Samsung Gear 2 Review
Oh, boy, do we have a lot to talk about. Ladies and gentlemen, say goodbye to Android. That's right, the Gear 2 does not make use of Google's OS – it's got a Tizen heart instead. Google never really did intend, nor did it modify the existing Android code, for use on wearables with tiny displays, at least until recently, when the Android Wear project was announced. What Samsung did with the Galaxy Gear last year is modify the Android OS on its own, optimizing it for its watch. This likely steered Samsung towards Tizen, a platform it has far more control over. In any case, virtually nothing about the Tizen-based software looks or functions differently from the Android OS-based one in the first generation Gear. That said, a lot has been added on top of the previous platform.
The homescreen houses the time and date, along with quick access to the camera, pedometer, and options. Samsung provides you with a few choices here, and you can instead have the weather show up, or even set up a fitness-centric homescreen which constantly updates itself with the number of steps you've traveled.
So let's talk functionality. The Messages app, as you can imagine, allows you to read the full SMS text messages that you have received on your smartphone, and you can even use a number of pre-set templates with short answers, or even create your own. A dedicated E-mail app synchronizes with the built-in Samsung mailbox on your device, allowing you to read the full contents of an e-mail, instead of just serving as a “You've got mail!” type notification. You can, again, reply with pre-set answers, but nothing more.
You also get Dialer and Contact apps built-in, and they both are well-implemented for the small screen, and work well. For example, the Dialer will quickly recognize the number you're typing if you have it stored on your smartphone, and you can also use the numeric keypad to search and dial names directly, in T9-like fashion. As for the Contacts app, you can easily navigate through your many contacts thanks to the alphabetical slider on the right.
Also new are the Heart Rate app (which works in unison with the heart rate monitor on the back), allowing you to take measurements of your heart beat. Unfortunately, for it to work properly, you need to have the Gear 2 hugging your wrist bone, but not too tight, nor too loose. Even then, however, it usually takes over 10 seconds for an actual reading, and those can be quite erratic, too. There's also a new Exercise app, which essentially uses the pedometer and your profile's stats (age, height, weight, gender) to provide approximations of the distance and the speed at which you're moving, along with a calorie counter.
Want some extra apps specifically created for the Gear 2? There are some – like Evernote, Feedly, Banjo, along with several watch faces – but the list is really, really short, and a big portion of it isn't free. Maps or turn-by-turn navigation remain a mirage. Thankfully, apps that worked with the Galaxy Gear, work with the Gear 2 as well. However, the small app ecosystem size continues to be by far the biggest issue we have with Samsung's smartwatches.
Pairing with a phone
The Gear 2 is designed to be paired with your phone and not used as a standalone device. However, you cannot pair it with just any Android device. Instead, the smartwatch is only compatible with Samsung devices only, though the list has now grown to 18 different models, including the Galaxy S4 and S5, and even the Note 2 and 3. Although the list is generous compared to the first-gen Gear, it cannot be compared with the Pebble watch, which works with both Android and iOS devices.
The Gear 2 pairs via Bluetooth 4.0 LE, but it is not as easy as pairing a Bluetooth headset for example. It requires you to download the Gear Manager app on your phone/tablet off the Samsung app store, and go through a few prompts. The rest is, for all intents and purposes, a completely automated process, but a bit time consuming.
Processor and memory
The Gear 2 also ups the ante in the performance department, with a speedier, dual-core Samsung Exynos 3250 chip clocked at 1GHz, and 512MB of RAM. This is a sizable upgrade from the single core 800MHz processor on the original Galaxy Gear, allowing it to push through the fancier graphics and new interface at even faster speeds than its predecessor.
Essentially, you're getting slightly better response times with the added benefit of all the extra functionality. We've experienced no scenarios where lag or hang-ups reared their ugly heads above the surface, and that's definitely a big plus.
Lastly, there's 2.91GB of free storage available to you, which you can use for loading music, third party apps, watch faces or for photos you have taken with the built-in camera.
1. Anshulonweb (Posts: 313; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)
I am still not convinced enough to buy a smartwatch yet....
4. SupermanayrB (Posts: 158; Member since: 20 Mar 2012)
Exactly. Unless it allows me to not have to pull my phone out of my pocket (which is what my bluetooth does for talk & text) then I don't see a need for a smartwatch.
16. hassan.alhakim21 (Posts: 2; Member since: 23 Oct 2013)
I see we don`t need it yet you are right .
2. PunyPoop (Posts: 715; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)
Same rating as Sony Smartwatch 2? Sony's smartwatch is more useful, and stylistic..
5. ihavenoname (Posts: 1377; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)
...and also in many places cheaper. Where I live SW2 is €190=$263 vs Gear 2 €350=$485 (which is 99% confirmed launch price).
14. cheetah2k (Posts: 806; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)
The Sony SW2 is utter rubbish... as well as the fact the build quality is worse than a chinese handjob
3. ArtSim98 (limited) (Posts: 2738; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
Smart Watches still have a long way to go.
7. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2000; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)
I still don't understand the use of a smartwatch. Why would I want to see notifications on a watch when I can just pull out my phone and check it? OEMs should provide a compelling reason for purchasing a smartwatch. Till then I don't see them selling much.
8. joey_sfb (Posts: 2894; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)
For those don't get much notifications than the appeal is limited. I get alert every 15 or 20 mins.
With an alert on the wrist I never miss any important sms or app alert. Its always much easier to twist my wrist then to take out my phone. So I want a smart watch and have gear 1 and Sony smart watch 1. Waiting for my Neptune Pine, Hot watch and Agent. Samsung Gear Fit will monitor it as its more of a Gear Stylish.
9. NexusX (Posts: 114; Member since: 16 May 2013)
think of it as a premium swiss/Italian/german handmade mechanical/quartz watch that costs upward of $300 and needs maintenance and battery replacement every few years just to stay accurate. think of it as really nice watch that not only tells time, but shows notifications, measures your heart rate/calorie intake, stays constantly synced to an atomic clock and needs to be charged every week.
13. pocketbook (Posts: 20; Member since: 26 Mar 2014)
Convenience? Do you respond to every one of your notifications? One of the biggest killers for smartphones is screen on time. Using smartwatches stopped me from taking out my phone anytime a new message comes in. I only take it out unless I am responding to it and in which case with the Gears, you can have the app corresponding to that notification come up without having to go through your app list. It pulls it up automagically.
I can also dial out, answer phone calls, do voice searches, track my steps and distance plus with the 2 and Neo I can use it as a universal remote. It's not going to replace my phone but it does keep me from having to pull it out of my pocket every 10 minutes.
10. colbolt449 (Posts: 4; Member since: 29 Sep 2013)
I pay to upgrade to the Gear 2 as I've gotton excellent performance from my Gear 1. I love the styling of this device.
11. Quezdagreat (Posts: 424; Member since: 05 Apr 2012)
They should've studied pebble a little more. Samesung needs to adjust their copy and paste settings
12. gigaraga (Posts: 901; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)
Awesome smartwatch! At least looks and feels better overall than Sony's NotSmartWatch
15. KillgoreTroutTime (Posts: 280; Member since: 06 Jan 2014)
I just went to Best Buy today for something else, but I noticed the Gear 2 there so I went over and checked it out. I have to say, they are a lot more impressive in person. For some reason, the pictures online make them look much bigger and clunkier than they really are. I was also really impressed with the wristband. I am not going to sell my moto X just to get one, but I do think people should check them out in person before judging them. I would have no problem wearing either one of them and I really didnt like their looks when I had just seen pictures of them. This is an opinion from someone who just loves tech and couldn't care less about the rise or fall of any one company.