Although this is a review, its worth pre-warning you that smartwatches are still not there yet, in fact, I feel they should still be seen as prototypes, as they aren’t really doing anything worth their price tags….except if you are a gadgeteer like myself. Google’s Android Wear is great and its probably taken the wearable tech to the next level with access to a lot more information beyond just receiving notifications and it also makes the usability a lot better than what i have used before.
Samsung Gear Live unboxing video
The Gear Live is one of the three first Android Wear operated smart watches; it drives the device so that you can receive all your notifications on your wrist, preview them and easily swipe away those notifications when you are done with them. It also allows you to process some ‘ok Google’ commands such as, set an alarm, get directions and even check your heart rate, but the heart rate aspect is only available on the Gear Live because Samsung decided to include it to work with Android Wear’s fitness feature. The HR sensor can be useful but its not an essential feature of the Gear Live.
The Gear Live design itself is sleek, stylish and I actually prefer it when comparing to the LG G Watch, the cheaper Android Wear option available now. The Gear Live weighs just 59g and has a comfortable rubber strap attached to the metal frame and has a metal attachment at the end of it. The screen utilises Samsung’s Super Amoled display, making it vibrant and a joy to look at. The display resolution comes in at 320×320 which is better than that of LG’s G Watch. Under the hood is 512 MB RAM in conjunction with 4GB of storage and a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
In order to get it started, you will need an Android device running 4.3 or higher, so iOS is not supported, at least for now. You will need to install the free Android Wear companion app which allows you to change some settings and configure your notification settings.
After the easy setup process, you can press and hold the watch face in order to change the watch face, and you can press once to access ok google function; scrolling down will show you some commands and scrolling all the way to the bottom, you will see the settings icon for changing other settings.
Swiping down from the screen down, you can change vibration settings and when you receive notifications, it pops up on the screen which you can then swipe left to reveal options such as open in phone or dismiss the notification by swiping right. It really is as simple as that, but if you came from Samsung’s Gear 2 or Gear Fit, you might find it a little different and have the need to get used to it first before you continue.
The Gear Live is fantastic and is in fact what the Samsung other smart watches should have been, it offers more and seems a lot smoother with it’s 1.2GHz snapdragon processor. There is no camera on it but I have never understood the need to have a camera on your wrist in the first place. Security side of the watch is a concern as I have no means of locking it to avoid someone viewing my notifications.
Battery life is also poor, its 300 mAh battery only lasts just a day and it requires a charge overnight with a special charging dock and thats an area where the Pebble Watch gets it right; this is another reason why I think for the public, it’s not fully ready just yet.
The Gear Live will also function well outdoors, even with its Super AMOLED display, you can still see it comfortably outdoors and with its ip67 water and dust resistant racing, you have nothing to worry about if it rains or got a little sweaty. It also features sensors to allow your steps to be counted, and when compared to the Samsung Gear Fit, it produces more accurate steps counted.
The always on feature is also a bonus as it makes it seem like an actual watch rather than something I have to press a key to wake or rely on a flicking wrist gesture. This is a good step in the right direction for smart watches and what makes this different is the ok google function of Android Wear. Should it work as a stand alone device with its own SIM card? that’s a debate we can have another time but for now, its good but not enough for the average non gadgeteer public to shed out over 150 pounds on for now as it doesn’t do anything my current Android device can do on its own, even ok google.