Samsung Gear S review

The Samsung Gear S is a standalone smartwatch ... with some caveats

Samsung Gear S
The martwatch almost without the phone

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The Gear S is definitely a premium looking smartwatch but rather large. Instead of opting for a classic analog style like the Moto 360 or sporty analog look like the LG G Watch R, Samsung has made a rather futuristic beast putting the Gear S in its own unique place.

We liked

The biggest draw of the Gear S is definitely the lovely AMOLED screen. The colors are always vibrant - not as much as the Note 4 of course - but very reminiscent of how Samsung displays always seem to pop. The curved body is also a neat design choice that while I thought was weird at first, I came to appreciate because it sat well on my wrist.

Battery life on other watches has also been atrocious so the Gear S has impressed me by managing to stay alive longer than most. The calling function was also surprisingly handy when I wanted to type or use both my hands for other tasks.

We disliked

Frankly, the Gear S is super uncomfortable. I like how the band is able to fit my tiny wrist but it seems to restrict movement and mostly feels unwieldy. I've also been wearing the Gear S for quite some time now and I thought I would get used to it, but because it's so cumbersome, I never forget it's there - like wearing a billboard on my wrist.

The massive body also gets in the way of everything. Whether it's putting on a jacket or any long sleeved shirt, I'd have to take the Gear S off first. Sometimes, I wouldn't even be able to put it back on because the sleeve wouldn't cover it.


The Samsung Gear S is two steps forward and one step back for smartwatches as a whole. The promise of standalone calling and texting is an amazing and needed feature for smartwatches to really feel useful - but not great in practice if it requires a smartphone. It's sad to say but the Gear S is not a truly independent smartwatch.

It's also not looking good value-wise. You're buying the Gear S for $350 (£329, AU$449), then shelling out another chunk of change for a higher end smartphone, like the unlocked $879 (£600, AU$960) Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Then to take advantage of the Gear S's most touted features - texting and calling - you'll have to pay an additional amount for a data plan.

At this point, the Gear S is simply not better than your run of the mill smartphone. In fact, you're just better off getting the Samsung Note 4 by itself.