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Samsung Gear S3 Frontier And Classic Initial Review: Better Than Ever

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Samsung Philippines has officially launched their revamped and redesigned Tizen-powered smartwatches to the local market. Dubbed the Gear S3, the new wearables come in two distinct flavors – Classic and Frontier – and sport a more masculine design along with updated internal components. But with the smartwatch market quickly sinking, is there still room for smartwatches in the Philippines?

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Initial impressions: Bigger, bolder and not meant for the ladies

Samsung’s Gear S2 impressed us when we reviewed it last year, thanks to its innovative, rotating bezel. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that” features that looks so obvious now. Anyway, Samsung’s newest smartwatches build on this stand-out feature by utilizing a far bigger 46mm watch body. Despite the bigger body though, the Gear S3 only has a slightly bigger display – 1.3 inches round – than the previous generation, though battery endurance has been increased by the use of a 380mAh battery. The watch has an IP68 rating, meaning it can go underwater up to 1 meter for 30 minutes without anything happening to it.

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That bigger body might look great alongside contemporary modern watches, but it limits the potential audience of the watch significantly by cutting the ladies out of the equation. The watch feels just right in our wrists, but on the wrists of ladies (and dantier men) it looks off, like a kid trying his dad’s watch for the first time. It’s a shame too, as the Classic would look great with a killer outfit.

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The straps for the Frontier are silicone rubber while the one for the Classic are leather, though you can put on whatever strap you want thanks to the 22mm strap. Pre-order customers get 2 additional watch straps alongside the one that comes with the watch, so if you want variety, you best place your orders right away.

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While the design of the two watches differ, the controls are pretty much the same – the rotating bezel, two buttons on the side and the 1.3-inch round Super AMOLED display facilitate navigation through Samsung’s own Tizen OS. The display is protected with Gorilla Glass SR+, a kind of glass Corning made specifically for wearables. A 1GHz dual-core processor paired with 768MB of RAM and 4GB of storage round out the spec sheet.

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We loved Tizen on the Gear S2, and that hasn’t changed with the Gear S3. The app list isn’t as substantial as Google’s Android Wear (and we hate not having directions on our watch via Google Maps) but it’s not really that bad. The watch shines with the use of Samsung’s S-Health app that monitor your overall health by reading your heart rate and how active you are. The Gear S3 also automatically detects if you’re running, swimming or biking, and automatically starts tracking your progress, all without your phone. Oh, there’s also a speaker in the side of the watch that you can use to listen to music or make phone calls.

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We’re extremely impressed by the Gear S3. The new design looks way better than the old one, though female fans may feel left out since the watches are aimed almost exclusively at men. It’s not cheap though – priced at Php 16,490 it’s a substantial chunk of change even for the most hardcore fan.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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