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Samsung Gear 2 review

Luke Johnson

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Reviewed:

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Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2
  • Samsung Gear 2 camera test
  • Samsung Gear 2 camera test

Summary

Our Score:

5

Pros

  • Improved, premium design
  • Simple, intuative interface
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Unnecessary features with poor applications
  • Pointless camera
  • So-so battery life

Key Features

  • 1.63-inch AMOLED screen
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £250.00

What is the Samsung Gear 2?

The Samsung Gear 2 is Samsung’s second attempt at tackling the smartwatch space after last year’s dismal showing with the Samsung Galaxy Gear. It’s slimmer, lighter and more refined than its predecessor, irons out a number of shortcomings and adds new features such as an inbuilt heart rate sensor.

Interestingly, despite the first of Google’s Android Wear watches being due this year, the Gear 2 has dropped Android in favour of Samsung’s Tizen OS. This is why the Gear isn’t ‘Galaxy’ branded, though despite these changes the Gear 2 – and its cheaper, plastic bodied sibling, the Samsung Gear 2 Neo – offer a largely similar experience to the original Gear.

There’s little doubt that the Gear 2 is a big improvement on the original, but like the Gear Fit it still feels far from the finished article.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Gear S2 vs Apple Watch: Do you go Apple or Samsung smartwatch?

Samsung Gear 2

Samsung Gear 2: Design

Last year’s Galaxy Gear was particularly easy on the eye and we are pleased to say the Samsung Gear 2 is even more elegant. Moving the integrated camera from the strap to the body’s upper edge helps reduce some of the watch’s bulk. Elsewhere, the removal of four unsightly rivets from the watch’s face gives it a sleeker, more refined appearance.

Another important change to the Gear 2 is the relocation of the physical home button to the face, as opposed to the edge as on the Galaxy Gear. The compact, square control makes the watch easier to navigate, helping create a simpler, more intuitive user experience.

Although the provided plastic wrist strap is rather uninspiring, it’s comfortable to wear and unlike the Galaxy Gear you can change the strap on the Gear 2. Currently available in black, brown and orange, we expect Samsung to offer a range of additional strap options in the near future.

Overall, then, the Gear 2’s design makes a positive first impression. Indeed, we wish the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 could impress us so much with their design.

This outward beauty does come with some caveats, however. After just a week, the Gear 2’s metal buckle is already heavily scratched. This is mainly due to the clasp rubbing against the desk when working at a keyboard, and though it’s not a disaster it’s the kind of issue that will only grow worse with time and continued use.

Samsung Gear 2

Samsung Gear 2: Screen

Visually, it is hard to fault the second-gen Gear. The watch’s screen is sharp enough to comfortably read text notifications and bright enough to make viewing in direct sunlight clear and defined. Like its predecessor, the Gear 2 has a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display with a 320 x 320 pixel resolution. Samsung has the best screens on any of the wearables we have seen so far.

However, despite featuring a significantly better resolution than the 220 x 176 pixel Sony SmartWatch 2, the Gear 2’s screen lacks the contrast and colour quality to do photos justice.

Although small in stature, the screen supports a range of touch controls. The touch interface is easy to navigate with such a responsive panel and pinch to zoom in the gallery helps make image viewing possible on such a compact display.

Unfortunately, as with every aspect of the Gear 2, the watch’s screen is not without its own niggles.

The sensitivity of the auto screen-on sensor needs some work .Yes, the display automatically wakes when you lift your wrist to check the time – a handy addition – but it also wakes when typing, walking or basically when you move your wrist in any way.

Having your wrist constantly light up is an irritation, but the troubles run deeper. Unwanted waking of the screen while walking meant the sleeve of our jacket inadvertently activated the camera on more than one occasion. This constant waking is also bad for the battery life.

iFrank

April 15, 2014, 5:13 pm

Still have to use the watch as the phone. No! No! No!
How can they not understand that a huge appeal of this device would be the ability to take calls via headphones.
Call comes in, vibration on wrist alerts, glance at watch for caller ID, press 'Accept' have conversation, or ignore/press 'Reject' and continue listening to podcast.
Phone stays snug in pocket, doesn't get snatched or dropped.
I should be fairer, you do get a crap camera for your near nearly three hundred quid.
Still going to the Casio shop though, they do tat but with style and useful functions like solar charging and atomic timekeeping for less money.

