Mansumer Reports: Should The Galaxy Gear Replace Your Watch?

IFA 2013 Consumer Electronics Trade Fair
Credit: Getty Images

For a century, a man depended on his watch, because much like with directions, no guy wants to ask a stranger for the time. Beyond functionality, though, a dude’s watch said something about him. (Mostly, it said how much he could afford to spend on a watch.)

And then cellphones came along, making timepieces redundant — impressive in a classical sense, sure, but impractical. Unnecessary. In other words: Bling.

With today’s release of the Galaxy Gear, Samsung is hoping to make the wristwatch technologically useful again, serving as an extension of your smartphone. We got a chance to try it out, and here’s our takeaway…

Pros

Junk won’t fall out of your pockets: Half the time we reach for our phones, we accidentally drop our loose change and keys on the floor. The Gear lets you check messages and switch music tracks with a tap on the wrist (especially useful for DJing your party without running back and forth to the laptop), and the voice-transcribed text messaging feature will make your life that much lazier/better. Thankfully, it can’t do emoticons, as far as we’re aware.

It can make speakerphone calls: And, talking into your watch, you will feel like James Bond.

It locates your phone: Excellent for when you’re hungover and not remembering so good.

You’ll seem less like an a**hole at restaurants: If you’re on a date, no girl appreciates you checking your phone for notifications while she’s talking. A surreptitious glance at your wrist will seem a lot less rude. (Bonus for the true workaholic: You can surreptitiously check your notifications during sex.)

The strap is decently comfortable: Some hairy dudes avoid wearing watches because our arm-fuzz gets caught between the metal links. The Gear’s strap is difficult to fasten, but it’s smooth and doesn’t bite.

It takes photos and Vine-length videos: Ever see someone being an idiot in public, and you wanna take a photo or video, but you don’t because they’d see you doing it? Now you can be way less obvious about capturing their stupidity. That said, don’t even think about sneakily recording in a strip club, fellas — the bouncers will smash your new toy into a thousand pieces, and then do the same to you.

It’s difficult to steal: Thieves grab phones on the subway all the time, but nobody’s gonna saw off your arm, we’re guessing.

It will make you look rich: At $299, this isn’t a minor purchase. If you’ve got the money to burn, people will think you’re a guy with more money to burn.

It tells the time: Y’know, like a watch.

Cons

It only works in Bluetooth range of your (Samsung) phone: That’s fine at home or work, but if you want to listen to music at the gym without carrying your phone around, you better hope the locker room is pretty close to the weights. And if you don’t have a Samsung phone (specifically the gigantic Galaxy Note, until the S III and S4 get software updates later this year), you’re out of luck. This device is purely an augment to your phone, not a space-saving replacement for it.

It needs to be recharged once per day: We can barely remember to charge our phones every night…now we’ve gotta remember something else? We’re losing brain cells over here, not adding them.

It (potentially) lets your girlfriend snoop on you: You have the option of automatically unlocking your phone, no PIN required, whenever the watch is nearby. That’s convenient, but it also lets someone access your emails, Facebook, etc., if you’re taking a shower or sleeping or otherwise not watching your phone like a hawk. But what’s a fantastic boyfriend like you got to hide from your lady, anyway? Yeah, that’s what we thought.

Verdict

The Gear is a cool luxury item if you can afford it, and a guaranteed conversation-starter at the bar. But for dudes who can barely afford beer at said bar, we’re just not sure it’s must-have technology. In other words, much like your old-school wristwatch, it might not be 100% necessary, but it’s pretty impressive bling.

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