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With a large rectangular screen, chromed edges, and prominent all glass front, the Gear S looks less like other smartwatches and more like an iPhone had a child with a rubber wristband. But if it looks a lot like a smartphone, that’s probably because it’s not too far off from being one. Unlike other smartwatches, the Gear S isn’t solely dependent on a Bluetooth link to another device; it has a complete set of hardware inside it, including an independent cellular radio that we’ll get to in a minute.
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The band is 100% rubber, which seems a little cheap considering the device’s rather hefty price tag. But it is easy to take off and replace, so if you don’t like it, there will probably be alternatives available. The body features only a single button that doubles as both power and “home,” and only a single connector on the back, a series of spring loaded pins that connect it to the charger.
A big part of this design is to help keep it water-resistant. The Gear S is rated for complete immersion in water for up to 30 minutes, and its mix of rugged glass and plastic gives it a real feeling of durability from nicks and scratches. All other interaction with the Gear S is done either through the touchscreen or the Gear app of your paired smartphone. Otherwise, the aesthetic here isn’t exactly stunning to the eye. Still, it is a very solid little device.