Great design
Large display is the best for notifications
Rotating bezel is a joy to use
Performance is top notch
Samsung Pay works well
Plenty of features and tools make up core experience


Design may not suit many people
Third-party apps can be buggy
4G LTE and calls come at an added monthly price

Bottom Line
Gear S3
by Samsung

Samsung manages to make each feature in its stacked smartwatch work, making the Gear S3 one of the most enjoyable smart wearable experiences we’ve had this year.

The newest version of the Gear series is a bit bigger, packs a little more punch, and brings a few more tools for the smartwatch enthusiast. Is there enough substance behind the style? We find out in this full review of the Samsung Gear S3.

Hot Android phones:

Before we begin, we will mention that while we are reviewing the Frontier edition, we were able to use the two different editions of it. A Wi-Fi only edition of the watch is available and is more or less the typical Gear experience, while the 4G-enabled edition through AT&T makes it easy use the watch without needing to have a phone nearby and connected.



While it might not be easy for everyone to sport this large smartwatch, there is one simple reality for those who can – this is one sleek device. The Gear S3 Frontier brings grooves to the signature rotating bezel, giving it an added tactile quality that is subtle but noticeably felt. Seconds in increments of five line the area just below the rotating bezel – a small detail that adds to any analog watch face. Two buttons are on the right side, one to go backwards in the interface and the other to either go back to the watch face or open up the app list. To differentiate the Frontier and Classic editions, the Frontier’s buttons are more recessed to the body and are covered in a patterned leather.

In adding to the sporty nature of the Gear S3 Frontier, a silicone band comes standard. This helps with the watch’s water resistance, ensuring that no leather will get ruined if one’s wrist gets splashed. However, it is easy to replace the bands through the 22mm standard connectors. A myriad of bands are available from Samsung via partnerships with plenty of fashion companies, but this silicone complemented the style of the Gear S3 nicely.


The body case is a large 46mm, definitely bigger than either of the previous Gear S2 models. This size makes it tough to recommend for anyone with small wrists, regardless of one’s gender. Even my own wrists could barely contain the large frame of the watch. While it certainly doesn’t look obnoxious on my wrists, it took a little bit of time to get used to. This size adds room for plenty of features and protection – turning the watch body over reveals the heart rate sensor and designations for the 316L stainless steel material that makes it up. And finally, a MIL-STD 810G rating adds extra shock, heat, and cold resistance to the existing IP certification.

See also:

Samsung Gear S2 review

October 22, 2015

What we really applaud the Gear S3 Frontier for, is its ability to work with plenty of different outfits. While it is most at home among a more formal ensemble, the sleek head-turning design makes it a centerpiece when wearing casual clothing. And to that end, it is hardly a loud device in terms of look – the black color blends in well with most paired clothing.

samsung gear s3 vs gear s2 ifa 2016 aa-2

Which brings us to the marquee feature that returns from the Gear S2 – the rotating bezel. It takes just little tug or a little push in order to make it move, and every click from the bezel is as satisfying as the last. Full touchscreen capabilities are available still, but this physical method of moving around the Tizen interface is fluid, responsive, and as snappy as it should be. Movements far in the interface or just to the next element are equally easy, making this an ideal smartwatch for anyone that wants a tactile experience to, in many ways, replace touchscreen experiences.



And the display is half the story regarding the size of the Gear S3 – at 1.3 inches, the OLED display is covered in Gorilla Glass SR+ (Scratch Resistance Plus) and boasts 360 x 360 resolution. Though these specs might sound a bit run of the mill for most high-end smartwatches, credit goes to Samsung for leveraging it as effectively as possible. OLED lends to really great colors coming from the Tizen OS along with the ability to truly turn off the display’s lighting for battery savings.

And to that end, watch faces on the Gear S3 take on a different nature when the ‘Always on Display’ option is ticked. When using pretty much any watch face downloaded from the Samsung Gear application, covering the display with one’s hand or letting it time out reveals a more toned down version of the face that still keeps the essential elements in view no matter what angle you’re looking at the watch from. For any fans of the Always on Display on the Galaxy smartphones, this is about the closest that it can get strapped onto a wrist.


