Samsung Gear Sport Review

The Samsung Gear Sport was released in the fall of 2017, and so I’ve now owned it for 6+ months and in that time it has performed well.  There were a few hiccups early on with the GPS but those have been worked out. If you have a Samsung smartphone, the Gear Sport is going to match up very nicely.  You’ll be able to respond to text messages by a variety of methods such as voice, canned responses, handwriting, emojis, etc.

NOTE:  This is an updated review of the Gear Sport.  I wanted to add a lot more detail to it and I will continue updating it. 5/26/2018

Like Samsung’s other smartwatches before it, the Gear Sport also supports third-party apps that can be downloaded to it such as many of the most popular fitness/health apps like MapMyRun™, Endomondo™, MyFitnessPal™, as well as news apps, weather, and more.

Samsung Gear Sport Review
Gear Sport with a leather band I purchased for it

Pros of the Gear Sport:

  • solid battery life of 1.5 – 2 days depending upon how heavily it’s used (GPS, workouts, etc)
  • several workouts to choose from including
    • running
    • walking
    • cycling
    • hiking
    • swimming
    • elliptical
    • exercise bike
    • step machine
    • treadmill
    • lunges
    • crunches
    • squats
    • jumping jacks
    • pilates
    • yoga
    • rowing machine
    • and other workouts for those that don’t fit into any of the above categories
  • accurate heart rate sensor compared against chest HR strap, though a chest strap is still the best for weight lifting and resistance training workouts
  • accurate built-in GPS that doesn’t seem to drain the battery excessively
  • waterproof for swimming
  • storage for music
  • support for Spotify, MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun, and Endomondo
  • ability to respond to text messages and emails in a variety of ways (voice, canned messages, handwriting, emojis, text)
  • attractive and useful watch faces to choose from
  • very good build quality
  • easy to change bands
  • gender neutral design

Cons

  • no speaker to answer phone calls or hear guided workouts, navigation prompts, etc
  • the band is okay but you’ll probably need/want to upgrade it eventually
  • it’s a heavier watch compared to some (the Fitbit Versa is definitely lighter)
  • no breadcrumb trail for hiking – though there are apps in the store that have very good mapping abilities, i.e., MapMyRun, Endomondo, etc.

Specs and Features

This is the same table I used in my article comparing the Gear Sport to the Fitbit Versa.  You might want to check out that article if you’re trying to decide between the two because they share many of the same features but there are differences.

Samsung Gear Sport Features
Samsung Gear Sport
view on amazon

GPS: Built-in GPS+GLONASS
For Swimming? Yes; 5 ATM/ 50 Meters
Music Storage? Yes
Supported Music Apps: Spotify
Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyro, Barometer, HRM, Ambient Light Sensor, NFC
Supported Activities: Running, Walking, Cycling, Hiking, Swimming, Elliptical, Exercise Bike, Step Machine, Treadmill, Lunges, Crunches, Squats, Jumping Jacks, Pilates, Yoga, Rowing Machine, General Workout
App Store: Yes
Battery Life: 2-3 Days
Specs:

42.9 mm x 44.6 mm diameter; 11.6mm thick, 67g. 1.2″ 360×360 Super AMOLED Full Color Screen, Gorilla Glass 3

Notifications? Yes
Ability to Respond to Notifications?

Yes, Respond by Voice, Type, Handwriting, Emojis (Android)

Text Message Example on the Gear Sport
Text Message Example on the Gear Sport

Responding to Text Messages
Responding to Text Messages
Mic: Yes
Speaker: No
Strong Points:

Premium look and weight, rotating bezel, built-in GPS, useful third-party apps (MapMyRun, Endomondo, MyFitnessPal) can be installed as widgets on the watch. Music transfer done easily through app.

Weak Points:

Buggy software once in a while. Has a mic but no speaker for phone calls.

Strong Points:

The Samsung Gear Sport is a very capable fitness tracker with built-in GPS and that cool rotating bezel. It’s not just cool but practical too. I particularly like using MapMyRun™ with the Gear Sport so I can see where I am on a map and track back my path if I need too.

Transferring music onto the Gear Sport is easy, especially if you have an Android phone. If you have a Samsung smartphone, like I do, the Gear Sport is going to pair up with it very nicely.

I would like to see breadcrumbing on the watch for hiking. The watch is a bit heavy so finding the right strap will make all the difference.

