As always, Samsung took advantage of IFA to make some announcements, especially in terms of wearables this time. In addition to the new Gear IconX headphones and the Gear Fit2 Pro fitness tracker, the South Korean manufacturer also announced a new Gear S series watch, still running Tizen, called Gear Sport. What's new? Check out our first impressions and find out where to pre-order below.
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Samsung Gear Sport release date and price
The Gear Sport smartwatch is now available for pre-order from Samsung and Best Buy. Samsung pre-orders will ship by October 30, and Best Buy's will ship by the release day, October 27. After October 27, the devices will be sold by Amazon.com, Samsung, Best Buy, Macy's and US Cellular. The official price is $299.
Two colors are available: black and blue. Samsung also offers 23 different 20 mm bracelets made of plastic, leather or a combination of both materials. Other 20 mm bracelets will work, too.
Samsung Gear Sport design and build quality
With this new Gear generation, Samsung shows that it's not abandoning smartwatches as a category. On the contrary, the manufacturer estimates that the market for wearables will double by 2021. That is why, unlike the Gear S3, the new Gear Sport seems to address both a male and a female audience. Its design has been slightly revised to look good on even the smallest of wrists. As a result, the screen shrank from 1.3 inches to 1.2 inches. The dimensions (42.9 x 44.6 x 11.6 mm and 49 x 46 x 12.9 mm) were reduced and the weight dropped (59 g to 50 g). The smartwatch appears more discreet while still retaining a certain elegance.
On the surface, the new Gear Sport differs a little from the previous generation. The Gear Sport shares more similarities with the Gear S2 than the Gear S3. The metal body and the accents remain very serious looking, with different aluminum textures, brushed or polished, on different parts of the watch.
Of course, the excellent rotating dial to help with navigating the menus remains. The smartwatch still offers two slightly textured physical buttons, to make them easy to find, on the right edge.
On the back of the smartwatch, the Gear Sport still has a heart rate monitor. In combination with the activity measured by motion sensors, it makes it possible to measure calories burned.
Finally, you can't ignore the watch band, as it's a big part of the design of any watch. By default, the Gear Sport offers either a blue or a black plastic bracelet (two sizes are included), which are rather nice on the wrist. Rest assured though, if you don't like it, any 20 mm watch band will do.
Samsung Gear Sport display
The Gear Sport features a 1.2-inch Super AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The definition does not change this time, with 360 x 360 pixels (302 ppi). The display is certainly one of the best in this category. Tizen fully takes advantage of the AMOLED screen, with a UI that makes the icons pop on a black background.
The brightness is excellent and there's not much of an issue with glare or reflections. The ambient light sensor can help adjust the brightness of the screen, depending on the lighting conditions. You can also adjust it manually.
Samsung Gear Sport special features
Compared to its predecessor, one of the most important changes to this smartwatch is the addition of water resistance up to 5 ATM. Specifically, the Gear Sport is water resistant up to a depth of 50 m, and it can be taken in the shower or swimming. Diving, however, won't work out.
Another cool feature is that the Gear Sport can act as a remote control for presentations or for a Samsung virtual reality headset. It also supports Samsung Pay.
Samsung Gear Sport software
Like the Gear Fit2 Pro, the new Gear Sport features the latest version of the Tizen operating system, 3.0. The interface has been slightly revised, especially the apps menu. However, the use and navigation of the menus has not changed. You still use the touchscreen, the dial and the two buttons. One is used to go backward, and the other to access the menu and return to the home screen. Tizen is sometimes considered better than Android Wear to use, and this new version only confirms my good impression of it. It's simple, easy to use and the watch allows you to easily customize the on-screen dials.
Samsung has focused on fitness for this sporty smartwatch. This is, according to the manufacturer, the main reason for purchasing smartwatches. You can track your calorie consumption throughout the day, your heart rate, the number of steps you take and more. A variety of training programs are available with the new Samsung Health app. If you have a connected TV, it is even possible to broadcast your workouts. Be aware that Bixby compatibility will follow in a later update.
This Gear Sport is compatible with Galaxy smartphones running Android 4.3 and higher, Android smartphones running Android 4.4 and higher and the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, and the iPhone 5 running at least iOS 9.0.
Samsung Gear Sport performance
Compared to last year's model, the Gear Sport offers relatively similar technical specs, with a dual-core 1 GHz processor, 768 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage. The watch has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and GPS.
In my hands-on test of the device, the Gear Sport did not show any weaknesses. Navigating through the menus and apps is fluid and without issue.
Samsung Gear Sport audio
The Gear Sport is equipped with a microphone and a loudspeaker so you can make a call without having to take your phone out.
Samsung Gear Sport battery
The Samsung Gear Sport comes with a small 300 mAh battery. It's a little smaller than the Gear S3 (380 mAh) but the screen is also 0.1 inch smaller, so there's less to keep powered. The Gear Sport still offers an energy-saving mode to extend the battery life by disabling Wi-Fi and some notifications. Depending on the brand of phone you have, this should be sufficient to ensure 2-3 days of use. We'll find out for sure in our final review.
Finally, like its predecessors, the Gear Sport supports wireless charging.
If you were a fan of the previous generations, this new Gear Sport should easily convince you of its merits. The watch takes on the strengths of the watch that preceded it, the Gear S3, while returning to the design of the Gear S2. Add to this the new version of Tizen, an increasingly important app ecosystem, and you understand why this Gear Sport has everything necessary to become the best smartwatch for Android users.