Up to now, you’ve had a choice. There are smartwatches, and then there are a smart looking watches.
Samsung’s Gear S3 manages to do both.
Forget square screens and clever crowns - this has a fully round display, funky rotating bezel and circular-centric OS that actually makes sense in a smartwatch.
In fact, it's everything that made us big fans of last year's Gear S2, only without the plastic fantastic design. This metal marvel might be the first Android-friendly smartwatch to truly deserve a spot on your wrist.
Here’s why I’m not letting one leave my arm without a fight.
SAMSUNG GEAR S3 DESIGN: WHEEL OF FORTUNE
The S3 is a fair bit bigger than the S2, which itself looked a little portly on smaller wrists. That means the S3 looks positively massive unless you’re rocking arms like tree trunks.
I’m a big fan of chunky watches, so it didn’t really bother me - especially as it still sits flush to your wrist enough to slip under a shirt cuff. Still, subtle it ain’t.
The leather strap and stainless steel finish on this Classic version give it a real touch of class, albeit from a distance. Get up close and that overly shiny metal won’t out-bling a quality Omega or Tag analogue watch.
It’s plastic underneath, too, so you might be surprised just how light it is once you’ve got one on your wrist. OK, so it’s not going to blow away in the wind, but it looks meatier than it actually is.
The bundled leather strap has quick-release pins, so you don’t need to dig out a screwdriver when you fancy a new look. It’ll take any 22mm band, too. That’s pretty handy, as the standard strap doesn’t feel all that premium - it’s already showing signs of wear and I’ve only had it for a week.
SAMSUNG GEAR S3 DISPLAY: FACE THE MUSIC
The gorgeous 1.3in circular OLED screen goes a long way to letting the S3 blend into the background, rather than demand attention like a lot of smartwatches.
First off, it doesn’t kick out any light when the screen is showing pure black, so it’s subtle as you like when you aren’t looking at it. The ambient mode shows the time and updates once a minute, but that’s it.
Flick your wrist, though, and the whole thing lights up bright enough to read even on the sunniest of afternoons. Animations become silky smooth, and depending on your choice of watch face, useful info like steps walked, remaining battery or your current heart rate instantly update.
It all looks super sharp, too. 360x360 might not sound like a massive resolution, but it’s easily enough when strapped to your wrist. Text looks crisp and there’s loads of room for graphics and pictures, too.
Of course, OLED means super-vibrant colours too - which makes all the difference when you actually do want all that sweet, sweet attention.
SAMSUNG GEAR S3 SOFTWARE: GIVE ME A TIZEN
Circular screens aren’t much cop if the software running underneath doesn’t actually make sense in the round. That’s not a problem here, thanks to Samsung’s Tizen OS.
It’s built from the ground up to sit nicely on a circular screen, and has a sweet spinning bezel to back it up. Give it a whirl and you’ll quickly scroll through widgets and menus, instead of swiping in all directions.
Menus revolve around the hours of the clock, so you’re never left puzzled as to where a particular app or setting is buried. There’s a reassuring click every time you twist the bezel, and the two digital crown buttons feel pretty firm too.
It’s really slick, even if things haven’t changed all that much from last year’s Gear S2. That includes the customisable watch faces, which all feel overly familiar. They don’t give you a huge amount of at-a-glance information, either - good job there are plenty of third party faces available to download, then.
The whole thing feels super-snappy and responsive, too thanks to a faster CPU.
Right now, the only weak link is software support. Android Wear might not be quite so slick, but it’s definitely got more apps - apart from a few big names like Uber, Bloomberg and ESPN, Samsung still doesn’t have much in the way of dedicated Watch apps.
It’s the one area Tizen still lags behind Android Wear, but if a few more brands get on board, Google should be watching its back.