Samsung has its fingers in nearly every segment of the tech industry you can think of, so it’s hardly shocking that the company has its own line of smartwatches. But this might surprise you: some of them are compatible with your iPhone. 

It’s true! Just like Android Wear before it, Samsung’s Gear S3 and S2 smartwatches eventually gained iPhone compatibility, giving Apple phone users another wearable option that isn’t the Apple Watch. And Samsung’s watches are pretty impressive, too, with bright, rounded touchscreen faces wrapped by a rotating bezel that you can use to navigate the UI.

But how well do these Tizen OS-powered watches work with iOS, and what kind of functionality do you gain—and lose—by using Samsung’s hardware instead of an Apple Watch? We’ve been using the Gear S3 Frontier with an iPhone 7 Plus recently, so here’s a look at how to use the two together, and what to expect.

What is the Gear S3?

The Gear S3 is Samsung’s latest and arguably greatest attempt at building a premium smartwatch, following an up-and-down progression of devices over the last few years. For example, the original Gear S was a huge, awkward, standalone smartwatch/phone device that our sister site Greenbot roundly panned.

But the Gear S2 was a total reinvention: smaller, sleeker, and much more useful and comfortable—and the Gear S3 is ultimately a revision on that core design. Both the Gear S3 and Gear S2 are compatible with iPhone, pairing with your device to put notifications on your wrist and pull from the phone’s internet connectivity, and both watches have their advantages.

Andrew Hayward/IDG

Here’s the Gear S3 Frontier. It’s large and in charge (of my wrist).

All of the Gear S3 and Gear S2 models are defined by the rotating bezel around the large, circular touchscreen. You can navigate the interface however you please, either by swiping the screen or gradually moving the bezel in either direction. It all works surprisingly well, and Samsung has done a nice job building a UI that doesn’t conflict between the input types.

As Michael Simon wrote in his review of the Gear S3 Frontier for Greenbot, “Even though it was my first time using a Samsung smartwatch, my first instinct was often the correct one.” To borrow a phrase from Apple, it just works. On the right side are two physical buttons: the top one goes back in navigation, while the bottom one brings you back home to the watch face.

Like the Apple Watch Series 2, the Gear S3 has a built-in GPS for tracking runs and activity on the go. The Gear S2 models lack the GPS, much like the original Apple Watch, but both Gear options are IP68-rated water and dust resistant and feature wireless charging with the included dock. 



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