First Impressions

Samsung unveiled the Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch a few months ago. Being big fans of fitness watches and timepieces in general, it sparked our interest. Past GearGuide reviews of similar products include a myriad of offerings from Suunto and many others. How would a watch from a non-fitness company stack up? Read on.


Out of the box, the Gear S3 Frontier looks impressive. The face is large, the construction sturdy. At just over two ounces, the weight feels nice on the hand and when strapped to the wrist. Surrounding the watch face — which is a 360 x 360 AMOLED screen — Samsung placed a rotating dial, a familiar component to those who favor a diver style timepiece. It’s used to select and interact with apps, and it works very well.

The Gear S3 Frontier includes a built-in GPS, Bluetooth, NFC and WiFi. We immediately turned off WiFi and NFC to prevent excessive battery drain, but left the GPS and Bluetooth on. GPS allows for fitness tracking and mapping. Bluetooth serves to connect the watch to the phone (in our case, a Samsung Galaxy). Integration with the S-Health app on the phone is pretty seamless and allows for step tracking, heart monitoring and other metrics to sync with your S-Health account. It worked well for us, provided accurate accounting of our activities, and auto-sensed walking, hiking and cycling effectively too. If S-Health isn’t your flavor, you can add your health tracking software of choice to your Android phone (there’s very limited support for the Gear S3 Frontier on Apple devices unfortunately).

Weight: 2.2 oz.
Case size: 46 mm
Sensors: Accelerometer, GPS

The Gear S3 Frontier runs the Tizen operating system. That’s both good and bad. On the plus side, the Gear apps built on Tizen are super stable. I had not a single crash on my Gear S3 Frontier. It’s also very fast. No lag when scrolling through screens or button pressing. On the minus side, the number of apps is limited, especially when you compare the library with that of Apple. Widgets that can be scrolled through on the watch face are also far fewer than I’d like. We did pick-up a good countdown timer (Samsung Timer) and Watchmaker for alternative watch faces. Other apps were hit or miss in terms of actual usefulness and accuracy.

Couple of other notes and criticisms. Battery life could be better. Samsung claims four days between charges. If you’re using the fitness functions, it’s more like three. Non-fitness features could use more granular control. Notifications for instance are either on or off with no real way to customize each type with custom combos of vibrations and sounds. And when exercising, the auto-pause feature and user interface could use a bit of refinement. On one of my early rides with the Gear S3 Frontier, I reached a hilltop and stopped to enjoy the view. When I picked back up again, I missed the tiny pause/play arrow in the upper portion of the screen, didn’t press the button to restart tracking and lost all that data. Major bummer.


Some people complain about the Gear S3 Frontier size. The face measures 46 mm from edge to edge at the widest point which puts the Gear S3 Frontier just under the Suunto Ambit (50 mm from edge to edge). Our verdict, the Gear S3 Frontier is just about right in the size department.

The watch comes with two bands, a large and a small. They’re comfortable but also one of the first things we chose to swap out. In fact, one of the great things about the Gear S3 Frontier is the ability to customize the product in a variety of ways.

We picked up a few extra bands from Amazon including two with contrasting topstitching from TON CHARME and Benchmark. The Gear S3 Frontier uses standard 22mm watch straps so the options are nearly endless here. We also replaced the standard buckles on those bands with the butterfly variety. On the screen protection front, we opted for Supershieldz. And finally, we added two additional chargers just in case.

All of the above items worked well and were worthy additions to the Gear S3 Frontier.

Final Verdict

The Gear S3 Frontier is one of the more exciting additions to our gear collection in recent months. It works well as a fitness tracker, auto-sensing activities effectively and accurately. We liked the productivity features too. Countdown timers, calendar integrations, notifications all seemed to work well, although with a few quirks easily fixed in future software upgrades. If you’re looking for a smartwatch and you’re an Android phone user, this is your best option right now. Available at Amazon.

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