Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch reviewed

Another neat feature is one right out of comic books, which allows you to speak into your phone and hear conversations on the wrist band.

To do this, Samsung has employed two microphones just under the watch display, and included a speaker on the band clasp.

It might look a little strange — ok, a lot strange — but these calls sound clear because you’re using what is essentially a tiny speakerphone.

That said, because it’s a speakerphone, everyone else can hear what you’re saying, so in public, it’s not only a strange way to converse over the phone, but also a very public one.

Other functions that you expect from a smartwatch are here too, including notifications from Facebook, SMS, and the ability to read your emails on the watch, as well as pick up phone calls.

There’s some shared support between your phone and watch for reading these notifications, and the phone will know roughly where you’ve read to, making it useful for continuing where you left off if you decide to read from a bigger device.

Social networks didn’t quite integrate the way we expected them to, with apps more or less required to make these work well. Facebook would tell us when an update had taken place, but we couldn’t read it on the product, and Twitter integration wasn’t really there at all.

Some of the clock integration panned out better, though, and we liked being able to make our own clock-faces, limited as it was, and also quite liked the minor vibration (which you can turn on or off) for telling you when the top of the hour was.

Also, the pedometer did a decent job of tracking not just your footsteps, but then also working out the distance travelled and approximate calories burned.

Neat features, and with app integration, mean there’s a lot the watch will be able to do soon enough.

And there’s also the screen, which is bright enough indoors, but could do with a little more when you’re outside. It’s not dim enough that you’re going to have major issues seeing it, but let’s just say that direct sunlight and the Galaxy Gear’s screen aren’t really friends.

My Dad used to tell me the time was a hair past a freckle. With this watch face, it really was.

Before we started using the Galaxy Gear, we were concerned about one area, though: the battery.

Watches generally shouldn’t be taken of the wrist for a charge, because their very point is that they tell the time, and if you have to take off your time-keeping device, it’s an inconvenience, one you generally prefer to go without.

When Samsung first announced the Galaxy Gear, the fear was that you would only get a day of battery life, charging it nightly just like your smartphone.

Contrary to expectations, however, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch survives for two days of life.

That is while giving the technology a good flogging, too, keeping the pedometer on, firing shots off from the two megapixel shooter on the wrist band, and yes, even talking into the microphone on the band and listening to phone calls in public just like Dick Tracy.

Two days of life is far better than we had anticipated, and while it doesn’t quite match up to Pebble’s five day usage, there is a much more power hungry screen to deal with on the Galaxy Gear, one that shows multiple colours and takes touch, two factors the monochromatic e-ink screen of the Pebble smartwatch lacks.

It’s also quite easy to use, and more comfortable than you otherwise expect.

Samsung has designed something that is quite nice to use, and while you might imagine the body is big and cumbersome, it’s not much bigger than other watches, and hugs the wrist quite nicely.

Shots taken on the Galaxy Gear aren't super sharp at night, but they're also not bad, either.