Samsung to Cap Note7 Battery Charging at 30% in UK as Verizon Pushes Back Against Bricking in the US
Following the announcement that all Galaxy Note7 devices in the United States will essentially be bricked through an upcoming software update, Samsung recently gave details on how it plans to address the exploding Note7 situation for users in the United Kingdom. The company won’t go so far as to completely eliminate the ability to charge the Note7 in the U.K., but instead limit maximum battery charging capacity to 30 percent (via TechCrunch).
The update for users in the U.K. will hit December 15, four days before the update that will come to U.S. Note7 smartphones. Samsung said that it’s “designed to further minimize customer risk and reinforce to customers to replace their device…as soon as possible.” In the U.S., more than 93 percent of recalled Note7 devices have been returned, but worldwide there are still quite a handful of potentially harmful Note7 smartphones out in the wild, which has lead Samsung to take drastic measures with these software updates.
After the announcement of the U.S. software update last Friday, Verizon confirmed that it won’t push the update to its Note7 customers “because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note7 users that do not have another device to switch to.” The carrier believes that while solving one problem, rendering the remaining Note7 smartphones useless could lead to even more emergency situations where the users are left without a way to contact help. Verizon also cited the need to keep in touch with family during the holidays as another reason it won’t issue the update.
Today, Samsung announced an update to the Galaxy Note7 that would stop the smartphone from charging, rendering it useless unless attached to a power charger. Verizon will not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note7 users that do not have another device to switch to. We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation.
Every other major U.S. carrier will support the December 19 update from Samsung, including Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The carriers will be rolling out the software update at different times, with T-Mobile on December 27, AT&T on January 5, and Sprint on January 8.
Tags: Samsung, Galaxy Note 7
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Apple has rejected “Samsung Pay Mini” on the App Store for undiclosed reasons, following an earlier report claiming the app would be available on iOS, according to ETNews.
Samsung confirmed Apple’s rejection and said it will not resubmit the app, but rather focus solely on Android ahead of its expected launch at CES 2017 in the first week of January.
“Samsung Pay Mini” is reportedly an app that will extend Samsung Pay to other smartphones beyond Samsung’s own Galaxy-branded devices, thereby competing with Android Pay.
The report claims Samsung has finished testing Samsung Pay Mini with some South Korean credit card companies, but it did not specify if the app will be made available elsewhere. Meanwhile, it said Apple Pay could launch in South Korea in the first half of 2017.
Tags: App Store, Samsung, Samsung Pay
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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 recall in the US is still ongoing, but the company will release an update in a couple of weeks that will basically force customers to return any devices that may still be in use. The company announced today that a December 19th update to the handsets in the States will prevent them from charging at all and “will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices.” In other words, if you still have a Note 7, it will soon be completely useless.
Samsung says that 93 percent of all recalled Note 7s have been returned through the refund and exchange program in the US. Of course, the expanded recall applies to both original and replacement devices after the company’s attempt to remedy the issue with a fresh round of handsets didn’t fix the battery problem. Samsung permanently halted production of the Note 7 back in October, but it looks like the company will take one last step to reduce fire risk from any remaining devices.
The pending update follows a previous software tweak that attempted to annoy users into returning any remaining devices by limiting charging to 60 percent and displaying recall notifications every time the display is turned on. Samsung says it will work with carriers to notify customers “through multiple touchpoints” about the options that are still available for exchanges and returns. But seriously, if you still have a Note 7, it’s beyond time to stop using it.
Update: After this post was published, Verizon announced that it would not participate in the upcoming Note 7 update. The carrier says that disabling devices for customers who may not have another handset poses “added risk” during the busy holiday travel season.
“We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note 7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season,” Verizon VP of global communications Jeffrey Nelson said in a statement. “We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation.”
Via: The Verge
Samsung today announced that an update to its now-infamous line of Galaxy Note7 smartphones will render the remaining devices within the United States useless, as a means to further ensure the safety of its customers who still own the malfunctioning smartphone.
