As the initial excitement of its unveiling died down after its launch last month, so has the criticism mounted for Samsung’s Galaxy Gear.
Chief among the brickbats? The first smart watch from the Korean phone maker is nothing more than a glorified Bluetooth add-on screen.
After using the watch for a week, I can agree with many of the issues raised. For starters, there’s the lack of a solid water-resistant case for when you go jogging. It rains pretty frequently here in Singapore, so that’s something to take note of.
The watch also requires you to charge it just about every day. During the time I used the watch, I had to plug it in each evening, so that I had the watch ready the next day.
I don’t like winding up my automatic watch on Mondays because I often don’t wear it over the weekend. The Galaxy Gear irritates even more if I need a watch to pick up and run with.
Imagine running out of battery during the day. The slab of screen on your wrist ends up as nothing more than a dud. My automatic watch can at least be hand wound.
In other words, I won’t be rushing out to replace my regular watch with Samsung’s smart version. For reliability, my quartz Casio G-Shock doesn’t fail me; for a bit of fancy mechanical movement, the automatic diver watch does its job.
Indeed, I’d find it hard to recommend the Galaxy Gear to anyone but the most ardent geek who wants to try it out for fun.
This brings me back to the smart watch’s biggest criticism. It’s true, the Galaxy Gear doesn’t do enough on its own, without the Galaxy Note 3 nearby.
Sure, it can “secretly” take photos with its side-mounted camera and the 1.63-inch colour touch screen is a bright, highly visible teller of time. But you need your phone nearby to make calls.
What Samsung has done well, to be fair, is integrate the two devices quite closely.
Some users have complained about the difficulty in pairing them, but for me, the out-of-box experience was fuss-free. I only tapped the phone on the charging cradle of the smart watch and the two devices were instantly linked up.
Pictures that I take on the smart watch also show up on the phone’s image gallery. This, however, requires that the smart watch be turned on and connected.
On the plus side, I also find the touch interface on the Galaxy Gear generally acceptable. It’s not super smooth, and you need to figure out how to navigate around, but you do get by after getting used to things.
What about calls? The smart watch essentially works as a Bluetooth mic and speaker to connect to your Galaxy Note 3.
Good news is, my voice sounds clear to the other party when I speak into my wrist, never mind how dorky that looks. I have an issue hearing my friend though, because I have to put my ear closer to the watch, which is even stranger looking.
I have no issue with the design of the Galaxy Gear, in all honesty. Yes, it’s big, but big watches are in fashion now.
The clasp that holds the watch on the wrist looks solid as well and I certainly like the beige wrist band to contrast against my tanned skin if I’d gone for a few laps in the pool. It’s sporty looking.
I can’t, however, recommend the S$488 Galaxy Gear to anyone who wants more than just an early, geeky take on the wrist watch.
It works as a first-gen device does, with all its kinks and rough edges, and I’d be happy to show it off to my seven-year-old niece, for example, but even she got a little disinterested after a short while.
The Galaxy Gear seems to be merely setting the stage for future smart watches. Unless you can get it really cheaply as a part of a Galaxy Note 3 bundle, I’d rather wait for the next wave.