Samsung Gear review

Is this the smartwatch to put the wind up Apple?

Samsung Galaxy Gear review
Want one of these on your wrist?

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear is a device that's setting a trend. It's one of the world's biggest electronics firms making a statement and letting the world know that it's ready to embrace wearable technology in a way that others haven't so far.

There's a lot to question here, be it the heft, the price or the overall point of the device, but Samsung has certainly put the effort in to make sure that it's at least made a big splash.

We liked

The Galaxy Gear looks the part as a serious piece of technology, and kind of feels like it justifies the price tag. The screws on the front of the device are a nice touch, the operation is fairly intuitive and the camera being there for when you want it is nice.

A lot of what Samsung has done in terms of its own apps work well in the right conditions - being able to tell your wrist to set up a meeting and for it to happen is pretty neat.

Voice memos are fun, the slick operation between phone and Gear is impressive and even the range of colours is pleasing too.

The update to messaging notifications has turned a frown upside down, bringing a lot more functionality to an otherwise relatively pointless novelty.

We disliked

Sadly for Samsung, it's tried to be a little too Apple here. We bemoan that brand for being overly expensive without delivering enough, and that's what Samsung has done here.

The price is just too high. There's no two ways about it. Sure, you got a discount when you get it with the Note 3, but that doesn't happen with the S4, or for those with a Galaxy S3 or Note 2, so you can't justify spending all that money on a unit like this.

It's weird to be so against recommending a product when it doesn't have any serious operational flaws - it's just not good enough for the price. We can't see the necessity for half the stuff on board; and most of the third party apps do nothing to enhance the premium feel.

The layout of the interface is too locked down for our tastes, and the way the Gear responds to the finger is too inaccurate and far too clunky to be considered intuitive.

We're used to Samsung being brilliant at just this, but with a smaller screen to work with, it really hasn't managed to repeat the trick.


We're pretty disappointed with the Gear, as the first couple of hours that we spent with it were full of quiet gadget joy. The slick design, the vivid display, the amount of power that seemed to be strapped to the wrist was entrancing.

But we can't help but think that anyone who might have gone for a cheaper holiday or foresaken food for a while to afford one of these wouldn't feel like the sacrifice had been worth it.

The Galaxy Gear doesn't do anything terribly, it just fails to impress at nearly every turn. We're not sure what Samsung is up to here, as it basically gave Apple an open goal to aim at with the Apple Watch. Not to mention Google and its Android Wear watches which have also shown it up since it launched.

The Gear could have looked this good, stripped out the camera, speaker and call functionality, made a bit more effort on the apps at launch and sold it for a third of the cost, and it would have certainly have had a hit on its hands.

The smartwatch is an attractive option, and the changes to the notification problems are really welcome - with that in mind we're happy to upgrade the score somewhat, although it's still nowhere near a product we'd recommend.

We applaud Samsung for trying to be innovative in the space once again, but the Galaxy Gear needed a Galaxy Gear Mini, with a lower price tag to really make it an attractive proposition.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.