Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 And Gear Bundle Is Competent, But Imperfect


| March 7, 2014 - 7:25 pm

In the uber-competitive world of smartphones and watches, the usage of a stylus wasn’t supposed to be “cool,” but thanks to Samsung it is worth the price of admission.

We have been playing around with the Samsung Galaxy Gear and its accompanying Galaxy Note 3 for a good minute now. It’s easily the most technically advanced pair you can buy in the market right now. And while Apple, Sony and Pebble all trying to get established in the market, the Samsung Galaxy bundle outclasses the competition, but leaves us wanting more.

Boasting a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED (320 x 320 pixel) color screen, 800MHz processor and 4GB of internal memory, the Samsung Galaxy Gear is certainly a striking device. Mixing form and function, the Gear gives a solid feel, but if you’re thinking of just sporting the smart watch without owning the companion Samsung device, you’d be quite insane. The feel of the watch doesn’t feel overly cumbersome, but some might feel that it is a bit tight on the wrist. You may find issue with being unable to change the strap on the Gear as it has the 1.9MP camera stuck inside. The one button functionality of the watch serves as the power / function key, but also is limited in its scope.

All of that processing power does take a toll on the 315mAh battery. The Galaxy Gear’s method of charging will leave users a little bit miffed, as the smart watch comes with a charging case that you’ll have to remember to bring with you at all times. Samsung even makes note that the Gear’s battery lifespan is only 24 hours, but in our tests we stretched that out to two days. When paired with the Galaxy Note 3, you have a unique blend of style and function. The Note 3 is for those who are fans of big-screened smartphones, yet we found it better when left out of sight. The innovation of being able to access your contacts from your Gear and check messages makes having to pull out the big-screened phone an unnecessary point. Even if the $299 price point is too much to swallow, it is worth it when you don’t have to chuck out the 5.7-inch display just to see what’s what.

Samsung’s biggest move, adding the S Pen, doesn’t get much usage in our trial runs, but it is a handy bonus. The most notable function is Action Memo, which allows the phone to read a handwritten word or number as though it were typed. That attribute allows some freedom in writing messages or notes, as long as one’s handwriting is legible. The battery life on the Note 3 fantastic in comparison to the Gear, simply because of its sheer size. After using the Note 3 for a full day, the phone still had a 60 percent charge, eliminating the need for a back-up charger or a rush back to re-plug. This is a trait that iPhone and other smartphone owners don’t share.

A few of the shared problems between the Gear and the Note 3 stem from the weird functionality of making and receiving calls. In addition to the speaker quality not being premium, everyone can hear parts of your conversation through the watch. While neither have any serious operational flaws, the interface layout is a bit too restrictive for our tastes, and the Gear sometimes responds inaccurately to the touch. The biggest complaint is that the price of the Gear is just too high, even with the discount when paired with the Note 3. The third party apps on the phone do nothing to enhance the experience of having a top-tier, premium phone. There really isn’t much necessity for the majority of the stuff featured. Some apps, such as Evernote for example, don’t even work. If you’re on Facebook, you can see the notifications on the watch, but are not able to see the contents.

In closing, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Gear offer some competent and competitive elements, but is imperfect in their execution. The Gear, specifically, is an extraneous gadget that’s cool, but with the Gear 2 already being ushered into the public’s consciousness, is not worth the lofty price tag. All around Samsung has created an innovative and different way of receiving communication, and it’ll strike a healthy chord with those whom are anti-iPhone. If you’re looking to enjoy some interesting tech instead of utilizing the same ole features that have been on the marketplace for years, the Note 3 and Gear make an imperfect combo for any would be tech guru.

Don’t believe us, then just watch this demo below: