So, in five years, what’s the improvement in the real world performance? What’s the sum of five years of technological advancements in every field from Samsung?
Just a brief rundown of why I am still in love with the Samsung Gear S from 2014: Firstly, it has an actual physical sim card slot so you could arrive in Puerto Rico, toss in a Claro card and be up and running in seconds. Secondly, the curved amoled screen is beautiful and big enough to have a full swype / swiftkey qwerty keyboard and be able to type very easily rather than returning to the T9 tap tap tap keyboard of the Galaxy Watch. Also, the Gear S can install Opera Mini browser for full screen web viewing. With 4G, 3G, 2.5G, Wifi, bluetooth… you can get enough speed to communicate with email, facebook, twitter, text messages, and interface with a raspberry Pi Gotenna gateway or a Sonnet Labs mesh device. The Gear S can be made to run Android Wear, Samsung Tizen, fullblown Android 5.0 or Cyanogen Mod (CM) 12.1… It is a very versatile device and rugged enough to survive post-Maria Puerto Rico. Water-resistant and dust-resistant means it can stay on in the shower and survive the playa.
The Galaxy Watch is pretty solid little guy. My understanding is that it is waterproof, dustproof, boasts a 4 day battery life, has 4G, 3G, Wifi, bluetooth, and NFC. But, it’s a TINY little screen. No on-screen keyboard. No physical sim card. Instead, it’s locked down with an eSim internally. There doesn’t seem to be Opera mini web-browser in the samsung app store. But, it is more rugged, updated processor, SOC, baseband, memory, screen, and with a louder speaker.
Down to the tests:
I setup the Gear S to call the Galaxy Watch using 4G LTE only, everything else off. After 30 minutes, the 2019 Galaxy Watch (46mm) gave up the ghost and overheated. The Gear S from 2014 was still fully functional. After a half-hour phonecall, both devices were at 75% battery. Identical battery draw?
A thirty minute phonecall in the shade, during winter, at 66 degrees ambient, with screen and every other radio off, no background apps, was enough to get the brand NEW from the box, 2019, Galaxy Watch to overheat, automatically shut down the radios and enter airplane and low power mode?
I reestablished the call several times, each time, the Galaxy Watch overheated (both in exactly the same environment).
At one point, during winter, with the air conditioning on full, I was able to get the Galaxy Watch to hold the call for a little over an hour in the shade before it overheated. Ultimately, the Gear S was able to do, in sum, 1 hour and 47 minutes of telephone calls to the Galaxy Watch’s 1 hour 44 minutes before the Galaxy Watch 2019 46mm (big battery) shut down. The Gear S still had about 2% battery. So, if phone calls and 4G data is important to you, the Gear S is the winner. This surprises me a lot. Has Samsung done nothing in five years?
In contrast, where the Galaxy Watch shine, powering up wifi, and watching Youtube, the Gear S was dead in about an hour, whereas the Galaxy Watch was still going. I fell asleep waiting for her to die. But, I would extrapolate the Galaxy Watch as being able to survive for about 2 hours streaming youtube over wifi. If circular display, youtube watching, and scuba diving are in your future, the Galaxy Watch is a great device.
For me, in humanitarian missions after a hurricane, being able to rapidly deploy, hit the ground with BOTH a CDMA (Sprint / Verizon) device and a GSM (ATT / Tmobile) device to provide meta signal diversity and double my likelihood of a usable comms signal is important. The Galaxy Watch will be a pain activating the sim (you literally NEED a second, working device, downloading an app, and a data signal to establish comms). While the Gear S has a beautiful, little nano sim slot (all while maintaining water-resistance).
In stark contrast to the Galaxy Watch, the Gear S can just have any sim plugged in and be off and running. Being able to access advanced messaging with receipt confirmation for group comms like facebook messenger on the Gear S is very helpful… and without a native facebook / twitter / signal / whatsapp / gotenna app, a web browser like Opera Mini is ESSENTIAL. Also, the flexibility of being able to pull the sim card from the watch and plug it into a phone interchangeably is very helpful. If you have the device running full android or CM, you should be able to get the Signal, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, and /orGotenna Apps to allow direct backup device mesh communications if all the towers are down.
I WISH Samsung would release an updated unlocked Gear S with BIG rectangular curved amoled screen with a full on-screen keyboard (swype/swiftkey) and a physical external SIM card slot bringing to bear all of their advancements in processor, baseband, battery, and waterproofing and embodying them in a nice new watch for geeks. But until then, the most powerful smartwatch still is the 2014 Samsung Gear S.