In all situations – even in broad daylight – the brightness of this OLED panel keeps everything properly viewable. And it is important to have an easy time glancing at the screen because the Tizen operating system tries to pack in as much as it can in the main screen. Some watch faces have hidden functionality when tapped upon. For example, the default face doubles up as a stopwatch. Even when features like these are running, small elements are strewn about the watch face to alert the user to changing circumstances like standing notifications or when the watch is not connected to a smartphone.

Make no mistake – this is the best way to read notifications on a smartwatch. Ever. The combination of the high quality screen and the rotating bezel to scroll down in even long notifications is an experience that is unparalleled by the touchscreen-centric Android Wear and the button pressing Pebble. Even when pictures load up in the preview, they’re shown in effective fashion and simply add to the idea that this watch is supposed to be more standalone than perpetually tethered to your smartphone.

See also:

The best Android Wear watches

3 weeks ago



So, for a watch that wants to do as much as possible, there has to be quite a bit of power under the hood. For the Gear S3, this comes in the form of an Exynos 7270, born and optimized by Samsung and for Samsung, in the case of their own smartwatch operating system Tizen. It comes at no surprise, then, that the watch simply flies through its operating system and applications. A quick spin of the rotating bezel shows how fluidly all of the widgets and screens zip past with no issues at all.

The only problems we had with applications came from third party developed downloads from the Gear Manager. This is not so much the problem of the watch and its processing power, but from the development of the apps. While this is an issue that bears mentioning, the core experience of the Gear S3 is still about as good as it can get – and that says a lot, because this watch tries to do a lot out of the box.



As mentioned earlier, we have been able to use a 4G LTE enabled version of the Gear S3 that comes with a few extras. Namely, the ability to sync up the watch without needing to be around the smartphone it pairs with. Setting up the Gear Manager properly means that as long as both the smartphone and smartwatch are connected to some sort of network, notifications will come to the Gear S3, no matter where the user is.

The added benefit is the ability to make calls and send texts in this very situation, without the smartphone around. On AT&T, this service is called NumberSync and it makes it so that the watch goes off alongside its paired phone. Calls on the watch make use of a speaker and microphone combo that is found on the left side of the body, tucked under the top half of the watch. The experience of taking calls on the S3 is akin to a small walkie talkie that is strapped to your wrist, but it isn’t effective in even semi-loud environments and thus requires either a Bluetooth headset connection or, surprise surprise, moving to the phone. It’s a great idea made into reality, it’s just not as awesome as we probably all expected it to be.


Not the mention that having this extra functionality in the Frontier LTE means paying for a smartwatch plan that encompasses data and wireless signal, which costs $10 on top of any smartphone plan you are already paying for. Is it worth that extra money each month? That’s up to you, but we think that there is already so much fun to be had on the Gear S3 without having to shout at your wrist.

Connecting a Bluetooth headset to the watch opens up a couple of possibilities. Not only will calls be easier to manage, but the on-board storage can be used for local music playback. The LTE-enabled Frontier allows for Spotify streaming, which is nice but is a battery drain. 4GB of storage is available for local files so that content is always within reach.


One final feature on the Gear S3 is Samsung Pay, enabled on the Gear S3 through an add-on that is installed in the Gear Manager. The setup takes a little bit of time, but after getting any credit cards put into the add-on and then transferred over to the NFC and MST enabled Gear S3, payments are quite easy at multiple stations across major stores. Simply hold the back button, select which card to use, and then bring the watch up to the station and voila. This is yet another fun aspect to using the Gear S3, and even this skeptic that prefers physical credit cards gets a kick out of it.

See also:

Samsung Pay: What is it, how does it work and how do I use it?

March 5, 2016

The battery of the Gear S3 is charged via a wireless charging dock that is magnetic, making the watch snap right into place easily. Though Samsung claims two days of battery life out of the 380mAh unit, that is less true when usage is constant and aggressive. This is mostly true for the Frontier LTE, in which everything from taking calls, sending texts, and even fitness tracking combined will make the watch seem more like a one day warrior. When using more applications and functions on the regular, be prepared to take the watch off and dock it at least once a day to top off the battery.



