As its first attempt at wearable tech, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear was a comfortable accessory to link with your smart phone.
Samsung was founded in 1938 as a small Korean shipping company producing noodles. The company has taken on many industries since that time, most notably electronics and telecommunications. By 2012 they had overtaken Nokia to become the largest producer of mobile phones on the planet. With so much success with their Android based Galaxy smart phones, it is only natural that the company expand the concept to a smartwatch.
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What does the Samsung Galaxy Gear look like?
Unveiled in Germany in 2013, the Galaxy Gear was meant to be a companion to all Samsung Galaxy smart phones and tablets working on Android 4.3 or higher but replaced the software with Tizen in a 2014 updated version. While no longer manufactured by Samsung, you can still purchase the watch through sellers on sites like Amazon.
The Galaxy Gear smartwatch is equipped to take calls, receive and send texts and a variety of other things you typically do with your smart phone. With no data connection or SIM card of its own, it links with your Samsung phone using Bluetooth. This makes it an extension of your cell phone, rather than an all new device.
This was one of the first of its kind to be released by one of the major mobile manufacturers, and as wearable technology it did function well, but later versions only proved that this one fell short in more ways than one. At its launch it was only compatible with the Galaxy Note 3 and had no apps that worked at enhancing its features. It’s notifications were limited as well, and did not take into account your social site activities.
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How does the Galaxy Gear look?
For being tech gear, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch is surprisingly good looking. The original version was a brushed metal watch with black rubber strap but other colours soon became available. Still, it doesn’t have that 'sporty' look that other early smartwatches had that made them look out of place when wearing work clothes.
You can easily adjust the size with the rubber strap, and at only 2.6 ounces easily forget the watch is there until a notification comes in. This could prove problematic as the watch is not water resistant and care needs to be taken even when just washing your hands.
On the strap is a small camera that is activated by swiping down on the face of the watch. The image quality is better than expected from a watch strap, but with no social media connections you have nothing to do with them other than send them to your cell phone.
The smartwatch display is 1.6 inches, but the 320x320 pixel resolution makes it seem much larger. Text appears sharp at first glance and easy to read. The one small button on the side works at powering up this display, and two clicks will enable the S Voice software. Otherwise you can move through the various screens using touch.
Charging and battery life of the Samsung Galaxy Gear
With the installed rechargeable battery you will only get one day use out of the smartwatch before it needs to be recharged. Unlike other smartwatches, this one does not have a USB connection for charging, instead it sits in its own caddy. This could be inconvenient if you are away from home for a few days and did not think to bring the caddy along.
Using the Galaxy Gear smartwatch
Setting up the Galaxy Gear requires the charging caddy and its NFC. This will launch a setup manager that pairs the watch with your phone and walks you through the first steps. Make sure that the functions you want to work on the watch have been enabled on the phone. The voice manager for example will not work unless it has been activated on your other Samsung device.
Once the smartwatch has been set up, it is set to light up every time you turn it towards your face. From this point you can swipe through the various screens until reaching the function you want. Navigating through the watch is quick, but waiting for an app launch can be time consuming.
You are able to make and receive calls right from the phone using the built in speaker and microphone. The sound quality is not the best though and you will need to hold the watch close to your face in order to hear and be heard. Headphones connected to your phone will not work when the watch is activated.
Where the Samsung Galaxy Gear really lost was with apps. There were very few to choose from that are normally used on a cell, including any that would allow email communication. There is also a media controller for music and video, but you will still need to use your phone if you want to change the album or order of songs.
The Galaxy Gear was a good precursor for more advanced smartwatches. Its limited functions left users wanting more, but in a sleek style that this wearable tech is designed in.