Samsung Gear S2 Classic hands-on
Our heads are still exploding thinking about how Samsung reinvented its smartwatch line with the introduction of the Gear S2. The all metal sci-fi look is no doubt impressive on many fronts, but not everyone will be a fan of its peculiar styling. Well, for those who still have their hearts set of a traditional timepiece design, Samsung keeps the tradition going with its alternative model – the Samsung Gear S2 Classic.
Smaller details found on the Classic, like the gear tooth cutouts lining the outside of the rotating bezel, as well as the accompanying leather strap, all combine to give the Classic that distinctive timepiece elegance. While its design is perfect for casual wear, we really hope they come out with some other, more premium bands – like a metal linked style of some sort.
Still, we should point out that the Samsung Gear S2 Classic actually carries a smaller footprint than its sibling. Therefore, if you have extraordinarily large wrists, the Classic can appear under sized. Between the two, however, we still have to give the standard model more style points.
The rotating bezel
Thus far, most smartwatches rely on the touchscreen for navigation. Apple, most recently, popularized the notion of using a crown as yet another way to navigate and interact. Samsung, on the other hand, opts to go with a unique spin with the Gear S2 (and Classic) by employing a rotating bezel around the display. Our biggest concern heading into it was the rotating bezel, whether it was going to be too sensitive or unresponsive. Luckily, Samsung did it just right by offering enough fluidness with its operation.
When rotating the bezel, it’s accompanied with a little bit of ‘locking’ mechanisms as it’s being rotated smoothly clockwise or counterclockwise. Naturally, it’s a convenient way of moving around its Tizen based interface – and it exhibits just enough responsiveness without being too sensitive. Swiping over the display is one thing, but we really enjoy the satisfying movement of using the rotating bezel as well.
Armed with a 1.2-inch 360 x 360 Circular Super AMOLED display, it’s certainly quaint in size in comparison to the round displays on some other smartwatches. For example, the larger version of the Moto 360 is accompanied by a 1.56-inch display, while the Huawei Watch comes with a 1.4-inch one. Regardless, we like its size and definitely takes equal precedence to the Gear S2 Classic’s overall design. Being Super AMOLED, you get that perfect black color reproduction, so when it’s displaying a watch face, it can sometimes appear to be mechanical – albeit, we know that we’re dealing with a digital one of course.
Of course, it exhibits pretty much all of the qualities of AMOLED technology – like its wide viewing angles. Colors are surprisingly neutral in tone in our quick look, as opposed to being over-saturated. And even though we’re able to visualize the screen in decent lighting indoors, we’re really curious to see how it stands up to outdoor visibility. Considering that they’ve perfected the art of making Super AMOLED display with incredible characteristics, we have full faith that it’ll be more than usable in that particular setting. And oh yeah, placing your palm over the display turns it off.
One of the biggest concerns going into something like this is the Tizen interface that’s used to propagate the experience. Anyone familiar with Samsung’s past Gear offerings will notice how this one is influenced by them. For example, apps like the calendar and weather look like they’ve been ripped from its previous smartwatches. Still, the rotating bezel is optimized to work in conjunction with what Samsung calls the “rotary” UI. Basically, some of the core apps and functions of the Gear S2 Classic are accessed by either using the rotating bezel or just swiping on the touchscreen. Honestly, every action is accompanied with an instant response, so using the rotating bezel for navigation is just as effective as the touchscreen.
Of course, there’s also the concern the diversity of apps with the ecosystem. There’s nothing to be alarmed about at the moment, just because Samsung ensures that there will be over 1,000 apps available at launch. We even managed to check out a couple of them in our meeting, such as Uber. And interestingly enough, all the apps are run natively through the smartwatch, so there won’t be any nagging issues about how some other smartwatches are faced with latency issues trying to access data on a smartphone.
As of right now, Samsung says that the Gear S2 line is compatible to work with most Android 4.4+ devices with 1.5GB of RAM. Certainly, that can be viewed as a limiting thing, but we can imagine that wider support will be available down the road. Hey, we’re hoping to see expansion into other platforms – like iOS and Windows.
Processor and Memory
Under the hood, it’s powered by a dual-core 1GHz Exynos 3250 processor with 512MB of RAM. Impressively enough, it’s better than some Android Wear smartwatches too, which goes to show the kind of optimizations brought on by the processor and software.
Internally, the 4GB of internal storage suffices for many folks, as it’s the usual capacity we’re commonly seeing nowadays in high-end smartwatches.
In addition to the Bluetooth option, the Samsung Gear S2 Classic offers exclusive Wi-Fi connectivity as well to receive all and any notifications. Being untethered from a phone is a good alternative, but of course, it’s always there if you choose to stick with it. And yes, it comes with built-in NFC that will be used in conjunction with Samsung Pay. We’re told that we can use the Gear S2 Classic independently, without it being connected to a phone, to make payments using Samsung Pay.
Usually, our thinking tells us that something that’s designed to look more like a traditional timepiece would incur a higher price point than one that doesn’t. This is something we’re curious about, just because Samsung did not disclose the pricing of its upcoming smartwatches. However, we’re told that the Classic, along with the standard model, will begin to go on sale in the US starting in early October – where carriers will make announcements later on regarding the availability of their models.
Maybe the Classic will have a higher price point than the standard model? Or maybe they’ll both cost the same? Whatever the case, if you take fancy in a smartwatch that favors a classical timepiece design, this one undoubtedly hits the bullseye.