HWM (Singapore) - - TEST -

The Sam­sung Gear S is the only smart­watch in our shootout not pow­ered by An­droid Wear. In­stead, it uses Tizen, an open source OS that, like An­droid, is based on Linux. With its huge dis­play, metal­lic bezels and home but­ton be­neath the screen, the Gear S looks a lot more like a tiny curved smart­phone strapped to your wrist than a tra­di­tional watch. While other smart­watch man­u­fac­tur­ers have veered to­wards more fash­ion­able de­signs, Sam­sung seems to be fully em­brac­ing the com­puter on your wrist style, and the Gear S’s thick hous­ing, chunky metal clasp and rub­ber strap is def­i­nitely more geek than chic. While its curved form fac­tor makes the Gear S quite com­fort­able to wear, it’s also ridicu­lously large, prob­a­bly too big for most women’s wrists.

Where the Gear S tries to win you over is with its unique ca­pa­bil­i­ties. It’s the only smart­watch in our shootout with its own mi­cro-SIM card slot and 3G mo­dem in­side. That means us­ing it with­out pair­ing with a smart­phone. You can make and re­ceive calls di­rectly, thanks to its built-in speak­ers and mi­cro­phone, plus even re­spond to emails us­ing a tiny on­screen QW­ERTY key­board, although hon­estly try­ing to type on a 2-inch screen with one fin­ger is just ab­surd. You’re much bet­ter off with voice recog­ni­tion, but Sam­sung’s Tizen-based voice in­put isn’t quite as good as An­droid Wear. It works, but it of­ten takes a few at­tempts to get it right. While we en­joyed the nov­elty of mak­ing voice calls with the Gear S, ul­ti­mately, you’re still bet­ter just get­ting out your smart­phone.

The Gear S has a curved 2-inch AMOLED dis­play with a 480 x 360 pixel res­o­lu­tion (300 ppi), mak­ing it the largest smart­watch dis­play cur­rently avail­able. It is su­per vi­brant and col­or­ful with great view­ing an­gles, but one quirk worth not­ing is that some of Sam­sung’s older Gear apps aren’t op­ti­mized for it so they end up look­ing a bit stretched out and dis­torted. The Gear S’s huge dis­play does have some benefits though. Thanks to its great con­trast and large size, it’s one of the best smart­watches for read­ing con­tent and the big curved screen makes ver­ti­cal scrolling easy too.

With the Gear S run­ning on Tizen, you won’t be able to use any An­droid Wear apps with it; in­stead, it has its own Gear App mar­ket­place. There is less choice of course, but the few win­ners to take note of in­clude the Nike+ run­ning app (which is still in devel­op­ment for An­droid Wear).

De­spite hav­ing the small­est bat­tery size, bat­tery life on the Gear S was sur­pris­ingly de­cent, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing its 3G mo­dem and large dis­play. We were able to get about 20 hours out of it on one charge.

Built-in 3G mo­dem lets you use it with­out pair­ing with a smart­phone. Huge, vi­brant dis­play.

Too big. Looks nerdy. Limited app se­lec­tion.

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