Samsung Gear Live review

An Android Wear smartwatch for early adopters who can't wait for Moto 360

Samsung Gear Live review
The surprise smartwatch at Google IO with an unsurprising design

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Owning a smartwatch may become essential given the pace at which our smartphones are growing in size, and the Samsung Gear Live is the best Android Wear out of the gate.

That doesn't necessarily mean it's recommended for everyone. There are several Google-powered watches still to come.

Samsung Gear Live review

The first two Android Wear watches, but there's more to come

HTC, Asus and even Fossil have products in the pipeline in addition to Motorola, and may prove better with more time in the oven.

But Samsung does a good job at fulfilling the needs of early adopters and claiming another "world's first" co-championship, like it enjoys doing with every product category in tech.

We liked

Samsung Gear Live is a "convenience gadget" that allows you to quickly glance at predictions from Google Now and see notifications pushed from your smartphone whenever the watch vibrates.

All of your notifications beamed to the wrist may sound like overkill, but truthfully, you're always tempted to look at your smartphone every time it beeps and buzzes anyway.

This always-on device just makes things easier to deal with, whether it's something you can dismiss or an important message you need to act on.

Gear Live gets the better of the LG G Watch with a higher resolution 1.63-inch screen that's slightly lighter and less boxy, though still square-shaped. It's marginally the better of the two.

Samsung Gear Live review

A constant struggle

We disliked

Samsung's smartwatch design isn't very original when compared to the similar Galaxy Gear and Gear 2, and it won't turn heads like the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R.

Couple that with the facts that the clasp is hard to fasten and the battery life is abysmal, and you've got a gadget built for early adopters and very few other people.

The app list needs to grow so that its usefulness isn't so limited. By the time that happens, we may have a cheaper or even second round of Google-powered smartwatches from Samsung and LG.

Samsung Gear Live review

It fits slightly better than the boxy LG G Watch

Final verdict

Android Wear early adopters should go with the Samsung Gear Live over the less elegant LG G Watch, but know in advance that it's far from perfect. Everyone else should wait for the Moto 360 or LG G Watch R.

The hardware has its hiccups with straps that are annoying to clasp together and, to make matters worse, you'll be taking the watch on and off a lot because of its terrible one-day battery life.

There's also the fact that the display and most of the internals haven't changed since Samsung introduced the Galaxy Gear last year. It's still toeing the line.

Android Wear, while in its infancy, takes Samsung's hit-and-mostly-miss smartwatch experiences and gives it some practically. Without it, Gear Live would be the same smartwatch we got ten months ago.

Matt Swider