UK

UK

Nougat update rolling out to HTC 10 and HTC One M9 in Europe

Looks like HTC is keeping its promises. About a week ago, Graham Wheeler, product and service director at HTC EMEA, announced on Twitter that European HTC 10 devices would be getting Android Nougat within the next two weeks. We are now happy to report that the Nougat update has begun rolling out in Europe.

Today, Wheeler again took to Twitter to announce that Android Nougat is making its way to HTC 10 devices in the UK. He also added that the update will be available in other countries soon. Although an exact time frame wasn’t specified, we expect that it will be released within the next couple of days.

Nougat update rolling out to HTC 10 and HTC One M9 in Europe

HTC is also rolling out Nougat to the One M9 in the UK, with several owners sharing screenshots of the install screen on Twitter. This is consistent with previous statements made by HTC, saying that the One M9 would get bumped up to the latest version of Android in the same timeframe as the HTC 10. The update should be available in other countries soon.

The next device HTC plans on updating to Nougat in Europe is the One A9. Although the company said that the update will be available at an unspecified later date, we have heard that the device has already been bumped up to the latest version of Android in some countries that are part of the MEA region (Middle East and Africa). This is good news, as it likely means that the update for the European One A9 is just around the corner.

See also:

HTC U Ultra: The top features you should know

2 weeks ago

It’s great to see that the Nougat update for the HTC 10 and One M9 is finally being released in Europe, as it has already been available in the US for some time. Across the pond, HTC updated both the 10 as well as the One M9 to Nougat back in December.

Have you got the update yet? Let us know in the comments.

Tesco now lets you pay with its Android app at every UK store

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In order to keep up with the latest trends in the industry, Tesco announced its own mobile payment service called PayQwiq back in March of 2016. The retailer first tested out the service in around 50 stores located in Edinburgh and London and has expanded it to 500 stores later on.

It looks like the trial was successfully completed, as Tesco has announced that you can now use PayQwiq in every single one of its stores across the UK. The payment service is quite simple to use. Just download the PayQwiq app, add your debit or credit card, and pay for your purchase with the help of your smartphone.

According to Tesco, the service supports all Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Maestro payment cards. It collects Clubcard points automatically when you make a purchase, which you are then able to see within the app, along with your transactions. The app is secured by a PIN code — four digits — and card details are never stored on your device.

See also:

LG G6 iris scanner and MST mobile payment rumored again

November 25, 2016

One PayQwiq account can be used on two different smartphones at once and there is a limit of £250 per transaction, which is higher when compared to a contactless credit/debit card. But keep in mind that the service doesn’t work on rooted phones.

Mobile payment services are getting more popular by the day, and retailers want in on the action. Tesco is not the only one that is entering the game, as we have seen others release their own mobile payment services as well. One of them is the US-based Walmart, which took the wraps off the Scan & Go app for Android a couple of weeks ago.

Interested in trying out Tesco’s mobile payment service? Visit the Google Play Store by clicking the button below and download the PayQwiq app to your device.

Download PayQwiq

(UK) Buy a Galaxy S7 edge and get a free Gear Fit 2!

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If you’re in the UK, you can now purchase a Galaxy S7 edge from any participating store and get a free Gear Fit 2 from Samsung! And this includes the brand-new Blue Coral color option.

After the Note 7 fiasco, Samsung’s been doing everything it can to promote its only flagship of 2016: the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. The latter, in particular, was reborn with two new shades after the Note 7 recall – one in the exact same hue that the Note 7 debuted in, and the other in darker and truer black. On top of that, the South Korean company has been running various promotions here in the US, and now it’s the UK’s time to enjoy some freebies.

This includes any color, including the newly-launched Blue Coral option, and any storage option.

If you buy a brand new Galaxy S7 edge from any participating retailer in the UK between January 12th through February 28th, you can simply go on Samsung’s website and claim your free Gear Fit 2. This includes any color, including the newly-launched Blue Coral option, and any storage option. All the participating retailers are listed below, and it doesn’t matter whether the purchase was made in store or online according to the company.

