Developer brings Wear OS to the ancient Samsung Gear S3
The skill of aftermarket developers in the Android modding scene is often incredibly impressive, especially when it comes to getting hardware to do things it shouldn’t. This time, one modder managed to get Google’s Wear OS booted on the Samsung Gear S3 — a Tizen-based smartwatch released back in 2016!
Despite effectively being obsolete at this stage, the Samsung Gear S3 can now run the wearable edition of Android, courtesy of XDA Senior Member parasetam0l. The developer ported Wear OS 2 (based on Android 9 Pie H MR2) to the Gear S3, which is no mean feat given just how underpowered the device is compared to the smartwatches we are used to in the present day.
The Exynos 7270-powered smartwatch has definitely long passed its maturity stage, but it’s impressive to see the modding community attempts to breathe new life into ancient hardware. When using Wear OS on the Gear S3, a lot of the original functionality is retained. Most of the sensors still work and even the heart rate monitor is functional. There are plenty of bugs and known issues, but the list is rather small for a first build. Some notable bugs include poor battery life, spotty audio output, no GPS functionality, and various other minor problems.
The port can be installed on the global non-LTE edition of the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier (model number SM-R760). The “Classic” non-LTE variant (model number SM-R770) is theoretically compatible as well. It goes without saying, though, that this comes with the risk of bricking your watch or worse. The LTE models (as well as the Korean variants) use a different kernel, hence they are not at all compatible with the release.
If you’re feeling adventurous and have an old Samsung Gear S3 lying around, go tinker with it to get Wear OS running. You can find a guide and download links in a dedicated XDA thread linked below.