Is the Gear S capable of permanently replacing your smartphone?

August 28, 2014
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Sasmung Black Gear S White Gear S

Over the last few years we’ve seen an increasing number of smartwatches introduced to the market. Some of these watches have B&W displays, some color, some with Android and others without — but nearly all of them have one thing in common: they are companion devices that augment your mobile experience and aren’t designed to replace other devices like your smartphone.

One of the few exceptions to the rule is the Omate TrueSmart, though this particular product has been met with pretty mixed reception due to issues with performance and build quality, despite its highly successful Kickstarter campaign. Now Samsung has jumped into the ring with its Gear S, a curved smartwatch with a SIM slot that doesn’t rely on your phone at all.

So does the Gear S come any closer to being able to replace our smartphone for good?

The Pros and Cons of using Gear S as your smartphone

Until we get our hands on the device and do a full review, we won’t be able to truly answer this question, but we can certainly take a look at some of the pros and cons of utilizing the Gear S as your primary mobile device.

Pros

  • No need to carry two mobile devices
  • You’ll stand out from the crowd with the Gear S
  • Finally a phone with (reportedly) two day battery life!
  • Easier access to everything since your phone is on your wrist
  • No need for any other device during running, biking and other physical activities
  • Less stuff weighing down your pockets or purse

Cons

  • Low resolution (360×480) 2-inch display isn’t ideal for media consumption and gaming
  • Tizen has considerably fewer apps than Android
  • You have less say over your mobile experience (in terms of customization)
  • Modest specs and modest storage space
  • You’ll look a bit like an idiot when making calls of this thing
  • You’ll probably still rely on a tablet or PC for your media needs

Let’s be honest, the small form factor of a watch probably isn’t ideal when it comes to the kind of things most of us do with our smartphones like watching movies, checking into social networks, surfing the web and playing games. Typing messages with a 2-inch screen probably won’t result in the most desirable experience either.

Will some folks find the experience more than enough to ditch their phone, instead turning to their tablet for things that need a big display? Very possibly, but we have a feeling that this will be a pretty small number of users. It’s also worth noting that this type of usage scenario means you’re still regularly relying on two mobile devices to get the job done.

Smartwatch Gear S Curved AMOLED Tizen Black White

So who is the Gear S really for?

If not for those looking to replace their smartphone, who is the Gear S really for? Bottom-line, the Gear S’ purpose  is likely less about replacing our smartphone and more about allowing us more flexibility when it comes to our mobile lifestyle.

the Gear S has the opportunity to shine in select situations where bringing your phone doesn't make sense

Out for a run or a long bike ride? Taking the Gear S over your phone makes sense. You won’t have much need for media consumption in this scenario, but you’ll probably want an easy-to-access device for GPS, tracking your work out and responding to any messages that come your way. At work? You might want to respond to texts and emergency phone calls while at the office or during a meeting, but perhaps you’re better off leaving your phone at home or on the charger in your office. Camping for the weekend? If you’re the ‘true outdoorsman’ you won’t want or need the media consumption aspects of a smartphone, but having a way to make an emergency call or text could still be very important to you.

These types of situations are where the Gear S has the opportunity to shine and all it takes is a simple SIM card swap and you’ll get to keep the same number. Of course you can always have a second line for the Gear S as well, if you’d rather go that route and not have to worry about constantly yanking out your SIM card.

Omate TrueSmart

Can the smartwatch ever fully replace the smartphone?

At least when it comes to the mainstream user, the Gear S will likely remain as nothing more than a secondary mobile device. But can the smartwatch ever fully replace the smartphone? That’s a good question.

In order to have mainstream appeal as a primary device, a smartwatch would likely need much more aggressive specs, bigger storage capacity and a higher resolution display. All the while, folks would expect it to have decent battery life because, well, it’s a watch. As an added bonus, it would also be nice if it had some kind of foldable display, like the kind we’ve seen in Samsung patents. In 2014, that’s a lot to ask for out of a smartwatch form factor and while the day might eventually come that an OEM will be able to deliver such a smartphone killer, it’s a long ways off we’d wager.

What do you think of the Gear S? Would you use it as a primary mobile device? What would it take for you to permanently trade-in your smartphone for a smartwatch?

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