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Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch review

A pricey wearable that only works with select Samsung phones
Fri Sep 27 2013, 15:22

Product Samsung Galaxy Gear
Specifications 1.63in Super AMOLED display with 320x320 resolution, 800MHz processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage, 1.9MP camera with auto focus, 315mAh Li-on battery, Bluetooth 4.0, accelerometer, gyroscope, 11.1mm face thickness, 73.8g
Price £299

SOUTH KOREAN GADGET MAKER Samsung made its first step into the world of digital timekeeping last month when it unveiled the Galaxy Gear smartwatch at IFA in Berlin.

Following in the footsteps of LG and Sony and beating Apple to it, Samsung's wearable smartphone accessory acts as a second screen for owners of the latest Samsung Galaxy devices, although it only currently works with the firm's Galaxy Note 3 handset.

Samsung Galaxy Gear on table top

Samsung's smartwatch is priced at £299 in the UK despite costing $299 in the US, a price conversion that is bound to piss off a good number of UK punters. Still, for those with deep pockets who might splash out, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch offers unique features such as a 1.9MP integrated camera and voice controlled commands, all running on the latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean mobile operating system.

Despite having said in our first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Gear that it appeared bulky and heavy, in the reality of everyday use we have found that the smartwatch is actually very pleasant to use and feels good on the wrist. It seems, as with many new gadgets, the Galaxy Gear's 11.1mm face thickness just takes a bit of getting used to.

We're not denying that the watch feels weighty when compared to the average Casio watch, for example, but it doesn't feel too heavy or bulky when wrapped around your wrist and it is very comfortable to wear. Weighing 73.8g, it might take a few hours to get used to, as you'd expect with any watch, but after a short time you'll forget that it's even there - that is, until it vibrates on your arm with a message notification.

Samsung Galaxy Gear right hand side

The design and build of the Samsung Galaxy Gear feels very high end, and so it should for £300. Its main disadvantage however is that it needs to work along with another Samsung Galaxy device to work, meaning that the smartwatch is only going to appeal to those that have already forked out for a Samsung smartphone. Right now it only works with the new Galaxy Note 3, which was released at the same time - with updates on the way for the Galaxy S4 - so Samsung has had to ensure that the Galaxy Gear is the highest quality possible to justify its expensive price. It has executed this very well.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear's design is very minimalist. The brushed aluminium face is juxtaposed nicely against the plain black strap. Samsung has also kept most of the user controls on the smartwatch as touch commands, giving it just one physical button to make it all the more minimalist in design. It looks modern and feels expensive, and that's probably because it is.


Our Galaxy Gear review model came in black. Those looking for a more fun looking device will be pleased to hear it also comes in a number of different colour strap options. These are Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold and Lime Green.

All in all the Samsung Galaxy Gear's design is very likable, easy to get used to and unobtrusive. We do however have one small quibble. The metal clasp on the bottom tends to get in the way at times, as it is much thicker at this point. When sat at a desk, for example it will clank against the hard surface, meaning that your wrist won't lay flat against it. We can't say that this annoyed us too much, though.

Next: Build quality, display, camera


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