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Samsung Galaxy Gear review

Is this the smartwatch to put the wind up Apple?

Our Verdict

While improved, the Galaxy Gear still has a long way to go before showing smartwatches are something you should seriously consider.

For

  • Quality design
  • Strong display

Against

  • Very expensive
  • Interface hard to customise

Battery life on the Samsung Galaxy Gear is actually much more impressive than Samsung is making out.

We've got a very odd situation here - a brand has actually underestimated battery life in a bid to make sure it doesn't get caught out with poor juice times, meaning the original claim of 25 hours is wildly unfair.

In practice, you can go at least two days without needing to charge the Galaxy Gear, and it will probably last longer than that.

Galaxy Gear review

Let's give an indication of usage: having the watch sporadically turning on, always connected to the Note 3, uploading every snap automatically to the phone, installing multiple apps on it, and generally poking around frequently led to a drop of 66% in just over 38 hours.

We can imagine that it will last even longer as time goes on and you fumble with the device less and less, so in short, we're pretty darn impressed with the life of this thing.

The screen even has an ability to boost its brightness for outdoor mode, and this didn't even show any poor effect on the battery life in general use.

It's obvious that having no Wi-Fi, no GPS and not even music playing from it will save a lot of energy, but the haptic feedback is strong, and if you've got the automatic updates turned on (where lifting your arm shows the time) this can fire the screen rather regularly.

The update hasn't had a noticeable effect on battery life, other than to slightly extend it a little further - this is even better given it was definitely more attractive to play with the watch given the notification changes.

Galaxy Gear Manager

Galaxy Gear review

Samsung has decided that on-device working isn't the way forward when it comes to managing settings and such, so it lumped on the ability to do all of this through the Gear Manager, which is located on your phone.

You can access this at any time throughout use, as it's a pervasive icon in the notifications bar of your phone. Once in, you're treated to a '70s throwback look, with brown adorning most of the app.

It's pretty fully featured, and sticks to Samsung's 'make it do so much that you'll never find all the settings' approach. Which we have to say we MUCH prefer over Apple or Microsoft's simplistic menus.

You can do everything in here from setting whether social networks pop up, to controlling third party apps, to entering the Galaxy Gear section of the Samsung Apps hub and more.

It's a pretty simple system to work out, and we especially like the face you can change the clock face in so many ways, including the ability to append favourite apps to the bottom of one of the digital options.

Galaxy Gear review

It's rare we like controlling software so much on a secondary device, but in this case there's everything you need and more, as long as you know where to look.

This is also the place to 'Find my Gear', allowing you to ring the phone and wake up your other half when you've accidentally left it on their bedside table and you're trying to stumble off to work in the pitch black but realise you'll probably need the Gear if you're going to review it.

Galaxy Gear review

For instance.

The update to the Galaxy Gear comes with an update to the Manager too, but there's nothing to this apart from a much longer list of notifications you can allow to be shoved to the watch. You can choose any app that works in the notifications bar, so while it can take ages to tag the things you want, it's worth the effort.

The manager is still to hard to use in our opinion though - things like notification management should be front and centre rather than being hidden away.

Hands on pics

Galaxy Gear review

Galaxy Gear review

Galaxy Gear review

Galaxy Gear review

Galaxy Gear review

Galaxy Gear review

Galaxy Gear review

Galaxy Gear review

Galaxy Gear review

Galaxy Gear review

Galaxy Gear review

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