Samsung Gear 2 review

April 24, 2014
20 6 11

    Wearable devices are set to take center stage in the mobile market this year. For one, Google has launched its Android Wear platform, so we can expect more device makers to come up with smartwatches and other wearables built on this platform. Not all brands are building their wearables with Android, however, most notable of which is Samsung, which actually shifted to its own Tizen platform in the latest Samsung Gear 2.

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    This year, Samsung has a trio of smartwatches: the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit. The Gear 2 is the biggest among the new releases, and is the successor to the previous year’s Galaxy Gear line. The Korean company has notably dropped the “Galaxy” branding from this new lineup, which perhaps reflects its change in platform in favor of Tizen.

    Hardware

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    The Gear 2 addresses certain flaws that plagued the original Galaxy Gear, and this starts with the hardware. Like its predecessor, the Gear 2 comes with a metal construction on the face and clasp, which gives the watch a premium look and feel. The textured black band is now removable, however, which means users have an option of switching them out for other colors or materials.

    While the watch still has an industrial look reminiscent of the first Galaxy Gear, the Gear 2 does look more refined than its predecessor. In terms of wearability, it feels better — lighter and more compact. Samsung has actually done a good job in concealing the watch’s screws and electronics, which means it’s more of a normal watch than a bulky wrist-strapped device.

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    For example, the camera module now sits flush on the bezel and no longer protrudes from the case like with the Galaxy Gear. Likewise, the speaker is now located on the underside, in contrast with the Galaxy Gear’s clasp-mounted speakers. Even the charging accessory is smaller now, which is a big improvement from the Galaxy Gear’s bulky charging dock.

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    Some additional hardware notes:

    • The power button, which was moved to the front of the bezel, now doubles as the home button.
    • Like the Galaxy S5, the Gear 2 also comes with a heart rate monitor and is IP67 certified, which means the watch is protected from dust and is water resistant.

    Display and wearability

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    The Gear 2′s screen is similar to the one found on the Galaxy Gear, which is a 1.63-inch 320 x 320 pixel display. The Super AMOLED gives you deep blacks and vivid colors, and is viewable even in bright sunlight, making the display easy to see even when outdoors.

    The display size is optimal for this class of device, which makes it comfortable enough to wear, yet accessible enough for viewing notifications and small bits of information. In terms of size, the Gear 2 actually comes close to sports watches like the Casio G-Shock series. At 68 grams, you should be comfortable enough with the Gear 2, even for extended periods of time.

    Performance

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    Wearable devices aren’t particularly marketed for their internal specs, but rather their wearability and connectivity. Still, we’re pleased to learn that the Gear 2 gets a small specs bump from the original Galaxy Gear, with a dual-core 1 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage. In terms of real-world performance, the Gear 2 is responsive and does not lag when opening and running apps. The touchscreen registers taps and swipes accurately, and we rarely had to repeat gestures and touches.

    Camera

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    The camera on the Gear 2 is likewise similar to that found on its predecessor, which is a 2-megapixel autofocus camera. The clear improvement here is the location of the camera, which now sits flush into the watch’s body. You might find the resolution a limiting factor, but remember that the Gear 2 is meant to be used alongside a more powerful smartphone, anyway.

    The advantage here is accessibility — you can take quick snapshots and video clips without having to bring out your phone from your pocket. Photos and videos are also automatically transferred to your phone for easy viewing.

    Some other Gear 2 camera shots:

    Battery life

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    You’re likely to wear the Gear 2 on your wrist all day, and you wouldn’t want to have to charge the device come noon. The Gear 2 goes through three days of moderate use without a hitch. Sure, its battery only has a capacity of 300 mAh, but you would expect this from a device of this size. Plus, hardware and OS optimizations mean that you can stretch the capabilities of a small battery to its limit.

    If you want to tweak your usage to get a bit more life out of the battery, you can lower the brightness and reduce app usage. Samsung says you can get up to six days of use per charge. But even with brightness at the highest setting, the Gear 2 should last you a reasonable amount of time before needing a recharge.

    Software

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    Again, with the Gear 2, Samsung has chosen to run Tizen instead of Android, although the basic functionality and interface are similar. You get the basic apps, like the dialer, contacts and email, as well as the ability to check your smartphone’s notifications. For voice control, Gear 2 offers S-Voice. Now, whether this is a benefit or a disadvantage will depend on your preference, particularly if you’re more used to S-Voice on your Galaxy smartphone or Android’s built-in Google Now.

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    There are a few interesting use case scenarios with the Gear 2′s applications, particularly in terms of fitness and remote control.

    • Exercise. The exercise app measures calories burned during walking, hiking, climbing or biking. The pedometer will also be useful for monitoring your steps, although we found a few instances of freezing, which may either be a connectivity issue or glitch.
    • Sleep. Sleep monitor measures not only how long you sleep, but also measures how long you lay still during your sleep. This is perfect if you want to make sure you’re well rested after a hard day’s work (or play).
    • Device control. Device controller lets you find either your smartphone or watch through Samsung’s Gear Manager app, provided that either one is connected and in range.
    • Media control. Media controller lets you control music tracks on your phone. This works not only with Samsung’s own music player. It works with Google Play Music as well.

