Do I Need LTE On My Samsung Gear S3?

If I were doing research on the Samsung Gear S3 frontier LTE with the intent of purchasing one, this is definitely the article that I would have wanted to read.

In this article, you will find the answers to many questions that I had regarding LTE when I did research before buying my Samsung Gear S3 Classic watch.

I wanted to know how to tell if the Samsung Gear S3 Classic watch that I wanted to buy supported LTE.  I was confused about the relationship between my cell phone and the watch and wanted to know what LTE would allow me to do that I could not do if I did not get it.

Finally, I wanted to know if it was worth the $10 per month that AT&T would charge me if I did activate LTE on the watch I was looking to get.  These questions, and many others are addressed below.

Samsung Gear S3 frontier LTE Features

Technology GSM / HSPA / LTE
Dimensions 49 x 46 x 12.9 mm (1.93 x 1.81 x 0.51 in)
Weight 63 g (2.22 oz)
Build Glass front (Gorilla Glass SR+), stainless steel 316L frame
Type Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Resolution 360 x 360 pixels, 1:1 ratio (~278 ppi density)
OS Tizen-based wearable platform 4.0
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS
Charging Qi wireless charging
Price Check Price

What is LTE?

To the point, LTE is an abbreviation for Long Term Evolution and is a 4G wireless broadband standard.  LTE allows for one to gain direct access to the Internet without having to get access through another device, such as your cell phone or tablet.

When one speaks of their Samsung Gear watch having LTE, they are talking about the ability to access the Internet directly without need for any other device to serve as a “hotspot.” With LTE activated on your Samsung Gear watch, you can leave your phone or tablet home and still have direct access to the internet.      

How do I Tell if my Samsung Gear S3 Supports LTE?

To tell if your Samsung Gear S3 series watch has built in LTE, simply look up the model number on your watch.  You can do this by pressing the lower right button on your Gear S3 and navigating to SETTINGS > ABOUT GEAR > MODEL NUMBER.  Here you will find the model number of your watch (it will start with SM-R7_ _ ).  Once there, compare that number to the the chart below.

Check also: The 6 Best Fitbit For Men in 2020

The Relationship Between Your Cell Phone and Your Samsung Gear Watch

gear s3 relationship to watchFor clarification purposes, understand that there are two versions of the Samsung Gear S3 watch: The LTE version and the non-LTE version, and this applies to BOTH the Frontier and the Classic versions of the Samsung Gear S3 series.  The Samsung Gear S3 series was initially released on November 18, 2016, in two models, the Classic and the Frontier.

However, at the initial launch, only the Frontier supported LTE.  This did not sit well with the community as a whole, and so, on March 23, 2017 (4 months later), Samsung announced that they were bringing LTE to the Samsung Gear S3 Classic edition as well.   

Currently, one can purchase the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier edition with or without LTE.  Without LTE built into your Samsung Gear watch, you would need to pair your watch to your phone and piggy-back off of your cell phone (or LTE enabled tablet), to gain access to the Internet.

For easy reference, I have listed the model numbers by carrier for you.  Now, if you wish to purchase an LTE unit from Amazon.com, you will know exactly what model number to look for, based on the cell phone carrier that you have.

LTE Capability and Model Numbers of the
Samsung Gear S3 Smartwatches by Cell Phone Carrier

CARRIER SERIES MODEL NUMBER SUPPORTS LTE
AT&T Classic SM-RS775A LTE Capable
AT&T Frontier SM-RS765A LTE Capable
T-Mobile Classic SM-R775T LTE Capable
T-Mobile Frontier SM-R765T LTE Capable
Verizon Classic SM-R775V LTE Capable
Verizon Frontier SM-R765V LTE Capable
All Carriers Classic SM-R770 NON-LTE
All Carriers Frontier SM-R760N International NON- LTE

You will note that Sprint does NOT carry the Samsung Gear watch series; however, this does not mean that you cannot use a Samsung Gear S3 watch (Classic or Frontier) if Sprint is your cell carrier.  It just means that you will not be able to take advantage of LTE directly from your smartwatch.

Instead, the LTE on your cell phone will serve as a conduit for internet access to your watch.  In other words, your Samsung Gear watch will utilize the LTE on your cell phone to gain access to the internet. The great thing about this is that accessing the internet in this manner costs you nothing.

Read also: The 5 Best Fitbit for Kids in 2020

Pairing Your Watch With Your Phone

In order for the Samsung Gear S3 watch to take advantage of many of its built-in features, you will need to pair it with a cell phone that has LTE enabled on the phone itself (you would be hard pressed to find a phone these days that does not have LTE on it).  If you were to buy the Samsung Gear watch (whether it was a LTE sim-enabled version or not), you can still gain access to the internet through LTE on your cell phone. This is simply done by pairing your watch to your phone.  

If you do not care about LTE on your smartwatch, you can get any of the watches listed above and you will be able to access the internet when you pair the watch to your phone.

The only reason you should be concerned about getting the model number that matches your phone carrier, is if you want direct access to the internet from your watch without your phone.

One more point on this:  if you purchase a Samsung Gear S3 series watch that does not have LTE built into it, do not expect that by connecting to the internet through your cell phone it will give you a slower internet connection speed.

