Samsung Gear S3 Frontier AT&T Review
Are you a smartphone power user checking your device over a hundred times a day? Smartwatches can help to alleviate this by adding a “heads up” display on your wrist. Smartwatch refinements from Samsung now include the ability to work with DirecTV hardware in the home, make calls from the wrist, more useful Tizen apps, and compatibility to sync with Android and iOS smartphones. The Gear S3 Frontier does all of this and more.
It has fitness tracking, automatically recognizes if you are walking or running and creates simple to read reports along the way. Samsung Smartwatches are reaching that next level with 4G LTE connectivity, virtual SIM technology, Samsung Pay, water resistance, GPS and they work in extreme temperatures.
Disclosure: I received a Samsung Gear S3 Frontier on loan for review. I have not received compensation for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos are courtesy of AT&T.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Unboxing
What’s In The Box:
- Samsung Gear S3 Frontier
- Fast Wireless Charging Adapter
- Silicon Rubber Watch Bands
The ever-important heart rate sensor is located on the underside and is programmed to sample at various times of the day. It produces alerts when being inactive too long, with a small vibration and animated graphic to get moving.
I have walked with this smartwatch for over 100 miles and it has felt comfortable in all of the extreme situations. I went from environments of 89F with high humidity to sub freezing at 4F.
The Gear S3 Frontier did not have a noticeable drop in battery life while wearing it outside at 4F for about an hour. During sub-freezing temperatures, my iPhone, which was in a case at the time, died in about 35 minutes.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Features:
- Up to 3 days of typical use (wireless functions turned off)
- Super AMOLED 1.3” Screen 360×360 at 278ppi
- Auto Exercise Tracking
- Walking, Running, Cycling, Elliptical trainer, Rowing machine, Dynamic workout
- Can make phone calls independently of smartphone (plan add-on required)
- Workout statistics
- Tracks all-day activity
- GPS / NFC
- Smart notifications
- Auto sleep tracking
- Sensor suite
- Music control
- Samsung Pay
- Syncs wirelessly via Bluetooth
- Water resistant (IP-68 rated)
- Military grade durability (MIL-STD-810G)
- iPhone and Android Compatible
Samsung has listened to its S2 customers and constructed bands with a slightly concave design and a watch body that lies flat with enough contact to accurately sample a heart rate throughout the day.
The Gear S3 Frontier’s smartwatch screen was visible in Las Vegas, with direct sunlight at noon. Its Super AMOLED screen was bright with good contrast. For comparison, Huawei’s current smartwatch has a slightly higher resolution screen.
It was continually responsive to my taps on the screen and turns on its rotating bezel. Swiping through various screens in its Tizen OS has become easier and more natural to navigate. After the first day of use, I was able to find the apps I needed.
Previous activity trackers and smartwatches that I have tried either had a nice feeling band or watch body, but not both. The Gear S3 Frontier has both and should work well for runners too.
Tracking all day activity and sleep is important to many, so I wore it continuously for multiple days to test its comfort. Steps, walking and sleep was tracked fairly accurately. On several instances it tracked naps while flying. It knows the difference between someone sleeping and it being removed from the wrist for the evening.
My first trip with the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier was to Detroit and Minneapolis during winter. Both cities had sub-freezing temperatures at the time. I felt comfortable with it on my wrist during several flights and touring around parks in snow and sub-freezing temperatures.
Fitbit BLAZE Unboxing
The second trip I used the S3 Frontier was in Sacramento. The humidity was in the mid 60% range and the silicon rubber strap did not feel as hot as the band on the Fitbit BLAZE I reviewed a few months ago. While I was seated in the Los Angeles International Airport waiting for a connecting flight, I was asked if I was Dick Tracy, I definitely could be with this cellular enabled smartwatch.
Some favorite features include it being water resistant and having no open ports. A wireless charging adapter is included and the watch is not backward compatible with various Qi chargers or batteries that I have.
Because the Gear S3 Frontier uses a different kind of wireless charging system called WPC, adapters from aftermarket manufacturers are not plentiful. At least with the Moto 360, I could charge it with a Qi enabled portable battery, like this model from Aukey.
Charging is the main problem for smartwatches and activity trackers. Several activity trackers have a standard micro USB charging port, but they are not water resistant. This smartwatch uses a magnetic wireless base to power up, which makes it water resistant and IP-68 rated.
I used my Samsung Fast Charging power adapter with the wireless base unit to charge the smartwatch to full in about an hour and 50 minutes. If you loose its wireless base, you will need to get another WPC enabled one to power it up again.
Cross platform compatibility with this smartwatch is a big reason why it might become more popular in the future. The Tizen OS and its developers are the only things holding back this independent platform from Samsung. People like the ability to use their relatively expensive smartwatch with whatever smartphone they want. This could be a better way about it since Apple will not be opening up their mobile app APIs anytime soon to Google’s Android Wear system.
Silent alarms are something that I have found out to be very helpful. Other people tell me that they purchase activity trackers and smartwatches for this very feature. A small vibration on the wrist reminded me to get up and become active, pickup calls and read texts.
S Health by Samsung on the Gear S3 Frontier can do a lot for tracking activity throughout the day. Besides calories, steps, heart rate, floors climbed, it tracks water and coffee consumed.
The options for S Health include a personal profile, health nudges, workout detection, step target, floor target, water target and a caffeine limit. You will need to manually enter how many glasses of water and cups of coffee you consume. If you have tattoos on your wrist, its sensor may not be able to scan your heart rate accurately.
Customizations for the smartwatch come via a removable band and multiple digital watch faces. I chose space gray, with a black silicone rubber wrist strap and the tachymeter watch face.
Samsung’s Gear S3 Frontier is my most favorite and feature rich cellular enabled smartwatch that I have tested. The military grade design, compatibility with several types of smartphone systems, pre-installed apps, feature set, up to three days of battery life and 4G LTE connectivity make it a rare five star device for me. Pickup a Gear S3 Frontier at the AT&T Store, starting at $249.99 with contract.