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Things you should know about Galaxy Gear

Could this be the right time ripe to get a smartwatch for yourself? Is the Galaxy Gear the right smartwatch we’ve been waiting for? Should one buy it at all despite its limitations? We used the Galaxy Gear for a week to try and answer these very questions.

Amidst all the hoopla surrounding tech giants working on wearable devices (smartwatches in particular), Samsung went mainstream with its own smartwatch — Galaxy Gear — last year. The company launched Gear with its flagship phablet, Galaxy Note 3, pushing it as a companion device.

The Gear needs to be paired via Bluetooth with a high-end Samsung Galaxy smartphone (Galaxy Note 3, Note 2, S4 and S3 running with Android 4.3) or the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) tablet, before one can use it.

Samsung has also recently slashed the price of the smartwatch. The model is now available at Rs 15,290 on the company’s official e-store, a discount of Rs 3,785. Just last month, on January 12, the manufacturer had cut its price to Rs 19,075 from the launch price of Rs 22,990.

1.Doesn’t work with non-Samsung devices
This is the biggest pain point of the watch. The expensive gadget is only compatible with select Samsung devices. So, if you like the Gear but would rather use it with your iPhone, or even a Sony or HTC Android phone, you’re out of luck.

2.Mediocre battery life
With moderate to heavy use, the Gear lasts about 2 days. Most users would like their smartwatch to last a little longer. What makes things worse is the cumbersome charging process. You’ll need to put the watch in a charging shell to charge it. This means that there’s one more thing to lug around when you’re traveling.Samsung wants to boost its own Galaxy eco-system with the move, but that is doing Gear more harm than good.

3.Can make calls
It’s possible to make calls through the watch’s in-built speakerphone and microphone. You can even initiate a call from the watch as it features a dialer, and gets access to call logs and the phone’s address book. It’s an odd site to see someone bringing their watch close to the ear to make calls, but the Gear is good at doing what it promises to do. You’ll surely not like others to hear your conversation, but the speaker is loud enough for in-car use (we’re assuming you’re parking your car to take a call).
4.Looks a bit chunky
While we won’t deny that Samsung has tried to give the Gear a premium look with all the metal and screws, the watch looks a little chunky with its almost miniature phone like form-factor

5.Has built-in Pedometer
The Gear comes with a built-in Pedometer and an accompanying app that can keep a count of your steps. It also works with other third-party fitness tracking apps to help you keep a check on your workout and track the calories you’ve burnt.

6.Provides notifications
Once connected, the Gear will not only sync time and location from the phone, but also bring notifications for text messages, calls, emails and social networks. Some of the notifications are actionable and you can respond with a canned set of predefined messages or use S Voice to convert voice to text, retweet tweets or like Facebook posts, and call back. You’ll need to install smartwatch versions of apps and enable notifications through the Gear Manager on your phone. You’ll find apps (mostly third party) for Facebook, Twitter, Path and even a Foursquare client. WhatsApp notifications can also be enabled.

7.Can click pictures

The Gear features a 1.9MP camera that takes functional pictures. Don’t expect the pictures to be bright and rich but outdoor shots are pretty decent, while indoors ones were grainy. The major issue here is trying to get the angle right. For instance, you spot a nice car just ahead of yours and want to take a quick snap. Good luck with that because by the time you get the angle of the little camera right, it would have rushed past. Also, it cannot function as a spy cam since there’s no option to mute the shutter sound and you can only shoot 15 second videos (720p). You can choose to store pictures and videos in the watch, transfer them automatically to the phone or transfer them at a later stage.
8.Can be used as a media controller

The Gear can be used as a media controller to pause and play music tracks and skip to the next and previous tracks. It’s pretty helpful if you use your phone to listen to music in the gym, or connect it to your car’s stereo system (serves as an alternative to steering mounted controls). It even works with third party music streaming apps. While you can set the Media controller as the default screen, if you lock and unlock the watch manually, it goes back to the time screen and you’ll need to navigate to the controller again.
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