*These devices are loaned review units from Samsung Malaysia Electronics*
After posting my usual long-ass review post on the Android flagship Samsung Galaxy S5 here, I felt it too long to include my take on the complementary smart wearables – the Samsung Gear 2 and Samsung Gear Fit. So I decided to split the review into a separate post.
See Also : Samsung Galaxy S5 User Review
Thanks to Samsung Malaysia, I managed to get my hands on not just the S5 smartphone, but also the fitness related wearables. For a non-fit person (*embarassed*) it was a real challenge for me to test these fitness specific devices. With only a couple of weeks with these devices, I spent a week with the Gear 2 smartwatch and then another week with the Gear Fit fitness band.
Setting up & Linking to Samsung Galaxy S5
It was really easy to setup these devices with the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. When you power on the Gear 2 or Gear Fit, you will be prompted to download and pair the device using the app on your smartphone.
On the Samsung Galaxy S5, all I needed to do was go to the Galaxy App store and download the Samsung Gear Manager (for the Gear 2 smartwatch) or Samsung Gear Fit Manager (for the Gear Fit fitness band).
See Also : Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch User Review
When you start any of these apps for the first time, you’ll just need to follow the on-screen instructions and pair the device with your phone.
Using the Samsung Gear Fit Manager app as an example above, you’ll see that the app allows you to control and toggle some settings using your smartphone. Not only can you change the wallpaper background on your device, you can also manage the health and fitness related apps, notification and other settings for gesture, auto lock, double press etc.
Of course, these are also available on the Settings menu on the Gear 2 and Gear Fit as well, but the ability to manage this on the smartphone makes it quite handy. Of course, you get to manage this on a much bigger 5.1″ screen of a smartphone than the smaller screen on your wrist.
Samsung Gear 2
All of the features in the original Samsung Galaxy Gear is still here with the Gear 2. The biggest difference here is that it’s no longer powered by Android OS as with the original. Samsung has implemented their own Tizen OS with the Gear 2 instead. From a user interface point of view, you almost cannot tell the difference, really. Tizen of course is a much lighter OS (improved the performance and battery life) and more flexible for Samsung to add in more features and stuff in future.
Here’s a quick specs overview of the Samsung Gear 2:-
- 1.63″ Super AMOLED touchscreen display (320 X 320)
- IP67 Certified Dust and Water Resistant
- 4 GB internal memory + 512 MB RAM
- 2 megapixel autofocus camera (1280 X 720 HD video recording)
- 10 mm thin, weighing only 68 grams
- 300 mAh non-removable battery (up to 2-3 days)
- Connectivity : Bluetooth 4.0, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, HR sensor
- Available in 3 colours : Charcoal Black, Gold Brown and Wild Orange
- Recommended Retail Price (RRP ) of RM 899
Unboxing & Hardware Impression
Inside the box packaging, which is the same faux wood patterned cardboard box as the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, you’ll find the smartwatch, a 3-pin charger adapter with a microUSB cable, and a charging dock.
Looking around the smartwatch, the Gear 2 is very much like the original Galaxy Gear. The face has a similar Super AMOLED touchscreen, housed in a metal body. The strap is a similar material which seems durable for sports and fitness use.
The camera is still built at the top of the watch face, except it’s now no longer a bulging nipple looking lens on the strap. It’s now built on the frame of the watch itself instead and looks a lot more subtle than before. Still, the inclusion of a camera on a watch may still creep some people out!
There’s also now a physical “Home” button at the bottom of the watch face. This is a welcomed change indeed. It comes in very handy when you’re navigating on your homescreen and needed to go back to homescreen, much like a smartphone “Home” button. Previously, it was a small button at the right side of the watch. Good change, Samsung!
Just like with the original Galaxy Gear smartwatch, there is a charging dock that has metal connector pins and a microUSB port for you to plug in for charging.
The awesome news is that the dock now is way way smaller and sleeker looking. The old one was more of a case that wrapped around the whole watch. Like this…
In order to maintain a slim profile of the Gear 2 smartwatch, it is understandable why a dock is still needed. Although, the new ock is so small and teeny, I was afraid it would go missing or easily get misplaced on my busy table. 😦
Here’s what the Gear 2 smartwatch look like on my lady wrist. A little bit big, still, just like with the original. No doubt people will notice that I’m wearing a smartwatch with a screen at that size on my wrist. With a man though, it will likely be less noticeable.