  • Carphone Warehouse UK and Carphone Warehouse Ireland
  • Curry’s PC World
  • Tesco and Tesco Ireland
  • BT
  • John Lewis
  • Argos
  • Shop Direct
  • Sainsbury’s
  • EE
  • Three and Three Ireland
  • O2
  • Giffgagg
  • Virgin
  • Vodafone and Vodafone Ireland
  • Exertis
  • Eir
  • Fonua
  • Dataselect
  • Independent Deal
  • TDM
  • Samsung E-Store
  • SES

Note that third party online retailers or auction websites like Amazon and eBay are excluded from the deal, so keep that in mind when purchasing your device.

If you’re S7 edge was purchased within the promotion period, go to Samsung’s promotion page and fill out the online form within 60 days of your purchase. Samsung will process the request and let you know when the Gear Fit 2 is on its way. You can read the Terms and Conditions here.

Just as a quick refresher, the Galaxy S7 edge boasts a dual-curved 5.5-inch AMOLED display of QHD resolution. It’s powered by Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM, and has the iconic Dual Focus 12-megapixel low-light camera on the back. The Gear Fit 2, somewhat similarly, has a curved 1.84-inch AMOLED screen and runs on Samsung’s own Tizen OS. You can read more about either of these devices in our Galaxy S7 edge review and Gear Fit 2 review.

Huawei Mate 9 goes on sale in the UK via Three

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In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we really like the Huawei Mate 9 smartphone and have really enjoyed our time with its initial launch. Huawei’s momentum isn’t slowing down anytime soon either. The US version of the 5.9-inch phone launched last week in the US, and now UK residents can officially buy the handset, exclusively from the Three UK wireless carrier.

If you want to get this phone without a contract, Three UK will sell the unlocked Mate 9 to you for just £549.99 if you also get £10 of prepaid credit. If you prefer to pay for the phone over a period of time, the carrier has a number of options, ranging from paying £99 upfront and then £31 per month with a 1GB per month data allowance, up to £29 upfront and £56 per month if you get 30GB of data per month.  The Three UK version of the Mate 9 only comes in Space Gray; there’s no Moonlight Silver option like there is in the US.

Here’s a quick reminder of what the Huawei Mate 9 offers. The 5.9-inch 1080p display uses the Kirin 960 processor, along with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of onboard storage, dual rear cameras with 12MP and 20MP sensors, an 8MP front-facing selfie camera and a 4,000mAh battery. It has Android 7.0 Nougat installed and out of the box combined with Huawei’s own EMUI 5.0 skin. The phone will also add support for Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant later this year via a software update.

What do you think of the Mate 9? Let us know in the comments.

Get it at Three UK

Wileyfox’s new Swift 2 X features a 5.2-inch FHD screen, Snapdragon 430 for £219

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Back in November, Wileyfox took the wraps off two budget-friendly smartphones called the Swift 2 and Swift 2 Plus. Today, the UK-based company unveiled another affordable smartphone that joins the Swift lineup.

Called the Swift 2 X, it sports a 5.2-inch Full HD display and is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 chipset. The device has 3GB of RAM and comes equipped with a 16MP primary camera (f/2.0 aperture) as well as an 8MP selfie snapper. The 3,010mAh battery keeps the lights on and supports Quick Charge 3.0. According to the manufacturer, the battery can get up to 75 percent in around 55 minutes of charging.

See also:

Wileyfox will reveal its transition plans away from Cyanogen “soon”

2 weeks ago

The Swift 2 X also features a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, 32GB of expandable storage, and NFC. It supports dual-SIM functionality and runs Cyanogen OS 13.1 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The device doesn’t stand out much in terms of design and looks quite similar to the already mentioned Swift 2 and Swift 2 Plus. This can be either a good or a bad thing depending on your preference.

The smartphone is already up for sale on the company’s website in a Midnight color option, and will set you back £219.99 (around $270). If you’re interested in getting the Wileyfox Swift 2 X, head over to the company’s website by clicking the button below.

Get the Wileyfox Swift 2 X

Amazon Prime Video now available in more than 200 countries across the globe

Amazon has made a big announcement today. The company is expanding its Prime Video service to more than 200 countries around the world. By signing up, you’ll be able to watch the popular Grand Tour show starring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May as well as other Amazon original series including Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, The Man in the High Castle, and others.

