Samsung Gear 2 Smart Watch - Detailed Review And Comparison With Other Leading Smartwatches
Class-leading features, great looks and a long battery life make the Gear 2 the perfect companion for your Galaxy phone.
The new Gear 2 also beats its two leading competitors, the Pebble Steel and Sony Smartwatch 2, in terms of cool features.
Second Time's the Charm - The Original Needed Work
Last year Samsung's first-generation wearable device, the Galaxy Gear, sold more than 800,000 units. This made the Gear the best selling smart watch of 2013.
The first Gear smart watch remains a breakthrough piece of kit, with its incorporation of a built-in camera, onboard microphone w/ voice commands, NFC connectivity and many other cool features. It was, and still is, a really full-featured wearable device.
That said, the first-generation Gear did not make all of its buyers happy. High return rates were reported.
This is because it suffered from some notable shortcomings, including:
- it was too expensive ($299)
- it was too bulky for shirt sleeves
- the camera lens was poorly placed
- it suffered from a slow and cumbersome user interface
- it was short on useful apps
Samsung has obviously been listening carefully to their customers, because for their second effort they've resolved many of the these issues.
The Perfect Companion for Your Galaxy Phone
With Class-Leading Features
In February, 2014, Samsung announced their next-generation line of wearable tech, the Samsung Gear 2, Neo and Samsung Gear Fit.
Samsung also announced they'd no longer build wearable devices on Google's Android operating system. Instead, they will build on top of the Tizen OS, a new open source operating system designed specifically for wearable technologies.
In contrast with Google Android, Tizen is a lightweight platform that makes substantial use of HTML5. Consequently, it provides a more rapid user interface and an improved battery life. These are critically important features for any smart watch.
While the choice of Tizen makes a lot of sense for Samsung, we are not yet completely sold on its advantages.
The main problem for us is the lack of committed and faithful programmer community. If Samsung cannot rally programmers behind its new platform, then their selection of apps is going to be limited.
Nevertheless, Samsung is demonstrably committed to the smart watch and wearable technology market. They are also moving faster than Google and Apple.
A Few Tweaks In Just The Right Places
Appearance-wise, the Gear 2 looks like the original Galaxy Gear, with a few small changes.
The face is now somewhat bigger and more slender.
Additionally, the positioning of the camera eye has been transferred to the wrist strap on the body of the unit, rendering it possible to swap out wrist bands.
A single menu control button has been added to the Gear 2's underside face, too.
A brushed metal finish is offered with textured straps in lots of colors, plus a clip-in clasp closure.
If you'd like a more casual and lower-priced look, go for the Samsung Gear Neo instead. It has a plastic strap and comes in a variety of cool colors.
Photo Gallery - Every Major Feature IllustratedClick thumbnail to view full-size
More Cool Features Than Any Other Companion Watch
The Samsung Gear 2 introduces several ergonomic improvements to its feature-packed hardware platform.
The display remains the same exceptional 1.6-inch screen w/ a 320*320-pixel resolution.
The Gear 2's built-in camera was updated to 2 MP resolution (from 1.6 MP). The camera position is transferred into a new location to the watch body, also.
Samsung added Samsung's WatchOnTV remote app and an infrared sensor, so the device can be used as a television remote.
The new Gear 2 also has an onboard heart rate detector that glows every 90 seconds with your vitals. Additionally, the Gear 2 supplies haptic responses and onscreen notifications to drive you throughout your fitness regimen.
The internal microphone was moved onto the body of the watch, which means you will not have to turn your wrist to speak to the device any longer.
Internally, Samsung upgraded the central processing unit from an 800MHz single-core unit to a 1GHz dual-core chip.
The Gear 2's battery capacity is now 300mAh, which is less than the original. However, Samsung says the choice of Tizen means the watch should want not as much juice than before. They estimate a 3-4 day life between charges.
The Gear 2 uses a separate charging cradle to charge the device. We wish they would adopt a USB connector.
An Emphasis on Fitness and Health
The Samsung Gear 2 is a feature-rich hardware platform, so hopefully thousands of programmers will take advantage of their just-announced Tizen SDK (software development kit) to build more.
For the time being, though, app selection is considerably more limited than the Pebble. Except in the area of fitness and health monitoring, where it's as good as any other.
Samsung recently produced a detailed video that walks you through all of the apps and features that come standard with the Gear 2 (see below). It's kind of boring, but includes a LOT of detail. As you will see, the Gear 2 offers a lot of capability out-of-the box. It's no slouch!
Detailed Walkthrough of Samsung Gear 2 Features - by Samsung Mobile
Dive deeply into all the new features of Samsung's latest wearable devices. Kind of boring, but extremely thorough.
Samsung Gear 2 vs. Pebble Steel
All About The Apps
At a list price of $229, the Pebble Steel is Pebble's most comparable offering to the Gear 2.
Both of these watches are distinctive in many ways.
For starters, the Pebble Steel is a considerably simpler device than the Gear 2. It uses a low-res black and white screen and lacks a touch screen. It also offers no camera, no microphone and no heart rate monitor.
One advantage the Pebble has over the Gear 2, though, is its long battery life at approximately 7 days. The Gear 2 can only muster 3-4 days between charges.
In the flip side, when it comes to software and apps the Pebble Steel offers a significant advantage.
Pebble has more than 3,000 apps and watch faces in its new App Store, while the Samsung Gear 2 is starting on a brand-new operating system with a few dozen apps and few programmers trained to build more.
The Pebble Steel also tethers to a much broader range of Android and Apple smart phones, whereas the Samsung Gear 2 just functions with Samsung Galaxy devices.
Overall, the Samsung Gear 2 has a LOT going for it, especially with respect to hardware features. If you aren't too concerned with the risk of limited apps and you own a Samsung phone, we highly recommend buying one.
Samsung Gear 2 vs. Sony SmartWatch 2
Features vs. Simplicity
The Samsung Gear 2 ($299) also handily surpasses Sony's new Smartwatch 2 ($199) in terms of hardware.
Unlike the Gear 2, Sony's smart watch has no onboard mic, no haptic feedback, no heart rate monitor and no camera.
Overall, we'd have to say the Samsung is a more refined and stylish device than Sony's watch.
Sony's SmartWatch 2 does have one edge over the Samsung Gear 2, though: the Sony connects with just about any Android smart phone.
So, your decision between the Sony and Samsung boils down to: what phone do you own? If you own a Galaxy S3, S4 or S5, then the Samsung Gear 2 is your hands-down choice.
But if you own an Android phone, then take a look at the Sony and the Pebble Steel.
Pricing and Availability - Order Yours Today
The Samsung Gear 2 is available for sale now at Amazon, AT&T and Target for $299.
Also available are Samsung's new Gear Neo and Gear Fit devices, each retailing for $199 each.