The Gear S2 3G smartwatch has better call quality than this high-end smartphone

Opinion
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Last updated: January 18th, 2017 at 20:22 UTC+01:00

Smartwatches have their share of buyers, though they’ve not had the same appeal as fitness bands on the market. And, their lack of large sales numbers has meant for many analysts that smartwatches aren’t an explosive market for manufacturers nowadays, that the category itself is a disappointment – and that some manufacturers should take their money and invest it in something else.

When it comes to smartphones and smartwatches, most consumers have come to accept call quality on smartphones as normal, but see little use for them on smartwatches (or so I’ve been told). Well, two recent situations show that the Gear S2 3G (last year’s 3G-connected smartwatch from Samsung) has better call quality than a high-end smartphone.

It’s likely at this point that I have your attention. Which phone is it? Well, recently, my grandfather and I were involved in a car accident (I wasn’t driving) and I immediately contacted my family when the incident occurred. My 83-year-old grandfather didn’t have a smartphone or flip phone available and wanted me to contact the family. So, I did as instructed. The Google Pixel XL was the only phone I decided to take with me (yes, I actually left my Galaxy S7 edge at home; I’m not always biased toward it, despite impressions).

At that moment, I was 5 minutes down the street from the local Verizon Wireless and my Pixel XL was on Verizon’s network, showing “LTE” at the top right of the display, and yet, I couldn’t get a call through. The first call with the Pixel XL connected and dropped the next second. The second call did the same; after the third call, the call was connected but dropped shortly thereafter.

Well, three times was enough for me; I decided to give the Gear S2 3G, also running on Verizon’s network, a try. I realized in that moment that, though I don’t use it to make many calls, the smartwatch on my wrist had the capability. I decided to search for my aunt with a simple letter type in the search bar on the Gear S2, then tapped her name to put the call through. Immediately, my aunt answered the phone and we talked for some 15-20 minutes, with the call remaining until I said goodbye and ended the call.

And the truck accident wasn’t the only time this happened, either. The next time I needed to make an important phone call was when the same aunt I mentioned above ended up in the hospital with a kidney stone that mandated surgery (it was too large and mandated surgical removal). My grandparents were worried about my aunt and mandated I make a call. So, there again, was my Pixel XL in front of me. At first, I was hesitant: I wanted to pick up my Galaxy S7 edge, but the phone was charging on my wireless charging stand.

Next in line was the HTC 10, but I had just charged it up and didn’t want to deplete it just yet. So, “here I go again” I said to myself as I grabbed the Pixel XL to make the call. I even used Google Assistant to locate the hospital and then used Google Assistant to make the call. The result? The same as the night of the accident: dropped calls, then connection for 5 seconds, followed by dropped calls yet again. The Gear S2 3G came through once again, with ease.

Smartphones should be better at making phone calls; after all, they are smart phones. And yet, in these significant situations, the Gear S2 3G performed far ahead of a high-end smartphone that should at least be able to put through phone calls if nothing else. Even more indicting of the Pixel XL is the fact that it and Samsung’s smartwatch are both on Verizon’s network. Both are Verizon devices with data connectivity, and yet, of them both, the smartwatch outperforms the smartphone.

In the grand scheme of things, consumers will always prefer smartphones to smartwatches; that trend is yet to change. However, Samsung’s Gear S2 3G smartwatch proves that smartwatches are useful for vital moments – and, in some cases, are more useful than smartphones. The Gear S2 3G smartwatch and now, Gear S3 Frontier (4G) at $349.99 will prove to be the best value purchase, as compared to the $800-$900 Pixel XL, you’ll ever make.

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