With all of the hype around the Apple Watch 2 — and Google pressing pause on updating Android Wear — it’s easy to forget that Samsung has its own new smartwatch in the Gear S3.
But you shouldn’t, because this Tizen-powered device (now up for for pre-order for $349) actually beats the Apple Watch in several areas. Although it doesn’t offer as many apps and you can’t swim with it, Samsung’s wearable offers several advantages.
It looks like a real (sexy) watch
While the Apple Watch looks like a shrunken iPhone on your wrist, the Gear S3 has the look and feel of an exquisite timepiece. It helps that Samsung worked with a Swiss designer, who helped created a wearable with a large 1.3-inch OLED display, elegant rotating dial and strong stainless steel case.
Take your pick from the Classic, which has a polished silver look, or the darker metal on the more bad-ass Frontier model.
There’s a 4G option
The Frontier version of the Gear S3 will be available with built-in LTE, which means you’ll be able to make calls, respond to texts, download apps and more without your phone nearby. It will be available through AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, though you’ll need to add it to your data plan.
It’s made tougher
Although Samsung says you can’t swim with it, the Gear S3 offers IP68 water resistance (1.5 meters for 30 minutes), as well as a military-grade protection against extreme temperatures, scratches and shock. Feel free to use it in snowball fights, as Samsung showed us one sitting in a block of ice.
The display is always on
I’m not saying it’s hard to raise your wrist to look at the time on the Apple Watch, but you shouldn’t have to. Samsung agrees, as the Gear S3 feature an always-on display mode that sips power but still supports color, In fact, there are lots of always-on watch faces from which to choose.
Up to 2 days longer battery life
The Apple Watch Series 2 is rated for up to 18 hours of battery life, but the Gear S3 promises up to 4 days of juice. The watch packs a 380-mAh battery, compared to 273-mAh for the Apple Watch.
You can download apps right from the watch
I’m not saying I would do this all the time, but if you literally have time to kill and don’t feel like whipping out your phone, you can download both apps and watchfaces from Samsung’s Gear App store on the Gear S3 itself. On the Apple Watch, you get apps via the iPhone’s Apple Watch app.
Bonus: It will eventually work with the iPhone
At first the Gear S3 will support only Android phones, but Samsung promises that a future update will allow the smartwatch to work with the iPhone. However, it’s certainly possible that iOS compatibility will limit what features you can use on the device, similar to Android Wear.