It really should have been designed for a 22mm strap to support it better. The 20mm just doesn’t cut it. I also think the Gear Sport should have had a speaker. It is very convenient to reply to messages by voice but it would be nice to answer phone calls on the watch too.

Still, the Gear Sport is a good looking watch with a premium feel to it and the software is more reliable than Fitbit OS at this time.

HR Sensor Grade: B+
GPS Accuracy Grade: A-
Step Tracking Grade: B+ (misses some steps walking around the house/office but does great during activities)
Sleep Tracking Grade: A
App Selection: B (No it doesn’t have all the apps like the Apple Watch but it has most of the ones you’re most likely to actually use on a fitness tracker.)
Watch Face Selection: A
Ease of Use: A
Reliable Bluetooth Connection: A
Comfort: B (It’s heavier than the Versa but I still find it comfortable)
view on amazon

Build Quality and Style

Samsung did a good job creating a watch that was gender neutral enough to appeal to both men and women.  And of course, it has that nifty rotating bezel that Gear watches are known for and it’s certainly not a gimmicky feature that you’ll rarely use.

It’s actually quite useful when scrolling through menus or even playing games on the watch.  In the video below you can see how that works.

Samsung Gear Sport
Samsung Gear Sport
Gear Sport
Gear Sport

Apps

Yes, the app selection might be a bit weak compared to the Apple Watch but honestly a lot of mobile phone apps wouldn’t translate well to the screen of a watch anyway.  It has most of the fitness apps that I am looking for.  Support for MyFitnessPal™ and MapMyRun™ are big to me.  I would like to see a better Google Maps/GPS app for navigation but it isn’t a dealbreaker.

MapMyRun, Endomondo™, and other supported apps do a good job displaying maps on the watch suitable for hiking, so I’m content with that.

The Gear Sport also has a barometer and altimeter and I find that the barometer is a nice feature to have.  For instance, yesterday it warned me that the pressure had dropped quickly and that it was likely a storm was possible.  Sure enough, it stormed shortly after that.

Barometer
Barometer

You can use GPS data for the elevation, which I would recommend for the greatest accuracy.

Elevation
Elevation

Heart Rate Sensor

In my tests of the Gear Sport’s heart rate sensor it has performed well.  Very rarely do I notice erratic results and instead it’s very steady and within a reasonable range of accuracy compared to a chest heart rate monitor (CHRM).

The test below is representative of what I usually experience with the Gear Sport.  This test was done during a treadmill workout versus the Garmin Fenix 5s paired with the Wahoo TICKR chest heart rate monitor.

The Gear Sport estimated my average heart rate at 115 bpm while the Wahoo TICKR estimated 112.  The max heart rate on the Gear Sport was 128 and 123 on the TICKR and that’s a good representation of what data I get.

The Gear Sport, in this test was usually 2-5 bpm higher than the CHRM but I didn’t notice any dips or peaks in the readings.

This has been my experience with the Gear Sport during other workouts.

GPS Accuracy

Come back soon!  I will be updating this in the next couple of days. Look for it before June 1st.

Until I get some GPS tests posted on here, I’ll just say that the GPS has been reliable for me but I’ll be comparing it against the Fenix 5s and a handheld GPS device and then share those results.

Conclusion

Overall, if you are looking for a great fitness tracker with decent battery life, and some very good smartwatch features then you should take a serious look at the Gear Sport.  The rotating bezel is very useful and something Samsung got right, plus it’s fun to use!  It just makes sense for easy navigation through menus on a smartwatch and works well for some games too.

The Gear Sport does an excellent job for workouts. If you’re into fitness, this is a watch you should look at because this is a fitness watch first and a smartwatch second, hence its name.  The heart rate sensor is accurate in my testing of cardio workouts and I appreciate that the watch allows me to customize my goals and view weekly data all on the watch.

The color screen display is topnotch and it will automatically adjust to brighter and more dim lighting conditions and I have no trouble reading the screen outdoors or indoors.  The guided workouts are motivating and I hope more are coming.  The only things I’m missing are a speaker and a few more apps.

Purchase or read more reviews on Amazon:

Black Samsung Gear Sport Link > http://amzn.to/2zR3Iql

Blue Samsung Gear Sport Link > http://amzn.to/2Aib05R