The Samsung Gear 360 camera review will state all the pros and cons of Samsung’s latest 360 cam.
Our Review of the Samsung Gear 360 Camera
In a nutshell, the Samsung Gear 360 is an impressive upgrade over its predecessor that impresses with its enhanced user experience and 360 video quality.
- Enhanced 4K video quality
- Good value for money
- Works for macOS and iOS
- Live stream recording capability
- Lighter and more compact
- Can’t withstand submersion
- 4K clips restricted to 24 fps
- Very big 4K files
- Non-removable battery
- Live stream support not available for all platforms
- Only Samsung headsets supported for Android
The first iteration of this device did not conform to user expectations, much to the chagrin of Samsung fans. Thankfully, the current second model is a major improvement over the previous model. One noteworthy point is that the device is quite cost-effective with its specs at its price point.
The previous version did not lag too much in terms of video quality. It’s just that the software was mediocre while smartphone compatibility was limited.
The good news is that Samsung took serious note of customer feedback and resolved these user experience issues. Thus, you now support macOS and iOS devices besides just Samsung phone users and desktop users.
The camera contour is designed around the lens. Hence, the spherical gadget looks very much like an eyeball mounted on a tripod. Depending on your taste, you might find that fascinating (or just plain creepy).
It’s worth noting that the newer device is smaller in size than the previous one.
The weight is just under 5 ounces. Although you can use the standard tripod stand provided in the box, you can also use special tripod stands for tougher surfaces to give you a hard time. A Gorillapod stand is a good idea for such versatile stands.
Although the camera is somewhat resistant to splash and rain, it is by no means waterproof.
You can charge and sync the device via the USB-C port.
The bad news is that the battery is fixed. But you can still use the device even while it is charging.
The battery can go up to 90 minutes while recording 4K footage. Of course, if you select lower-res, the battery life will be correspondingly longer. So with 2K, the battery life is around 2 hours.
Wireless file transfer drains the battery really fast. A 7-minute long video drops the battery level by 7% when transferred wirelessly. And if you use the iPhone 7 Plus or the Galaxy S7, the file can take 25 minutes to transfer.
And older phones take even longer. So the same file size will take close to an hour with an iPhone 6 Plus.
There is no need to use the app to control the camera. You can see everything of interest on the monochrome LCD screen. It’s kind of small, no doubt, but it works. Everything is visible on the LCD, from record buttons, battery level, menu to shooting mode. To start and stop the video, you just need to press the record button. You can also see the buttons to change between photo capture and video capture.
Of course, for the best user experience, you should absolutely use your smartphone. With the app in place, you get to see the live feed from the 360 camera. The user interface is also much better and obviously faster to work with.
The two lenses are placed closer to mitigate stitching problems. 4K and 2K videos can manage just 24 fps at most.
The 360 is geared towards video recording rather than photo shooting. As a result, the image sensors have dropped in sharpness from 15 MP to just over 8 MP., So you get 360 stills at 15 MP.
The live streaming feature is another eye-catching feature to look forward to. The live streaming function does not work directly. Rather, it happens via the app, which can relay footage to social media sites like YouTube or Facebook.
You will need at least the Nougat version of Android or have the desktop software installed on your computer with the Gear connected through USB for live streams.
The Gear 360 works with Galaxy S6, A7, A5, and newer Samsung models. The trouble is that the Gear is not compatible with Android phones outside of Samsung. It also has support for the PC and Mac.
The new app is much better than the previous version. The H.265 format is still used for recording. It has greater support today as compared to a year back. When you transfer the video, stitching takes place, and the video converts to the H.264 format. It is good to have a final video at full resolution with no drop in quality. There were heating issues with the previous Gear but no such problems with the current model.
While the first version of the iOS app was buggy, Samsung rolled out a better version, much to its credit. With the new app in place, both the iPhone 6 and 7 can obtain and stitch videos from the Gear. But there are speed differences. And they can be significant. While the iPhone 7 takes just 3.5 minutes to copy a minute-long clip, the older iPhone needs 8.5 minutes.
But there is one big problem in iOS. Video quality takes a big hit as it drops to 3,840 x 1920. To get around this problem, you can edit the video on the desktop. This will also allow for in-depth editing.
The 4K resolution can go up to just 24 fps. The slow frame rate can give you a cinematic feel, but it’s not good for slow motion.
Our Final Thoughts
The Samsung Gear has much of what users expect from a 360 camera at its price point. You get good value for money in the form of vivid imagery, a good app, live-stream function, and a host of other features.