And lastly, Tizen – the smartwatch OS of choice for Samsung. Since the Gear S2, there have been some enhancements made to the operating system, and existing Gear S2 users will get this through an update. These are mostly in terms of using the rotating bezel, which can be rotated to answer or decline calls, for example.

The main noticeable changes are in the overall optimization of the Tizen software, and it shows in the smooth look and feel that the Gear S3 provides. Which is good, because there are a lot of apps that require some due diligence. Weather, calendar events, reminders, Flipboard, S Health, and so much more are available to the user, and it can get a little overwhelming. Add upon all that the different ways that users can respond to messages – voice, emoji, canned messages, and a T9 keyboard that is a bit easier to use on the larger screen but is still far from ideal.


S Health returns in Tizen as the main method of fitness tracking. Much like in the Gear S2, S Health will count steps and periodically take heart rate metrics to get a snapshot of the day’s fitness. While its step count default of 6000 is still rather absurd to us, there are a few more tools here to use when going out in the wild. GPS tracking is available when doing distanced based workouts, though it has to be enabled via the specifically selected activity, like hiking. And speaking of hiking, there are barometers and altimeters to get a better handle on one’s environment. Hikers, in particular, will probably find altitude information useful. Other functions in S Health help users track water and caffeine intake along with sleep, but these are rather simplistic in their execution.

The app ecosystem of Tizen has grown a lot since the Gear S2, and some apps that I envied Android Wear and Pebble for during my usage of Samsung’s OS have finally arrived. That said, there are issues with some third party application development, as we mentioned earlier. Sleep as Android, my sleep tracker of choice, is still a little buggy and didn’t give full reports a couple of nights. And S Voice is just not as good as Google’s voice assistance.


All in all, Tizen is an experience that is still best taken at its core, because that is where it shines best. Third party support is still lacking, but Samsung is still able to make it work where it counts – fitness tracking, though sometimes simplistic, is robust; and Samsung Pay helps add a bit of flair to the notification prowess and daily info already built into the Gear S3.




There was a feeling I couldn’t shake when using the Gear S3 – with every notification that came in, I found myself enjoying reading the entire message (usually SMS) on the screen, scrolling down with the satisfying clicks of the rotating bezel. This is an experience I had before on the Gear S2, but for some reason this was better on the even larger, more men’s fashion-oriented Gear S3. And for any faults that I came across in this smartwatch, like buggy apps or tough to hear voice calls blaring from my wrist, the simplest daily activities were made better by what Samsung continues to build upon since premiering their unique tactile user experience.

...one of the most enjoyable smartwatch experiences we’ve had in a little while...

The Gear S3 Frontier, in particular, really tries to wear a lot of hats at once – smartwatch, notification center, health monitor, payment system, GPS tracker, audio player, and voice caller, to name a few. And though there are a large number of users that may be turned off by the visage of this smartwatch, credit has to be given where credit is due – Samsung managed to make the bulk of these features work well enough in concert to make what has been one of the most enjoyable smartwatch experiences we’ve had in a little while. Android Wear unfortunately has one of its biggest competitors in the Samsung Gear S3.

Hot Android Phones:

What do you think of the Samsung Gear S3? Would you buy one? Or is an Android Wear device or the Apple Watch more your type of smartwatch? Let us know your views in the comments below!


The best smartwatches

2 weeks ago
Joshua Vergara
Writer, blogger, and videographer - Josh is a former support technician that learned much about technology by fixing everyone else's. On the side, he wrote and performed spoken word, maintained his own personal blogs, and began his own video podcast. Now, he's here at Android Authority looking to put it all together!
  • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    i think its a bit too big but i do not like the price. I get why its so pricey though. I’d rather spend 200 bucks and get a zenwatch 3 or wahway.

    • Daggett Beaver |dBz|

      Yup. Too big. Too expensive.

      • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        yeah i know the tech isnt there yet, but if they could shrink it down by a quarter….i’d be all over it. I dont think there are any reasons for all these watches to be in between 2-300 either. I read the S2 cost 60 to build after parts….I cant imagine this costing much more (if true obviously)

        • gqukyo

          gotta pay for the Note 7 lost some way… lol

          • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            haha it never gets old. one would think they would lower prices to compensate for the negative view on the company. I know sales are great for them though, but if its good now….imagine these 50 bucks cheaper.

