Samsung Gear S vs. Moto 360

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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Samsung Gear S (left) and Motorola Moto 360 smartwatches

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Most smartphones and tablets look about the same. Sure, you'll see different screen sizes and build materials, but, for the most part, they're all cut from the same cloth. The designs of early smartwatches, though, have been all over the place. Let's look at two that are about as different as can be, as Gizmag compares the Samsung Gear S and Moto 360.

Size

With its large and futuristic design, the Gear S isn't going to win any prizes for subtlety. While the Moto 360's look is much closer to that of a classic timepiece, it isn't exactly small either.

Build

It's possible that there's some stainless steel on the Gear S' body as well, but you're mostly getting glass on the front (with its huge curved screen) and plastic on the back.

The Moto 360, meanwhile, lives inside a smooth stainless steel body.

Colors

Each watch will ship in two different color options.

Software

We're looking at Samsung's Tizen platform for wearables vs. Android Wear.

Wear has the advantages of better voice control and more direct integration with Android phone apps, but the version of Tizen running on the Gear is also expanded far beyond what we saw on older Gears. Stay tuned.

Display (shape)

The Gear S has a striking curved display that makes it unlike any other smartwatch we've used. Though the Moto 360's screen isn't curved, it's no less striking with its round, narrow-bezeled design.

We slapped that asterisk on the "round" description of the Moto 360's screen, since there's a small chunk cut off at the bottom.

Display (size)

I was surprised by my screen size calculations, as the Moto 360 gives you approximately 97 percent as much screen area as the Gear S.

Because the Moto 360's display isn't completely round (again, that cut-off point at the bottom), calculating its available area was a little tricky. But, after crunching the numbers and figuring out how much is cut off at the bottom, we're confident in saying that the Moto 360 gives you almost exactly 96.5 percent as much screen area as the Gear S does.

The moral of the story? Diagonal screen measurements can be deceiving – especially when you're comparing round vs. rectangular displays.

Display (resolution)

The Gear S does, however, give you a much sharper screen. This is a good fit, as it's designed to be used a bit more like a smartphone. Android Wear watches like the Moto 360 are currently more tailored to quick and glanceable info.

Display (type)

The Gear S also has a Super AMOLED screen, which usually means richer colors and greater contrast.

Always-on display

Android Wear watches are designed to have always-on displays, but Samsung tells me that the Gear S will be the first Tizen watch to give you that option as well.

Standalone wireless

We aren't getting too excited about the Gear S' 3G capabilities just yet, as the Samsung reps I chatted with appeared to be downplaying the feature at the launch event. I suspect carrier politics are threatening to limit what the device can do without a paired phone.

Compatible phones

Speaking of paired phones, the Gear S will (like previous Samsung watches) need to pair with a Samsung Galaxy phone running Android 4.3 or higher. The Moto 360 is more versatile in this department, as it will play nicely with any Android phone running 4.3+.

Voice control

Apart from its sexy design, this is probably the biggest advantage the Moto 360 has over the Gear. Android Wear's Google Now voice control is faster and wider-reaching than the S Voice found in the Gear.

Though, during my hands-on time with Samsung, the Gear S' version of S Voice does appear to have some improvements over the version you'll find on older Gears.

Swappable band

Both watches let you swap their default bands for something else. For the Moto, this can be a standard 22 mm strap. We aren't yet sure whether the Gear S will play nicely with standard bands or if it will require a Samsung OEM replacement.

Water resistance

Both watches offer (now industry standard for smartwatches) IP67 water resistance. This means it can sit in 1 m (3.3 ft) of water for 30 minutes and keep on ticking.

Heart rate sensor

Both watches have pulse monitors on their backsides.

Battery

You'll want to take the above estimates with a few grains of salt, as they come directly from the manufacturers.

Charging method

The Moto 360 includes a wireless charging pad, while the Gear S will have a charging cradle that snaps onto its backside.

Physical buttons

Each watch has one physical button – below the screen on the Gear and on the side of the Moto.

Camera

Two of Samsung's earlier smartwatches had built-in cameras, but the Gear S doesn't have one.

Built-in GPS

In addition to 3G capabilities, the Gear S also has built-in GPS. It ships with Nokia's Here app, with a focus on pedestrian navigation.

The Moto 360 doesn't have a GPS radio, but it does display navigation on its screen (with your phone's GPS doing the heavy lifting).

Keyboard

The Gear S is the rare smartwatch with an onscreen QWERTY keyboard in tow. A 2-in screen is big for a watch, but it's still a little cramped for typing. Fortunately, during my hands-on time with the Gear S, Samsung's auto-correct was damn near perfect.

The Gear S will also support third-party keyboard apps.

Phone calls

All of Samsung's Tizen-based Gears let you make calls on the watch. Android Wear doesn't (yet) support calling.

Speaker

In fact the early Wear watches, like the Moto 360, couldn't support phone calls even if Android Wear did. That's because they don't have speakers.

Storage

You won't likely need to worry about this, but both watches give you 4 GB of storage.

Release

The Moto 360 is technically on sale already, but it's completely sold out online. If you didn't already order one, you might need to wait a while for supplies to catch up to demand.

Though we don't know exactly when, the Gear S is set to launch sometime in October.

Price

Pricing is still a big question mark for the Gear S. If you're hoping for a budget price point, though, you're likely going to be disappointed. When I chatted with Samsung reps at the launch event, I got the impression that it's going to be pricier than previous Gear watches (which cost as much as US$300).

I also wouldn't be shocked to see US carriers offering the Gear S subsidized with a contract or installment plan.

For more on these two new smartwatches, you can hit up our early hands-on coverage of the Gear S and our full Moto 360 review.

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