Even though “more than 93 percent of all recalled Galaxy Note7 devices” have been returned, Samsung’s December 19 update will ensure no more danger befalls one of its customers. The update will prevent the ability to charge the smartphone — which led to fires this fall — and in total “eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices.”
Consumer safety remains our highest priority and we’ve had overwhelming participation in the U.S. Note7 Refund and Exchange Program so far, with more than 93 percent of all recalled Galaxy Note7 devices returned. To further increase participation, a software update will be released starting on December 19th that will prevent U.S. Galaxy Note7 devices from charging and will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices.
In today’s press release the company also announced that it’s expanded the recall of Galaxy Note7 smartphones, both original and troublesome replacement devices, thanks to cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and carriers and retailers across the country. Consumers can still either replace their Note7 with another Samsung phone, or receive a refund.
Samsung officially recalled the Galaxy Note7 devices in early September after multiple accounts of users experiencing exploding batteries and fires originating from the smartphone. A month later it halted sales of the device worldwide, a move that was reported in October to cost the company around $2.3 billion.
Tags: Samsung, Galaxy Note 7
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Samsung as rumored last month has announced the Galaxy S7 edge will be available in a new “Black Pearl” color in select markets starting tomorrow. The glossy finish, exclusive to 128GB versions of the smartphone, will inevitably draw comparisons to the Jet Black iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
Samsung already offered the Galaxy S7 edge and ill-fated Galaxy Note7 in a somewhat glossy Black Onyx finish, so we will have to wait for actual photos of the new Black Pearl color to see the difference between the two colorways. Samsung said the all-black finish “radiates quality and luxury.”
Black Pearl was designed to be modern and striking. The sleek black finish blankets the entire device – edges and all – and adds depth to its glass design. The result is a stylish all-black aesthetic that captures the essence of the color in its purest form.
The new color arrives nearly two months after Samsung permanently discontinued the Galaxy Note7 following battery-related safety risks.
Samsung following in the footsteps of iPhone colors is not unprecedented. Earlier this year, it released the Galaxy S7 in Pink Gold after Apple launched the iPhone 6s in Rose Gold last year. However, in Samsung’s defense, it has offered some variation of a pink smartphone in select markets since at least 2012.
The new color follows reports Samsung’s next-generation Galaxy S8 will not include a headphone jack, following in the footsteps of the Moto Z in June and iPhone 7 in September. The Galaxy S8 is also said to have a bezel-free display and virtual home button, two features rumored for Apple’s next iPhones.
Tags: Samsung, Galaxy S7 Edge
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Since 1908, London’s Piccadilly Circus has been home to illuminated signs and advertising billboards. As time went by, incandescent light bulbs gave way to neon lights, eventually ending up with six massive LED displays (Piccadilly Lights) that you see today. From January 2017, however, the Lights will be switched off for the longest period since the Second World War to make way for the largest single digital screen Europe has ever seen.
Land Securities, owner of the premium advertising space, confirmed that the new 784 square metre display has a “greater than 4K resolution” at 5490 x 2160 pixels and contains three-in-one LEDs that are capable of generating “trillions of colours and exceptional brightness.”
It’ll also retain the curved shape that is present today and can be programmed to retain the patchwork appearance it currently provides, allowing brands to sponsor any of the six sections or do a complete brand takeover of the full screen. Coca Cola and Samsung have already committed to continue advertising.
The Piccadilly Lights will also become more interactive thanks to a high-speed fibre Wi-Fi network, which lets automatically trigger content on screen, but also promote live video streams (a future Samsung keynote might be one example); offer weather, traffic, sports and flight updates; and promote social media updates across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Barring the odd power cut, Piccadilly Lights has only ever been turned off during a blackout for World War II (between 1939 and 1949), for Winston Churchill’s funeral in 1965 and Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997. The six existing displays will be powered down next month and replaced with static advertising banners ahead of a grand unveiling in autumn 2017.
