When I’d been called to the Samsung Launch Event that was held at their Samsung Experience Store in Tropical Plaza in Half-Way-Tree on Thursday October 16th 2014, my thoughts were that this was just a launch for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as summarized in my article Samsung Launches quartet of Note-worthy Products to Tab into the Gear S Alpha in all Jamaicans!
So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 wasn’t the only star of the show. In fact, when the four (4) products being launched were announced, the Samsung Galaxy Gear S (“S” stands for “Solo”) was mentioned as one of the two (2) main flagship products that would be on sale by Friday October 24th 2014. Say what?
As I flitted in-between the Secret Agents in the guise of Traditional Press and Social Media Press peeps from Loop Jamaica, I tried to learn as much as I could about the Samsung Gear S smartwatch! It still looked a bit too Dick Tracey as I’ve opined before about Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatches in my article Samsung Gear Smartwatch is too Dick Tracey and not Simple enough to want you to Rock the Future on your Wrist. Not prêt-a-porter or accessorize-able at all, as noted by the Loop Jamaica Reporter as she tousled her long black hair!
So how will this 2” Curved AMOLED Screen smartwatch that also doubles as a phone fare in Jamaica and the Caribbean? My Hands-on Review should reveal what the Samsung peeps were thinking when they decided to make this their No. 2 Main Product!
Samsung Galaxy Gear S – Fourth to the Gear Throne and a little heavy on the wrist
After Key Accounts Manager of Samsung Electronics, Kenneth L. Moore, Jnr was done making his speech, I sauntered over to the location of the Samsung Galaxy Gear S Smartwatch and proceeded to access the settings in a bid to determine what version of Android it was running. To my surprise, it wasn’t running Android, but Tizen OS, as Kenneth L. Moore, Jnr and later one of the Samsung Representatives, Scott Polack, explained to me.
I’ll skip the long story about Tizen OS and their struggles for acceptance in smartphone world and get right to the review. After all, you’ve endured me thus far; what’s a few more sentences if not to get to the meat-on-a-stick of the matter?
The first thing that’s evident about the Samsung Galaxy Gear S smartwatch is how bright the 2.0” Super AMOLED Screen is, even in the well lit Samsung Experience Store. The screen has a resolution of 360×480 that makes the rectangular screen look a little laggy and barely readable but still responsive enough to my quick furtive swipes while I tried to extract information.
It has the dimensions 39.9 x 58.1 x 12.5mm and its rectangular shape reminds me of the Samsung Gear Fit with its curved display. The Samsung Gears S is really the fourth in a line of Gear smartwatches that Samsung began dabbling with since August 2013 as noted in Samsung Gear Smartwatch is too Dick Tracey and not Simple enough to want you to Rock the Future on your Wrist.
The Gear S is useful for telling time, doubles as a Fitness Trackers and also has the added perk of being able to make phone calls and access the Internet without a smartphone, a feature I’ll explain further on in the article. It comes in three (3) different colours depending on the type of Rubber wristwatch Band you like:
The Blue and Black option weighs 67g while the White option weighs 84g. It feels a little heavy though when I did a swing test. Personally, it may begin to weight down your hand if worn through the day for extended periods of time.
Samsung Galaxy Gear S – Smartwatch making Bluetooth Calls with a useless QWERTY Keyboard
The Processor is a Dual-Core 1.0 GHz Processor that runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS, long touted as their answer to Google Android since it made its debut at the CES (Computer Electronics Show) in January 2013 as stated in Samsung’s Tizen OS launched to partake in Apple and Google’s App Economy. The Samsung Galaxy Gear S has a 512 MB RAM and is supported by 4 GB of Internal Storage with no SD Card option to expand the memory.
The Samsung Gear S Smartwatch has the usual components that you’d expect in a smartwatch that’s also masquerading as a Fitness Tracker:
- Heart rate monitor
- Ambient light Sensor
- UV Sensor
- Barometric sensors
No front facing Camera, so unlike the Dick Tracey wristwatch from the Comics, it can’t make Video Calls. Still, let’s not forget its main additional perk; it has a built in SIM Card and is able to connect to the Internet, specifically 3G and can make 2G Voice calls, once you’ve synched your Bluetooth headset to the Gear S.
In case you can afford an additional 3G Data Plan and buy credit from Digicel (the Telecom Network that’ll most likely sell the Gear S!), you’ll find having an extra Data plan a bit of a stretch, as would most Jamaicans already struggling to pay for their smartphone Data plan. The Samsung Gear S is compatible with the following 3G Networks:
- 900/1200MHz or 850/1900 for 3G
- 900/1200MHz or 850/1900 for 2G
Still, fret not; you’ll always have the option to access Internet via Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, though I wasn’t able to get any info on whether or not any VoIP App such as Skype or WhatsApp came with the smartwatch enable it to make Voice Calls.
It can also take Voice Commands using S Voice which is preferably to using the cramped little QWERTY keyboard I was able to get on screen but gave up using it as the 2” screen was just too small for my massive fingers by comparison. The Gear S also functions as a little music player and can store and play music files of the following formats downloaded and stored locally within its 4GB of storage while you jog:
I didn’t get the chance to try out the music player, but I suspect that this smartwatch would need a wireless Bluetooth earbuds, headphones or Bluetooth speakers similar to the ones described in my article Apple patents Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds as Wireless Bluetooth Speakers take Flight. Or you may wanna try the US$300 Freewavz Earphones by Dr. Hensen that are perfectly balanced and designed never to fall out of your ears, even during your most strenuous workouts.
