Despite mixed reviews on smartwatches, we cannot deny that it is gaining traction among tech companies and ultimately, the consumers. When Google announced Android Wear, we knew something big was coming and that it will be highly integrated with Google Now. During Google I/O 2014, Google revealed 2 initial versions of the hardware: LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live. So, what do we think about the Samsung Gear Live?
Firstly, lets jump on the specification bandwagon:-
- Processor: 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
- Display: 1.63” 320 x 320 SuperAMOLED (278 ppi)
- Memory: 512 MB of RAM
- Storage: 4 GB internal storage
- Battery: 300 mAh non-removable battery
- OS: Android Wear
- Weight: 59 grams
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Digital Compass, Gyroscope, Heart Rate Monitor
Design & Build Quality
Let’s just simply put it this way; the smartwatches that are currently in the market generally have 4 edges and the Samsung Gear Live is no different. It has the typical squarish design made with a stainless steel housing, finished with a silicon-rubber strap. Also worth noting is the power button is located on the right side of the Gear Live. A very safe design in our opinion.
After a week of daily wear, we wouldn’t consider the watch as heavy at 59 g, but it definitely takes up some real-estate on the wrist. It might require some users to be acclimated to have the watch on their wrists. The strap is something that we find has opportunity for improvements, as it is almost impossible to get it on your wrist without getting into an awkward position. However, once secured on your wrist, it does not cause any discomfort or fatigue, even after hours of wearing.
Overall, the form factor of the Gear Live reminds us very fondly of the Samsung Gear 2, which to us, remains uninspired but a good start for the implementation of Android Wear without reinventing the wheel.
The Super AMOLED display on the watch did not fail to impress us with its 320 x 320 resolution that is capable of displaying at 278ppi. Despite having a 1.63″ display, the Gear Live seemed to have an exceptional thick bezel. We suspect that it’s to encapsulate all the sensors and to house the 300 mAh battery. Though it does not bother us much during our week long test, a larger screen and thinner bezel would definitely be much appreciated.
At full brightness, we did not have issues viewing it under direct sunlight, therefore user experience really did not suffer between indoors or outdoors. This is where the Super AMOLED technology triumphs as the displays were bright and vivid; while when switching over to ambient mode the black was truly black. Notifications displayed on the watch was easy to read.
Overall, the colors displayed were bright, vibrant and fully brings out the personality of Android Wear.
During our long week test with the Gear Live, there were no noticeable lag. The interface seems fluid and the watch does not seem to hesitate opening an app within the watch. This is all thanks to the 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processors with 512 MB RAM; all while running on the latest Android Wear OS. In order for the Gear Live to work, it will need to be paired with a smartphone running Android 4.3 or higher via Bluetooth.
In addition to that, the Gear Live also comes with an whole array of sensors that does multiple functions. The accelerometer for example, also functions as a pedometer to help determine steps taken in a day. We found this to be not as accurate as a standalone pedometer as it tends to be too sensitive. A heart rate monitor was also built-in with the Gear Live to provide feedback on heart rate.
With its 300 mAh non-removable battery, we were surprised to actually get through a whole day with light usage and still have approximately 65% battery life remaining. Granted, we did not have the display turned on the entire time. With the display kept on, we were only able to squeeze a less than impressive 12 hours with the same usage patterns.
Owning a smartwatch would definitely require the user to alter the usage pattern of owning a watch. Users have to charge it; preferably every night. There is not an easy way to charge it aside from using the dedicated attachment that plugs into a microUSB charger. We find this fairly inconvenient that users have to snap on the attachment instead of docking it on a wireless charger like the Moto 360. It takes about an hour to have the device completely charged.
Overall, the Gear Live is a decent and solid piece of hardware. Sure, there are some things such as the strap and the charging dock that we didn’t like, but Samsung did retain a very traditional smartwatch design to be safe. All in all, we will definitely see the next generation of smartwatches rolling out with Android Wear to evolve and be more capable of performing more.