There isn’t much separating the new Samsung Gear S3 variants except for style but in a way, that’s a big deal. Though both smartwatches are ruggedized, the Gear S3 Frontier looks like its built to withstand more outdoor activity.
Again, this doesn’t mean the Classic can’t – but you’re more likely to wear the Classic into the office as is, where you’d probably change out the Frontier’s band for say, a leather design.
However, if you’re after the standalone model, only the Frontier will be able to field calls and texts without a phone thanks to the onboard LTE.
Read on to find out everything else there is to know about Samsung’s sporty and sleek new Gear S3 Frontier.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: Design + screen
The Frontier Gear S3 is aimed at fitness and ‘exploration’ fans, as Samsung puts it. On paper the Frontier and Classic measure in the same at 46.1 x 49.1 x 12.9mm, while the Frontier is weightier at 62g compared to the Classic’s 57g. That’s heavier than the Gear S2’s 29g as well.
Instead of circular buttons, you get rectangular, texturised buttons on the side that are once again, reminiscent of sports watches and probably easier to grip if you’ve worked up a sweat. You’ll also get a brushed stainless steel body on the Frontier instead of smooth like the Classic’s.
Both the Gear S3’s are ruggedized with an IP68 water and dust resistant certification. However it’s worth noting that you can only keep it underwater up to 30 minutes at a depth of 5 feet. Still, Samsung says it has tested the models with military level standards ensuring that they’re durable and able to withstand very high and very low temperatures, shock, dust and extreme vibrations.
On the connectivity front, the Classic only comes with Bluetooth/Wi-Fi while the Frontier will offer up a Bluetooth or standalone LTE flavours.
The Gear S3 Frontier come with a 1.3-inch screen with a 46mm body which is a bump up from the smaller Gear S2’s 1.2-inches and 42mm body. There’s still the same sharp 360 x 360 super AMOLED resolution on board that’s always on to give you the traditional watch experience.
To add any extra layer of durability, it’s also layered withCorning Gorilla SR+.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: Tizen OS
Like the S3 Classic it’s Tizen running the show and it’s the latest version of Samsung’s own smartwatch operating system on board.
There’s no Frontier-only features here so you’ll still be able to access over 10,000 apps that includes the likes of Nest, Uber and Samsung Pay. In a bid to make it easier to send messages from a small place, you can now write and draw on the S3 screen. It was surprisingly responsive in our brief play with it.
One of the most requested apps from Gear S2 users is Spotify and Samsung is bringing it to the Gear S3 party. Now with an official Tizen app, you can stream music sans smartphone (with the 3G version) as well as access playlists and control playback.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: Rotating bezel
Time and time again, we’ve praised how enjoyable it is using the rotating bezel on the Gear S2 – and we’re excited to see it back again on the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic.
It’s no surprise that Samsung has spent some time trying to make its standout feature even more useful. There’s little additions like the ability to now answer and reject calls, but the real big news is that its opening the bezel to third party developers. Samsung has already convinced Nest to jump on board letting users rotate the bezel to tinker with your Nest thermostat.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: Straps
The Frontier has a sportier look with its standardized 22mm rubber strap – though it can be switched out for any other band of that size and there are plenty to choose from.
Samsung’s releasing a bevy of options in addition to the third party designs you can use. Artist and industrial designer Arik Levy also helped create some of the Gear’s strap designs and produced a series of watch faces to compliment the 15 faces already pre-loaded onto the watch.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: Fitness tracking
On the tracking front the S3 Frontier is well equipped. Sensors like an accelerometer, ambient light sensor and heart rate monitor are all included. There’s also a trio of outdoor friendly sensors here too. The altimeter, barometer and speedometer to track things like altitude and atmospheric pressure and sudden changes in the weather when you’re out exploring the great outdoors.
New smartwatches incoming
Like the Classic, there GPS (Glonass) built-in for sport tracking. You’ll also get a new SOS mode that uses location tracking to alert family, friends and emergency professionals when you’re in crisis. Samsung has teamed up with security company ADT to provide additional services but hasn’t announced pricing yet.
Samsung is also taking some features from the Gear Fit2 adding fitness tracking extras like Challenges, leaderboards and activity auto-recognition.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: Battery life
There’s a much larger battery sitting behind the Frontier’s larger face. At 380mAh, the Gear S3 has certainly surpassed the S2’s 250mAh. That means you get about 3-4 days of usage with and without LTE, compared to the usual two days the majority of smartwatches can muster.
Samsung didn’t have an answer for what the battery life is like in GPS mode quite yet, but it probably can’t live up to the same sort of stamina as dedicated sports watches like Garmin and Polar. It still also supports wireless charging like its predecessor and a power saving mode that kicks in when your battery is in its final hours. The charger for the Gear S3 is also backwards compatible with the S2.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: Samsung Pay
Samsung Pay will be supported on the Gear S3 after being trialled on the Gear S2. Using NFC and MST (magnetic secure transmission), you’ll be able to tap your watch against any card reader. Samsung emphasised that phones and even LTE aren’t needed which should be great news for joggers or people who’ve forgotten their mobile device at home.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: Compatibility
All the Gear S3’s are compatible only with Android phones, and not iOS despite the beta testing that’s already in place with the Gear S2. We asked a Samsung representative about the potential of iOS support for the Gear S3 and they told us the following:
“While the Gear S3 does not offer support for the iOS platform at this time, we continually evaluate ways to broaden the availability of our wearable devices to more consumers by providing them with a seamless, connected experience that improves their daily lives.” We think that means Samsung is focusing on getting it working on the Gear S2 before it moves onto the Gear S3.
Samsung Gear S3 Frontier: Price and release date
Samsung has not revealed Gear S3 pricing yet or a firm release date, but you can expect to pick one up sometime in the coming months. October is a strong possibility.
In the US, the Gear S3 Frontier will be available at most major retailers, including Best Buy, Amazon, Macy’s and Samsung.com. Carriers for the LTE version of the Frontier so far include AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, all of which will release their own specific availability and pricing.
It’s likely the Frontier will match the Classic in pricing however, expect the LTE Frontier to cost more for the additional standalone services.