Samsung Galaxy Gear S – S Health and Nike+ Running App can’t Track Swimming or Sex
Clearly the Samsung Galaxy Gear S borrows some of its design cues from the Samsung Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo launched in late February 2014 as described in my article Don’t cry over spilt Samsung Milk as Samsung Galaxy S5 and smartwatches disappoint.
Like those previous smartwatch attempts, it has a little physical Home Button, a sort of mini-me version of the Samsung Galaxy S5 but with no Fingerprint Reader built in. Navigating the Gear S Apps and sub-Menus requires swiping from different sides or pressing the Home Button when you get lost.
This smartwatch is indeed the child of a Samsung Galaxy S5, the Samsung Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo as like theses smartwatches, the LED-based Heart Rate monitor is on the underside of the smartwatch. It was noticeable when I flipped it over to examine the SIM Card Slot under what appears to the most unusually designed and uncomfortable looking wristband.
I say “uncomfortable” as albeit it’s soft to feel, the clasp is metallic and that will squeeze your wrist after a few hours of good wear. Like its other Gear family member, the Gear Fit, the smartwatch pops out of the band, though Samsung has decided to lock you into their Samsung Accessory cycle, as the customer bands can only be obtained from the Samsung Experience Store.
I asked the Samsung Representative Scott Polack several questions about the Samsung Galaxy Gear S and he was very informative. Apparently the Gear S is IP67 Water Resistant, albeit this pretty little number doesn’t look like it can do much swimming to me; IP67 merely means it can survive under 1 meter or immersion in water for only 30 minutes.
So albeit it has Samsung’s S Health and Nike+ Running App and the ability to track you via its onboard GPS that can also double as a locator if it gets lost using the Find my Device App without the need for tethering to a smartphone, it’s no good in the swimming pool. Samsung needs to include that as well in their next update, as Caribbean people tend to get wet a lot and we’re avid swimmers.
Pointless to have to take off my smartwatch every time I have to take a shower too, as it won’t be able to track my body temperature in the shower. And it’s too clunky and cumbersome to have on your wrist while having Sex, which is technically a form of exercise and is worth tracking to see how well your old ticker’s holding up!
With all that activity happening on the Gear S, it better have good battery life. Alas, the Samsung Galaxy Gear S really a chip off the old block, with the built in 300 mAh battery lasting only two (2) days on a full charge before you have to recharge it via the USB cable that comes with the Gear S.
Like the Gear Live, you can conserve on battery life by powering down the screen and choosing a simple clock face. Samsung is also a bit considerate, including an extra 350 mAh battery for quick recharging, which to me is a bit of an inconvenience to have to remove my wristwatch just to recharge.
Samsung Galaxy Gear S – 1000 Apps with possible Jamaican Tizen Developer Program
A fitness tracker Watch in Jamaica might not be such a bad idea, as I’ve already seen peeps in the Glitteratti of Jamaican Society toting their Nike Fuelband SE and not just because it was Carnival Season as noted in Caribbean rides the Fitness Craze as Nike Fuelband SE making Apple iPhone users healthier.
Samsung promises some 1000 Samsung Gear Apps for Tizen, mostly Health based, mini-games or changeable wristwatch faces, most likely optimized for the cramped 2” display. Still these Apps are designed by South Korean and American App makers; Samsung needs to encourage a Caribbean Tizen App Development as a means of garnering Grassroots support for the Tizen.
Please note that this is not just Tizen on the Gear S but also on the Samsung Z9000 ZEQ, their Tizen OS smartphone that’s also slated to be launched on Friday October 24th 2014 in India, a day after the Diwali Festival of Lights in India as noted in my article Samsung Tizen to be reincarnated in Diwali Festival of Lights as Q4 looks like a Bleak Christmas Carol.
After being rejected by the Russians in July 2014 as noted in Samsung Z running Tizen OS fails to enter Russian Market hints at Caribbean and Latin American Launch and more recently by Huawei in August 2014, who happens to be a competitor of Samsung here in Jamaica in the still-growing Smartphone Market, a push into India may just the prescription the Marketing Doctor ordered.
Jamaican Developers can not only develop Apps for Tizen on the Gear S but also Tizen being launched in India. Once a Developer community is started in Jamaica, it’ll pave the way for the introduction of Tizen OS smartphones in Jamaica.
Samsung Galaxy Gear S – No Price yet but your know come Friday October 24th 2014
No pricing info is available for this 2” over-glorified wristwatch phone, but all will be revealed on Friday October 24th 2014 when it launches along with its other No. 1 Product, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and its two lesser siblings, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.5 and 8.4” Tablets.
Here’s an interesting tit-bit; Jamaica and the Caribbean will be the first to get the Gear S as it’s not even confirmed for launch in the US of A. So expect a few foreign Journalists when the product officially goes on sale on Friday October 24th 2014.
In fact, it might be just what the doctor ordered to keep your heart rate in check. With fitness being an emphasis, it may eventually prove popular in the Jamaica as in the US of A, where these wearable Fitness Bracelets such as the FitBit are making regular appearances in shows such as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D on Agent Skye’s Hand.
Will it become a regular with Jamaicans suddenly obsessed with Fitness and running marathons every other month? Remains to be seen it the Gear S will rock many a wrist when it’s revealed on Friday October 24th 2014.
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