The Samsung Gear Sport is a fitness tracker packaged as a smartwatch and therefore offers more possibilities. In this review we take a detailed look at the product. The extensive fitness tracker has a suggested retail price of 349 euros.

The Samsung Gear Sport is a fitness tracker packaged as a smartwatch and therefore offers more possibilities. In this review we take a detailed look at the product. The extensive fitness tracker has a suggested retail price of 349 euros.

Samsung announced a new smartwatch at IFA 2017 in Berlin. It was not the Samsung Gear S4, but the Samsung Gear Sport: a fitness tracker in the smartwatch’s packaging. This is not the first product of its kind. For example, we have already had the Fitbit Ionic tested, which also offers extensive fitness options in a smartwatch design. With its minimalist design and rotatable edge, the Gear Sport combines the same style and functionality at first glance as one Gear S3 smartwatch .

Samsung Gear Sport – hardware and design

If you were to find a Samsung Gear Sport in the wild and would think someone would have a Gear S smartwatch, that would not be strange. The design of this fitness tracker is very similar to the Gear S line, but after further observation the conclusion is that this design is a lot more sophisticated. The wrist device is both narrow and thin and is also very heavy, so it does not get in the way when you are exercising. Moreover, the tracker is waterproof; up to fifty meters under water.

Review: Samsung Gear Sport - better than an Android Wear smartwatch for fitness

When you compare the Gear Sport with a Gear S3 (especially the Frontier version), then it is indeed a lot smaller and lighter. But when you compare it to the Fitbit Ionic, it suddenly seems to be a lot bigger and heavier. It is also just what you are used to. In general, a fitness tracker should not interfere with your fitness performance. And Fortunately, the Gear Sport does not do this (although we do notice that the device might be just too big to be able to sleep comfortably, unfortunately).

To be sure that the extensive fitness tracker can indeed be used up to fifty meters under water (useful for when you swim often, long or deep), you should use it in combination with the standard strap. It is blue and made of rubber and looks fine. You could say that the design of the strap gives the smartwatch a cheap look, but the relief on the sides prevents that, if you ask us. All in all it is no punishment to walk around with a Gear Sport.

Review: Samsung Gear Sport - better than an Android Wear smartwatch for fitness

Samsung Gear Sport – specifications and display

Just like Samsung’s other smartwatches, the Samsung Gear Sport also runs Tizen , this time version 3.0. The device also has a rotatable edge (with which you can operate the interface). This system proves time and time again that it is one of the better ways to operate a smartwatch, since you are not constantly on the screen with your finger. Of course you can also operate the touchscreen with your finger. The screen itself is 1.2-inch in size and has an extremely sharp resolution of 360 by 360 pixels.

About that screen is a protective layer Gorilla Glass 3. Under the bonnet is a Samsung Exynos 3250 processor (dualcore), clocked at 1.0 GHz. The device has 4GB of storage memory. You can put music on that. In combination with bluetooth earplugs, you could leave your smartphone at home and only go out with the Sport for fitness tracking in combination with your favorite music. There is also 768 MB of memory available, as well as bluetooth 4.2, a speedometer, heart rate monitor, gyroscope and a barometer.

Review: Samsung Gear Sport - better than an Android Wear smartwatch for fitness

Samsung Gear Sport software

Tizen 3.0 is the operating system on this smartwatch (that update is now also released for the Samsung Gear S3). This version of the OS brings a number of useful things with it. So you can put the Gear Sport in watch mode (Settings> Battery management> Watch only), so you can do much longer with the battery. The disadvantage of this position is that you lose all smartwatch functions. It can be a way to extend the battery life for those times when you are not exercising.

In addition, Samsung resolves an annoying aspect of that spinning edge. You can wake up the device by turning it on the edge. But when you sleep and the watch registers a turn on that edge, the screen goes on. Now you can state that that movement does not cause the awakening of the smartwatch. Furthermore, there are new icons (which are more in line with other apps from Samsung), you can see much better how a watch face looks and you can put the Gear Sport in water level (which turns off the touchreen).

Review: Samsung Gear Sport - better than an Android Wear smartwatch for fitness

What is even more useful is the expansion of the quick menu (which appears when you sweep from top to bottom). There are now eight possibilities presented, so you can for example very quickly activate the watch or water mode. In addition, the smartwatch thinks along with you (or at least, that’s what he’s trying) by offering suggestions in the settings menu (just like you see on the company’s smartphones). All in all, the improvements in software are welcome and positive.

Tizen may not yet be as extensive as Android Wear or as accessible as the watchOS, it is not an operating system that is incompatible with the competition. Samsung takes its own path and, like Apple and Google, also misses the mark. But in terms of navigation you will effortlessly go through the options, even though you will not even see them all in the first week. Our experience often shows that when we were looking for an option that we had not thought of before, we could find it.

Review: Samsung Gear Sport - better than an Android Wear smartwatch for fitness

Samsung Gear Sport – fitness tracking

The Samsung Gear Sport mainly feels like a ‘health first’ device (more about that in the cup below). You can run with the built-in GPS chip and even measure your heart rate underwater while swimming. Moreover, it is able to automatically measure your sports activities when you start something. You must have been doing that activity for ten minutes (and for those ten minutes the Gear Sport will fill in an average of what you have shown as performance at the time).

