Samsung may not be focusing on the Android Wear platform anymore, but that doesn’t meant the company is scrapping its smartwatch plans altogether. 2014’s Gear S certainly left much to be desired, though last year’s Gear S2 was a very impressive offering. Now Samsung has just taken the wraps off its new Tizen-powered smartwatch, the Gear S3! Featuring the same great rotating bezel, an all-new design and many more enhancements, this new smartwatch is definitely a step in the right direction.
Here’s what you need to know about the Samsung Gear S3.
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Samsung Gear S3 specifications and design
Much like its predecessor, the Gear S3 will be available in two versions – Classic and Frontier. The Gear S3 Classic is, as you may have guessed, the more elegant-looking watch, sporting a classier design and no LTE connectivity. The Frontier version, on the other hand, is the more rugged, sporty model that does feature LTE connectivity.
In terms of design, the Frontier version features longer, flat buttons, while the Classic model sports more prominent, circular buttons on the side.
The Gear S3 Frontier can be used as a standalone watch
Of course, both devices come with the popular rotating bezel that first appeared on the Gear S2, only this time it comes with a few more capabilities. You can now accept and reject calls by rotating the bezel, for instance. The rotating bezel can still be used in other cases, like when changing music volume and dialing in the amount of time for alarms and timers.
Both models feature a 1.3-inch Super AMOLED fully circular display, along with that same rotating bezel found on the Gear S2. The Gear S3 also comes with Samsung’s Always On Display feature that now supports 16 million colors. The displays are covered in Corning’s new Gorilla Glass SR+, which will hopefully keep scratches at bay.
Both Classic and Frontier versions also sport IP68 ratings for dust and water resistance, as well as an extra military-grade durability rating to help the watch stay functional in extreme temperatures.
It should be noted that the Gear S3 is quite a bit larger than the Gear S2, almost to the point where it may be too big for more average sized wrists. While that bigger overall size might seem like a major caveat, that also means Samsung was able to pack in a much larger battery this time around. The Gear S3 comes with a 380mAh battery, compared to the S2’s 250mAh cell. The S3 also has a power saving mode that will get you a day’s worth of use with only a 5% charge, and there’s also a watch-only mode if you don’t need any of the smartwatch features. Oh, and if you’re a Gear S2 owner who wants to upgrade, the Gear S3 is backwards compatible with the Gear S2’s charger.
The Gear S3's 380mAh battery is a huge upgrade from last year's model
The Gear S3 supports just about any standard 22mm watch strap out there, though Samsung will be launching plenty of its own straps for more customization options.
Under the hood, you’ll find plenty of sensors and components that will make using the Gear S3 a breeze. It comes with an altimeter, barometer, speedometer, optical heart rate sensor and even a GPS. There’s also a built-in SOS feature that will send your exact location to an emergency contact if you’re in trouble.
Both watches also come with a built-in speaker and microphone
As we mentioned earlier, the Classic version does not come with LTE connectivity, so you’ll need to rely on either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections. The Frontier version, on the other hand, does sport LTE connectivity, so you can leave your house without your smartphone and still receive notifications and perform Google searches on your watch. What makes the standalone functionality of the Gear S3 even more great is that both models come with a built-in speaker and microphone. This means you’ll be able to take calls right on the watch and hear the caller through the speaker. Pretty awesome, right? And if you need a bit of privacy, you can always pair some Bluetooth headphones to the Gear S3 if you don’t want your calls to be heard.
The watches can also hold local music files, so you can play music from the speaker or through a paired set of headphones. You can also stream Spotify through Wi-Fi or LTE, which is also a nice touch.
Samsung Gear S3 software
As you probably expected, the Gear S3 runs Samsung’s Tizen OS. Samsung says the Tizen Store now has over 10,000 applications available for download, so you’re bound to find some useful apps that will suit your needs.
Samsung Gear S3 and Samsung Pay
Perhaps the biggest news here is the addition of Samsung Pay. This will allow you to easily pay with your smartwatch without the need to take out your phone. Just set it up on your watch, hold the back button, and Samsung Pay will launch. Select which card you’d like to use, hold your watch close to the card slider or NFC payment terminal, and that’s it! Easy.
Samsung Pay: What is it, how does it work and how do I use it?
Samsung Gear S3 pricing and availability
Unfortunately Samsung hasn’t mentioned any pricing or availability details as of yet. We’ll be sure to update you as we learn more.
What are your thoughts on the new Gear S3? Will this be your next smartwatch, or are you not impressed with Samsung’s new offerings? Be sure to tell us your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned to Android Authority for more IFA 2016 coverage!