    Price

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    Gear 2 retails for $299 — quite a premium price for a smartwatch, especially considering alternatives like the Pebble Steel and Sony SmartWatch 2. Whether this is a good price or not is subjective, but if you’re already heavily invested into Samsung’s device ecosystem, then you might want to consider the Gear 2 over other wearables, given the extra functionalities that it offers.

    Specifications

    Display1.63” Super AMOLED (320 x 320)
    CPU1GHz dual-core processor
    RAM512MB
    CameraGear 2: 2MP auto focus (1920x1080, 1080x1080, 1280x960)
    Gear 2 Neo: None
    ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0 LE, IrLED
    VideoCodec: H.264, H.263
    Format: 3GP, MP4
    HD(720p, @30fps) Playback & Recording
    AudioCodec: MP3/AAC/AMR/Vorbis
    Format: MP3, M4A, AAC, OGG
    SensorAccelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate
    Storage4GB Internal Memory
    Battery Li-ion 300mAh
    Typical Usage 2~3 days, Low Usage up to 6 days
    Other featuresIP67 Certified Dust and Water Resistant, Noise Cancellation
    DimensionsGear 2 : 36.9 x 58.4x 10.0 mm, 68g
    Gear 2 Neo : 37.9 x 58.8 x 10.0mm, 55g
    Changeable Strap
    Color Options
    Gear 2 : Charcoal Black, Gold Brown and Wild Orange
    Gear 2 Neo : Charcoal Black, Mocha Grey and Wild Orange

    Gallery

    Final thoughts

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    The Samsung Gear 2 is a worthy upgrade to the Galaxy Gear. It looks and feels more refined than its predecessor, with more polished hardware and extra software functionalities. Your only concern at this point might be the use of Samsung’s proprietary Tizen operating system, which means the Gear 2 may not offer as much customizability as other smartwatches that run Android. However, if you currently own a Samsung device, like the Galaxy S5 or Note 3, and you plan to stay loyal to Samsung’s device ecosystem for the foreseeable future, then the Gear 2 is one of your best options.

    Comments

    • Brendon Brown

      Its not a Galaxy Gear guys. Its an Samsung Gear 2.

      • http://www.AndroidAuthority.com/ Darcy Alexander LaCouvee

        We’re keenly aware of that Brendon, just that Samsung changed up the branding; the first iteration of the line was dubbed ‘Galaxy Gear’ whereas this one is simply ‘Gear 2′.

        • Brendon Brown

          I just couldn’t help myself :D Galaxy is their Android branch so yeah it can get confusing, here in South Africa they’re advertising it as the Galaxy Gear 2 … :|

          • Johan Fourie

            Stormers, jou lekker ding!

            • Brendon Brown

              Haha, Natuurlik !

        • polo815

          I wanted to asks you a question I just bought the gear 2 but I can’t figure how to download facebook or Instagram on to the Smart Watch can you please let me know thank you

    • patrik

      I own the Gear 2 Neo, which basically is a Gear 2 in a less fancy package (still fancy though) and without the camera.

      For what it is, it’s pretty damn good.

      It’s really nice to have a watch to check your notifications, so you know if it’s worth to take it out of your pocket (I get 50+ emails a day), it’s also very convenient to use it when on a call, really helpful with those short “hey where are you” phone calls.

      All in all, I’m pretty happy with my purchase, personally I don’t see myself spending the extra cash on the more expensive Gear 2, but if you have the money, this is probably the best smartwatch on the market.

      • polo815

        I wanted to asks you a question I just bought the Samsung gear 2 but I can’t figure out how to install Facebook or Instagram on to my watch can you please help me if you know how to install the Facebook or Instagram on to the Smart Watch I really appreciate it thank you

    • Jakob West

      I bought the Gear 2 Neo and I really like it. I used to think it was pointless because you have to pull out your phone any way, but it let’s you selectively pull out your phone and in the long run saves your battery. I also reply to texts really easily with S voice, so I don’t even have to pull out my phone. Making phone calls while driving is really nice as well. I also paid a dollar and got 2048 on the watch, so I can pass the time without ever using my phone. Unless I need to, but I really just leave my phone in my back pack now.

      • polo815

        Hey there I wanted to asks you a question and hopefully you can respond back to what I’m asking you I really need some help on how to install Facebook Instagram on my gear 2 I can’t figure it out thanks a lot

    • Paulo Lobao

      My first post :-). I bought it yestarday (Gear 2) to use with my Note3 (SN9005). It works great for everything except for the heart rate monitor! I can’t get a pulse count !!!! Transfer music via bluetooh it is a pain (from 7 to 4 tracks max each time and takes ages!). But if you use a USB cable it is much, much more easy and quick :-). VERY HAPPY with it because I hope to solve the heart rate sensor issue!

      Now: who said that was 4 GB of internal memory inside? Well, I only get 2.81 GB (so, only 70% of Samsung states in their specifications!!!!!). Anyone can confirm this?

      Cheers from Portugal.

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