The service costs $2.99/€2.99 per month for the first six months. After the initial promotional period, the price gets bumped up to $5.99/€5.99 per month. Either way though, it’s a lot cheaper than Netflix. Amazon is also offering a seven-day free trial, so you’re able to test out the service before you decide to subscribe to it.

See also:

Amazon Prime Video adds new offline watching feature

September 1, 2015

Users can access the Prime Video service on their Android or iOS devices, Amazon’s Fire tablets, a few smart TVs from Samsung and LG as well as online at primevideo.com. The good thing about it is that you can download all the content that’s available, so you can watch it even when you don’t have internet access. The shows are in English, with French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles. Dubbed versions are also available.

Prime Video is a direct competitor to Netflix, which expanded its operations to 130 countries at the beginning of the year. And although Amazon’s service is now available to a larger audience, Netflix still offers more content than its rival.

So, if you want to check out what Clarkson and the gang are up to, click on the link below and sign up for a free seven-day trial. But keep in mind that Amazon will charge your credit card after the free trial, so make sure you cancel the subscription on time in case you don’t like what it has to offer.

Start your free trial

Will you be trying out Amazon’s Prime Video service? How do you think it stacks up against Netflix?

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

Not long after Android Wear’s inception, ASUS entered the smartwatch market with the original ASUS ZenWatch. Although it didn’t quite offer the same level of appeal as the circular Moto 360, it marked the beginning of one of the best Android Wear lines to-date.

Two years and one iteration after its debut, the ZenWatch line is going circular with the ZenWatch 3; but does ASUS’ latest smartwatch offer a better experience than its competitors? Let’s find out with our comprehensive ASUS ZenWatch 3 review!

Design

The ZenWatch 3 is available in three color options: Rose Gold, Silver, and Gunmetal (pictured above). Perhaps the most compelling design aspect is the watch face; a circular display is surrounded by an accented, diamond cut bezel, which meets with the device’s housing. Unlike the Moto 360, the ZenWatch 3 manages to pull this circular design off without a “flat tire.” There’s also still an ambient light sensor for automatic brightness.

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

Encased in a 316L stainless steel body, the ZenWatch 3 certainly gives off a premium vibe from a material perspective. Its lugs may appear a bit unusual at first glance, but they actually compliment the rest of the design quite nicely with their subtlety. The wrist strap attachment mechanism is easy to use with its quick release pin, although it is proprietary, so you won’t be able to easily use third party bands. ASUS is planning to sell both leather and rubber bands separately, each available in dark brown and beige.

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

With that said, the leather wrist strap that comes with the watch is surprisingly good, offering a good deal of both comfort and style. It may, however, be a tad too small for those with very large wrists. Despite having relatively small wrists myself, the ZenWatch’s band fit around the middle notch. If you’re worried about this, you should consider trying on the watch in a retail store before purchasing to make sure it fits well.

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

ASUS has also included three side buttons on the ZenWatch 3, all of which are satisfyingly tactile. Functionally speaking, the bottom button turns on airplane mode, the center button functions as a back button, and the top button can be set to launch an app of your choice.

I would have preferred just a single customizable side button

However, I very rarely found myself using these buttons, and often opted to interact with the touch screen instead. Quite frankly, three individual buttons feels excessive from a design perspective and overly complicated from a user experience perspective, so I would have preferred just a single customizable side button. Still, the buttons that ASUS has included both look and feel very premium.

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

All things considered, the ZenWatch 3 offers a unique and stylish design. Some may argue that the gold bezel accent is a bit tacky, but I think it fits in well with the rest of the watch’s aesthetic. For what it’s worth, many of my friends commented on that aesthetic, and the general consensus was quite positive.

Display

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

The ZenWatch 3 features a 1.39″ circular AMOLED display, with a resolution of 400 x 400. This is very likely the best display on a smartwatch to date.

The ambient light sensor allows for auto brightness, too, so you won’t have to worry about constantly fine tuning the brightness manually. My only gripe with this is that the ZenWatch tends to lower auto brightness levels, which can be a bit problematic in bright environments. Hopefully a software update can tweak this a bit.