Source: Land Securities
With the Galaxy Note 7 debacle weighing heavy on its balance sheet, Samsung needs the Galaxy S8 to be a massive success. It isn’t expected to be unveiled for another few months, but already details are starting to emerge about what the flagship Android smartphone will offer. According to Bloomberg sources, the Galaxy S8 will include a new “all-screen design” and will not have a physical home button, with Samsung choosing to embed it under the display instead.
Previous reports have suggested that Samsung will also ditch the headphone jack — relying on its USB-C port for sound — and a brand new AI assistant capable of taking on Apple and Google’s. Bloomberg builds on this, noting that the assistant will let owners use voice commands to send text messages, make calls and set reminders but will also offer features that are “significantly differentiated” from those already available in other services.
Samsung is expected to offer variants of the Galaxy S8, which will be similar in size to the 5.1-inch Galaxy S7 and 5.5-inch Galaxy S7 Edge. They’ll “only come with wraparound displays using organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology,” Bloomberg says, and this will almost completely remove all bezels. If you’re trying to picture what that looks like, Xiaomi introduced the Mi MIX “concept phone” in October, a phone that wowed with its 6.4-inch edge-to-edge HD display.
Although the Korean smartphone giant wants to unveil the phone in March, “tougher testing procedures” could set things back by a month. Samsung is keen not to repeat the mistakes it made with the Galaxy Note 7, so its new Android smartphone may undergo additional quality assurance examinations to ensure it’s ready for public release.
Samsung will beat Apple to the punch in next year’s smartphone wars by including features in its Galaxy S8 handset that have long been mooted for the 2017 “iPhone 8”, such as a bezel-free wraparound OLED screen with a virtual home button embedded in the display.
Bloomberg on Thursday referred in its favored manner to “people with direct knowledge of the matter” who said that Samsung is targeting a March release for the redesigned S8, but that launch could be delayed by about a month as the company adopts tougher testing procedures in the wake of the Note 7 debacle. Apple’s smartphone launch cycle usually runs on a yearly September release.
Samsung is understandably wary of the dangers of rushing its smartphone development after quality control reportedly suffered in the company’s race to release the feature-rich, but ultimately fire-prone, Note 7.
“Since the phones have a record of burning up, it needs time for these phones to be verified as safe. How safe the phones turn out to be is more important than any hardware innovation,” said Greg Roh, an analyst at HMC Investment Securities Co. “It will take about a month or two for people to actually start opening their pockets,” he said.
The bezel-less devices will come in sizes similar to Samsung’s 5.1-inch and 5.5-inch S7 Edge models. Samsung is also said to be introducing a “significantly differentiated” voice-activated personal AI assistant in the handsets that will be able to send text messages, make phone calls and manage calendar schedules. The AI technology will come courtesy of Viv Labs, which was founded by the developers of Apple’s Siri and acquired by Samsung in October. Samsung is considering scrapping dual-cameras on the S8 due to high manufacturing costs, Bloomberg sources said. According to a separate report, the models will also drop the headphone jack.
Chinese phone maker Xiaomi made a splash back in October by debuting an almost bezel-less display with the Mi Mix “concept phone”, boasting a screen that covers 91 percent of the front of the handset. While Xiaomi’s limited-availability phone was more a proof of concept than a device ready for the mass market, both Samsung and Apple will be relying on the mainstream appeal of similarly standout features to boost unit sales in a stagnant market short on innovation.
In the near term, Samsung is desperate to bounce back from the impact of this year’s Note 7 recall and discontinuation, which could end up costing the company more than $6 billion. The Korean-based firm reported a 17 percent drop in net income in the three months ending September, and has advised investors to expect a multibillion dollar slump in earnings in the December and March quarters as its market share struggles to recover.
As well as a bezel-free OLED display and virtual home button, Apple is said to be readying an all-glass casing and wireless charging for its 10th anniversary iPhone, with the possibility of a new 5-inch premium model and two lower tier aluminum models also in the offing.
Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tags: Samsung, Galaxy S8
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The world’s most popular virtual reality headset makers have assembled. Google, Oculus, Sony, HTC, Samsung and Acer have come together to create a non-profit organization called the Global Virtual Reality Association (or the far snappier GVRA, for short). The association’s goal is to “promote responsible development and adoption of VR globally,” according to its website, and members will do so by researching, developing and sharing what it believes to be industry best practices.
GVRA also intends to serve as a resource for policymakers, consumers and industries interested in the medium. In a statement on the organization’s website, Google’s director of immersive design Jon Wiley said,”The GVRA is a necessary first step toward ensuring great VR experiences for everyone.” Execs from the other founding companies made similar statements, echoing the same sentiment. Although Microsoft’s HoloLens is technically an AR device, it’s a bit surprising to not see the Windows maker in this list.
Citing VR’s potential to improve “sectors ranging from education to healthcare,” as well as the resulting contributions to the global economy, GVRA also states that its founding members will work to maximize the platform’s potential and to “ensure those gains are shared as broadly around the world as possible.” Considering the clout some of these companies already have in tech, it sounds like this will be the virtual reality authority in the future.
It’s a little concerning that the only affiliates of the organization so far appear to be hardware makers. Hopefully, the GVRA will soon gain some members from different parts of the industry, including representatives who are more invested in the impact of VR on our health.
Source: Global Virtual Reality Association
The newest version of the Gear series is a bit bigger, packs a little more punch, and brings a few more tools for the smartwatch enthusiast. Is there enough substance behind the style? We find out in this full review of the Samsung Gear S3.
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Before we begin, we will mention that while we are reviewing the Frontier edition, we were able to use the two different editions of it. A Wi-Fi only edition of the watch is available and is more or less the typical Gear experience, while the 4G-enabled edition through AT&T makes it easy use the watch without needing to have a phone nearby and connected.
While it might not be easy for everyone to sport this large smartwatch, there is one simple reality for those who can – this is one sleek device. The Gear S3 Frontier brings grooves to the signature rotating bezel, giving it an added tactile quality that is subtle but noticeably felt. Seconds in increments of five line the area just below the rotating bezel – a small detail that adds to any analog watch face. Two buttons are on the right side, one to go backwards in the interface and the other to either go back to the watch face or open up the app list. To differentiate the Frontier and Classic editions, the Frontier’s buttons are more recessed to the body and are covered in a patterned leather.
In adding to the sporty nature of the Gear S3 Frontier, a silicone band comes standard. This helps with the watch’s water resistance, ensuring that no leather will get ruined if one’s wrist gets splashed. However, it is easy to replace the bands through the 22mm standard connectors. A myriad of bands are available from Samsung via partnerships with plenty of fashion companies, but this silicone complemented the style of the Gear S3 nicely.
The body case is a large 46mm, definitely bigger than either of the previous Gear S2 models. This size makes it tough to recommend for anyone with small wrists, regardless of one’s gender. Even my own wrists could barely contain the large frame of the watch. While it certainly doesn’t look obnoxious on my wrists, it took a little bit of time to get used to. This size adds room for plenty of features and protection – turning the watch body over reveals the heart rate sensor and designations for the 316L stainless steel material that makes it up. And finally, a MIL-STD 810G rating adds extra shock, heat, and cold resistance to the existing IP certification.
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What we really applaud the Gear S3 Frontier for, is its ability to work with plenty of different outfits. While it is most at home among a more formal ensemble, the sleek head-turning design makes it a centerpiece when wearing casual clothing. And to that end, it is hardly a loud device in terms of look – the black color blends in well with most paired clothing.
Which brings us to the marquee feature that returns from the Gear S2 – the rotating bezel. It takes just little tug or a little push in order to make it move, and every click from the bezel is as satisfying as the last. Full touchscreen capabilities are available still, but this physical method of moving around the Tizen interface is fluid, responsive, and as snappy as it should be. Movements far in the interface or just to the next element are equally easy, making this an ideal smartwatch for anyone that wants a tactile experience to, in many ways, replace touchscreen experiences.