Clive Sinclair

April 18, 2014, 7:57 am

You can make calls using the Gear 2/Neo. Either using the units speaker/mic, or better with a bluetooth headset. I have a Plantronics BT headset and it works like this...

Press the answer/end call button on the headset and call is routed through headset i.e. call not audible through my Neo.

Accept call on Neo and bluetooth headset does not work, but call can be taken via Neo, with conversation audible through Neo's speaker.

Works well imo.

rybo1

April 18, 2014, 11:12 am

As far as I can see, this dumb watch is dead in the water. It's looks are a drawback and it has a huge connectivity issue. I'm amazed that they put this gizmo out to the market place.

iFrank

April 18, 2014, 8:38 pm

Thanks for response Clive but I am not sure I understand.
It seems like a description of the normal Bluetooth actions, or did you omit 'look at watch to see who's calling, then press headpiece button', if so, that's almost a fair cop as I did not consider that option, mainly because I would prefer to govern the call from the watch, that's what happens with the music listening, I thought.

I understand from what you say then, that you can 'take' calls.
How can you 'make' calls? are you able to scroll contacts on the watch and then initiate a call with headphone buttons?

Clive Sinclair

April 19, 2014, 3:45 pm

You can make calls if the device is paired to a phone (and connected) via the contacts list, or the call log - if you have made any previous calls. You can also use S-Voice i.e. "Call Sandra, etc".

To initiate the call from the headset (bluetooth), I press and hold the call button, which starts up S-Voice. Or use the contacts list on the device, as above. One the call starts, press the call button on the headset and it will transfer the call to the headset.

iFrank

April 21, 2014, 3:32 am

Thanks Clive for taking the time and trouble.

Not now in such a hurry for Casio shop visit:-)

Zapak1

April 23, 2014, 8:39 pm

Pretty negative tone to the review overall, which is certainly the author's right, but unwarranted imo and seems to stem from a lack of interest in the use cases of wearables in general. There is definitely room for improvement in the Gear line, but that's separate from whether or not there is a point to owning a wearable period. This article should be aimed at users who would want and use the features a competent wearable presents, rather than questioning whether or not the mass public would benefit from the unique functions of wearable tech in general. Obviously if you aren't interested in calling or messaging from the watch, this is not the product for you. There's plenty of dedicated fitness devices on the market that do not have phone capability.

I was given the Gear 1 through work, and while I agree that taking calls on the watch has limited functionality, it's hardly a gimmick and I'd like to see more on call quality in the review, as it's one of the main reasons to own the watch. Being able to field a quick call in the car or while working is amazingly useful when it's appropriate. This line: "Although we can live happily without the watch’s call and messaging options" makes me question why this author is reviewing this product.

The switch to Tizen is somewhat disappointing even though it improves performance as it leaves any android apps already developed for the gear 1 hanging in the wind, and any future apps for the watch hidden beneath the shadow of a big ol question mark.

As for text replies: unless they changed this feature from the gear 1 to the gear 2 you can replace the preset replies with custom ones and also dictate a reply via S-Voice, which I use all the time as it's really very handy. How did you miss this? Cmon Trusted Reviews, live up to the name!

J Zahra

December 31, 2014, 12:10 am

I own this beautiful device and it is much more useful than this unfair negative article is indicating. So many notifications/sms which may not be worthy to reach your mobile for, are easily filtered out using the smart watch. Similarly with calls. Answering calls/sms during driving or other awkward situations is a Godsend. The seamless connection with all the other software including the health/fitness data being sent to the Mobile device for later analysis is practical. I even used the built in cam when I could not use the mobile phone because I had both hands occupied -(eg. Brief case, drinks, Notes, typing on keyboard, answering other land line calls, driving, hands dirty etc etc). Battery life depends on usage with an approximate 3 day max. Currently it is the best smart watch around with the extra camera, heart beat counter, infrared blaster (without 3g/4g capability).

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