Sunlight readability is great


There also isn’t a proper low brightness mode, so the watch’s “theater mode” just turns the display off completely. Sunlight readability is great though, and probably some of the best you’ll obtain from this form factor.

Performance

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

One of the ZenWatch 3’s key advantages over last year’s Android Wear devices is its use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100. This chip has been touted to offer better performance and battery life since it’s designed specifically for smartwatches.

The better performance claim seems to hold water, too, as the ZenWatch 3’s performance was excellent during my testing. Swiping between cards and panels is very smooth, and it’s generally difficult to find an appreciable amount of lag throughout the interface. There’s also 512 MB of RAM, which is pretty much standard for Android Wear smartwatches.

Hardware

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

With IP67 certification, the ZenWatch 3 is dust proof and water resistant, meaning that it can be submerged in up to one meter of water for thirty minutes. While we wouldn’t recommend taking a shower with it, you won’t have to worry about it getting wet when washing your hands or sweaty when exercising.

You'll be missing out on standalone Wear apps that use GPS as the potential for Android Pay


For connectivity, the watch primarily uses Bluetooth 4.1 to connect with your phone, but also supports Wi-Fi as a fallback. Unfortunately, it lacks GPS and NFC, so you’ll be missing out on standalone Wear apps that use GPS as the potential for Android Pay, which will likely be coming in an upcoming update to Android Wear.

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

It’s also lacking a heart rate monitor, which is fairly disappointing considering many competing Android Wear options include one. It does, however, include both a microphone and speaker, meaning that you’ll be able to place and receive calls on the watch directly. In my testing, both functioned about as well as I had expected.

Battery Life

ASUS claims the ZenWatch 3’s 340mAh battery should last one to two days, depending on your usage. With moderate usage, I was able to get around twenty four hours per charge, which is about average for an Android Wear device.

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

What makes the ZenWatch 3 particularly strong in this category is that it supports fast charging, for up to a 60% charge in fifteen minutes. In fact, the ZenWatch 3’s fast charging speed made it possible to fully charge it while I got ready each morning, which usually means about forty minutes on the charger.

The included charger connects to the watch magnetically and transfers power through the watch’s underside pins; it generally works quite well, too.

I would have liked to see a longer charging cable, however, as the one included in the box is a bit short at around a meter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that you can currently buy a longer or even extra charging cable for the ZenWatch 3, so you’ll want to keep this in mind.

Software

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

There’s not much to say when it comes to software. Shipping with Android Wear, the ZenWatch 3 provides an identical core experience to other Android Wear smartwatches. I did notice a few minor bugs while using the ZenWatch 3, but those can most likely be blamed on Google. The good news is that it looks like this watch will be updated to Android Wear 2.0, so the software experience will likely improve over time.

The software experience will likely only improve over time

With that said, the general interface today sounds complicated but is actually quite easy to use. The watch’s “home screen” is simply a watch face of your choice. From there, you can swipe up to see and act on different cards, which are added as you receive notifications on your phone. So, for example, if you receive a text message from a friend, you can simply swipe up on your watch to read it and have the opportunity to respond with your voice.

Since it is running Android Wear, the ZenWatch 3 is compatible with both Android 4.3 and higher as well as iOS 8.2 and higher, although features will vary by platform. Still, if you’re using an iPhone, this is a great, cheaper alternative to the Apple Watch.

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

ASUS has a ZenWatch Manager app, which adds over fifty different exclusive watch faces. That’s an impressive number of options, but unfortunately there’s only a few really good ones. Do keep in mind that you can always download third party watch faces from the Google Play store, however.

There’s also ASUS ZenFit, a built-in app that tracks steps, workouts, and sleep. I found it to work very well overall, too, and was happy to see that includes Google Fit integration.

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

ASUS ZenWatch 3 review

The ASUS ZenWatch 3 is now available from various retailers for $229. That’s a great bargain for what ASUS has brought to the table. It’s very difficult not to fall in love with the ZenWatch 3 with its beautiful design, great display, excellent performance, and solid hardware. If you’re looking for what is likely the most well-rounded smartwatch to date, look no further.

