Samsung Gear Sport review
In short: this is a really great smartwatch and fitness tracker for those who thought the Samsung Gear S3 was too bulky and find all the other options in the market (Asus, Motorola, Garmin, Fitbit, and Huawei) lacking.
My needs: Receive notifications, track steps, track jogging and cycling workouts, sync calendar, send texts, control music, good battery life and be comfortable.
Warning, long review ahead.
The Samsung Gear Sport can receive any push notification your phone receives. You can choose which ones you want to turn off and only focus on certain ones. Just because you receive the notification for a certain app on your phone doesn’t mean you need the same app on the watch.
From my day of use, tracking of steps seems to be fairly accurate. It will be accurate if I’m walking with my arms to the side, while pushing a stroller or shopping cart, or if my hands are in my pocket.
In theory, this should be able to count the number of floors as well but I haven’t had a chance to test yet. From the Gear S3 reviews, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the most accurate feature here.
Track Jogging and Cycling
Using the built in GPS, tracking my runs and bike rides is pretty accurate. I like how I can leave my phone at home, start a workout and the GPS kicks in and starts tracking me. Given that I’m a very data centric person, I really appreciate being able to go back on my phone and see all the data points from my workout, including a map of what I’ve done. Obviously initiating the workout will drain the battery quicker but if I keep it under two hours then the Gear Sport will still last me an entire day.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t track how many times I pick up my baby who gets heavier by the day, but that’s kind of wishful thinking.
The heart rate can be triggered on-demand so you can check your pulse whenever you feel like it. During a workout, it is triggered automatically throughout the workout so you know where you stand. I can’t speak to how accurate it is, but rather than focusing on the accuracy of the number itself, I like to use it in relation to where it was when I started, middle and end. For example, if the watch says my initial BPM is 70 and in the middle of the workout it’s 140, then my workout is being effective. I don’t care if it’s actually 151 instead of 140, but rather my BPM has doubled since my workout started.
Living the corporate life, I’m constantly bombarded with meetings followed by additional meetings. To some degree, these meetings are the vain of my working existence but a necessary evil at times. So I need a way, at any given moment, to very quickly check the meetings coming up in the next few hours. Since I’m this watch with my Samsung S8+ (and by extension the Samsung Calendar App that connects to my Google Calendar), then I can look at all my meetings immediately on the watch. I’ll also get the reminder alerts 15 minutes before my meeting starts which is a life saver.
Send Texts (SMS, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, KakaoTalk)
Here’s the deal, if I’m getting a text from a friend and I want to respond really quickly with “OK Thanks” or a more lengthy response, I don’t want to take out my phone every single time. It’s much easier to configure a canned response that I can choose from or speak to the watch to respond, have it transcribed and once approved, send the text. This makes it really convenient in so many levels. By the way, this works with all of my messaging apps. NOTE – there is no speaker on this watch so you will not 1. Be able to get audible notifications and 2. Make phone calls.
I’m a Spotify Premium customer, have been for quite some time. So when I heard that this watch was going to let me sync my playlists (up to 4GB) for offline play, that got me excited. But honestly, most of the time I use the Spotify app on the watch to control the music that is playing on my phone, which is being sent to Alexa that is connected to my studio monitors. Even if I’m not listening to music on Spotify and got a podcast instead, no problem, the regular music app works just fine with that. NOTE – there is no speaker on this watch!
Battery and Comfort
There’s no sense in having all the features in the world if 1. The watch doesn’t last me a day and 2. It’s not comfortable to wear. This is why I’ve kept my Pebble Time for 2.5 years and no other smartwatch in the market could replace it. I’m glad Samsung has figured out that customers want to have our cake and eat it too, meaning we want all the functionality in a form factor that’s very light, thin with a battery that lasts days.
Battery wise, I can go 2-3 days on a single charge with medium use. I check notifications when they arrive (about 4-10/hr during the working hours), check for meetings (1-2/hr), control music from time to time and have one (maybe two) 1 hour workout in the 3 days. I do leave the watch face off until I bring it up to look at it, so it’s not always on and saves some battery.
Comfort wise, it’s light, slim and the watch face is just the right diameter. I’m 5’10” 175lb and my wrists aren’t particarly small or large. My medium sized hands (whatever that means) can wrap around my wrist so that my middle finger and thumb are touching. If that gives you an idea, at all, of how big my wrists are, I can tell you that this watch is really comfortable and most of the time you don’t notice it. I’ll post pictures compared to my Pebble Time, but they’re equally comfortable even though the Pebble is significantly smaller.
So this can do a lot more than what I’ve written about, such as auto tracking workouts, swimming, have tons of other apps installed, change watchfaces, etc. I don’t really use those that often so I can’t comment on it but I’m glad it’s there.
Build quality – you’re paying $300 for a watch it better be well built, especially if it’s going to be waterproof up to 50M and used for workouts and swimming. Good news, it is.
OK that’s a long enough review. There’s plenty of value for me to highly recommend this to anyone looking for a smartwatch. If all you want is track workouts, perhaps consider a Fitbit or something similar. If you want an inspector gadget mini computer from the future on your wrist, this is it.