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Samsung Gear S Watch: A Smartwatch That’s Smarter Than Most

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor
Yahoo Tech

Samsung seems to debut a smartwatch once a month, and with September just getting under way, and Apple reportedly debuting the iWatch next week, it was just about time — see what I did there? — for the company to unveil a new one. And Samsung’s latest wrist-worn computer, the Gear S, might just be its coolest yet.

Sporting its own 3G connection, the watch can be used independently of your smartphone, unlike the majority of smartwatches on the market. I spent some time with the Gear S at a Samsung press event in New York and was impressed with the watch’s capabilities.

Big and bright
The first thing you notice about the Gear S is its beautiful, curved 2-inch Super AMOLED display. The second thing you notice is just how big the watch is.

In fact, the Gear S is both thicker and taller than Samsung’s already-big Gear 2 and Gear Live watches. This thing will look massive on a dainty wrist.

(Daniel Howley/Yahoo Tech)

The Gear S, however, is significantly more comfortable to wear than the Gear 2 and Gear Live. That’s because it’s curved to contour to your wrist.

I’d still like to see how comfortable it is to wear this thing while typing on a laptop, but in general, it felt fairly light and unobtrusive on my wrist.

Untethered
It’s the Gear S’s capability to be used without a smartphone that’s the big news here, though. Packing its own 3G connection, the Gear S can do everything from send and receive phone calls and text messages to pull in Facebook notifications.

That’s not to say the watch can be used completely without your phone. You’ll still need to use Samsung’s Gear Manager app to control certain aspects of the watch, but if you step out with the Gear S on and forget your phone, it won’t be just a bulky bracelet.

Samsung Gear S watch

(Daniel Howley/Yahoo Tech)

Like Samsung’s other smartwatches, the Gear S features a built-in heart-rate monitor and pedometer that syncs with Samsung’s S Health app. New to the party is the Gear S’s UV monitor, which lets you know if the sun is strong enough to damage your skin. And with my pale complexion, that’s something I can get behind.

Unlike Samsung’s Android Wear-powered Gear Live, the Gear S runs on the company’s own Tizen operating system. That means your standard Android Wear apps won’t work with the Gear S. Instead, you’ll have to download Tizen-based apps through Samsung’s app store.

Samsung says it has more than 1,000 apps in its store that will work with the Gear S.

Samsung Gear S watch

(Daniel Howley/Yahoo Tech)

Samsung only
Our only issue with the Gear S, beyond its bulk, is that, like Samsung’s initial Gear smartwatches (not the current models that run Android Wear), it works only with Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones. Don’t have a Galaxy phone? Then no watch for you.

The Gear S has a tough road ahead of it, though, as it has to compete with offerings including Motorola’s Moto 360, LG’s G Watch and G Watch R, and, of course, Apple’s highly anticipated iWatch.

Samsung hasn’t announced pricing for the Gear S, though the company did say the watch will go on sale this fall. So keep it locked in here for more details and our full review in the coming weeks.

Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley or on Google+ here.