With that said, smartwatches largely still feel like a novelty. As much as I love the ZenWatch 3’s hardware, the overall experience isn’t enough for me to keep using it. Currently, it simply doesn’t do enough more than my smartphone, which I always keep on me. I understand that some will absolutely love having notifications on their wrist, but I personally find it too distracting. I also don’t request much more than my daily step count in terms of fitness, which my phone can also keep track of.

Also read:

Three things Android Wear needs to succeed

4 days ago

Here’s the thing ― smartwatches, at least in their current form, aren’t for everyone. If, however, you know the smartwatch concept is for you, the ZenWatch 3 is a great choice and you almost certainly won’t be disappointed.

Cortana for Android gets a refreshed look as it makes its UK debut

It’s been nearly a year since Microsoft officially launched the Android version of its Cortana digital assistant. Today, the company revealed that the app is finally available in the UK. At the same time, it will roll out an update this week that will give Cortana a fresh new look.

The revamped UI for the Android app includes what Microsoft is calling “Quick Actions”. Basically, Cortana now shows a number of features that can be called upon with one tap of the finger, in case you don’t want to use its voice features. These kinds of actions are available for things like showing the current weather forecast, the latest meeting schedule, a quick look at the most recent news and more. Quick Actions also allows users to set up new reminders, again with just one tap.

See also:

Best personal assistant apps for Android

2 weeks ago

In addition, when you need Cortana to answer a question, such as, “What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?”, the Android version will now display that info on the screen in full page view, with a much cleaner look compared to earlier versions. Finally, Microsoft says it has made some changes under the hood, which will offer a faster overall performance for the app.

Overall, it sounds like Microsoft is still very interested in extending its Cortana assistant to as many platforms and markets as it can. You can grab the latest version now from the Google Play Store at the link below. Do you use the Android version of the app for your daily reminders and schedules?

Get it at Google Play

Samsung Gear S3 review

The newest version of the Gear series is a bit bigger, packs a little more punch, and brings a few more tools for the smartwatch enthusiast. Is there enough substance behind the style? We find out in this full review of the Samsung Gear S3.

Hot Android phones:

Before we begin, we will mention that while we are reviewing the Frontier edition, we were able to use the two different editions of it. A Wi-Fi only edition of the watch is available and is more or less the typical Gear experience, while the 4G-enabled edition through AT&T makes it easy use the watch without needing to have a phone nearby and connected.


Design

While it might not be easy for everyone to sport this large smartwatch, there is one simple reality for those who can – this is one sleek device. The Gear S3 Frontier brings grooves to the signature rotating bezel, giving it an added tactile quality that is subtle but noticeably felt. Seconds in increments of five line the area just below the rotating bezel – a small detail that adds to any analog watch face. Two buttons are on the right side, one to go backwards in the interface and the other to either go back to the watch face or open up the app list. To differentiate the Frontier and Classic editions, the Frontier’s buttons are more recessed to the body and are covered in a patterned leather.

In adding to the sporty nature of the Gear S3 Frontier, a silicone band comes standard. This helps with the watch’s water resistance, ensuring that no leather will get ruined if one’s wrist gets splashed. However, it is easy to replace the bands through the 22mm standard connectors. A myriad of bands are available from Samsung via partnerships with plenty of fashion companies, but this silicone complemented the style of the Gear S3 nicely.

Samsung Gear S3 review

The body case is a large 46mm, definitely bigger than either of the previous Gear S2 models. This size makes it tough to recommend for anyone with small wrists, regardless of one’s gender. Even my own wrists could barely contain the large frame of the watch. While it certainly doesn’t look obnoxious on my wrists, it took a little bit of time to get used to. This size adds room for plenty of features and protection – turning the watch body over reveals the heart rate sensor and designations for the 316L stainless steel material that makes it up. And finally, a MIL-STD 810G rating adds extra shock, heat, and cold resistance to the existing IP certification.

See also:

Samsung Gear S2 review

October 22, 2015

What we really applaud the Gear S3 Frontier for, is its ability to work with plenty of different outfits. While it is most at home among a more formal ensemble, the sleek head-turning design makes it a centerpiece when wearing casual clothing. And to that end, it is hardly a loud device in terms of look – the black color blends in well with most paired clothing.