As much as I’d love to be a smartwatch wearer, I get really frustrated that most smartwatch manufacturer don’t really design smartwatches for women. They all look hella bulky and ugly on a woman’s wrist. I think, once the market start to mature and there are more smartwatches in the market, I am sure I’d be able to find one for the ladies…
Mini Review of Gear 2
Thing is, there’s really no way of taking screenshots on the Gear 2 smartwatch, so I couldn’t accomodate any in this review.
Although I was rather impressed that I received a couple of software updates while I was using the smartwatch with me for a week.
Samsung added a few more nifty features than the original and polished up the user experience. The usual functions were still present, but more improved. I can now choose to accept notifications and alerts on other 3rd party apps like WhatsApp messages, Facebook notifications, Gmail and much more.
There are also the Smart Relay functions where I can be reading a long email on the smartwatch, pick up my smartphone (the pairing is with the Samsung Galaxy S5, in this case, of course) and continue reading / writing my email on the phone. How cool is that?
You can still make and receive phone calls on the Gear 2 smartwatch. Audio quality is slightly improved, but once the novelty wore off, I kinda never used the function again and forgot about it.
Camera on the watch, as I pointed out in the older smartwatch brother, is not really necessary in this device, really. I don’t see why anyone would really be taking pictures with their smartwatch, when they can easily whip out their smartphone instead. The idea is more ridiculous than people taking pictures with their iPad, or any full sized tablet.
Creep factor is still there, that you could be snapping away pictures with your watch, without the other person knowing.
Nevertheless, I managed to snap a couple of pictures, one from the Gear 2 and one from S5 for image quality comparison.
These images are not edited or resized, so feel free to click to view the orginal enlarged copy.
As you can see, the images taken with the 22 megapixel Gear 2 smartwatch are not really any good at all. But I guess if you really must take that picture of a moment happening too quick that you might miss it if before you pull out your smartphone, the yeah – I guess that’ll do.
I got annoyed with the screen turning on everytime I raised my hand, as the accelerometer on the smartwatch was way too sensitive. In order to pacify my annoyance and reduce accidental presses, I turned that function off.
Which basically also means that the accelerometer was so sensitive that it was recording way too optimistic “Steps taken” daily in the Pedometer function. For the first couple of days, I was really happy to see that I did over 1,000 – 2,000 steps daily. But in actual fact, when I started watching it a lot closely, it recorded 100 steps when I actually, honestly only took 10. Maybe I swing my arms around too much! 😛
There are other cool functions and settings that you can customise, for example double tapping to wake the device or as a shortcut to open an app, use the Gear 2 as a TV remote, store / listen to music via a Bluetooth connected headphone and so much more…
The Samsung Gear 2 now has a lot more apps. Samsung says there are over 200 apps you can use with the Gear 2 and the smartwatch is also compatible with over 17 devices, most of which are within their Samsung Galaxy range of devices. More are being added.
S Health app on the Samsung Galaxy S5
But where the Gear 2 shine is the fitness and health tracking capabilities.
S Health is an app that’s pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. When you launch it for the first time, you need to customise and enter your stats and info (like gender, weight, height, etc) and it’;l start syncing and tracking your fitness and activities recorded from your Gear 2 (or Gear Fit).
Other than the Pedometer, Exercise tracke and Heart Rate sensor, the S Health app also comes with sleep trackers, food diary, and allows you to download more compatible apps. I found some interesting workout programs that looked interesting. But lazy me never got around to trying them. 😦
If you’re one of those who loves tracking your workout and fitness activities, the Gear 2 along with the S Health app will definitely be something that will appeal to you.
Samsung Gear Fit
And then, there is the Samsung Gear Fit fitness band. This is not a smartwatch, it is a fitness band. Very much for the fitness buffs. If you’re a runner, gym junkie, workout freak, then you’d likely either own a fitness band or contemplating on getting one. Think Jawbone Up, Nike Fuelband. The Samsung Gear Fit is actually a strong contender in the space.
Here’s a quick specs overview of the Samsung Gear Fit:-
- 1.84″ Curved Super AMOLED touchscreen display (128 X 432)
- IP67 Certified Dust and Water Resistant
- 11.95 mm thin, weighing only 27 grams
- 210 mAh non-removable battery (up to 3-4 days)
- Connectivity : Bluetooth 4.0, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, HR sensor
- Available in 3 colours : Black, Orange and Mocha Grey
- Recommended Retail Price (RRP ) of RM 599
Unboxing & Hardware Overview
The faux wood patterned box again – includes the Gear Fit, a 3 pin charger adapter with a microUSB cable, and a much smaller dock.
