First Look: Samsung's new Gear 3 Frontier and Classic smartwatches

By David Flynn, November 7 2016
First Look: Samsung's new Gear 3 Frontier and Classic smartwatches

Update: Samsung has revealed that the Samsung Gear S3 is now available for pre-order in Australia from selected retailers, with wider on-sale availability from 18 November, 2016. The Gear S3 carres a recommended retail price of $599.

Previously: Longer battery life, an 'always-on' screen, sweeter styling, tap-and-go payment and a GPS chip for runners: those are the headline features of Samsung's new Gear S3 Classic and Frontier smartwatches.

It's no accident that the overnight debut of the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier comes just one week before Apple will pull back the curtains on the Apple Watch 2.

And despite the S3 name, these are in fact Samsung's fifth generation of smartwatches – but the third under the Gear 'wearable tech' brand, which also encompasses fitness bands and a virtual reality headset.

That's given Samsung plenty of time to finesse its smartwatch formula and take feedback from users and the market.

This is largely what has shaped the Gear S3 range, Samsung says, including a decision to bring back the inbuilt speaker and microphone dropped from the Gear S2.

With its stainless steel case and polished patina, the new Gear S3 Classic has a more conventional and elegant watch-like look...

... while the matte black Frontier amps it up with a sporty outdoors vibe.

In most other respects the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier are identical.

However, expected low demand means that Australia won't see the special 4G version of the Frontier, which can accept a nanoSIM card to become a smartphone in its own right rather than rely on a Bluetooth connection to your own smartphone.

Both watches are noticeably larger than their Gear S2 counterparts: the S3 series has a 46mm casing and 1.3 inch display.

That doesn't sound like much of a difference against the S2's 44mm case and 1.2 inch screen, but those changes – and that the case it also 15mm thicker – are amplified on the wrist.

The Gear S3 wears large, so it'll suit people (mostly blokes with solid wrists) who prefer a more substantial watch, and that in turn will favour the rugged-looking Frontier over the Classic.

Those screens are now coated by Corning Gorilla Glass SR+ sapphire crystal to reduce scratches and reflections.

Samsung pegs battery life for the Gear S3 at up to four days, and even with a larger battery sandwiched in the watch that's a pretty big ask – especially with the display staying on in full colour at all times.

There's also a "watch only" mode which displays just the time once the battery level hits 5%.

This is part of Samsung's tack in making the Gear S3 act like, well, a normal watch; likewise, enlisting Swiss designer Yvan Arpa to give the Gear S3 duo a style that's more timepiece than tech.

The Classic and Frontier both contain a GPS chip to track your runs, and in fact duplicate pretty much all of the functionality of the Gear Fit bands.

As you'd expect, the Gear S3 models can also be used at tap-and-pay terminals through Samsung Pay.

The rotating control bezel picks up more controls, so there's more twisting and less on-screen swiping – for example, you can answer an incoming call just by rotating the bezel. A software update will add this functionality to the Gear S2 watches as well.

Samsung is also working on an iOS app which will let iPhone owners use the Gear S3 and S2, in case they're not sold on Apple's own smartwatch.

The Gear S3 Classic and Frontier are due for release in Australia by the end of October, with pricing yet to be announced. 

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

Third gen Asus ZenWatch also announced at IFA looks pretty good as well

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

Reported in press that pricing from E399 (A$591) in Europe (presumably for the Classic)


22 Mar 2015

Total posts 13

Not that I think smart watches are of much value, but this one is a far better design than the cheap chinese plastic offering from apple.  It is actually a watch you wouldn't mind wearing.  The apple is just an embarrassment....

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