Smartwatches

Apple Watch Series 2 vs. Samsung Gear S3

New Atlas compares the two premier smartwatches of our day: the latest Apple Watch (l) and Samsung Gear S3
New Atlas compares the two premier smartwatches of our day: the latest Apple Watch (l) and Samsung Gear S3
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Android compatibility
1/25
Android compatibility
Always-on display
2/25
Always-on display
Band materials
3/25
Band materials
Battery
4/25
Battery
Build (casing)
5/25
Build (casing)
LTE
6/25
LTE
Dimensions
7/25
Dimensions
Display covering materials
8/25
Display covering materials
Display resolution
9/25
Display resolution
Display size
10/25
Display size
Display type
11/25
Display type
Step tracking
12/25
Step tracking
GPS
13/25
GPS
Heart rate sensor
14/25
Heart rate sensor
New Atlas compares the two premier smartwatches of our day: the latest Apple Watch (l) and Samsung Gear S3
15/25
New Atlas compares the two premier smartwatches of our day: the latest Apple Watch (l) and Samsung Gear S3
iPhone compatibility
16/25
iPhone compatibility
Mobile payments
17/25
Mobile payments
Pressure-sensitive display
18/25
Pressure-sensitive display
Starting price
19/25
Starting price
Release
20/25
Release
Scrolling input
21/25
Scrolling input
Software
22/25
Software
Water resistance
23/25
Water resistance
Weight
24/25
Weight
Processor
25/25
Processor

The two biggest names in the smartwatch market are sitting at opposite extremes. We have the sleek and small Apple Watch on one side, and the gigantic man-gadget known as the Samsung Gear S3 on the other. Let's compare their features and specs, to help you make the call.

Size

Dimensions
Dimensions

Great guacamole, the Gear S3 is a huge watch. It's as if Samsung looked at its customer data, saw that only early adopter men were buying its Gear watches and decided to drop all pretension of serving both sexes, going all-in on that demographic.

Weight

Weight
Weight

The Gear is also roughly twice as heavy as the Apple Watch, though this is much less of an issue with wristworn wearables than it is with things like phones and tablets.

Build (casing)

Build (casing)
Build (casing)

You have three casing materials to choose from with the Apple Watch, but only steel for the Gear.

Band materials

Band materials
Band materials

Apple also gives you twice as many band materials to choose from, though you can snap any standard 22 mm strap onto the Gear.

iPhone compatibility

iPhone compatibility
iPhone compatibility

Perhaps that should be an X with an asterisk for the Gear, because Samsung has been promising iOS support for its smartwatches for over a year. The Korean firm insists it's still coming, but we're still waiting.

Android compatibility

Android compatibility
Android compatibility

On the other hand, we're likely to see Mr. T stop pitying fools before we see an Android-friendly Apple Watch.

Standalone cellular

LTE
LTE

The more rugged-styled version of the Gear S3, known as frontier, has built-in 4G LTE. Some earlier rumors had suggested Apple would go there as well, but that will have to wait for a future generation.

GPS

Heart rate sensor
Heart rate sensor

Both watches have built-in GPS, so you can map runs even when your phone is at home.

Display size

Display size
Display size

If you have the WWE superstar-sized wrists to match the Gear S3, then you can enjoy a significantly bigger screen.

Display resolution

Display resolution
Display resolution

The Gear actually got a pixel density drop this year, as the Apple Watch now has a notable sharpness advantage.

Display type

Display type
Display type

OLED (or AMOLED) screens are the standard for wearables.

Display covering

Display covering materials
Display covering materials

If you splurge for a steel or ceramic Apple Watch, then you get a sapphire display covering. With everything else you get glass.

Pressure-sensitive display

Pressure-sensitive display
Pressure-sensitive display

The Apple Watch has the company's Force Touch tech, so you can launch some shortcuts by mashing your finger harder on the screen. It's the precursor to 3D Touch on recent iPhones.

Always-on display

Always-on display
Always-on display

This could be part of why Apple made such a small smartwatch: Without an always-on display option, it can get away with a smaller battery.

Scrolling input

Scrolling input
Scrolling input

The Apple Watch has a crown you can twist to do things like zoom in and out of pics and scroll through long lists. The Gear's impressive rotating bezel serves a nearly identical purpose.

Water resistance

Water resistance
Water resistance

Both watches have water resistance, but only Apple is advertising swimming tracking.

Mobile payments

Mobile payments
Mobile payments

Each watch works with its maker's respective payment service. Samsung Pay has an advantage, though, in letting you hold your wrist up to a standard credit card reader (not awkward at all, we're sure) instead of a dedicated NFC terminal.

Step-tracking

Step tracking
Step tracking

Like any self-respecting smartwatch, both will serve as a pedometer and keep tabs on your steps.

Heart rate sensor

Heart rate sensor
Heart rate sensor

Both also have pulse monitors built into their backsides.

Battery

Battery
Battery

The Gear S3 should have the longer battery life, but keep in mind Samsung likely came up with these numbers with the always-on display option turned off.

Processor

Processor
Processor

Both watches have dual core processors this year.

Software

Software
Software

Apple's watchOS has deep iOS integration and a familiar Apple-friendly approach. The Gear's Tizen OS is … solid enough, but, based on our impressions of past generations, may be a bit clunky and disjointed in spots.

The app selection advantage also tilts overwhelmingly in Apple's favor.

Release

Release
Release

This Friday is the big day for the new Apple Watch, while Samsung hasn't yet announced an official launch date for the Gear (keep an eye on October).

Starting price

Starting price
Starting price

We also don't yet know what the Gear S3 will cost. You can expect the Frontier model, with its LTE radio, to make the bigger dent in your wallet.

For more, you can check out New Atlas' initial coverage of the new Apple Watch and our hands-on with the Gear S3.

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