Hands on: Samsung Gear Sport review

Offline Spotify and a watch for swimming

What is a hands on review?
TODO alt text

Our Early Verdict

Samsung's Gear Sport does seem like a limited upgrade, but new features including support for Spotify offline and swim tracking means this could be a great new watch for very particular sport lovers.

For

  • Offline Spotify support
  • Great design

Against

  • Limited upgrade
  • Some strange straps

This is a flash hands on review to give you the chance to see what the watch is all about as soon as possible. Stay tuned as we'll be expanding and upgrading this review very shortly with more info. 

The Gear Sport, Samsung’s latest smartwatch, has been announced at IFA 2017 alongside the Gear Fit 2 Pro and Icon X 2018 earbuds.

It marks a departure from tradition, with Samsung historically releasing two variants of its flagship smartwatch. 

This time around, there's one smartwatch that seems to straddle the lines between sporty and stylish, all the while retaining smarts like GPS, multi-sensor fitness tracking and 5ATM water and depth pressure resistance.

There's a rotating bezel and a round screen on the Gear Sport, plus it comes in two variants with a choice of either black or blue designs.

You'll have a choice of 23 watch bands at launch with a selection of silicone, leather and fabric materials, along with a strange hybrid leather and rubber material that proved quite an interesting choice but a little stiff when we first used it.

There's a lot of variety here though meaning you can truly choose your own style, as long as you like the design of the core watch.

When it comes to fitness-based features, Samsung has included a few minor upgrades to its Tizen-powered watch, including auto-tracking for exercises and the ability to swim with the watch.

We've yet to test out swimming with the Gear Sport, but it's something we'll be sure to do for our full review. You can go up to depths of 50 meters in pools and open water, so it may be the perfect watch for you to get wet with.

There's built-in GPS too, so you can take this watch running with you and it comes with new Spotify offline support, which means you can upload music to your watch and take it on the move with you without the need for a phone.

There's also a heart rate monitor, and it's supposedly more accurate than on previous Samsung wearables.

And there are fitness programs and video tutorials which can be cast to your TV. You can even have your heart rate displayed on the TV, so you can always see it while you work out.

When it comes to the screen, the Gear Sport is remarkably similar to the Gear S3, with a 1.2-inch Super AMOLED display and a resolution of 360 x 360. That equals 302 pixels-per-inch.

Under the hood there's a dual-core chipset, which seems to be the same setup as the Gear S3 had, along with 768MB of RAM, though the 300mAh battery is a step down on paper.

Early verdict

The Gear Sport looks and feels very neutral and stark, with just a stainless steel body - no brushed or blasted metal. 

Aside from base color variants (black and blue) all the customization is in the watch strap. It should still be easy to make your own though, and for any swimmers this will be a great choice.

Offline Spotify support and most of the software perks should roll out onto the Gear S3 though, so unless you swim we're not sure it’s worth an upgrade. That said, given Samsung hasn’t given an indication as to when that roll out will happen you may rather upgrade to the Gear Sport than wait.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.