You may find every so often the clasp doesn’t click into face, doesn’t hold position, so just make sure to feel that firm connection otherwise that watch will fall off your wrist.
Once you’re wearing the smartwatch, you need to bring it to life and talking with your smartphone, and that’s only going to happen with a recent Samsung phone.
Yes, Samsung’s smartphone requirement seen on the Galaxy Gear smartwatches from the past rears its head again, with the Gear S requiring a recent Samsung smartphone. We tested the Gear S with a Galaxy Note 4, though it would also work with the Edge, the S5, and probably a bunch of others provided they were from 2013 onwards.
Why can’t you use any old Android, you might ask?
Because the app needed to talk to the Gear S smartwatch is on Samsung’s Galaxy Apps, and only there. We’re sure there are other reasons too, likely around what the watch can and can’t talk to on other Android phones, but for now, all you need to know is that if you want to play with the Gear S, make sure you have a Samsung Galaxy phone, otherwise you won’t be getting very far.
If you do have one, however, simply grab the app, set up the watch to talk to the phone, and away you go.
You’ll quickly find you can hit the main button on the front of the Gear S to switch the screen on, with various swipes left, right, up and down to take you through the various menus of an operating system that might resemble something like Samsung’s TouchWiz Android overlay, though is something different altogether.
Rather, this is Tizen, a different operating system that we’ll see on Samsung televisions in 2015, though you don’t need to worry about that, because you won’t be thinking about an app ecosystem or whether this has the fight to beat Apple’s iOS. This is different, and is here to give Samsung something that can be controlled more tightly, since Samsung can’t really impact what Android Wear does (no manufacturer can, as that is controlled by Google).
Controlling Tizen on the smartwatch is handled by those swipes, with a swipe from left to right from the main home screen taking you to messages, a swipe from right to left taking you through various widgets you might have running (such as news, weather, and UV monitoring), a swipe from bottom to top showing you the apps you can load via an app menu, and a swipe from top to bottom dropping down a control bar like it does on Android phones.
There are a few speed issues when using the Gear S, mostly as you jump between menu screens and load apps, but provided you don’t live on the Gear S as your sole provider of information, all should be fine.
It is a companion device after all, and made to work with a smartphone or tablet, accepting and deflecting calls, and even allowing you to read and compose messages on your wrist of all places.
But, curiously, you’ll even find a SIM card slot here, with Samsung’s first nanoSIM slot that we’ve seen. When you load this up with a SIM card, you’ll find you can make phone calls separately from the phone itself.
In fact, if you find that you don’t want to bring your phone out for a night on the town, you can actually call people using that watch as a phone with the SIM card. You might look a little strange doing so, neck bent, mouth down at the watch speaking into it as if you were some modern Dick Tracy, but it’s possible and something that can happen with this phone, err, watch, err phone-watch.