        • JDMillest

          stupid logic, if you care so much about the cost of making these thing then you must not own many things. you have to include everything else on top of that 60 bucks.

          • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            You don’t know what I own. Assumption is stupid logic. I know how much things cost to make. Which makes this overpriced in my head. If you don’t agree, you could easily ignore my comment.

          • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            And looking at your comments about the prices of apple products, you should be the laSt one knocking me for making comments about pricing.

          • JDMillest

            wow you took the time out of your life to look at all my past my comments. man o man

          • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Hypocritical horseshit. :) see ya hater

          • DickButt

            aww you hurt that girls feelings!

          • JDMillest

            haha hater? hating cause you was looking at my past comments?

          • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            you are posting comments without really saying anything….

            wow you took the time out of your life to look at all my past my comments. man o man

            haha hater? hating cause you was looking at my past comments?

            yeah, great english by the way.

          • DickButt
          • JDMillest

            hating on my english? =)

          • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Still not saying anything

          • JDMillest


          • DickButt

            lol the first 10 comments are about apple being priced too high lmao what a motherbanging tool

        • kevin

          That’s really not relevant. The cost to build doesn’t have much to do with the sell price (otherthan the build price will always be lower than the sell price). Look at the Apple Watch 2 and the various iPhones/Android Phones (or any consumable really). The Sell price is what the market will bear, ie. what some marketing guy reckons people will pay without frightening them off with sticker shock.

          • Howard Stern ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            I mean, I get your point. I simply feel that companies should not be building something for X and charging Z+1000. It makes little sense to me, so personally, its very very relevant.

            for example, the first apple watch costs 82 bucks to build. but it was marked up a few hundred bucks. I run a very successful company and what works for me is selling MORE of something with little mark up. rather than selling a little of something that might be priced way too high compared to big companies.

            again, making this a very relevant topic for me.

      • steadymobb

        2 subjective things. I really want one!

        • Apple is for Girls

          those are pretty significant subjective things none the less. any opinion and remark in regards to tech is subjective….thats obvious. no ones telling you not to buy one of these. we are here stating our opinions….are the comments here to talk about the kardashians?? haha

          • steadymobb

            idk – it’s cheaper than the Apple Watch. For what it does I think the $349 price is fair and it’s only big if you have tiny arms lol

          • Apple is for Girls

            haha fair enough, that is subjective views though. kind of hypocritical knocking someone for subjective views….then respond with some of your own, no?

  • Apple is for Girls

    well this beats the apple watch, thats for sure. this is a mans watch. apple watch is a girls watch.

  • Roby

    The temptation is killing me xD

  • TabS2IsBoss

    Samsung has been bitch slapping the smart watch game for over three years.

    Easily nothing on the market touches the GearS3 or it’s TIZEN BASED software.

    Samsung always gets the last laugh over all the useless rest.

    • Scr-U-gle

      Except they can’t sell any!

      Who wants a Samboom watch?

      • DickButt

        they aint selling note 7’s either

        • TabS2IsBoss

          Clearly you live on a pathetic budget you couldn’t afford any Note 7 or S7 if anyone bought you one. Get a legitimate job then you might be able to afford the finer things of life.

          • DickButt

            blahaha aww you hurt your little feelings!! =( no one can afford what they cant buy. KABOOOMMMM!!!!!

          • squiddy20

            Good lord you are a moron. Samsung isn’t selling the Note 7. They stopped selling it over a month ago. So no sh*t people can’t “afford” a Note 7… because they can’t buy it!
            Also, clearly, you don’t know how to do basic math and save money. Come back and tell me how much money a person would need to save each month to be able to buy a Note or S phone. (Hint: it’s under $90 per month)

          • stfu

            Shut the fuck up you pathetic white knight

      • TabS2IsBoss

        Low budget losers like yourself couldn’t afford this type of product anyway stop embarrassing yourself..

