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Samsung Gear S3 Frontier review: A better all-rounder

Time for the not so good news

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Unfortunately, this premium and robust build also comes with a big downside. Samsung’s Gear S3 only comes in one size and that size is enormous. It measures 46 x 49 x 12.9 mm (weighing 63g without the band for the Frontier edition), which, to put in more practical terms, is chunky.

Unlike the featherweight Fitbit Blaze or Charge 2 I usually wear, this Gear S3 was definitely a noticeable burden on my wrist. The weight is even more apparent when you exercise because unless you tighten it fully on your wrist, it will flop around a lot.

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Despite all that military-grade protection, Samsung’s Gear S3 isn’t protected from the constrained software that is Tizen. In addition to the poor app support, Samsung sometimes also requires that you install a companion application on your phone. In the case of Uber, the companion app is not the Uber app, so I now have two Uber apps on my phone. To make matters worse, the Uber app on the watch itself doesn’t seem able to show me the map.

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Still, the software isn’t all that bad. Notifications are handled well, and navigation is far more intuitive on this software with the Gear S3’s rotating bezel than something like Android Wear. Plus, you can add more widgets to your home screen than you will ever need and just scroll from end to end with the rotating bezel. Yes, I love the rotating bezel. It’s awesome. If I had one complaint about Tizen’s looks, it would be the fact that you can’t individually customise the elements on the watch faces like you can with Android Wear 2.0 and watchOS.

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Then we come to the watch’s final flaw: Samsung Pay. Or rather, a lack of Samsung Pay. Although the Gear S3 has magnetic secure transmission (MST) and near-field communication (NFC) which allows the device to support Samsung Pay, because Malaysia doesn’t have this payment service yet, we can’t access this feature. Once we do, however, you’ll be able to pay with your wrist at almost any credit card terminal. Now that would be awesome.

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Sadly because of the limited app and feature support, the Gear S3 still hasn’t convinced me that a smartwatch is a necessary addition to one’s daily life. At best, I think a smartwatch is still a luxury item you get when you’ve got money to burn but already own the most powerful Android flagship smartphone.

If that’s the case then, with a price RM1,399, the Gear S3 is a pretty solid choice because you’re getting a lot of smartwatch for your money. And if you’ve held off on the Gear S2 for whatever reason, I think that this new one is definitely a significant enough improvement to warrant your reconsideration.

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