Samsung Gear S3 review

Which brings us to the marquee feature that returns from the Gear S2 – the rotating bezel. It takes just little tug or a little push in order to make it move, and every click from the bezel is as satisfying as the last. Full touchscreen capabilities are available still, but this physical method of moving around the Tizen interface is fluid, responsive, and as snappy as it should be. Movements far in the interface or just to the next element are equally easy, making this an ideal smartwatch for anyone that wants a tactile experience to, in many ways, replace touchscreen experiences.

Display

Samsung Gear S3 review

And the display is half the story regarding the size of the Gear S3 – at 1.3 inches, the OLED display is covered in Gorilla Glass SR+ (Scratch Resistance Plus) and boasts 360 x 360 resolution. Though these specs might sound a bit run of the mill for most high-end smartwatches, credit goes to Samsung for leveraging it as effectively as possible. OLED lends to really great colors coming from the Tizen OS along with the ability to truly turn off the display’s lighting for battery savings.

And to that end, watch faces on the Gear S3 take on a different nature when the ‘Always on Display’ option is ticked. When using pretty much any watch face downloaded from the Samsung Gear application, covering the display with one’s hand or letting it time out reveals a more toned down version of the face that still keeps the essential elements in view no matter what angle you’re looking at the watch from. For any fans of the Always on Display on the Galaxy smartphones, this is about the closest that it can get strapped onto a wrist.

Samsung Gear S3 review

In all situations – even in broad daylight – the brightness of this OLED panel keeps everything properly viewable. And it is important to have an easy time glancing at the screen because the Tizen operating system tries to pack in as much as it can in the main screen. Some watch faces have hidden functionality when tapped upon. For example, the default face doubles up as a stopwatch. Even when features like these are running, small elements are strewn about the watch face to alert the user to changing circumstances like standing notifications or when the watch is not connected to a smartphone.

Make no mistake – this is the best way to read notifications on a smartwatch. Ever. The combination of the high quality screen and the rotating bezel to scroll down in even long notifications is an experience that is unparalleled by the touchscreen-centric Android Wear and the button pressing Pebble. Even when pictures load up in the preview, they’re shown in effective fashion and simply add to the idea that this watch is supposed to be more standalone than perpetually tethered to your smartphone.

See also:

The best Android Wear watches

4 weeks ago

Performance

Samsung Gear S3 review

So, for a watch that wants to do as much as possible, there has to be quite a bit of power under the hood. For the Gear S3, this comes in the form of an Exynos 7270, born and optimized by Samsung and for Samsung, in the case of their own smartwatch operating system Tizen. It comes at no surprise, then, that the watch simply flies through its operating system and applications. A quick spin of the rotating bezel shows how fluidly all of the widgets and screens zip past with no issues at all.

The only problems we had with applications came from third party developed downloads from the Gear Manager. This is not so much the problem of the watch and its processing power, but from the development of the apps. While this is an issue that bears mentioning, the core experience of the Gear S3 is still about as good as it can get – and that says a lot, because this watch tries to do a lot out of the box.

Hardware

Samsung Gear S3 review

As mentioned earlier, we have been able to use a 4G LTE enabled version of the Gear S3 that comes with a few extras. Namely, the ability to sync up the watch without needing to be around the smartphone it pairs with. Setting up the Gear Manager properly means that as long as both the smartphone and smartwatch are connected to some sort of network, notifications will come to the Gear S3, no matter where the user is.

The added benefit is the ability to make calls and send texts in this very situation, without the smartphone around. On AT&T, this service is called NumberSync and it makes it so that the watch goes off alongside its paired phone. Calls on the watch make use of a speaker and microphone combo that is found on the left side of the body, tucked under the top half of the watch. The experience of taking calls on the S3 is akin to a small walkie talkie that is strapped to your wrist, but it isn’t effective in even semi-loud environments and thus requires either a Bluetooth headset connection or, surprise surprise, moving to the phone. It’s a great idea made into reality, it’s just not as awesome as we probably all expected it to be.

