At the start of this year I was still happily using my iPhone 6 Plus paired with a 42mm Series 2 Apple Watch. Being an employee at OzStraps I was also spoilt for choice for Apple Watch bands, I quickly found that my favourites were the Milanese Loop and the Ceramic Style bands.
However, when the Samsung Galaxy S8+ was released in March curiosity got the better of me as my iPhone was already 2 generations old, and I found myself jumping over from Apple to Samsung. Along with this also came a transition from iOS to Android. But what about my trusty Apple Watch?.. before I knew it I had also purchased a Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 to match my new Galaxy S8+ as I was so used to having a smartwatch to keep me on top of my notifications throughout the day.
5 months later, I now have a good feel for the differences between the two phones and am also able to provide some honest opinions of the differences between the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Gear S3.
Design is obviously subjective, however I personally found the Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 to be the more attractive device. Looking more like a conventional watch, many would often not even realise that what I was wearing on my wrist was not a smartwatch! This is not to say the Apple Watch is not an attractive looking device, Apple are known to be masters of design, after all.
Comfort of any watch does vary depending on the type of watch band you are using, however using my real world experiences with both the Gear S3 and the Apple Watch I would have to say that the Apple Watch is the more comfortable device to wear. Having a smaller, square footprint I happily left my Apple Watch on while I was exercising, whereas I quickly found myself taking my Gear S3 off before a session at the gym and leaving it in the locker room. It is a larger device, and I found that it often got in the way of my daily activities (jumpers/shirts which are tight around the wrist area are also sometimes a pain with the Gear S3 unless you remove it first!).
With the Apple Watch running WatchOS and the Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 running its own Tizen OS, both have their own pros and cons. One of the main purposes I wear smartwatches is to stay on top of my various messaging notifications (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger). Out of the box, I enjoyed the way in which the Apple Watch displayed these notifications as a separate notification was provided per message. The Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 on the other hand, would only display the latest message received. This was often annoying as I was not able to view the entire conversation if one of my friends send me a series of messages.
However, I then found out about an app called "W-History" (available from the Samsung Gear Store) on the Gear S3 which enabled the ability for my WhatsApp notifications on my smartwatch to be grouped together by contact when notifications are received. This is a much more effective solution than that provided by the Apple Watch and allows you to scroll through all of the messages received from your friends previously rather than only showing the latest one. The Apple Watch shows every message as individual notifications, which can often clog up your notification window quite quickly.
On the topic of apps available for the Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 and Apple Watch, I found that there were more apps available that I was interested in for the Apple Watch. I assume this is because there are a lot more developers creating apps for that Apple Watch than the Gear S3. Overall on the software side of things I would have to say that the Apple Watch feels more polished than the Gear S3.
All in all, both the Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 and Apple Watch are great options if you are looking for a smartwatch in today's market. It is worth noting that the Gear S3 is compatible with both iPhone and Android, while the Apple Watch is only compatible with iPhones.
If you had to choose between the two devices I'd say it comes down to personal preference and needs. For me personally, having used both smartwatches for a 6-12 month period; my vote would go for the Apple Watch. That's not to say that the Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 is a bad device, the Apple Watch simply suits my needs better :)