wise to wait a bit and see if Google releases its own smartwatches in 2017 along with a new version of Android Wear, but if you have a Samsung phone and you want a smartwatch now, the Gear S3 is the one to buy, and we recommend the Frontier version for its LTE capabilities.