Whether you access the Internet directly from your Gear S3 watch or you access it through your cell phone, both speeds will be the same.

Read also: The 5 Best Waterproof Smartwatches 2020 [Buying Guide]

What is Required for Standalone Connectivity?

According to Samsung’s own website, “4G LTE standalone connectivity available on Samsung Gear S3 4G LTE models, a companion for compatible Android smartphones, [is] sold separately.

Standalone connectivity requires initial pairing of Gear S3 with [a] compatible phone and [a] separate qualifying wireless plan. Standalone functionality [is] limited if [the] paired phone is not powered on or connected to a wireless network.”2 

In layman’s terms, you must have an active cell phone with LTE on it before you can have a Samsung watch with LTE on it.  In other words, you cannot just buy the watch and get LTE on it, without having a cell phone that has LTE on it as well.  Additionally, the cell phone can be left home, but it has to be turned on in order for the LTE to work on the watch itself.

What Will LTE Allow Me to do That I Could Not do Otherwise?

This is the mother of all questions when it comes to LTE.  If Shakespeare were alive today, he would ask, “To LTE or not to LTE—that is the question.”  OK, maybe not—but that is the question that we are confronted with today.

Is it worth paying the extra $5 –  $15 per month (depending on your carrier)?  We will address that question in the next section, but let us stay on point and determine exactly what LTE on your smartwatch will allow you to do that you could not do if you did not have LTE on your Gear S3 watch.  

To answer this question, you must ask yourself the following question:  “Will I ever NOT have my cell phone with me?”  When was the last time that you were without your cell phone?  If you forgot to bring it with you, did you go back to get it?  If you had LTE on your watch, would you still go back to get your phone?     

Disadvantages of Getting LTE

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I have given this question a lot of thought, as I am sure you have as well.  There may be times that you do not have your cellphone with you. For example, when you are swimming or running, or perhaps out at the gym, you may leave your cellphone behind.

Given that you should not swim with your Samsung Gear S3 watch on anyway, we will not use that as an argument to justify getting LTE activated on your watch; however, a case could certainly be made for runners or those who work out at the gym.

It would be convenient to receive text messages and urgent phone calls while out running, or to make an emergency phone call while out running, should you take a spill. . . or get kidnapped.

How often do you get kidnapped?  I cannot remember the last time I got kidnapped.  But then again, I cannot remember the last time I went running either.  

Receiving text messages or urgent phone calls while working out could be important to some, but for most people, that is a time when they do not want to be interrupted.  It can be a means of escape, and being interrupted with a phone call or repeated text messages during a workout can be annoying.

Who wants to hear your loud conversation, talking into your wrist, in the gym anyway?  Let’s be honest, there does come a time when you just do not want to be interrupted (or should not be interrupted), and if you do need to text or make a phone call, you can simply go to your gym locker and do it there if needed.  

Advantages Of Getting LTE 

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Now, there definitely is a case to be made for those who go hiking, camping or bike riding.  This is where the integrated GPS really comes in handy.  You will always know where you are so you cannot get lost, and you will always be able to find the best route home while on a bike ride.  This is not a small thing.

In fact, if you are the outdoors type, standalone integrated GPS could be the deciding factor for you.  If you know that you will be without your phone when running, hiking, biking, or camping, this may be reason enough to get an LTE enabled Samsung Gear watch.    

Though convenient, this smartwatch would not necessarily be your first choice for making phone calls.  Further, to ensure that you preserve your battery, you would want to make sure that those phone calls were not too long.  But, the point is, you could make them.

Answering the phone from your wrist while driving (and keeping your hands on the wheel), is undoubtedly convenient.  On top of this, the clarity of the call is excellent. 

Is LTE Worth the Extra $5 – $15 per Month?

dollar signOnly you can determine if the cost is worth it.  Is it convenient enough to justify spending the extra $5 – $15 (depending on your carrier) per month?  That is the bottom line.

If you opt to purchase an LTE enabled Samsung Gear S3, understand that there is a $25-$30 (depending on your carrier) “Activation Fee” that will be added to your next phone bill upon sign up.  

There is the cool factor, but you still have to ask yourself: is being “cool” worth anywhere from $60 – $180 (depending on your carrier) per year?  How often will I really use this feature?  These are questions that you must answer for yourself, because what might be worth it to you, may not be worth it to someone else.   

What do You Think?

Allow me to offer you a word of caution.  Do not let someone else decide for you—even me.  Admittedly, I am biased, but that is because I do not regularly hike, bike, or camp, and I certainly do not run.

I always have my cell phone with me; so, for those reasons, I cannot justify spending the extra $50 on purchasing a standalone LTE enabled Samsung Gear watch because I will not take advantage of the LTE on the watch.  Instead, I will just piggy back off of my cell phone.

I do not need it, and although there is the ‘cool factor,’ I cannot justify spending the extra $10 – $15 a month along with the $25 activation fee.  However, everybody is different.  You may be convinced that you require LTE on your watch, and that is perfectly fine.   

My objective in writing this article is not to convince you one way or the other, but rather to address questions that you may not have thought about—questions that would force you to come to your own conclusion.  What do you think?  I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments below.  We all love to learn from the experience of others.  Just keep it positive and beneficial to the reader.

Sources:

1 news.samsung.com 

Samsung.com 

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