The battle of the Apple watch versus the Samsung Gear S is one that’s done on paper only. After all, if Consumer A owns an iPhone and wants a Smartwatch, they’re going to buy the Apple Watch.
Likewise, if Consumer B owns a Samsung Galaxy and wants to see what a Smartwatch can bring they buy the Gear. Quite frankly, there would be no reason for Consumer A to buy a Samsung product and vice versa.
The main issue with Smartwatches as they currently exist is that they are not standalone devices – yet more of an extension of your phone. Technically, the Samsung Gear S does have its own phone number associated as well as 3G and WiFi capabilities but a Samsung phone is still needed to activate the watch.
Likewise, the Apple Watch is more or less a convenient way to get email notifications, texts, and phone calls without having to dig into your pocket to grab your iPhone.
Some consumers may be wary of spending $350+ on what amounts to be an accessory to a phone. This is what will determine if either the Apple Watch or the Samsung Gear S is the right product for you. If you live in a predominantly rural area with a small network of friends, family, and work colleagues the truth is you probably won’t enjoy the full functionality of an Apple Watch or a Samsung Gear S.
Of course, this isn’t saying that either product would be 100% useless in that situation, the truth is they are more designed for a person who fields numerous phone calls and texts a day, travels often, has multiple entertainment and dining options, and who is otherwise connected to the grid on a pretty regular basis throughout the day.
The reason that either the Apple Watch or the Samsung Gear S is generally an easy sell to existing customers is that very rarely would a person buy the SmartWatch first in order to determine which Smart Phone to go with.
Of course, there are times when that does happen, and for people who are possibly looking to switch providers while buying a phone/watch package this review will give a layout of what both companies bring to the table.
Apple Watch vs. Samsung Gear S: Overview
The Apple Watch came out with a lot of bravadoes when it was released in April of 2015. That initial excitement quickly turned into customer frustrations mostly because the battery drained excessively fast and the apps either didn’t open or crashed almost regularly.
For consumers looking to buy new, many of the issues that plagued the first release have been remedied through the 2.0 OS update. This new installation is supposedly going to mainly make apps more functional while also being less taxing on battery life.
What the Apple Watch is mostly is a companion for an iPhone, allowing owners to run apps, make calls, send texts, or listen to music that is mostly powered through the phone itself. This is why it wouldn’t make sense to purchase a Watch as your first Apple product as it must be first paired with the iPhone as part of the initial setup.
The Samsung Gear S is somewhat of a groundbreaker in the field as it is one of the first smartwatches from a major provider developed as a standalone device. The Gear S allows the user to receive and make calls, listen to music, check email, browse the web, and track fitness all without carrying a phone along with which is a pretty huge innovation.
That being said, a recent Samsung phone is still needed to set up the watch and most of the apps simply work better with the phone in tow. Plus, receiving texts and calls from your regular phone still requires setting up call forwarding to the watch. Not to mention, you’ll have to pay the provider for a second line although it is usually only $5 to $10 per month.
The Gear S has been through over six different releases with many traits still left to be desired. By now most Smartwatches have mastered call forwarding, texting, and emails so where manufacturers are going to really set themselves apart from the industry is with apps.
Unfortunately, that’s arguably the #1 area where the Gear S is lacking. Its app store is Gear-based instead of Android which means although there are some cool and unique apps developed for the phone, there is no Twitter or Facebook – of which getting convenient notifications is arguably one of the reasons most people buy a Smartwatch, to begin with.
Apple Watch vs. Samsung Gear S: Looks and Feel
One of the things that Smartwatch consumers constantly go back and forth about is a small display screen or a bulky design. Unfortunately, if you want a big screen you’ll also have to suffer a bulky design but the Apple Watch does a good job of finding a decent happy medium.
That isn’t to say the Watch doesn’t feel bulky, after all, even other Apple products such as the iPhone or iPad were a lot bigger on their first-generation release than they are now with more sleeked down looks. This is an inevitability with future releases of the Watch as well and another reason consumers may want to hold off on a purchase.
Besides being a little bit, the Apple Watch is definitely sleek. You can customize with different watch bands depending if you want a more sporty or professional look.
The best way most people are describing the looks of the Samsung Gear S is that of a smartphone shrunken down and wrapped around a wristband. As expected, this design is also somewhat bulky but that’s the sacrifice of needing a screen big enough to be typed on.
Key Features Compared
The Apple Watch also includes features that are synonymous with Apple products, most notably Siri. This is the true epitome of an Inspector Gadget / Dick Tracy smartwatch where you can simply talk into it and have corresponding orders followed by a ‘robot’. Siri is easily accessed by tapping and holding the digital crown of the watch whereas apps are brought up by just tapping.
One of the biggest features of the Watch is the integration of Apple Pay, a great way to sync a credit card to the watch and pay for items by simply showing your wrist.
Essentially this is like carrying your wallet or purse on your wrist, great for office lunches or grabbing a drink and snack on a run. The Watch also allows you to send special pictures, emojis, and even a heartbeat to other Watch users – not necessarily a function but something cool regardless.
As a supposed standalone watch the Samsung Gear S does things the Apple Watch simply cannot – namely making a call without the phone in the pocket or within Bluetooth distance. Although you won’t be able to pay for objects when out on a run or lunch, you can still check emails and make calls without having to drag the phone around.
Notifications, Calls, & Texts
One of the main reasons for purchasing either an Apple Watch or a Samsung Gear S is for the convenience of responding to texts via your wrist instead of digging in a pocket or purse for a phone. Both devices show texts in an easy-to-read manner and can dictate audio commands into a text.
Both devices make calls through a built-in speaker which is convenient but doesn’t offer the best sound quality. As for notifications, the Apple Watch features more because it simply has more apps available such as Twitter and Facebook (more on that in a bit.)
Apple Watch vs. Samsung Gear S: Apps
By far the area where the Apple Watch dominates the Gear S is within the apps, arguably what makes a Smartwatch worth having in the first place. Apple opens up its watch platform to third-party developers which means the potential for what the device can do is virtually endless.
Sure, you’ll likely still need a phone nearby but there are some benefits to hailing an Uber, finding a new place to eat, getting directions, reading Facebook comments, and Tweeting all from your wrist. Even though it can make calls as a standalone, the Gear S is highly limited in its app availability. Both devices do track heart rate though which is great for exercise apps.