Samsung Gear S3 gets Wear OS [Gallery]

After running on its own Tizen operating system for the better part of a decade for smartwatches, Samsung eventually adopted Google’s Wear operating system Last year. However, a nifty developer managed to install Wear OS on the Gear S3, Samsung’s 2016 smartwatch.

Samsung has been using “Galaxy Watch” as a brand for its line of smartwatches since 2018, but before that there was the “Gear” line, which mainly consists of two smartwatches, 2015’s Gear S2 which introduced the rotating bezel iconic, and 2016’s Gear S3, which really made up Samsung’s smartwatch prowess in the Android world.

In 2016, our opinion on the Gear S3 praised its build and health features, calling it the “smartwatch of the future.” We were pretty happy with the product overall, but even back then we noted how big the “app gap” between Tizen and what was then Android Wear had been, not knowing that Samsung would end by fully swapping the operating system as a result of this ongoing problem.

Fast forward to today, and a developer has successfully fixed the issues Tizen presented to the Gear S3 by simply installing Wear OS on it. As detailed in an XDA thread, this custom ROM for the Gear S3 provides the latest form of Wear OS 2, the H MR3 update. For obvious reasons, Wear OS 3 cannot be ported yet. The custom ROM is designed for the Gear S3 Frontier (SM-R760), but should also work for the Classic model. LTE models are do not supported.

What do you gain from the Switch? With Wear OS on a Gear S3, Samsung’s smartwatch supports Google Assistant, the Play Store and its plethora of apps and watch faces, and more. The ROM even works with your Google account and all major Wear OS features. The rotating bezel even functions, acting like the rotating crown seen on other watches.

What’s broken? As with any port, there are a few issues. The Wear OS app sees this custom ROM as a TicWatch Pro 3 instead of a Gear S3, which isn’t really an issue as much as something you’ll need to be aware of during setup. The battery life is said to be “weak” compared to Tizen. The charging animation shows continuously until you restart as well, and some sensors don’t work. The tilt-to-wake function is broken, as is the GPS, NFC, and step counter.

It is, of course, at your own risk if you install it on your own device. But really, it’s amazing to see the development community still caring about this aging hardware. The Gear S3 was a great smartwatch, and Wear OS just might make it even better for some people.

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