I really like the fitness band here. I have the Black coloured band (you can purchase different colours to suit your personality) and the nice etched “Gear Fit” branding on the strap. It has holes on one end of the strap and studs on the other to strap in whatever sized wrist.
There’s a long rectangular 128 X 432 curved Super AMOLED touchscreen display.
The band is actually rubber, giving it a nice fitness band feel, and also handy for the water and dust resistance.
There are no physical “Home” buttons as per the Gear 2 smartwatch, but because it’s a fitness band (not a watch) you get sleek design with only a single home button on the right side of the device.
Underneath the face, touching your skin, is the heart rate sensor. This allows the Gear Fit to measure and monitor your heart rate, and projects it all in a nice graph in the S Health app, if you wish.
On my lady wrist, the Gear Fit actually don’t look as offensive as the Gear 2 smartwatch. It actually looks quite alright.
As per the above TV Commercial, where they use a female lead instead, shows that it actually pairs quite well if you place a bunch of bracelets and bangles alongside the Gear Fit, it can actually look quite nice as a wrist accessory and makes a good smart wearable device.
Mini Review of Gear Fit
I enjoyed wearing the Gear Fit more than I did with the Gear 2 smartwatch. Mostly because of its smaller size.
It’s quite easy to forget that you’re wearing the Gear Fit, really.
Some features of the Gear 2 is also available with the Gear Fit, although a lot more minimised function. You can still make and receive phone calls, you still get app notification alerts, you can still customise the wallpaper and colour themes, etc.
You have Heart Rate monitor at the back of the device / band and you can track your exercises and personalise it with various apps and charts on the S Health app.
The pedometer is equally, if not more sensitive than the Gear 2 in my tests. It recorded way more steps taken daily when I started watching it closely. I’m sure you can adjust the sensitivity within the Settings, but I never quite got around to it. Maybe I didn’t really want to re-calibrate this because I feel extra good about myself when I record a super high number of steps taken daily. *grin* Denial. 😛
I really enjoyed wearing the Gear Fit more than the Gear 2. Have I mentioned that already? It looks way sleeker on my wrist.
I wish I am a runner, I would be happy to have this strapped on my wrist when I go for a run, then come home and look at all the fancy charts of how much calories I have burnt, and the GPS tracking on a map of how far I ran. Must’ve been so fulfilling for you runners out there….
Sadly, I am fitness challenged. The only exercise I do are pilates and yoga, which wouldn’t be very interesting to track on a fitness band like the Gear Fit.
Conclusion : To Buy Or Not To Buy?
If you’re thinking if you should get the Samsung Gear 2 or the Samsung Gear Fit…
What I Like
I think that Samsung has improved the usability (more apps, more device compatibility and counting) and usefulness (S Health and more apps) and simple interaction and pairing with your smarphone (better notification and phone call support).
What I Dislike
At RM 899 (Gear 2) and RM 599 (Gear Fit), it’s still a rather high price to pay for complementary device to your smartphone.
Should you buy it then?
For Gear 2 smartwatch, the market is still new. There are more popular smartwatches like Pebble (USD$ 249), LG G Watch (~USD$ 229) and a lot more Google’s Android Wear watches coming soon. Perhaps you want to wait. Unless you held out in buying the original Galaxy Gear and really want the phone call function (which might not be included in other smartwatches).
For Gear Fit fitness band, especially when there is a USD$13 Xiaomi Mi Band in the market now and more mature competition like Jawbone Up24 (USD$ 150) and Nike Fuelband (USD$99), it’s gonna be a tough call. As with the Gear 2, this has better pairing and connectivity with your smartphone that the other fitness bands might not have. Honestly, I have not reviewed or tried the others, so I’m not quite the best person to give you the best advise on this front.
How many of you are planning on getting any of the Gear 2 or Gear Fit?
Or any one of you use another brand instead? Let me know why you got it, what you use it for and what you love about your device, in the comments down below…
For more information, visit Samsung Malaysia website at http://www.samsung.com/my/home and *LIKE* Samsung Mobile Malaysia Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/samsungmobilemalaysia