Furthermore, it is clear that Samsung has set up a whole ecosystem. If you have a Samsung smartphone and television, you can follow exercises on your television in combination with the smartwatch. Meanwhile, the TV shows information from the smartwatch, so you do not have to watch your watch constantly. Because we do not have a Samsung TV here, we unfortunately can not try it out. But if you have everything from Samsung at home, then you have little excuses to stop moving, that’s clear.

Review: Samsung Gear Sport - better than an Android Wear smartwatch for fitness

In addition to the standard Samsung Health app, you can also use other fitness applications in combination with the Samsung Gear Sport, such as MyFitnessPal and Endomondo. You can find all collected data, such as heart rate, calories, steps, et cetera, all in a linked app. There is also a lot happening in the background. If you have the smartwatch and walk around, the device will recognize it and keep track of what you do (and also keep you constantly informed of your progress).

Furthermore, the Samsung Gear Sport seems to be as accurate as the Samsung Gear S3 in fitness tracking. The measurements are reasonably accurate compared to other trackers, but often deviate from other measurements. Sometimes up to a thousand steps in a day and that is something. It also happens that the smartwatch measures a longer distance than you actually walked. The heart rate monitor does much better in that respect. It is good to remember that the Gear Sport mainly shows a general picture of your performance.

Review: Samsung Gear Sport - better than an Android Wear smartwatch for fitness

Samsung Gear Sport app and in use

However, we find a disadvantage the mandatory application for your smartphone. You do not only need the app, but you are also required to download a number of plug-ins. If you decide not to do that, the application will be closed and the linking process (between phone and watch) will be aborted and you will not be able to make the most of your purchase. It is a mystery to us why all these functions are not built in as standard. Moreover, there is also a dangerous risk of lurking.

Because the app can be expanded with plug-ins, we can also imagine that other rogue app developers are letting plug-ins roam the Internet, looking for uninformed people who think they are expanding the possibilities of their new smartwatch. Of course you can always check whether a plug-in really comes from Samsung or not, but some things can well be copied or masked. There are as yet no cases known in which people have fallen victim to this.

Review: Samsung Gear Sport - better than an Android Wear smartwatch for fitness

The Gear Manager can be downloaded for free on Android and iOS. Once you have installed that app and created the link, you can do a number of things with the smartwatch. This way your contacts will be taken over, so you can see who you call and immediately pick up. You can also respond to messages that arrive. You can do that with your voice, but also with the small keyboard. You can type, which is still quite reasonable, or use the software that recognizes manuscripts – which is often not the case.

As a result, we recommend to still grab your smartphone when it goes off and you want to send something back, unless you know how to handle the speech recognition. That works about as well as on the Samsung Gear S3; there are more times that things are going well, than that things are going wrong. After all, it is and remains software. With the voice recognition software, S Voice, you can also record notes and record voice messages. That often works fine and can offer a solution when you have to store something very quickly before you forget it.

Review: Samsung Gear Sport - better than an Android Wear smartwatch for fitness

One of the things that the Samsung Gear Sport does differently from the competition is the fact that you can fill in calories on the smartwatch yourself. You do not need a smartphone here. You go to the Health-app of Samsung for this, scroll down and you can start filling out immediately. Because the goal (the number of calories to be burned) is immediately visible, you can decide for yourself whether you have to work harder (or need to eat less) or not – and otherwise the fitness tracker can also help you.

What you do not need a smartphone for is listening to music via Spotify. You can download the app to the smartwatch and then log in with your own subscription. Make sure that you have turned on Wi-Fi, otherwise this will not work. When you are logged in, it is possible to look up songs and download them directly on your Samsung Gear Sport. So you can listen offline music with a bluetooth headset. The only thing you still need your smartphone for is installing the app.

Samsung Gear Sport – conclusion

When you are looking for a well-functioning and comprehensive fitness tracker as a fitness enthusiast, you will find a lot of cool things in the Samsung Gear Sport. The smartwatch looks elegant and is nice and light, does not get in the way while exercising and gives a good picture of your sports performance. However, it is also the case that these measured performances are not 100% accurate, so you always have to deal with an over- or underestimation. And although things are getting better, it is also true that Tizen is not drowning in applications.

Nevertheless, we want to say that the Gear Sport is better than many Android Wear watch with fitness applications. And that has mainly to do with the design of the smartwatch and the software Tizen that can play in handy, because everything is developed by Samsung. The seamless experiences offer a complete package of possibilities, even though you may have to surrender to the options that Samsung offers. If you are looking for a comprehensive fitness tracker with a number of apps, the Gear Sport is worth considering.

Negatives

  • Tizen does not have many apps yet
  • You have to download multiple plug-ins on your smartphone
  • Fitness tracking is not always accurate

Pros

  • Beautiful, slim design
  • The same turning gear as on the Gear S3
  • Can play music offline
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Rating
7.5

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