And the display is half the story regarding the size of the Gear S3 – at 1.3 inches, the OLED display is covered in Gorilla Glass SR+ (Scratch Resistance Plus) and boasts 360 x 360 resolution. Though these specs might sound a bit run of the mill for most high-end smartwatches, credit goes to Samsung for leveraging it as effectively as possible. OLED lends to really great colors coming from the Tizen OS along with the ability to truly turn off the display’s lighting for battery savings.
And to that end, watch faces on the Gear S3 take on a different nature when the ‘Always on Display’ option is ticked. When using pretty much any watch face downloaded from the Samsung Gear application, covering the display with one’s hand or letting it time out reveals a more toned down version of the face that still keeps the essential elements in view no matter what angle you’re looking at the watch from. For any fans of the Always on Display on the Galaxy smartphones, this is about the closest that it can get strapped onto a wrist.
In all situations – even in broad daylight – the brightness of this OLED panel keeps everything properly viewable. And it is important to have an easy time glancing at the screen because the Tizen operating system tries to pack in as much as it can in the main screen. Some watch faces have hidden functionality when tapped upon. For example, the default face doubles up as a stopwatch. Even when features like these are running, small elements are strewn about the watch face to alert the user to changing circumstances like standing notifications or when the watch is not connected to a smartphone.
Make no mistake – this is the best way to read notifications on a smartwatch. Ever. The combination of the high quality screen and the rotating bezel to scroll down in even long notifications is an experience that is unparalleled by the touchscreen-centric Android Wear and the button pressing Pebble. Even when pictures load up in the preview, they’re shown in effective fashion and simply add to the idea that this watch is supposed to be more standalone than perpetually tethered to your smartphone.
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So, for a watch that wants to do as much as possible, there has to be quite a bit of power under the hood. For the Gear S3, this comes in the form of an Exynos 7270, born and optimized by Samsung and for Samsung, in the case of their own smartwatch operating system Tizen. It comes at no surprise, then, that the watch simply flies through its operating system and applications. A quick spin of the rotating bezel shows how fluidly all of the widgets and screens zip past with no issues at all.
The only problems we had with applications came from third party developed downloads from the Gear Manager. This is not so much the problem of the watch and its processing power, but from the development of the apps. While this is an issue that bears mentioning, the core experience of the Gear S3 is still about as good as it can get – and that says a lot, because this watch tries to do a lot out of the box.
As mentioned earlier, we have been able to use a 4G LTE enabled version of the Gear S3 that comes with a few extras. Namely, the ability to sync up the watch without needing to be around the smartphone it pairs with. Setting up the Gear Manager properly means that as long as both the smartphone and smartwatch are connected to some sort of network, notifications will come to the Gear S3, no matter where the user is.
The added benefit is the ability to make calls and send texts in this very situation, without the smartphone around. On AT&T, this service is called NumberSync and it makes it so that the watch goes off alongside its paired phone. Calls on the watch make use of a speaker and microphone combo that is found on the left side of the body, tucked under the top half of the watch. The experience of taking calls on the S3 is akin to a small walkie talkie that is strapped to your wrist, but it isn’t effective in even semi-loud environments and thus requires either a Bluetooth headset connection or, surprise surprise, moving to the phone. It’s a great idea made into reality, it’s just not as awesome as we probably all expected it to be.
Not the mention that having this extra functionality in the Frontier LTE means paying for a smartwatch plan that encompasses data and wireless signal, which costs $10 on top of any smartphone plan you are already paying for. Is it worth that extra money each month? That’s up to you, but we think that there is already so much fun to be had on the Gear S3 without having to shout at your wrist.
Connecting a Bluetooth headset to the watch opens up a couple of possibilities. Not only will calls be easier to manage, but the on-board storage can be used for local music playback. The LTE-enabled Frontier allows for Spotify streaming, which is nice but is a battery drain. 4GB of storage is available for local files so that content is always within reach.
