The Gear Sport eschews the round packaging of the Gear S3 and arrives in a black box. Opening it up we find the Gear Sport watch, the microUSB Travel Adapter, charging dock and Quick Start Guide.
As is the trend, there is an additional smaller sized 'half' strap (the part containing the adjustment holes for the clasp) for smaller wrists.
The 5V 0.7A charging dock provides wireless charging to the Gear Sport whilst magnetically affixing the watch itself in a landscape orientation which could make for a convenient bedside clock. The charging LED comes through as obtrusively bright for this sort of use case.
It would be nice to see the Travel Adapter and corresponding dock move to USB-C - next time Samsung. Also, whilst the charger is convenient for use at home, it's less so when on the move where a smaller/lighter 'puck' accessory would be appreciated, but we're just being picky here.
The Gear Sports body comes in two colors - Black (the color of our review unit) and also Blue - both accompanied by a matching 20mm silicon strap.
Encased in a 316L corrosion resistant stainless steel body, the 1.2" Circular Super AMOLED touch enabled display is protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass 3 and is surrounded by Samsung's ubiquitous Rotating Bezel. The bezel itself has a number of small/fine notches around its circumference to aid in grip and provides feedback during rotation with a smooth but noticeable click. It is a joy to use and provides an unobscured view of the screen at all times as you navigate through the Gear Sports features.
It's a matter of personal taste but some of us prefer our smart watches to sport the more traditional 'round' displays, especially ones that we will wear 24/7 in the gym, at work and whilst playing.
Ironically for a fitness focused smart watch, the main watch body itself protrudes out from underneath the circular display in a 'over eaten' fashion, which is probably a direct result of having to accommodate the various sensors, battery and other miscellaneous hardware. Whilst certainly not as divisive as a certain 'notch' on first acquaintance it does detract slightly from the appeal of the overall design.
On the right are two additional buttons for 'Back' and 'Home'. Both buttons have a texture to help make them non-slip, especially useful when undertaking water sports.
Turning the Gear Sport over and we see the LED HR sensor utilizing green light which looks identical to the sensor within the Gear S3. The Gear Sport can sample your heart rate continuously throughout the day with the sample rate being configurable between Always (this will impact battery life), Frequent (every 10 minutes) & Never.
The fitment of the HR sensor on the Gear Sport differs from the S3 in that it doesn't lie flush with the back of the watch, it's raised by 1mm. Whether this is a result of the slimmer design or intentional, we're fans of this approach as it does ensure the sensor gets a better contact with the skin whilst not feeling noticeable during everyday wear.
The Gear Sport comes with two strap lengths to accommodate different sized wrists. Samsung stated that they chose the 20mm width of strap to appeal to both sexes and the provided strap is made from a soft silicon with both sides featuring a 45-degree stripped design.
Importantly for a fitness watch, the strap has just the right amount of 'stretch' providing a tight and comfortable fit during workouts allowing the HRM to stay close to the skin and stopping drop-outs. In our case the watch was comfortable to wear for both the men and women here at GSMArena tower.
In addition to the standard silicon straps, to further compliment the Gear Sport Samsung has designed and created their own range of straps.
These are available in a variety of colors.
Perhaps the most intriguing of which is the Premium Hybrid strap that combines rubber on the skin side and a leather outer. Allowing the same strap to be used for sports and also be suitable for going out to a bar.
For its watchstrap Samsung chose to employ the standard 'spring bar' strap mechanism which allows a number of 3rd party straps to be used. Whilst an industry standard we found this mechanism fiddly for those of us with bigger hands.
Design is always subjective but Samsung has created a wearable with a cohesive design, that is light and unobtrusive enough. And with the right strap, it would easily fit right in with both work and play attire. Whilst we didn't subject the Gear Sport to any torture testing it's survived our everyday use and testing since we've had it without picking up any nicks and scratches.
The way you interact with the Gear Sport UX is primarily through the rotating bezel, the touchscreen and the physical Home & Back buttons. You can also use S-Voice which we'll cover off later.
To wake the watch you can press either of the buttons, raise your wrist or turn the bezel. Placing your palm over the screen turns off the display, useful to conserve battery life if you've got a longer screen timeout set.
Press the Home button while on the homescreen will open the Apps screen. Pressing it from any other screen will return you to the home screen. Additionally, you can set a default app to be launched when you double press it.
Pressing and holding the home button gives you the option to turn off your Gear Sport or increase the screen sensitivity.
Pressing the Back button will get you back to the previous screen while a press-and-hold will let you access Samsung Pay.
Rotating the bezel left and right or swiping left and right changes the currently visible widget and notifications or select apps from the Apps screen. You can touch the screen to dive deeper into a widget, notification or to launch a selected app.
Whilst rotating the bezel, you'll see a series of indicators that spread either side of the 12 oclock position to indicate the number of notifications and widgets that are available, with your place being highlighted to provide a visual cue.
Additionally, you'll receive a vibration bounce, accompanied by a subtle curved animation when you reach the end or start of the items that you're scrolling through which is a nice touch and an example of how polished and mature Tizen has become.
SOS - You can also configure the Gear Sport to send an SOS to up to 4 contacts when you press the home button three times. Your emergency contacts will receive SOS messages containing information about your current location and how to track you for up to 1 hour. This feature is dependent on having a connection with your phone.
One small but annoying quirk is that if the screen times-out when using the watch, sometimes you're taken back to the watch face and have to start all over again to get back to what you were doing. This only really sticks out as Tizen OS on the whole is a very intuitive in use. Of course, you could increase the screen time-out time but that will have an impact on battery life.