If there is one all-time favourite New Year resolution, it has to be fitness. But for most, this enthusiasm for exercise usually fizzles out by the time February is over. By March, that gym membership starts to feel like a colossal waste. For me, this year’s fitness resolution has not been a total disaster so far, though in the past the desire for all fitness usually died in under two weeks. I need a fitness device to motivate, even if all I am doing is walking on the treadmill. I need to justify wearing that fitness band. The Samsung Gear Sport is a watch that has helped me to a large extent in kick-start the 2018 fitness ride. I have used it for a little over a month and here is my review of the Gear Sport from Samsung.
Samsung Gear Sport Specifications: 1.2-inch SAMOLED display | 1 GHz dual-core processor | 0.75GB RAM, 4GB storage | Tizen OS | WiFi 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz , Bluetooth v4.2, NFC | 300 mAh battery
Samsung Gear Sport price in India: Rs 22,990
Samsung Gear Sport review
The Gear Sport is not the first Samsung smartwatch I have used. I have tried out the Gear S2, Gear S3 and both were good smartwatches in my opinion. With the Samsung Gear Sport, the focus is more on fitness and this one can be taken for a swim as well. Unfortunately, I do not have access to heated swimming pools in Delhi, so I could not test this in the winter.
Like the previous Gear S3 smartwatch, Samsung Gear Sport is compatible with the iOS 9 and above and Android 4.3 and above smartphones. But this time I chose to sync the Gear Sport with an Android device, the Google Pixel 2. Previously, I did not have such a great experience on iOS with the Gear S3. Plus for iPhone users, I would say the Apple Watch is still the best smartwatch to consider, given how neatly Apple tends to sync their products.
Syncing the Gear Sport with my Pixel 2 smartphone did not give any cause for complaints. The watch will show most app notifications, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Gmail, etc. Of course, the option to reply to a WhatsApp message is still not available, which does limit the smart features of this watch. But really this watch is designed for those who are looking for a smartwatch to help them aid with fitness.
The Gear Sport also continues with the rotating bezel on top design like the previous two generations. The bezel can be used to navigate the watch’s menu, access apps, different exercise modes, etc. The Gear Sport also comes with a touch-enabled display, which works accurately most of the time. Samsung Gear Sport relies on the Samsung Health app to reflect the data, and the app breaks it down according to the exercise session.
Samsung Gear Sport: What’s good?
With a name like Gear Sport, the focus is on fitness, and Samsung gets most of this aspect right. There is one bit that does not quite work as it should, but I will get to that in the next section of the review. For daily fitness tracking, the watch has the option of setting a steps target, floors climbed and the amount of calories burnt. The Samsung Gear interface shows tracking for various kinds of exercise options, especially for those who like to work out in the gym. The list includes Treadmill, Elliptical, indoor cycling, stretches, hiking, step-machine, jumping jacks, even yoga, which is good to see.
The watch also comes with GPS support for those who like to exercise outdoors and want to cycle, etc with this, which is a plus point. The Gear Sport has a heart-rate monitor on board to track this metric during an exercise session. I could see that when I began exercising, after three months of doing absolutely nothing, the heart-rate would spike to 180bpm when I tried to run even for 2 minutes, which is never a good sign.
But the Gear Sport will give a break down of your heart-rate zone; whether it is in maximum, vigorous or moderate zone for each exercise session. This is crucial data. Also no matter how sweaty I got, the Gear Sport was still managing to track heart-rate data, which can be an issue on some other fitness watches with this feature. If one continues to workout, you will eventually see that the spikes in heart-rate start to go down, and overall energy levels improve.
Another feature of the Gear Sport, which I found useful is that it will buzz after every five minutes of exercise. So when I would hit the five-minute mark, the watch would vibrate, then again at 10 and at 15. This I felt was a motivator as I would try and make sure that I did not stop or pause till at least 10 minutes were up. The reason I find this important is that if one is trying to get back to exercising, even five minutes can be seem never-ending, unless you have limitless energy and are young.
The UI of the Gear Sport is another highlight. You can rely on the rotating bezel on top to move from one app to another or just tap on the touchscreen for the same. This bezel is still one of the most elegant solutions for navigating on a watch. With my Apple Watch 3, I still find the crown confusing at times, especially I have zoomed in too much.
The battery life on the Samsung Gear Sport is also an improvement over what I have seen in the previous generations. It will easily last two days with notifications coming in, and someone using this watch to track over more than two exercise sessions daily. Minimal notifications can extend the battery life further to around three days, which is not bad in the wearables world.
Samsung Gear Sport: What is not good?
What I do not like about the Gear Sport has to be the size and weight. Even with the small strap this watch is too big for me and will be too big for most women and even men. Also unlike the Apple Watch, which has 38 mm and 42 mm size, I do not see any option on the Samsung website for a smaller version of the Gear Sport. The 44.6 mm dial size makes this too bulky. I had to keep the strap really tight to make sure the watch did not move around too much while exercising.
Coming to the smart features of the Samsung Gear Sport, it supports all sorts of notifications, but once again these are limited since I could not reply to the messages on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc from the Watch. The smart aspect of the watch is where Samsung still needs to do more work. The Gear Sport also does not come with an in-built speaker like the Gear S3, which means you cannot take calls on the watch itself.
Finally, the one thing the Gear Sport does not get right is the steps count, which was always on the higher side. Even on days where I had barely walked, the watch would show that I was close to achieving my target of 6000 steps, which was not right. Any movement on the wrist on which I was wearing the watch, was enough to cause a spike in the steps count.
Samsung Gear Sport: Verdict
The Gear Sport is designed for those who are looking for a wearable to track their daily fitness activities and it supports a range of activities, including swimming. However, it is still a fairly bulky smartwatch, so it might not suit those with a slender frame. Still the Gear Sport does not seem like a delicate smartwatch, thanks to the bezel sitting on top of the display. It is definitely more sturdy looking than say the Apple Watch.
What I liked about the Gear Sport is that it is comprehensive and works well when it comes to the fitness department. It will appeal to those who do not wish to be stuck between an Apple Watch or a smaller fitness tracker as their only option. The Gear Sport’s limited smart features are a serious negative, and users should keep that in mind. Other options in a similar price range include the Fitbit Iconic, which has a similar price.