TK · Aug 20, 2014 at 09:00 am

Device Review: Samsung Gear Live

Samsung Gear LiveRecently, Google announced Android Wear to the world. Android Wear is the Android-based initiative from Google to standardize the world of wearable devices. This year at their I/O event, Google showed off two Android Wear devices: the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live.

Today, we will be reviewing the Samsung entry into the Android Wear market. The Samsung Gear Live is Samsung’s third mainstream smartwatch release, after the Galaxy Gear 1 and 2, and the first to sport Android Wear as the others sported Android and Tizen OS.

Build

I chose the Gear Live over the LG G Watch as personally, I liked the look of the Samsung offering. The Gear Live offers a nice metallic fame around the screen. This screen itself is a 320 x 320 Super AMOLED, which equates to about 278 ppi. This is the same as Samsung has used in their last few generations of their smartwatches. The device has neither a camera nor a speaker. It does have a microphone to interact with the watch and a power button. It comes packed with the following sensor arrays:  accelerometer, digital compass, gyroscope, and heart rate monitor. The wristband is changeable to match your style. Gear Live with OnePlus One

Hardware

Being a companion device and a tiny form factor smartwatch, we have single core processor clocking 1.2Ghz with 512MB of RAM. The watch has 4GB of internal storage for apps and the ROM. The inclusion of Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy will help you save battery on your smartphone and watch.

Gear Live on Hand

Battery

For a device that fits on your wrist, you’re not going to get a huge battery. In fact, it’s only 300mAh, and of course it is not removable. Samsung claims you will get a day of usage from this. For once, they are right. If you are heavy user, it will last you a solid day.  I have been able to get a day and half with the screen off when idle and screen brightness set at level three. You should expect to be charging the device daily, as this is not a Pebble.

Gear Live Rear Profile

Software

Google decided to take control of the updates for Android Wear devices. This helps the, own and control the ecosystem. Whether or not this is a bad thing depends on your view. Currently Android Wear version 4.4W is on our device. Over the last month I’ve owned the device, I have received three updates. At its core, the experience is a nice extension to the Googleyness on your smart device. The complete interface is based on the familiar Google Now card-based UI. Swiping the notifications away on the Gear Live will remove them from the watch home screen. Coming from the Samsung Galaxy Gear was a bit of a change and took some getting used to, but the Android Wear experience is much more pleasing once you have it mastered.

Hackability

The Gear Live, as with most Samsung devices, is a little behind its competitors like the G watch. It lacks a custom ROM and a permanent root method. Samsung developers have a few more hoops to jump through than others with Samsung not cooperating readily, but they will catch up. We posted two other Samsung Gear Live videos on XDA TV. First, AdamOutler did an Unboxing the XDA Way Teardown of the Gear Live.

Second, Root Junky (a.k.a. Tom) did a tool demo for the Gear Live, showing how to unlock the device, how to unbrick the device, and how to temporarily root the device.

Overall, the development community has embraced Android Wear and more and more you have new apps that bring new functionality to this new wearable form factor.

Conclusion

As we said before, the Gear Live is only one of the two devices that are available with Android Wear. Soon, the Moto 360 will be released. I would say if you have been on the fence about getting an Android Wear device, hold on a bit longer.Wait and see what the 360 will offer before deciding on buying an Android Wear device at this point. The price difference of the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live is negligible, priced at $229 and $199 respectively. As more manufacturers get into the Android Wear market, we will have more options to choose from. In a nutshell, Android Wear will revolutionize the smartwatch market, but which actual device you choose will be much like Android phones and tablets–a matter of your brand and style preference.


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TK

Tkdsl is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. View posts and articles below.

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