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Samsung Galaxy Gear review

Is this the smartwatch to put the wind up Apple?

The Samsung Galaxy Gear is designed to be a device that functions far above other smartwatches on the market at the moment. For instance, it's got a microphone, a speaker and the ability to read messages from a variety of sources.

In short, for the higher price, Samsung is staking a claim for this to almost be a smartphone in its own right - but sadly it fails in nearly every respect.

The contacts system is OK - it drills down into your phone's address book and isn't too hard to navigate as despite the smaller screen getting to the letters on the side of the display to move quickly through the list isn't a problem at all.

Galaxy Gear review

A quick tap and you're taken to a cut down version of the contact profile from a phone, making it possible to do only one thing: make a phone call.

And here we get to one of the most pointless parts of the Samsung Galaxy Gear. The ability to make and receive calls with it. It's not something that any human being should ever do, unless they've had a lifelong desire to pretend a call from your partner is actually covert mission assignment to rescue a package from the local library on a matter of national importance.

The problems are many: the speaker quality isn't high, so you have to keep moving it closer to your ear to hear what's being said before returning it to your mouth to chat back.

Everyone can hear parts of your conversation, which makes privacy impossible. Talking in anything other than a quiet environment isn't really possible, with it clearly obvious you're not talking on a standard smartphone.

And the worst bit: you have to essentially hold a pretend phone to your head to make the call. We took to carrying a stapler around to pretend we were talking to that, rather than the watch on our wrist.

Galaxy Gear review

It's preferable to look unhinged than admit you're too lazy to take your phone out of your pocket.

We're not saying that the Gear's ability to register calls is a bad thing - twice we had walked away from our phone only to be notified we had a call that we could trot back to.

It's also handy to be able to dial numbers directly from the phone itself using the tiny dialpad that you call up by an upward swipe from the main clock face.

That's fine - all we need is a notification. If you buy a Gear, you'll use calling once (maybe twice in an embarrassed emergency) and that will be it. The phone is clearly close. Pull it out and use it.

Messaging

From the demonic to the sublime: getting messages on the Galaxy Gear is a really nice method of checking when things are important or not. Text messages are the real winner here, as the bright and clear screen is excellent at showing you missives that fire into the phone on your pocket, and allow you to choose whether you need to reply or not.

It would be good to have set responses you could send from the Gear; for instance, if it was a simple question, you could reply with a 'Yes', 'No', 'OK' or 'What are you talking about? That's not my car' in a simple click.

Galaxy Gear review

However, texts are often something most don't reply to straight away (unless you're a particular type of teenager) so being able to view them in this way is cool.

The same can be said about email, although many might not realise that the Gear can do this as well as SMS. Users need to drill into the Gear Manager's notifications settings on the Note 3 and tap the option that allows emails to be shown, which means many will be confused as to why this doesn't happen out of the box.

Since launch, the Samsung Galaxy Gear has had a large update to allow it to support nearly every message notification going - in short, it mimics the power of the notifications bar on your phone on the screen, which is what it should be doing.

Galaxy Gear review

So this now means that Facebook Messenger, Gmail and Twitter are all present and correct. You're not going to get the same amount of information or aesthetics you'll see on the phone though - in many cases it's just a one line update, and in others (like Gmail) it adds in all the extra page furniture such as 'delete mail' before presenting you with the actual information you want.

This update feels like it's halfway between what it should be and what was needed - while it's good to be able to read updates, you often don't get the full thing and still have to drop back to the phone too often.

Thanks Gear - we dropped the best part of three hundred notes to be told when to pick up our phone. Thanks for that.

Galaxy Gear review

Messaging isn't terrible on the Gear at all, as it's the primary reason to buy the phone - but we've seen it implemented on many other devices, and for the most part it supports more options.

Tech Specs

Product TypeWrist Watch
Watch FormatDigital
MovementQuartz
Band TypeStrap
Band ColorBlack
Brand NameSamsung
Watch DesignRectangle Face
Face1 Digital AMOLED
Wrist BandBlack Strap
Built-in ComponentsBluetooth, Pedometer
Height56.6 mm
Width36.8 mm
Depth11.1 mm
FeaturesStopwatch, Timer
ManufacturerSamsung
Product ModelSM-V700
Product NameGalaxy Gear
Manufacturer Part NumberSM-V7000ZKABTU
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing InformationThis elegant wearable device gives a new meaning to the phrase "dressing smart". The Galaxy Gear connects wirelessly with your Note 3 and makes sure you have everything you need right there on your wrist and within reach. You can keep your Note 3 in your pocket or bag, and Gear will tell you when you receive a call or message. When you get a important notification on your Gear, Smart Relay brings up the full message when you open your phone. You'll have seamless communication from your Gear to your phone.

Experience new mobile communications freedoms
Samsung Galaxy Gear lets users live in the moment while staying connected to their Samsung Galaxy devices. It notifies users of incoming messages, such as calls, texts, emails and alerts, delivers a preview of those messages and creates the opportunity for users to accept or discreetly ignore those messages. When an incoming message requires more than a quick glance, users can simply pick up their Samsung Galaxy devices and the Smart Relay feature will instantly reveal the full content on the screen.

Voice operation
The built-in speaker allows users to conduct hands-free calls directly from the Gear, maintaining connections to their mobile communications without disrupting their daily routines. For example, a user leaving the grocery store, whose hands are full with shopping bags, could still make a call by speaking into the Galaxy Gear without touching the screen. Users can also draft messages, create new calendar entries, set alarms, and check the weather on the Galaxy Gear with S Voice.

Capture daily life from your wrist
In addition to enabling smart device controls, Samsung Galaxy Gear introduces several features that help users easily capture life's meaningful moments which otherwise might be missed. With the Memographer feature, a 1.9 Megapixel camera, users who are on the move or participating in physical activities can record both photos and video to create quick, visual records of important information or events from their daily lives, as well as share them on their social networks. Extending the quick-record concept, Voice Memo lets users capture important thoughts or conversations from their wrists and save those voice recordings into texts on their Samsung Galaxy devices.

A growing list of controls for favourite features
With the Galaxy Gear, users gain a wide range of favourite features that further increase the benefits of this new accessory. New security enhancement Auto Lock automatically secures the companion smartphone screen any time that Galaxy Gear is more than 1.5 meters away from the smartphone, and then unlocks the smartphone when the companion devices are near each other again. Find My Device helps users find the location of their smart devices when they have been misplaced by making them beep, illuminate and vibrate. With Samsung Galaxy Gear, users can also control the music played on their Samsung Galaxy devices. As with traditional music players, it helps users browse, play and pause songs even when their smart device is not within reach. Finally, the Galaxy Gear also works like a Pedometer to track physical activity via enhanced, built-in sensor technology. This feature systematically and automatically monitors users so they can track key personal data such as calories burned, steps taken and distance covered.

Weight (Approximate)73.8 g