There's no doubting Samsung's intent to conquer the wearable market. In a very short time, the manufacturer has released more smartwatches than can safely fit on one wrist.

This scattershot approach to the market is no bad thing. It seems that Samsung is using its throwing its R&D weight around, testing all shapes and sizes to see which fit best with the general public. And that is where the Samsung Gear S comes in.

The Samsung Gear S is Samsung's effort at making a smartwatch that isn't a companion device to your mobile phone but one that stands alone.


It comes complete with its own SIM slot and also has GPS in built. It's essentially a phone on your wrist. But is that really what the public wants?

Samsung Gear S hands on

If it is what you want then you are going to have to put up with a fair amount of chunk. The design of the Samsung Gear S is certainly smart - the OLED screen slopes with the curvature of the wrist - but you have something that definitely doesn't sit flush on your wrist.

The Gear S is bulbous; wearing this device is a statement that you have joined the smartwatch revolution - it is a device that will definitely get you noticed. I wasn't enamoured with the strap, though. It felt that it was too thick for my wrist.

Samsung Gear S hands on

Gear S OS

When it comes to software, Samsung has excelled itself in making things easy to use. As a current Gear Fit user, I usually find myself lost in myriad swipes but Samsung has used its Tizen OS to great effect here.

Swiping left will now bring you any notifications you may have, while a swipe from the homescreen to the right lets you see all the apps you are using.

Samsung Gear S hands on

The screen used on the Gear S is a thing of beauty. It's a two-inch curved AMOLED display that has more than enough real estate for a smartwatch. The bigger screen does mean that Samsung's software partners can be a little more inventive with their apps.

We tried out one which was an RSS reader. We read news articles (complete with images) from a number of sites on the watch and there wasn't much squinting to see the words.

Samsung Gear S hands on

Each app has been given a better visual look as well. For example, when you head to contacts you get a small image of the face of the contact you are getting in touch with. It's these design flourishes that make you happy for the bigger screen.

Samsung Gear S hands on

When it comes to the homescreen, you have a choice of 'watch' themes which is all very normal, but these themes have hotspots on them. One of the themes showed the weather, so I clicked on this icon was transported to more weather information.


From the homescreen I swiped up and also got a list of apps that were on the phone in one handy list.
Two of these apps that stood out were new Samsung partnerships and both make good use of the in-built GPS. The first was Nike+. This app is a perfect fitness match for the Gear S - although I wasn't able to try it out fully in my hands on.

The second is Samsung's link up with Nokia Here maps. This offers turn by turn navigation straight from the smartwatch. Every time you need to make a direction change the watch will buzz for you.

Samsung Gear S hands on

All of this should add up to a battery drain. Samsung does believe this isn't the case, however. I asked about battery and was quoted at least two days' charge. This really must depend on how much time you spend with the GPS on, though.

When it comes to the actual phone functionality on the watch, it didn't particularly standout. You can dial anyone from your contacts list and speak to them through the watch and you can also text them. This part will get easier with partnerships but trying to text on the device was very fiddly. Samsung's default keyboard looked tiny on the screen.

Samsung Gear S hands on

S Voice does work for texts as well though, so if you are clear enough you can send a text by speaking into the watch.

Early verdict

The Samsung Gear S feels like a device that yet again is something of a litmus test for Samsung. No one really knows what people want from a smartwatch yet, so Samsung has seemingly decided to shove everything into this one.

Because of this it is a chunky device, albeit one that certainly has a next-gen look about it. In short: if you are looking for a smartwatch that looks like a watch then the Gear S isn't for.

If you are one for making statements, then this is definitely one device to strap to your wrists.