Samsung Galaxy Gear works with the Nexus 5, at least unofficially

by: Andrew GrushJanuary 22, 2014

samsung galaxy gear aa 17

The Samsung Galaxy Gear might have been met with a mixed reception at launch, but there’s no denying that underneath it’s initial issues, there’s plenty of potential. To Samsung’s credit, they are slowly but surely addressing some of the watch’s biggest problem areas by further refining the software, enhancing the watch’s notification system and improving the smartwatch app situation.

Unfortunately one issue that still holds the Galaxy Gear back is device compatibility. At launch the Galaxy Gear only worked with the Note 3, and while it now supports a few other popular Samsung devices, those without a Samsung handset are left out in the dark. The good news for Nexus 5 owners is that you can now join the exclusive “Galaxy Gear compatible” club, at least unofficially.

Thanks to the efforts of XDA member pcelli, a method for pairing the Nexus 5 with the Galaxy Gear has been detailed, and involves pulling certain files from the Gear Manager APK and manually installing them on your handset. Although the process is a bit involved, the good news is that it allows your Nexus device to work almost the same as an approved Samsung handset would. The only exception to this is that S Voice and Weather are TouchWiz-dependent features, and therefore don’t work.

The method has only been officially confirmed to work with the Nexus 5, though SamMobile was able to at least pair it with the Nexus 7. They were unable to fully test if it works with the tablet however, as it requires you to reset your Galaxy Gear to factory settings before it can fully connect to the Nexus 5 or Nexus 7. Outside the Nexus 5 and possibly Nexus 7, it’s also possible that this method may work on other smartphones and tablets, but there are no guarantees.

For more details on how to pair a Nexus handset or tablet with the Galaxy Gear you’ll want to head on over to the XDA developer’s forum. If the Galaxy Gear supported more non-Samsung handsets out-of-the-box (or even unofficially) would you consider buying the Gear or do you feel that the company’s first smartwatch attempt just doesn’t cut it for your needs?

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    Hey Andrew, writer of the SamMobile article here. You should mention that it’s not exactly clear if the Nexus 7 works with it (as in shows notifications and stuff after being paired). I tried, and while the tablet did detect it, I didn’t go forward with pairing as it would’ve needed me to factory reset the watch (this is assuming you mentioned Nexus 7 in your article after seeing us mention it, as the XDA thread doesn’t mention N7 in the title.)

    • Andrew Grush

      Thanks for the clarification, Abhijeet. Will update the article to reflect this.

  • MasterMuffin

    People on XDA were saying how this works with HTC One GPE and Z Ultra GPE too. Seems to work with almost every 4.4.2 device I guess?

    • Billy joseph

      4.3 and up yes. But take the word “work” with a grain of salt.

  • Billy joseph

    You’re really going to give people false hopes with this article. To say that it “work” is an over statement. Sure it pairs. When someone calls you see the number, not the contact name and when you pick up the phone the watch acts as a bt headset. The sound is diverted to the watch you to redirect it to the phone. As for notifications there are apps for that that work, sometimes. Furthermore you can’t connect to the watch and headphones. It’s one or the other. So… Not worth it. Nope. Not at all.

  • Brandon Miranda

    No I would really enjoy owning such a device but I do not currently own any Samsung products and I’m drooling over the Pebble. I intend for it to be my first smartwatch as something like the Pebble would be of humongous use to me.

  • John Doe

    Sorry, any watch that only lasts 1 day on a charge is not even on my radar. I only read the article as I have a Nexus 5 phone. I am looking at the new Pebble watch which looks kool with the Smart+ s/w (tho I have to get an iphone to add/install and configure it. :( ).

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Actually, it now lasts anywhere between two to three days, two at the minimum. Updates have improved it a lot, and it’s actually sad that Samsung didn’t release the watch with those updates by default, haha. But yeah, battery life has improved quite a lot, and for the things it can do, the battery life is more than enough at the moment (of course, the price is still horrendous.)

  • Jayfeather787

    The samsung smartwatch seemed more like a flop to me than anything else. Its just a bluetooth headset in my opinion, and now instead of talking into a phone, you speak into your wrist, which certainly looks normal.