It’s been a few weeks since I’ve happily sported the Samsung Gear Sport on my wrist. I’ve had mixed feelings about smartwatches since they first came around. Skepticism, curiosity and light fascination are some of the adjectives I would use. The Samsung Gear Sport has, for the first time, invoked a feeling of satisfaction. Finally a smartwatch that markets itself with a specific purpose and does it well, instead of being a glorified notification centre.
Samsung Gear Sport: Design and build
When I first saw it at launch, I wasn’t very impressed. Though the watch face’s size seemed quaint, I felt the strap made it look cheap and wouldn’t be comfortable thanks to its silicone make. I was proven very wrong very fast.
The watch face is a 1.2-inch Super AMOLED with a brilliantly functional rotating bezel that helps you navigate the various features and apps. Samsung improved heavily on Apple Watch’s rotating crown functionality. In my opinion, it’s the best way to navigate a smartwatch. If you prefer a swipe you can do that as well, but once you use the Gear Sport, it’ll be hard going back.
It’s all blue out the box and chrome finish definitely gets appealing once it’s strapped on. The silicone strap on it does well in all conditions, hot, dry or wet. You can swap it out for a variety of belts available to purchase. It’s water resistant up to 50 metres so it goes the extra mile to provide tracking to swimmers as well. This also means you don’t have to take it off in the shower or while doing the dishes.
Samsung Gear Sport: On the move
Tizen OS has a very short learning curve. This statement stands true whether you’ve used smartwatches in the past or not. The Galaxy App Store has most of the apps you would really need on your watch, with enough of apps you probably don’t as well. I barely found myself in the App Store because everything I really needed comes pre-installed.
At the gym
I go to the gym quite often and I’ve never used a fitness tracker for too long. The Samsung Gear Sport comes out the door with a very specific promise: of being a solid fitness tracker letting athletes and fitness buffs track not only their workouts but also their calorie intake. Imagine having MyFitnessPal on your wrist. You can browse an endless list of workouts from cardio machines to yoga to running and even swimming. Choose the one you’re about to do and click start. The Gear Sport will log your progress for that specific workout and you can have a look at both daily and weekly summaries.
It even has a generic workout mode to encompass anything else you are doing to break a sweat. The watch effectively tracks your heartbeat, calories lost, steps taken, flights of stairs taken and gives all the information to you in a colourfully organized chart. It makes you want to consume data. If the watch detects your heart rate is active beyond its resting state for more than ten minutes, the watch detects you are in exercise mode and begins its tracking. It provides you with so much data to look at, you can’t help but dig into your workout and see how to make it better or ensure each day is better than the previous.
The heart rate tracker felt like the most accurate of the lot. The footstep tracker, like most pedometers out there, isn’t the most accurate. I would wake up in the morning having walked a few hundred steps and I’m assured I don’t sleepwalk. Stairs climbed was always on point. I enjoyed the heart rate tracker the most in the gym. It’s a convenience I didn’t know I needed and now it’ll be hard to live without. A gentle twist of my wrist in between sets gives me a quick glance at my active heart rate. The wrist twist doesn’t work as smoothly as I’d like. However, after a few miss-fires I got exactly what to do to ensure the screen comes on.
Samsung wants to make sure even newbie exercisers are able to make the most of the Gear Sport. It has built-in programs across different goals such as weight-loss or muscle training. With more than 60 workouts available, you may never need to shell out money for a personal trainer again.
Fitness tracking aside, it does its job of being a smartwatch equally well. Once you get over the initial installing phase, the Gear Sport seamlessly connects with your phone as soon as its Bluetooth is switched on. Answer or drop phone calls, send and receive messages on WhatsApp along with a few other messengers, and even store around 2GB of music. The watch comes with 4GB of storage, though this is partially consumed by pre-installed apps and other software.
It’s battery measures in at a 300mAh and it goes on for a while. Make sure you don’t have the screen set to always-on and you will easily get 2-3 days of use out of it.
Samsung Gear Sport: Conclusion
Samsung brilliantly combines sleek and sporty to give birth to a must-buy fitness accessory. The variety of trackable data, comfortable fit and sleek design puts it a touch above the competition. The fact that it’s waterproof gives it extra credence to push you over the Dh1,199 price point. The rotating bezel is my favourite use of hardware on a smartwatch. Fitness aside, it’s a great functioning smartwatch as well. If you like the idea of a fitness-based smartwatch, the Samsung Gear Sport is the great piece of technology to consider.