First looks: Samsung Gear 360 (2017) has a new design, but is it better?

Along with the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones, Samsung has unveiled a new, updated Gear 360 camera. Since it bears the same name as the original, we’ll simply call it the Gear 360 (2017). Right from the get go, you’ll notice that Samsung is possibly trying to address the unwieldy form factor of the original building in a short, but stocky handle grip. It’s about half a palm’s length and has a solid feel to it. While the Gear 360 (2017) can stand on its handle, there’s also a rubber ring attachment that gives it additional stability. 

The wrist strap has an additional rubber ring to stabilize the Gear 360 though it can stand on its own just fine.

The new design actually reminded me a little of our HardwareZone.com mascot, Zotto, but I digress. Besides the updated form factor, the Gear 360 (2017) now supports live streaming of 360-degree videos on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Samsung VR. The good news is that there is also expanded platform compatibility with more devices and the Gear 360 (2017) will now have a native iOS app (iOS 10+) and supports macOS as well as Windows. However, social live streaming capabilities are not yet extended to iOS and macOS yet.

: Instead of a detachable grip/stand like the original, the Gear 360 (2017) has a new body design that comes with a short stocky grip handle. Because of this, most of the controls can be spread out through the device.
Side view of the Gear 360 (2017).
Top view of the Gear 360 (2017).
On one side of the handle, you’ll find the microSD slot as well as a USB-C charging port. You'll notice at the bottom, it also retains a tripod mount.

Now here’s where it gets a little odd. The original Gear 360 featured dual 15MP CMOS sensors with F2.0 fisheye lenses. It was capable of dual lens still captures up to 30MP and dual lens video capture resolution of 3,840 x 1,920 pixels (30fps). This is slightly below 4K standards even though the 15MP sensors have more than enough resolution to support it.

The Gear 360 (2017) comes with dual 8.4MP CMOS sensors and F2.2 fisheye lenses. This seems like a downgrade in both imaging performance and lens brightness. As expected, dual lens still image capture has been reduced to 15MP, but Samsung is now using the full 8.4MP sensor resolution for 4K video recording at 4,096 x 2,048 pixels (24fps). Just scanning through the specs, I’ve also noticed that it seems to have lost the small built-in 1GB memory buffer of the original, relying only on external microSD for storage (up to 256GB). Another thing that stuck out was a reduction is battery capacity from 1,350mAh of the original to 1,150mAh of the 2017 version. Both versions use the same DRIMe5s processor and other features such as wireless connectivity remain similar too.

So on paper at least, the Gear 360 (2017) seems like a hardware downgrade from the original except that it records at a slightly higher resolution now to hit the 4K  mark for 360-degree videos. The Samsung Gear 360 (2017) will be available in Singapore by Q2 2017. We wonder if it would be any cheaper. Hmmm ...

Samsung Gear 360 cameras compared
  Gear 360 (2017) Gear 360
Camera
  • Two CMOS 8.4-megapixel fish-eye cameras, F2.2
  • Two CMOS 15-megapixel fish-eye cameras, F2.0
Image Processor
  • DRIMe5s
  • DRIMe5s
Video
  • MP4 (H.265) - Dual Lens: 4096x2048 (24fps)
  • MP4 (H.265) - Dual Lens: 3840 x 1920 (30fps)
Image
  • JPEG - Dual Lens: 15MP
  • JPEG - Dual Lens: 30MP
Audio
  • Codec: ACC Format: MP3, M4A, AAC, OGG
  • Codec: ACC Format: MP3, M4A, AAC, OGG
Memory
  • microSD card (Up to 256GB)
  • microSD card (Up to 200GB)
Features
  • Shooting mode: Video, Photo, Time Lapse Video, Looping Video, Landscape HDR
  • Shooting mode: Video, Photo, Time Lapse Video, Looping Video
  • IP53 Certified Dust and Water Resistant
  • IP53 Certified Dust and Water Resistant
  • Camera mode:- Dual/Single Lens mode
  • Camera mode:- Dual/Single Lens mode
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
  • Wi-Fi Direct
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB 2.0 (Type-C)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
  • Wi-Fi Direct
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB 2.0
Dimension
  • 100.6 x 46.3 x 45.1mm
  • 66.7 x 56.3 x 60.1mm
Weight
  • 130g
  • 152g
Battery
  • 1,160mAh Li-ion
  • 1,350mAh
Compatibility
  • Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+
  • Galaxy S7, S7 edge,
  • Galaxy Note 5
  • Galaxy S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge
  • Galaxy A5 (2017), A7 (2017) *Android 5.0 or later
  • iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6S, 6s Plus, SE, *iOS 10.0 or later
  • Windows, macOS
  • Galaxy S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge with Samsung Gear 360 Manager app.
  • PCs with Gear 360 ActionDirector software