Galaxy Gear S Deal I Couldn't Refuse

mountainbikermark

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As some may know I have been currently using a Galaxy Gear Fit that I've been very content with. Over the last few days as I've been not quite as content, have been finding "being able to (fill in the blank) would be really nice" so I started looking at reviews, specs, prices, accessory availability, etc.
I had decided to go to Best Buy today to kook at Android Wear and get a good hands on with several offerings they have in stock, thinking of getting away from Samsung for the next step up. My criteria was more customizable, good battery life (that's relative of course) and comfortable to wear to go along with health tracking ability when synced to the phone. AW didn't really "fit" me,I guess I'm too old fashioned and can't really get into the tile like way the ui does. They didn't have a Gear 2 Neo in stock to compare it to so I walked down to my local AT&T store to kook at one there. They had a demo that was a working model but none in stock SO they guy asks if I'd be interested in a Gear S. At first I was like "that dude is friggin huge, no way". He says "I'll match our price of the Neo" which got me intrigued enough to try one on. The thing is actually more comfortable than the Fit though it's a gazillion times larger . I've got an ~8" wrist that is proportional to my forearms and ~16" biceps so the huge thing doesn't look huge on me like it would my wife or any "normal" sized man. Anyway, I decided to give it a go when the rep asks me if I have any work discounts registered with them,I said no so he asks where I work. My work got me a 20% on the watch as well as my monthly bill each month so even had I not bought the S my bill would be lower from now on because he asked. Kinda cool, btw the watch was $160 after match then discount on the match plus my bill is going down $6 a month so the net increase in my bill by adding another data device is $4. That's a few diet Cokes a month I'll gladly give up if need be . I only drink a few a month anyway so it'll be no biggie.
Back to the watch.
The band is a rubbery type like the Fit but secures a WHOLE lot better. The watch fits into the 1 piece with a cutout for the device just like the Fit so it'll be easy to change once I decide to get another to change up color or something. The feel is like many bands on athletic watches, hrms, fitness devices.
The screen is huge (relative) , the phablet of smart watches, and like any Samsung device is going to impress with the clarity, crispness and color accuracy (some say too accurate to the point of over saturation). The shell is much like, if you can imagine, a Note3 but curved glass instead of flat. About the same bezel and chrome accents.
If you use a Samsung phone or tablet you'll already know exactly where the home/wake button is and what it looks like. No surprise there.
The screen clock can be set so that when it dims before sleep it's an ambient clock , much like a screen saver clock that moves every few seconds or shut off and go to sleep .
It has the same health trackers as the Fit but adds a UV check as well as track hiking addition to walking, cycling and running. One REALLY REALLY cool perk I didn't think I'd find in anything I was interested in is a stand alone GPS. No more being tethered to my Bluetooth range for tracking but I can still sync with my phone to get a map view, on S Health, of my journey after I'm done and back in Bluetooth range.
It uses Tizen instead of Android Wear but unlike the Fit actually has a plethora of apps on the Samsung app store. Not much on the Play Store but since I have a Samsung phone and Samsung watch I'd rather they put their exclusive stuff there . That's another rant about fragmentation that'll wait for another thread though. I found a new launcher right away,a few apps I added for notes, calculator, etc and I didn't even scratch the surface of what's there. No there aren't a ballillion apps like Play and iTunes but there were a lot and not most of them were watch faces or clones of the others. Opera Mini browser was a very pleasant surprise for my checks of Facebook every now and then. Another really cool thing I found was the onboard keyboard is the same one on our Samsung phones, including the Flow option powered by Swift Key.
The only caveat I wasn't really happy with at first was only the stock messaging app has the ability to respond other than canned replies. No biggie going back to stock on the phone messaging app in order to make full use of the watch. If I initiate a text from the watch it uses the number registered to the SIM card but replies from texts that originated on my phone use my phone number. I'm going to look around and see if I'm misunderstanding but my understanding was if the watches data network is off but it's connected via Bluetooth to my phone any texts initiated from the watch use the phones number but I might be totally wrong there.
Phone calls can be made either from the watch, same number usage I described above but calls made from the call log use the phone as long as the data(3g/2g) is off and the devices are connected via Bluetooth. The speaker is loud and sounds like any phone speaker, nothing audiophile quality but more than adequate for both phone calls and music by the campfire.
I can set the music player controls to either the phone (Power Amp worked well) or onboard music player. The onboard has the ability to change the sound effects (bass, treble, eq, etc) but must be changed in the Gear Controller app on the phone (wt_?!?) Adding music to the watch is also done on the GC app and syncs to the watch.
As far as the ui if you loathe Touch Wiz this one will drive you nuts. It looks exactly like the ui on the Verizon Note2.

I'll comment back in a few days on battery life as well as any of the many things I'm sure I've forgotten. I got this and a new Bassmaster magazine today so my brain is fried from all the reading.

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Oh 1 thing I forgot. The charger cradle has a built in battery so it'll give the watch about 1 full charge, from empty, without being plugged into electricity.
Another thing. Screen shot is done by holding the power button and swiping from left to right across the entire screen. It took me a few tries but I got it. You can then send the photo to your phone by long pressing the photo on the gallery and once the check mark pops up on it, choose send to phone via an icon on the lower left of the screen
Here's what the keyboard looks like when composing a message, reply, or whatever. I prefer a keyboard over voice .
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Congrats! Now I'm interested again!
 
I was. ...have been looking into the zenwatch but also the gear s....I just can't make up my mind
 
Please ask away if you've got questions. It might even hero me discover stuff about this phwatch.

