I need to tell this story. It's about a Samsung Gear S3 Frontier I have had for 3 years and the most recent test of durability that I never intended putting it through. To preface this, I'm an avid caver. I live in heart of TAG (Tennesse, Alabama, Georgia), the cave Mecca of the United States. Deep and vertical, tight and horizontal, wet with high water, we got it all and evrything in between out here. I love extreme caving. I wear my Gear S3 while caving to help track time. We use time to measure how far we go and it's important to mind your time as much as possible because a call out on the surface might call for a rescue operation and you're just fine getting carried away underground and having fun. The only added protection for the Gear S3 I use, and have always used even before I was a caver, is a screen protector. The Gear S3 gets bashed and scraped on rocks and it shows, but the screen protectors have done an impeccable job taking all the brunt to the screen. It also routinley gets caked with thick mud. Just clean it later and no issue. So on October 29th, me and some friends went into a wet cave with high water after a big rain storm. It involved walking through a deep and fast stream of water constantly and free climbing up waterfalls that ranged from a foot high to 12 feet high. Lots of water, so much it almost felt impossible to move forward without being pushed back when you lifted a foot up to progress. It was a great trip, lots of fun. People losing shoes that were later recovered on the way back out, one guy got pantsed by the power of a 3 or 4 foot high waterfall that was gushing so hard it was shooting straight out and arcing into the stream below. One waterfall I was sliding down, though, had the audacity to rip the Gear S3 clean off my wrist without me noticing. I didn't notice it was gone from that point until we were out (we were making the return trip and booking it pretty good with the stream pushing us out). I was disrobing to change into clean and dry clothes at my truck and realized I wasn't wearing it. Thought I just threw it in the back with all the dirty gear and clothes when I was changing. However, in the back of my mine I did fear I left an elctronic device with a lithium-ion battery in a sensitive eco system to just degrade over time. I wrote it off as a loss with a sense of guilt I was never going to shake. Well, fast forward to today. Me and a friend tried to do a sporty and deep vertical cave but we ended up returning to the cave above because it was nearby and there were already a lot of people parked over by the pit cave that we didn't want to just invite ourselves on someone else's trip like that. The resurgence (where the waters flow out from caves) for the cave was almost bone dry today, it wasn't going to be very sporting but at this point and this late in the day. We decided a more chill cave trip was the perfect thing for the stride we were hitting that day. We rappel the 30 foot entrance, move fairly quickly to the streem bed, and it was low, the water perfectly clear. We climb a few of the waterfalls fairly easily. We're in the crawl before the waterfall that ripped the watch off my wrist. I notice a battery in a waterproof case in a crevice, I pick it up, feels like no water got in, and realize it was my friends' from the previous trip into this cave when we had to fight the force of a freight train and MUCH higher waters to get to the back. We get into this crawl that before was filled with mostly water with just enough room for part of your face to rise above the water at spots. Now it's just 6 inches or less of water and was a fairly easy crawl to get through, now. When I get into it, I notice a light battery that was dropped by a friend (we really had it together that trip, huh?) still in tis water-sealed case. I pocket it. I start to realize "Hey... maybe the watch is here," and I see a jet black rock under the water and I go to grab it thinking "This is not it," and I lift it out of the water. Before it even registers in my mind that it's the watch, my friend screams "YOU FOUND IT!?" I pocket it and decide "Ok, we've had too good of luck today and it's just two of us, I don't feel like free climbing more slick rock without another person here," and we call it and turn around. We get back to the truck and we take off our nasty gear and disrobe the wet and dirty clothes and change into clean, dry clothing. I see the watch only failed in the pin that held one end fo the wristband to the case of the watch. Not too surpsising given the forces that were exerted on that watch while submerged in a waterfall. I know the battery is well dead, so I try to turn it on anyway. It tries its best to boot up, and the Samsung Gear S3 splash screen pops up and then the watch dies back down. I get home, I clean the watch, remove the band (that has a thin layer of calcite deposition on parts of it). I turn the bezel under warm water a bunch. Tried my best, but the bezel isn't smooth anymore and is tough to turn at parts. Oh well, it was just submerged in a rushing stream for a week and two days. I shouldn't have expected to see it again and I didn't. I'm not going to complain about that. I dry it off and put it on the charger. I go do some things around the house and I come back to it at 20% charged. I try to turn it on and it boots right up. The bezel still controls the software seamlessly, it was just the hardware itself is clunkier. I'm sure the calcite rich water deposited a layer of something in the bezel workings, but it still works fine overall. I need to find a strap with more sturdy pins or just be mindful of the extreme levels while spelunking a wet cave. I really can't believe the durability of such a piece of technology. I hope Samsung keeps making the Gear S3. If I ever get a new smartwatch it's going to be another Gear S3, that is for sure. It has proven itself worthy. Extreme caver approved.
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