Head-To-Head: Apple Watch Series 2 Vs. Samsung Gear S3

The War For Your Wrist

The fierce rivalry between Apple and Samsung is helping lead to some major leaps forward in the smartwatch space. Samsung unveiled its Gear S3 smartwatch at the start of September, and a week later Apple debuted its first-ever overhaul to Apple Watch--dubbed Apple Watch Series 2. And clearly, these smartwatches are getting smarter--as well as tougher.

But as always, given the differing approaches by Apple and Samsung, there are plenty of differences between what you'll get from the two smartwatches. Actually, we're talking about four smartwatches here. Gear S3 comes in two versions, Frontier and Classic, while Apple Watch comes in 38mm and 42mm versions. In the following slides, the CRN Test Center breaks down how the Samsung Gear S3 and Apple Watch Series 2 compare on specs and price.


First let's talk about the size the display on these smartwatches. The 38mm version of the Apple Watch Series 2 is named for its 38.6mm height (1.51 inches), and it has a width of 33.3mm. The 42mm version has a height of 42.5mm (1.67 inches) and a width of 36.4mm. The Samsung Gear S3 is a good deal larger (though it's circular, rather than rectangular); its height is 49mm (1.93 inches) and its width is 46mm.

In terms of other display specs, the Apple Watch Series 2 comes with an OLED Retina display, which has 272 x 340 resolution for the 38mm version and 312 x 390 resolution for the 42mm version. (Apple says the display is 2X brighter than that of the original Apple Watch.) The display on the Gear S3 is Super AMOLED with 360 x 360 resolution.


Not surprisingly, then, the Samsung Gear S3 is the heavier of the two smartwatches; the Gear S3 weighs in at 62 grams for the Frontier version and 57 grams for the Classic version. The weight of the Apple Watch Series 2 does vary, however, depending on the case that's selected. The aluminum case is the lightest, at 28.2 grams for the 38mm version and 34.2 grams for the 42mm version. The stainless steel case is the heaviest option--41.9 grams and 52.4 grams for the two sizes of the Apple Watch Series 2. In between on weight is the ceramic white case for the Apple Watch Series 2, with that option coming in at 39.6 grams for the 38mm version and 45.6 grams for the 42mm version.

Cellular And GPS

The good news is that if you're looking for built-in GPS, you can't go wrong with which smartwatch you choose. Both the Samsung Gear S3 and Apple Watch Series 2 have GPS that will work regardless of whether or not you've got your phone on hand. The bad news is that options for cellular connectivity are fewer. One of the models of the Gear S3, Frontier, does have built-in 3G/LTE connectivity. But the Classic model doesn't have cellular connectivity--and neither do any of the models of the Apple Watch Series 2.

Water Resistance

Apple's description of the water resistance on the Apple Watch Series 2 is a bit odd. The company says the device is water resistant "up to 50 meters" (or about 164 feet), but then specifies that "it may be used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean" and shouldn't be used for "activities involving high-velocity water or submersion below shallow depth." Maybe the more useful description is what Apple executives said about the smartwatch during the Sept. 7 unveiling event--that the Apple Watch Series 2 is "swim proof." Samsung keeps it a bit simpler, saying that the Gear S3 meets IP68 water resistance standards, and can thus survive in waters of 5 feet for a half hour.

Battery Life

One major differentiator for Samsung's Gear S3 is certainly the promised battery life: Samsung says the smartwatch can get up to four days of battery on a single charge. That will most likely require users to disable the "always-on" display option for the Gear S3, but that amount is nonetheless far above the 18 hours of battery life that's promised for the Apple Watch Series 2.


The Apple Watch Series 2 is powered by the second-generation Apple Watch processor, the dual-core S2 chip. While the clock speed of the processor hasn't been disclosed, Apple says the CPU is up to 50 percent faster than on the original Apple Watch. An apples-to-apples comparison with the Gear S3 is tough, but Samsung has disclosed that the smartwatch's processor is also dual-core, with a clock speed of 1.0GHz. AnandTech has identified the device's processor as Samsung's Exynos 7270.

Price And Availability

Samsung unveiled the Gear S3 on Sept. 1, during IFA 2016 in Germany--conveniently timed a week before Apple's Sept. 7 product event, during which Apple Watch Series 2 debuted. However, Samsung didn't actually disclose some of the most important information about the Gear S3--the pricing and the availability--at that event. And the company is still staying mum on those details, meaning a price comparison with the Apple Watch Series 2 will have to wait until later. Apple, on other hand, was more forthcoming. The Apple Watch Series 2 (which is available now) has a starting price of $369 for the 38mm version and a starting price of $399 for the 42mm version.