1. Samsung Gear 2 review: Smartwatch suited for daily wear, health-linked activities

Samsung Gear 2 review: Smartwatch suited for daily wear, health-linked activities

Samsung Gear S2 is suited for daily wear and health-related activities

By: | Published: June 9, 2016 7:04 AM

Samsung Gear S2 is the circular, prettier version of the earlier Gear S smartwatch. The Gear S2 is a Tizen OS-based smartwatch that does a lot; tracking health, delivering notifications from the smartphone, and even playing music via Bluetooth headphones. Gear S2 Classic is a slightly smaller version of the smartwatch with leather band options, and looks more classy, compared to sporty-looking regular Gear S2. I have been using the Gear S2 smartwatch for nearly two weeks now, and here’s the verdict on the watch.

Samsung Gear S2 is much better suited for daily-wear and health-related activities. But do note that the 42 mm dial is not for those with bony wrists, and they should probably try out the slightly smaller Gear S2 Classic before buying. The build quality of the watch is worth its price. I have not seen any cracks or paint chipping and the watch slipped out of my hands quite a few times.

Gear S2 has a home and back button, which do exactly what the name suggests, and there’s also a rotating bezel on the top. Just keep moving the bezel to right or left to view the various apps, tabs, etc on the Gear S2. Gear S2 also works with any Android device with version 4.4 and above, and I used it in sync with a Galaxy Note 5. It comes with its own wireless charging dock.

What is good?

The biggest plus point with the Gear S2 is that it’s easy to use and set-up. The watch does come with a set of useful

instructions when one is setting it up. The rotating bezel is an interesting way to interact. The watchfaces that come with the Gear S2 are really pretty, and don’t feel too cluttered.

Gear S2 gives notifications from all the apps, and you can choose which ones should appear on the watch via the Gear app on your phone. One can reply to these messages via voice or just type out the text as well, but you can’t initiate chats or messages on apps like Gmail, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc

because the Gear S2 doesn’t have native apps for these.

Gear S2’s health feature is its most comprehensive and well-thought out one. The activity tracking, and daily step count was fairly accurate. Gear S2 will also prompt users to get up, in case they have been inactive a long time. The health widget in the watch comes with special exercise modes; treadmill, run, elliptical trainer, cycling, exercise bike, step machine, etc. Pretty useful for regular gym-goers as it finally makes all the gym exercise data available on your smartphone too.

Also if one is using the S-Health app, the Gear S2 will sync the data there. There’s a heart-rate sensor, which works accurately, as long as the watch is not slapped against the bone. Pro-tip: If you have really bony wrists wear the S2 slightly higher when exercising, for accurate heart-rate results.

On the performance front, the Gear S2 is worth its price. There’s no lag on the watch, the S-voice works just fine and will record replies quickly and accurately, provided one doesn’t speak too fast. Gear S2 had no trouble dealing with a flood of notifications on WhatsApp, Messenger, etc in my case.

What is not that good?

Samsung really needs to improve the app game and not just by adding new apps, but also ensuring that these apps are easily located in the store. Highlighting some unique apps vis-a-vis a Google or Apple style might help more. In my opinion, a native app for Facebook, WhatsApp, etc is a must given that a lot of people rely on these.

Gear S2 will let you take calls, and while one can initiate a call on the watch itself, in order to continue the conversation, one has to pick up the phone.

Overall, it feels like a disjointed experience, and you can see that in some ways the watch is still dependent on the phone.

Also the voice-call feature to answer or reject calls is not entirely accurate or easy to use. Samsung Gear S2 expects you to say answer or reject between

vibrations in order for this feature to work, and it never worked in my case. Battery is another problem with the Gear S2 . I found the watch needed charging nearly every alternate day. Carry the charger around, in case you run out of battery. The question with the Gear S2 and its battery is this: Do you really want another device that causes you to hunt for a charging point?

Verdict

Personally, I would pick the Gear S2 Classic, which is a more beautiful but also more expensive version of the regular Gear S2. If you have been wanting to try out a smartwatch for sometime and don’t want to spend all your money on an Apple Watch, the Gear S2 is definitely an option. It’s fast, has health-tracking that is comprehensive, looks good (mostly on men though), and is easy to interact with. The Samsung Gear S2 does a lot for a smartwatch and won’t disappoint watch lovers.

Estimated street price: R24,300 for Gear S2; R25,300 for Gear S2 Classic

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