See it on Amazon.

Samsung is getting into high gear with its wearable devices this year, notably with the release of three smartwatches as successors to 2013’s Galaxy Gear line. The Samsung Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit all run the company’s proprietary Tizen platform, although each device is targeted at different market segments.

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We earlier reviewed the Samsung Gear 2, which we found to be a more refined smartwatch than its predecessor, although with a relatively higher price than comparable offerings. But given that the Gear line offers extra functionality that works quite well within Samsung’s device ecosystem, this would be an ideal accessory for those who have already invested in such devices, like Galaxy smartphones.

This time, we took the Gear 2 Neo for a spin, and we found it to be a worthy offering alongside the Gear 2, albeit less refined.

Hardware

The Gear 2 (left) comes with a metal construction, while the Gear 2 Neo (right) is made of plastic.

The Gear 2 (left) comes with a metal construction, while the Gear 2 Neo (right) is made of plastic.

The first difference you will notice with the Gear 2 Neo is the build material. Unlike the Gear 2, which comes with a metal construction, plastic makes up most of the Gear 2 Neo’s physical build. This comes with certain advantages and disadvantages, of course. The Gear 2 Neo is a bit larger than the Gear 2 in terms of dimensions, but at 55 grams, it’s very comfortable to wear. The lighter construction means the Gear 2 may offer better wearability over the metal Gear 2, which weighs 68 grams.

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Despite the use of plastic, the Gear 2 Neo feels solid and durable. It has the same IP67 certification as with the Gear 2 and the Galaxy S5 smartphone, which makes the smartwatch dust resistant and water resistant up to 1 meter depth for 30 minutes.

However, with the plastic construction, the Gear 2 Neo does look less classy and premium than the flagship smartwatch model.

Camera (or the lack of it)

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Another big difference is the lack of a camera. Samsung omitted the camera in the Gear 2 Neo, which can either be a good thing or bad, depending on your opinion on smartwatch-mounted cameras. Remember that the Gear 2 comes with a paltry 2-megapixel shooter, so it’s not exactly an optics powerhouse. The lack of a camera on the Gear 2 Neo might not be such a big loss if you think photo quality is compromised, anyway. Perhaps this is a disadvantage if you like taking discreet or spur-of-the-moment shots that you may not otherwise be able to capture with a bigger device like a smartphone.

Other than the lack of the camera and the plastic construction, the hardware is pretty much similar with the Gear 2 down to the replaceable textured bands with metal clasp.

Display

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The Gear 2 Neo comes with the same display as with the Gear 2: a 1.63-inch, 320 x 320 pixel Super AMOLED, which offers deep blacks and vivid colors. In our tests, both the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo offer good viewing angles and adequate brightness even in outdoor usage.

Again, this display size is optimal for this kind of device. Any bigger and your smartwatch would be uncomfortable to wear. A smaller screen might result in poor usability.

Performance

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It may not be appropriate to subject wearable devices to specs wars, but like with the Gear 2, Samsung has bumped the specs a bit with the Gear 2 Neo, relative to the original Galaxy Gear. The dual-core processor clocks at 1 GHz, and the Gear 2 Neo likewise comes with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage.

As with its more premium brethren, the Gear 2 Neo is responsive and does not lag when opening or running apps. Touches and swipes register accurately, with no need to repeat taps and gestures.

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In terms of power, the Gear 2 Neo comes with a 300 mAh battery — similar to the Gear 2. We got a solid three days usage out of the Gear 2 in our real-world tests, and you should also get similar results, depending on usage. Of course, with minimal use or with optimizations (such as running the screen brightness at minimum), Samsung says you can squeeze out as much as six days from a single charge.

Software

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With the current smartwatch lineup, Samsung dropped the “Galaxy” branding, along with its switch from Android to the proprietary Tizen platform. We know Google has just launched its own Android Wear platform earlier this year. But Samsung decided that to use its own for the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit. The interface and functionality is similar to the original Galaxy Gear’s, though, so if you’ve been used to Samsung’s user interface, then you should be right at home with the Gear 2 Neo.

Whether Samsung will decide to adopt Android Wear in the future, only time will tell.

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With its latest releases, Samsung has been big on health, evident with the health apps and functionalities on its devices. The Gear 2 Neo comes with a heart rate monitor, similar to the one found on the Gear 2 and the flagship Galaxy S5. To recap:

  • Fitness. The Gear 2 Neo comes with a pedometer for keeping track of your steps, plus an Exercise app that keeps track of your walking, running, cycling and hiking activities.
  • Sleep app. Gear 2 Neo can monitor the length of your sleep and the duration you lay still during your sleep.
  • Device control. This feature lets you find either your Gear 2 Neo or your Galaxy smartphone, assuming these are both within range.
  • Media control. You can use the Gear 2 Neo to remotely control not only Samsung’s own music app, but Google Play Music as well.

Price

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Perhaps the most attractive feature of Gear 2 Neo, at least with respect to the current Gear line, is its price: $199. You get basically the same smartwatch, sans camera and metal case.

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 Galaxy 2 Neo is everything the Samsung Gear 2 is, except for the camera and metal construction. The Neo is lighter, which makes it more comfortable to wear during extended durations. The plastic construction makes it look and feel less polished and premium than its flagship counterpart, however.

If you’re not so concerned about smartwatch photography and the higher-end feel, then you might appreciate the Neo better, especially with its $199 price tag. Keep in mind that Samsung’s entire current smartwatch lineup is compatible only with Samsung devices, so if you’re not so keen on this particular brand or ecosystem, the Gear 2 Neo might not be the device for you. However, if you’re already using Samsung devices, then the Gear 2 Neo, and likewise the Gear 2 and Gear Fit, do offer added functionality over other brands of smartwatches.

Get the Samsung Gear 2 Neo on Amazon.

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