Samsung Gear Watches

Gear up for a more active life

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Samsung’s Gear Sport will push you to move, walk the treadmill and go with you for a swim — if you don’t mind its size

Fitness has been quite a fad for the past few years, thanks to wearables. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Whether a device breaks your habit of sitting in one place for long hours or has you deep diving into workouts and sporty activities, it’s got to be good for you.

Not to be left behind, Samsung has three options for those who want to get moving. There’s the premium Gear S3, the smart band-style Gear Fit 2 Pro, and in between these two, the Gear Sport. Which type of consumer each aims at is a little confusing, but for good measure, let’s look at the Gear Sport.

One big statement

On a small wrist, you’ll notice the Gear Sport coming a mile off. Despite being smaller and lighter than the Gear S smartwatch, it’s still big and somewhat outlandish, especially when the screen goes dark. People often asked me what that big black round thing on my wrist was. But if you have normal to big wrists and especially if you’re a man, it looks cool enough although there are protests from men as well.

The Gear Sport is not exactly an attractive watch, but it will do the job. I used the nicer blue version but mostly felt there was nothing characteristic or stylised about it enough to make it a fashion accessory. It comes with a rubbery strap which, in my case, had to be quickly swapped for the smaller one provided in the box.

Ergonomically speaking, the Sport is comfortable to wear, even with its size, and didn’t bother me as I went about my day. I find it a little clunky to wear at night to track sleep, but people have different tolerance levels to wearing watches in bed.

Display of brilliance

Whatever the Sport may lack in its physical look is offset the moment the display turns on. Samsung is the king of displays and it shows even in its watches. Big, bright and clear, the screen is easily visible outdoors and in. The brilliance of the screen makes it all the more easy to interact with. And like the flagship Gear S watches, the Sport has the rotating bezel that makes for quick scrolling through essential functions. The rest — getting to apps and settings — is done using swipes and a button on the side. That bezel is one of the things that’s most special about Samsung’s round watches.

Keeping track

Being fitness focused, the Sport does naturally count your steps, floors climbed and calories expended, keeps track of your water and caffeine intake (if you bother to punch in each time) and now it also measures heart rate all the time. You can see the range of your heart rate for each date right on the watch. The Apple Watch gives a deeper break-up of heart activity, if one were to compare. All of the data goes to the Samsung Health app on your phone. You can use the watch with devices other than one from Samsung, but it’s still best with a top-end Samsung phone, which will have the sensors needed to measure things such as blood oxygenation level, which is not bad to know if you exercise intensively.

Working out

Any time you decide to, you select a workout and swing into action. There are a number of workout types to choose from: Walking, running, treadmill, squats, start jumps, cycling, step machine, Pilates, yoga and most importantly, swimming. GPS works on this watch so you can map your run. You can take the Sport into a swimming pool or the sea, for that matter, and have your swim tracked right down to a depth of 50 metres. You can set your goal and target steps or calories or reps before you begin or allow the device to auto-detect your activity. What is really nice are the frequent prompts you get to move if you have been inactive for too long along with an option on what to do — for instance, get up and do a few squats and punches to counteract a sedentary spell.

We couldn’t test the watch on each individual workout category for accuracy as it needs experts in each field, but for some, I didn’t find it too far from the Apple Watch other than by a few points. However, it’s slightly ironic that the watch doesn’t measure ‘real’ sport such as say, soccer. As a smartwatch, the Sport will show you all your notifications from various messengers and even let you reply from there. You can also accept and reject calls or start the call after which you must switch to the phone.

Many apps available for the Sport are interesting, but you will not find everything within reach. There are workarounds in some cases, but not the real thing — and that includes the Google apps. All the same, its interface is so stable and smooth compared with Android Wear that many feel it makes the watch a worthwhile buy.

(This article was published on January 17, 2018)

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