      • stfu

        Dumbest comment award goes to you sir. Congratulations!

    • SWINESUNG is still trash. Just Grab some feces and smear it on your wrist and you have S3,s2, And every Swinesung Tizen Garbage product ever made.

      • DickButt

        he cant respond at the moment, his note 7 blew up. he is trying to figure up his s7edge but that caught fire. now he is trying to find his old s3. but his mom hid it when she cleaned his bedroom while he was at the 4-H club.

  • runtohell121

    Definitely an awesome watch. Great watch from Samsung and their mobile payment is sure one of the best… love Samsung Pay.

    If anyone is new to Samsung Pay, enter code 79FF28 in the app before 1st purchase to get a $5 bonus~

  • John Doe

    Some simple questions: Can the watch be paired to say a Pixel? or does it only really work when paired with a Samsung product? What is it like if you do not have the 4g LTE SIM setup?
    Why are there no really good 3D watch faces? All of the ones that I have seen look like shit!!

    • Cormac1

      It will pair with pretty much any Android 4.4+ watch, EXCEPT for some technical reason, Samsung Pay will not work with the Pixel and therefore you can’t use Samsung Pay via the Gear S3 if paired with a Pixel. Even though the S3 can use Samsung Pay without bring linked to the phone, you have to set it up through Gear Manager on the phone. You can then make either 5 or 10 purchases with the watch before you need yo re-sync it with the phone. Hopefully an update is in the works

      • John Doe

        Great .. thx for that

    • PookiePrancer

      It works with the Pixel. Samsung Pay has been updated to work as well, even when the watch is paired to a non-Samsung phone. I’ve been using mine with a Nexus 6P, and the watch is absolutely amazing. It blows Android Wear out of the water, so I now have a Huawei Watch and Moto 360v2 just sitting on their chargers. If you don’t have the LTE model (I do; got the free line with T-Mobile), then it’ll connect via Bluetooth and WiFi.

      • John Doe

        Great .. thx for that ..

  • dannybuoy

    Been wearing one for a week and I must say I’m really happy with it. Coming from a Sony Smartwatch 3, this is a breath of fresh air. The circular screen is gorgeous. The bezel just glides and clicks pleasingly. The UI is lag free. To be honest, Tizen pisses on Android Wear from a great height. Sure, AW has its definite advantages (voice recognition mostly), but suddenly, this feels like a proper smartwatch. I think this is mostly due to the bezel being the main input.

    I have tiny wrists. I have small hands too. Children’s hands. But my wrists are small. Yet this doesn’t look too big. Yes it’s big, but it’s not ridiculous on my arm. I quite like the extra heft.

    It is expensive but I feel the price is justified. Y the sheer quality of the thing. I’m converted!

    Oh, and I have the Classic version. Brightness is set to 2-3 and always on. It was off the dock at 6:30am, now it’s 10:10pm and it’s at 40%. Not a 2 dayer for me, but the charging dock is great. I’m used to fiddling with the crazy bad Sony USB placement so it’s not a problem. Guess if the screen was off, then I’d easily get 2 days.

    • Melech

      The Gear 3 has dozens of functions, and its important to decide which ones are needed at a given time. For example, there are times when auto heart rate monitoring is not needed (it come on automatically when fitness tracking, but you may not need HR measured every hour, 24/7). Likewise, WiFi may not be needed, always-on display not needed at night, si can Wake-up gesture be turned off while you sleep. Set display brightness and screen timeout that are conservatively. Also, notifications via vibrations consume much more battery than sound…you get the idea. This is by far, the most enjoyable, beautiful, and advanced smart watch available. And as icing on the cake, the 4G LTE feature allows extraordinary stand alone voice and data connections, and the OS is advanced, very usable, and fun. Using Samsung Pay I can pay with the Gear S3 (alone…without needing the phone) everywhere credit cards are accepted, even where the merchant is not set for Apple Pay or Android Pay…the MST technology for pay in the Gear S3 is reliable and 100% effective. Enjoy but turn off some features when you are not showing off its many abilities.