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*jealous* (but I do like the Moto 360 I have on my wrist...)
 
Thanks for the review MBM. Great info..
 
Something else that is like the Gear Fit is the ability to change what triggers with a double tap of the home button but on the S there are more options since the watch has so many more capabilities. Also, like the Fit, tap the screen with 2 fingers in any application or home brings up the brightness and sound menu for a quick change as needed with its included auto bright option you can check or uncheck. I really like the auto bright since I'm in and out a lot during the day.
Something I discovered this morning is within the fitness options with each that uses the GPS for tracking there is a little icon which allows turning on/off the stand alone GPS. A nice potential battery saver to go with convenience.That saves a bunch of time and effort and I wish my phone had that option in apps that use GPS instead of a reminder to go to settings instead.

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Will be interested to see how this progresses. You got a great deal, that's for sure!

Not sure that I like the idea of having a separate number for my phone. I get the application of it, but you'd think it could use the phone's number unless it wasn't connected to the phone, regardless of whether the watch's data was on. I could see that getting a little bit confusing for some older folks that I know and love. Haha!

In any case, I'm still not sold on Tizen being the answer, but I'm glad we've got you to live through so we can really get a taste of how it functions on the watch day to day.
 
Will be interested to see how this progresses. You got a great deal, that's for sure!

Not sure that I like the idea of having a separate number for my phone. I get the application of it, but you'd think it could use the phone's number unless it wasn't connected to the phone, regardless of whether the watch's data was on. I could see that getting a little bit confusing for some older folks that I know and love. Haha!

In any case, I'm still not sold on Tizen being the answer, but I'm glad we've got you to live through so we can really get a taste of how it functions on the watch day to day.
Separate number was confusing for me until I got the gist of how it works and I'm still looking for some things to see if it's possible to initiate a text from the watch when it's connected to the phone using the phones number. Either I'm doing something wrong or that's a huge mistake on Samsung part to leave that ability out. It's supposed to only need the stand alone number when the watch is standing alone and I could've sworn it was like that until I accidentally turned Wi-Fi direct off on my phone.
As far as Tizen, yeah it's almost like using an Apple watch connected to an Android phone in a sense,a semi marriage between 2 operating systems. There are apps available on the Play Store to make the watch sync with non Samsung phones and non specified models and I saw a YouTube video yesterday on how to get the watch to work as a total standalone and never connect to a phone from the box. The only drawback to that is no ability to sync music, photos or apps because that is done via the Gear Manager app but in theory someone could replace their phone with a watch if all they want is a dumbphone embedded watch.
I have found that if I use the stock email app I can reply or initiate a message but using Gmail notification I can read it but not reply or start a message.
Oh something else I just remembered, as far as phones calls I have the phone set to forward calls to the watch if the watch is disconnected from the phone. It rings on the phone first a couple of rings (seconds since I have a song as my tone) then forwards to the watch if I don't answer the phone and it's not connected to the watch. If they are connected it doesn't forward to the watches dedicated number. My Whisper is paired to both devices so I can just leave the phone at home and still get calls. Another thing I remembered is when they get out of range of each other it makes a tone on the phone but when it comes back in range it only vibrates. I haven't looked to see if that can be changed but I like it that way. The Gear Manager app has a built in "find my watch" app and the watch has a built in "find my phone" app.
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Ok got the initiate calls and texts from the watch using the phones number while it's connected. Android Central had a thread about the Gear S that included a link to a pdf owners manual. It was in there how to do it along with a few other tips I didn't know.

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I unplugged at 530 this morning, screen on auto bright, volume off, vibrate on, mobile data off, Wi-Fi on until I remembered it was on about 10am and turned it off, Bluetooth on, GPS off, notifications from Gmail, email and messaging (about 40 total), about half an hour of music on the standalone player . There've been countless times waking the watch to mess with settings, check time, adding apps then setting them up, etc
430pm the battery showed 73% remaining, almost on par with where my Fit would normally be at the end of the day (about 10pm) when I settle in for the night when not working.
I'm going to do like the op in a thread I found the pdf in on Android Central and see how many hours it takes to get down to about 5% before I charge it.
My phone on the other hand has taken a battery beating today reading posts, reading pdf files, reading reviews and other screen on tasks while outside with auto bright on in direct sunlight. It got in the upper 40s today so I kept my old bones in the sunshine as much as possible to warm my joints. I sat in a chair, my 13 year old dog laid beside the chair sunning as well and the 2 year old dog kept looking at us like "which one of you wants to play tug of war with my rope?" .phone is at 40% and dropping like a rock, screen being the biggest user by far with over 4 hours of being on, most of it outside.

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Battery at 62% at 6 am this morning. I feel good that it'll be no biggie doing a daily charge along with my phone, that it won't harm the battery long term by being too high at charge start up. The charger battery pack might be a different story. It's 350mah and I'm not sure how it works sending a charge to the watch while charging back up itself. That one might be interesting in long term battery health. I just don't see my limited brain capacity charging the watch THEN charging the battery pack back. Too much thinking and remembering at night.

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One area the Fit blows away the S is using a music player on the phone and connected to the watch. On the Fit it shows track info and seamlessly changes tracks and volume. On the S you get a generic screen, no info about what's playing and there's a lag of over 2 seconds when changing track or volume. When using the built in music player on the S the screen changes to more like the Fit and has no discernible lag when changing tracks, volume,ff, etc.

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