Samsung Gear S3 review

Not the mention that having this extra functionality in the Frontier LTE means paying for a smartwatch plan that encompasses data and wireless signal, which costs $10 on top of any smartphone plan you are already paying for. Is it worth that extra money each month? That’s up to you, but we think that there is already so much fun to be had on the Gear S3 without having to shout at your wrist.

Connecting a Bluetooth headset to the watch opens up a couple of possibilities. Not only will calls be easier to manage, but the on-board storage can be used for local music playback. The LTE-enabled Frontier allows for Spotify streaming, which is nice but is a battery drain. 4GB of storage is available for local files so that content is always within reach.

Samsung Gear S3 review

One final feature on the Gear S3 is Samsung Pay, enabled on the Gear S3 through an add-on that is installed in the Gear Manager. The setup takes a little bit of time, but after getting any credit cards put into the add-on and then transferred over to the NFC and MST enabled Gear S3, payments are quite easy at multiple stations across major stores. Simply hold the back button, select which card to use, and then bring the watch up to the station and voila. This is yet another fun aspect to using the Gear S3, and even this skeptic that prefers physical credit cards gets a kick out of it.

See also:

Samsung Pay: What is it, how does it work and how do I use it?

March 5, 2016

The battery of the Gear S3 is charged via a wireless charging dock that is magnetic, making the watch snap right into place easily. Though Samsung claims two days of battery life out of the 380mAh unit, that is less true when usage is constant and aggressive. This is mostly true for the Frontier LTE, in which everything from taking calls, sending texts, and even fitness tracking combined will make the watch seem more like a one day warrior. When using more applications and functions on the regular, be prepared to take the watch off and dock it at least once a day to top off the battery.

Software

Samsung Gear S3 review

And lastly, Tizen – the smartwatch OS of choice for Samsung. Since the Gear S2, there have been some enhancements made to the operating system, and existing Gear S2 users will get this through an update. These are mostly in terms of using the rotating bezel, which can be rotated to answer or decline calls, for example.

The main noticeable changes are in the overall optimization of the Tizen software, and it shows in the smooth look and feel that the Gear S3 provides. Which is good, because there are a lot of apps that require some due diligence. Weather, calendar events, reminders, Flipboard, S Health, and so much more are available to the user, and it can get a little overwhelming. Add upon all that the different ways that users can respond to messages – voice, emoji, canned messages, and a T9 keyboard that is a bit easier to use on the larger screen but is still far from ideal.

Samsung Gear S3 review

S Health returns in Tizen as the main method of fitness tracking. Much like in the Gear S2, S Health will count steps and periodically take heart rate metrics to get a snapshot of the day’s fitness. While its step count default of 6000 is still rather absurd to us, there are a few more tools here to use when going out in the wild. GPS tracking is available when doing distanced based workouts, though it has to be enabled via the specifically selected activity, like hiking. And speaking of hiking, there are barometers and altimeters to get a better handle on one’s environment. Hikers, in particular, will probably find altitude information useful. Other functions in S Health help users track water and caffeine intake along with sleep, but these are rather simplistic in their execution.

The app ecosystem of Tizen has grown a lot since the Gear S2, and some apps that I envied Android Wear and Pebble for during my usage of Samsung’s OS have finally arrived. That said, there are issues with some third party application development, as we mentioned earlier. Sleep as Android, my sleep tracker of choice, is still a little buggy and didn’t give full reports a couple of nights. And S Voice is just not as good as Google’s voice assistance.

Samsung Gear S3 review

All in all, Tizen is an experience that is still best taken at its core, because that is where it shines best. Third party support is still lacking, but Samsung is still able to make it work where it counts – fitness tracking, though sometimes simplistic, is robust; and Samsung Pay helps add a bit of flair to the notification prowess and daily info already built into the Gear S3.

Gallery

Conclusion

Samsung Gear S3 review

There was a feeling I couldn’t shake when using the Gear S3 – with every notification that came in, I found myself enjoying reading the entire message (usually SMS) on the screen, scrolling down with the satisfying clicks of the rotating bezel. This is an experience I had before on the Gear S2, but for some reason this was better on the even larger, more men’s fashion-oriented Gear S3. And for any faults that I came across in this smartwatch, like buggy apps or tough to hear voice calls blaring from my wrist, the simplest daily activities were made better by what Samsung continues to build upon since premiering their unique tactile user experience.

