Full review: www.TechGadgetsCanada.com
Smart watches aren’t going away. The market is growing for all technology manufacturers, and as their list of features grows, so do the number of customers making the investment.
Samsung has just launched its new Watch, the latest iteration of its wearable devices formerly known as ‘Gear S’.
I received a 42mm rose gold version of the watch to test for several weeks. I tried it out with my Apple iPhone X and the Google Pixel 2XL. While the iPhone X is my go-to smartphone device, it’s important to note most folks who’d want to buy this watch are probably Android users.
The smaller, 42mm model comes in either all black or rose gold, while the 46mm model comes only with a silver case and black bezel and strap.
You’ve got access to a bevy of alerts on the Watch. Android users can easily select which alerts and notifications come also to the watch. You can read and reply to tests; using voice input, emojis or input text using an alphanumeric keypad. The alphanumeric panel hearkens back to when you used to have to peck out tests using the number buttons on your phone. It’s tedious and takes some getting used to, and the predictive nature of the responses means you’ll be constantly correcting it. I was immediately wishing for the drawing pad that the Apple Watch has where you can draw letters with your fingertip.
When it comes to getting alerts for Apple users, it’s a different story.
Using the Watch with Apple
I was able to get my calendar appointments on the watch without doing anything, and messages came in also, though I was unable to reply.
Alerts came in from my Facebook Page, Twitter and my Ring Video Doorbell, plus Apple Home.
I was able to see notifications from Facebook and Twitter but couldn’t respond to them.
The Health app does a good job of collecting health and activity info, though I’d like to test it against my #1 activity tracker, Fitbit to compare. If I can hang onto the loaner long enough, I will.
I did a quick comparison on heart rate measurements and was a bit surprised by what I found. Wile the Fitbit Versa and the Apple Watch both measured my heart rate at largely the same number, the Samsung Watch was always quite different, usually a bit lower. Fitbit showed a heat rate of 81bpm, Apple registered 79 and the Samsung was 69.
I did an experiment where I put on the Samsung Watch, Apple watch and the Fitbit Versa and hit the stairs in my house.
I hit the stairs in my house twice. The Fitbit recorded both times instantly. The Apple Watch and the Samsung Watch did not. Is this because of how they’re calibrated? Do I need to climb more steps in a single climb to get it to register? I can’t say. But in this case, Fitbit was more accurate at picking up my activity accurately.
When it came to steps, I checked the three watches against eachother. The Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch were quite similar. Fitbit registering 2,650 steps and 2,697 for the Apple Watch. The Samsung Watch showed a mere 1,961, and that’s despite the fact I had the Samsung on for about an hour before I put either of the other two watches on.
The Samsung watch package says it’s “Swim-ready and water resistant” and calls the resistance level “5ATM”. Most measurements of a watch’s water protection either give you a metre level or an IP rating (Fitbit Versa is water resistant to 50 Metres, as is Apple watch Series 3), which is the universal standard of water protection.
Somewhat oddly to me, Samsung is choosing to show its ATM rating instead, which will send most people to Google immediately to see what that actually means.
An ATM rating is a rating monitored by a body called the International Standards Organization or ISO. ATM is a pressure test measurement. 5ATM essentially means the Samsung Watch should withstand pressures equivalent to a depth of 50 meters (164 feet) or 80psi, and be just fine for activities like being out in the rain, splashing, accidentally dropping it in some shallow water, like your sink, showering, surface swimming, and shallow snorkeling. Since this watch was a loaner, I didn’t test it in water so I can’t verify any of this.
The battery life on this watch is outstanding. It lasts for days on a single charge. The battery is a 472 mAh (in the larger Watch) / 270 mAh (smaller version) and has been supplying about 3-4 days of battery life. That’s outstanding on many levels and kicks the poop out of even the newly announced Apple Watch.
Bixby personal assistant: you need another personal assistant to help Bixby do anything
The Samsung Watch comes with the Bixby digital assistant and I have to say I’m still not a fan. Bixby requires multiple requests, I often had to ask to summon Bixby multiple times, then if I was trying to send a text or make a phone call, it again to multiple tries.