Apple 06 Jan
It's 2017 and people are still quite reluctant when it comes to buying a wearable, especially a smartwatch. The primary reason is that most of those users have not been able to find a true reason for getting a smartwatch which is, in fact, true for sure. This has even led many Android OEMs to postpone their plans for a new smartwatch but none of these means that no one wants a smartwatch. But there are many who are interested in smartwatches and for those, we decided to put the two most widely-popular and leading smartwatches Samsung Gear S3 and Apple Watch Series 2 against each other.
Both of these smartwatches are upgraded versions of their respective predecessors from Samsung and Apple. And with the recent firmware update, the Samsung Gear S3 has become the only non-Apple smartwatch to be iOS compatible. While Pebble used to be the third one, it is not anymore since Fitbit acquired it last month. Apple and Samsung have approached various smartwatch-related features and issues in their own ways along with their own set of unique offerings.
The Samsung Gear S3 has two models: Classic and Frontier. The Classic model is basically classic in appearance while the Frontier has a more rugged and stylish appearance. The latter is also the only LTE-enabled model which means you can use it without relying on your smartphone and even pick-up and make calls. On the other hand, the Apple Watch Series 2 has two models which differ in sizes, 38mm and 42mm. There are also a special Nike edition and a limited edition made in collaboration with Hermès.
So with model offerings out of the way, let's get started and talk about their offerings.
Build and Design:
Starting with the design, Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung Gear S3 are exactly opposite and it's the first thing that you will notice about them. Apple's latest smartwatch features a rectangular design which gives it an appearance like one of those sci-fi movie gadgets you might have seen. It might even feel like having a small computer on the wrist to some of you. As for the Gear S3, Samsung has opted for the traditional circular design which you will find familiar. To be clear, none of the two designs is bad and it all comes to what do you personally like more. And not to mention that both smartwatches feature support for various first and third-party strap options so that you can complete the look you want.
Now coming to the build quality aspect, both of these smartwatches are well-built with the use of stainless steel but Apple has also opted for the ceramic back. While Samsung's smartwatch is IP68 certified which means it's dust and water resistant, Apple has improved on its previous water resistant offering and made it "swim proof" this time and is water resistant up to 50 meters. Interestingly, Apple has made use of the Watch Series 2's speakers for the purpose of venting out water.
The Samsung Gear S3 sports a 1.3-inch Super AMOLED display with 360 x 360 pixels resolution. It is protected by the Corning Gorilla Glass SR+ and features Always on Display support. As for the Apple Watch Series 2, it has a 1.65-inch AMOLED display with 390 x 312 pixels resolution and sapphire crystal glass. It is also the Apple smartwatch with the brightest display yet with 1000 nits brightness.
Since we are on the topic of displays, it is also equally important to talk about how you are going to interact with anything on that small display without making it a cumbersome experience. Samsung has continued with its signature Rotating Bezel which it debuted with the Gear S2. You simply have to rotate the bezel for scrolling and navigation around apps and menus. This saves you from the annoying experience when your finger or thumb end up blocking the view of the display as you try to scroll or navigate. On the Apple Watch Series 2, this easiness and comfort have been achieved with the help of the digital crown on the right side of the watch. The crown lets you interact with apps and perform tasks like scrolling and navigating without any trouble.
While Apple's digital crown is a good way of interaction, it surely takes more time to get familiar with as compared to Samsung's rotating bezel. But it also because the crown can do a lot more stuff than the bezel (at least for the time being).
Both Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung Gear S3 are powered by dual-core processors which are Apple S2 and Exynos 7270 respectively. While Samsung's offering features 768MB RAM, Apple has continued with its habit of not disclosing the amount of RAM on its devices. While none of the two is super fast, both are certainly faster than their respective older generations. And since software on both is still under development and not as finished as on smartphones, you can expect to run into some random crashes or slow performance.
Apple 03 Jan
Apple 02 Jan
Samsung 07 Jan
Samsung 19 Dec
OS and Features:
Starting with the Apple Watch Series 2, it runs on watchOS 3 which was unveiled at last year's WWDC event and has been improved quite a lot since then. It is the latest watchOS version and brings a number of upgrades over previous ones. It results in faster app launches, new Control Center, Scribble function, and a new dock for apps. It also features a new app called Breathe that tell you to breathe and inbuilt SOS support.
The new Apple Watch is heavily focused on health and fitness aspect which means there are lots of features about the same. There is a waterproof design and inbuilt GPS support so that you can continue with your workout sessions without carrying your iPhone. And if you do bring iPhone, it will use your iPhone's GPS functionality for saving battery on the watch. There is a dedicated Activity app and also all sorts of sensors including the heart rate monitoring sensor and swimming tracking. Other features include widgets called Complications, Scribble to draw and send text, raise arm gesture for having a glance at time/date and notifications, Siri integration, the home screen with app bubbles, and third-party apps notifications.
Now for the Samsung Gear S3, it makes use of Samsung's proprietary Tizen OS which is still in early stages of its life. The app support on Tizen is surely less than Apple's watchOS but the good thing is that it is easy to use. And although there are various gestures and functions for you to try out, it lacks when it comes to the customization aspect. There is also widgets support which you can easily add and access from the right side. Other than all fitness related feature similar to the Apple Watch Series 2 except for swimming tracking, its LTE model also lets you make and receive calls without having your phone nearby.
As for mobile payments, both smartwatches support their respective Apple Pay and Samsung Pay offering.
Battery and Pricing:
The Samsung Gear S3 packs a 380mAh battery but as for Apple's Watch Series 2, it has not been disclosed. As for the battery life, these watches are claimed to last for up to 72 hours and 18 hours respectively. While these numbers have been achieved under specific testing conditions, it is Samsung which leads the way in real-world usage as well. You will find yourself charging Apple Watch Series 2 more often than the Gear S3.
And as for pricing, there is no doubt that the Apple Watch Series 2 costs more than the Gear S3 with a difference of about $30 for the standard Apple Watch. If you are interested in special edition Apple watches, be prepared to pay even more.
Both Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung Gear S3 are pretty good smartwatches. They are well-built with a different approach to style and design. While both feature health and fitness-focused features, it is worth mentioning that these are not as accurate as dedicated fitness trackers. And it should also be noted that while Samsung's watch works with both Android and iOS, Apple's watch is restricted only to iPhone. So your best bet is to set your priorities including the budget right and then go for the one which offers the best features to you.