There are a couple of significant downsides that temper my enthusiasm for the new Gear. First and foremost is the speed and intuitiveness of the user interface — or rather, the lack thereof. There’s a tangible lag to anything you do with the Gear, while the swipe gestures are hard to figure out and do different things depending on where you are in the menus. [â€¦]
Also important will be the Galaxy Gear’s battery life. It does use the Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy standard to communicate, but at 315mAh its battery is decidedly small. Samsung promises “about a day” of endurance from the Gear, but by the end of our briefing with the company, the cameras on most of its demo units were refusing to turn on due to the watches running low on power.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is a smartwatch sporting a 1.63-inch OLED display with a 320×320 pixel format. I’m not sure whether those pixels are RGB or PenTile, but assuming it is RGB the resolution is about 278 ppi, which is good but not terrific. The distance to my iPhone, about 10 to 12 inches when I’m using it, is about the same distance to a wristwatch if I were checking the time. Resolution should not be less than 300 ppi; it should be a lot more.
Although this is Samsung’s first foray into building and selling a smartphone, there is no excuse for significant UI/UX failures such as lag. There should be zero lag. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn later the Galaxy Gear’s operating system crashes, too. Inconsistent UX gestures? For a watch gestures need to be even simpler and more consistent than smartphones and tablets. “About a day” battery life? On a watch? Not acceptable. Samsung should have taken advantage of the OLED display’s potential power savings and copied the UI on the LG Prada. With the UI mostly black the OLED display would hardly consume much power at all and would have resulted in better battery life.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is merely what most were expecting: A smaller, stripped down smartphone you wear on your wrist. When and if Apple comes out with its iWatch, the next Galaxy Gear after it will definitely be better.