    • RickHard

      You must be using the always on display. I’ve been using my Gear S3 since end of November and I’m absolutely in love with it. Far superior to my Pebble Steel in battery life. With the following options:
      Always On: Off
      Brightness: 5
      Wake Up Gesture: On
      Auto HR: On

      I can get about 3 days of battery life, if I turn off Wake Up Gesture (which randomly turns my screen on), I can easily get closer to 5 days of life (about 20-30% / day). I’m absolutely impressed by the call quality and I’ve installed a lot of the Samsung apps that don’t come pre-installed either making it much better.

      I’d highly recommend any S3 owner install the following additional apps from the Samsung App Store (not sure why they weren’t included in the first place):
      – Stopwatch
      – Timer
      – Maps
      – Calculator
      – Voice Memo

      I also added:
      Xenozu (Youtube)
      NPR One

      Loving my PipBoyS2 watchface too.

  • Adam

    I got my frontier last friday. Been waiting since the watch was announced on August 31st. Loving it. It is my first smart watch. I was waiting for the technology to develop. Already bought a new band as well. The only sucky thing right now is that samsung pay isn’t available on the watch in Canada for some reason but I wouldn’t be use it anyways because my bank doesn’t support it. Plenty of watch faces and really nice ones. I also had no idea I could control any music player I use on my phone. That also includes if im watching a video on youtube. I also have a small wrist but it looks great on it.

  • V2THE1

    Can I make calls using my Google Voice number on this thing? Can I receive and send text using my Google Voice number?

  • The 4G/LTE version will only be available via fixed operators’ plans or will there ever be something like an international unlocked version to be used with any carrier worldwide (somehow) ? Not sure if it’s at all possible (given a physical sim card insertion is not possible) but I for one am waiting for details on such a news/announcement.

  • Wjdzm


    4G LTE and calls come at an added monthly price

    really? where can you get free LTE service without monthly price?

    • boofie

      If you were lucky enough to get the two free lines from TMobile on Black Friday, you could use one towards the S3. Unlimited talk/text/data on the watch at no monthly cost. Life is good.

  • boofie

    I have the Frontier LTE. It is AWESOME. Apple Watch is a joke compared to this.

  • Timothy Rhodes

    If I can upgrade my S2 at the T-Mobile store, I will probably do so.

  • The-Sailor-Man

    Design may not suit many people
    4G LTE and calls come at an added monthly price’

    I’m petrified !!! WOW
    Should I believe my eyes…….am I dreaming?

  • Jeffery Legere

    well, until I can use hangouts on tizen, I still won’t be buying one.
    I want a stand alone watch that can place/receive calls, use hangouts, gps, play music.

    • Unplugged

      Yes, you receive notifications from Hangouts on Samsung Gear S2 or S3. Yes, you can respond with voice, typing or preset responses and emojis in Hangouts. Hangouts is incorporated into the Tizen operating system, along with other Google apps such as Gmail, etc.

  • Scr-U-gle

    What an ugly thing that S3 is!

    Far too big, I can see why you avoided showing it side on with a scale, considering it’s over half an inch thick.

    Now all the drones can see why design wise, it is better to have a rectangle display to get the same info on to a round screen means it has to look like a wankers giant dickhean watch.

    What surprises me is Samboom haven’t copied Apples straps, yet.

  • Prits

    I ordered mine on Nov 20th. It was 50$ off for Black Friday deal. Still not shipped yet. Today they said,”It won’t be shipped until Jan 7th.” I had to cancel my order. Samsung ruined my christamas gift.

  • Scr-U-gle

    Which fire extinguisher is best suited to the S3?

  • Thijs Barree

    Does the watch work well with non-Samsnung Android phones? Are some functions limited? (I currently have a Nexus 5X)

  • Haymkarran S Bhalla

    This is amazing

  • Jesus Espinoza

    Hey guys… I have Gear Gear and I’m trying to use a different texting app other than the stock Samsung texting app and when I try to change the notification settings I the Gear app it says that in order for me to text and receive texts from my Gear S3 that I need to use the Samsung texting app…. I hate this… is there a work around?

  • Dwight Barrett

    Can Google apps work on this?
    I like using my voice to set reminders and add alarms via Google. is this possible on the gear S3?