...one of the most enjoyable smartwatch experiences we’ve had in a little while...

The Gear S3 Frontier, in particular, really tries to wear a lot of hats at once – smartwatch, notification center, health monitor, payment system, GPS tracker, audio player, and voice caller, to name a few. And though there are a large number of users that may be turned off by the visage of this smartwatch, credit has to be given where credit is due – Samsung managed to make the bulk of these features work well enough in concert to make what has been one of the most enjoyable smartwatch experiences we’ve had in a little while. Android Wear unfortunately has one of its biggest competitors in the Samsung Gear S3.

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What do you think of the Samsung Gear S3? Would you buy one? Or is an Android Wear device or the Apple Watch more your type of smartwatch? Let us know your views in the comments below!

Next:

The best smartwatches

4 weeks ago

Snooper’s Charter: What you need to know about the UK’s new surveillance laws

The Investigatory Powers Act 2016, known colloquially as the Snooper’s Charter, is the UK’s new surveillance scheme which grants more power to police and other services to investigate online activity. The legislation was recently passed by the House of Lords and House of Commons, and is now legally binding, despite criticism that it would undermine the population’s right to privacy. Below are some key details about the bill.

What is the Snooper’s Charter?

The Snooper’s Charter is a UK surveillance initiative which provides more authority to government departments to investigate greater amounts of online data.

The legislation stipulates that internet providers and phone companies must collect and store customer browsing data for 12 months and allow police and other authorities to access it. This would involve internet service providers holding records of when, where and which websites have been accessed, and by whom.

Additionally, security services and the police will be granted further power to hack into individuals’ computers and phones, including the ability to download information, and install software to trace individual characters typed, if provided with a warrant.

How will the Snooper’s Charter affect me?

In terms of day-to-day online experience, the Snooper’s Charter is unlikely to affect how the internet is used and online content consumed. To be clear, that is not to say that the changes won’t have a far-reaching impact, only that those using the internet are unlikely to encounter a difference in how it operates.

The key impact it will have on UK citizens is their loss of privacy. While the legislation doesn’t allow the government to access the content of individual messages sent or web pages accessed, it does provide access to the metadata, which many argue can still be used to identify details about a person’s private life.

Additionally, it’s said that security services could be called upon to hack an individual’s phone to eavesdrop on conversations and that attempts could be made to decrypt encrypted messages, in special cases. The individual wouldn’t necessarily have to be suspected of criminal activity for this to occur either.

See also:

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October 28, 2016

Can I avoid the surveillance measures?

Using a private VPN network will put a step between you and others who may attempt to monitor your online activity (government bodies or otherwise) – but none of the commercial VPNs available are truly anonymous and untraceable. Likewise, anonymity network Tor is often recommended as a free way to keep your online activity private, however, there are still questions over how secure this is also.

Should the government wish to investigate an individual it may be difficult for them to avoid complete scrutiny simply through use of a service like Tor or a VPN – but these are likely the best options for now. It also bears noting that visitors to the UK will also be affected, as roaming data will also be logged and recorded because it occurs on local networks.

How have people responded to the Snooper’s Charter?

Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the world wide web, said that the Snooper’s Charter has “No place in a modern democracy – it undermines our fundamental rights online,” while NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden decried it as “The most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West.”

In its defence, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The government is clear that, at a time of heightened security threat, it is essential our law enforcement and security and intelligence services have the power they need to keep people safe. The internet presents new opportunities for terrorists and we must ensure we have the capabilities to confront this challenge. But it is also right that these powers are subject to strict safeguards and rigorous oversight.”

As of the time of writing, an online petition to repeal the law has accrued more than 150,000 signatures.

When will the Snooper’s Charter come into effect?

The previous bill, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA), must first be replaced and the Home Office has stated that some of the provisions in the bill will require extensive testing. The new Investigatory Powers Act likely won’t come into full effect until 2017.

What are your thoughts on the Snooper’s Charter? Is it a necessary security measure in the modern age or an abuse of privacy and freedom? Give us your thoughts in the comments.