One final feature on the Gear S3 is Samsung Pay, enabled on the Gear S3 through an add-on that is installed in the Gear Manager. The setup takes a little bit of time, but after getting any credit cards put into the add-on and then transferred over to the NFC and MST enabled Gear S3, payments are quite easy at multiple stations across major stores. Simply hold the back button, select which card to use, and then bring the watch up to the station and voila. This is yet another fun aspect to using the Gear S3, and even this skeptic that prefers physical credit cards gets a kick out of it.
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The battery of the Gear S3 is charged via a wireless charging dock that is magnetic, making the watch snap right into place easily. Though Samsung claims two days of battery life out of the 380mAh unit, that is less true when usage is constant and aggressive. This is mostly true for the Frontier LTE, in which everything from taking calls, sending texts, and even fitness tracking combined will make the watch seem more like a one day warrior. When using more applications and functions on the regular, be prepared to take the watch off and dock it at least once a day to top off the battery.
And lastly, Tizen – the smartwatch OS of choice for Samsung. Since the Gear S2, there have been some enhancements made to the operating system, and existing Gear S2 users will get this through an update. These are mostly in terms of using the rotating bezel, which can be rotated to answer or decline calls, for example.
The main noticeable changes are in the overall optimization of the Tizen software, and it shows in the smooth look and feel that the Gear S3 provides. Which is good, because there are a lot of apps that require some due diligence. Weather, calendar events, reminders, Flipboard, S Health, and so much more are available to the user, and it can get a little overwhelming. Add upon all that the different ways that users can respond to messages – voice, emoji, canned messages, and a T9 keyboard that is a bit easier to use on the larger screen but is still far from ideal.
S Health returns in Tizen as the main method of fitness tracking. Much like in the Gear S2, S Health will count steps and periodically take heart rate metrics to get a snapshot of the day’s fitness. While its step count default of 6000 is still rather absurd to us, there are a few more tools here to use when going out in the wild. GPS tracking is available when doing distanced based workouts, though it has to be enabled via the specifically selected activity, like hiking. And speaking of hiking, there are barometers and altimeters to get a better handle on one’s environment. Hikers, in particular, will probably find altitude information useful. Other functions in S Health help users track water and caffeine intake along with sleep, but these are rather simplistic in their execution.
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The app ecosystem of Tizen has grown a lot since the Gear S2, and some apps that I envied Android Wear and Pebble for during my usage of Samsung’s OS have finally arrived. That said, there are issues with some third party application development, as we mentioned earlier. Sleep as Android, my sleep tracker of choice, is still a little buggy and didn’t give full reports a couple of nights. And S Voice is just not as good as Google’s voice assistance.
All in all, Tizen is an experience that is still best taken at its core, because that is where it shines best. Third party support is still lacking, but Samsung is still able to make it work where it counts – fitness tracking, though sometimes simplistic, is robust; and Samsung Pay helps add a bit of flair to the notification prowess and daily info already built into the Gear S3.
There was a feeling I couldn’t shake when using the Gear S3 – with every notification that came in, I found myself enjoying reading the entire message (usually SMS) on the screen, scrolling down with the satisfying clicks of the rotating bezel. This is an experience I had before on the Gear S2, but for some reason this was better on the even larger, more men’s fashion-oriented Gear S3. And for any faults that I came across in this smartwatch, like buggy apps or tough to hear voice calls blaring from my wrist, the simplest daily activities were made better by what Samsung continues to build upon since premiering their unique tactile user experience.
…one of the most enjoyable smartwatch experiences we’ve had in a little while…
The Gear S3 Frontier, in particular, really tries to wear a lot of hats at once – smartwatch, notification center, health monitor, payment system, GPS tracker, audio player, and voice caller, to name a few. And though there are a large number of users that may be turned off by the visage of this smartwatch, credit has to be given where credit is due – Samsung managed to make the bulk of these features work well enough in concert to make what has been one of the most enjoyable smartwatch experiences we’ve had in a little while. Android Wear unfortunately has one of its biggest competitors in the Samsung Gear S3.
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What do you think of the Samsung Gear S3? Would you buy one? Or is an Android Wear device or the Apple Watch more your type of smartwatch? Let us know your views in the comments below!