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Samsung Gear 2: Apps, Battery, Value and Verdict

Luke Johnson

By Luke Johnson

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

5

User Score:

Samsung Gear 2: Apps

Many of the Gear 2’s issues could be forgiven if it was well supported, but that’s simply not the case. Despite the Samsung having promised more than 100 compatible apps for launch, at the time of writing there are just 22 Samsung Gear 2 apps available for download. Making things worse, of this already limited supply, exactly half are simply alternate watch faces.

Of the remaining 11 applications, there is nothing that grabs the attention. A lack of high-profile third-party fitness apps or services to fully utilise the watch’s remote abilities is a killer. The limitations of this £250 smartwatch are quite clear and, with a lack of support, show little sign of improvement.

Samsung Gear 2

Samsung Gear 2: Battery Life and Connectivity

Battery life is one area where the Gear 2 tramples over its predecessor. Although battery size has been marginally reduced – down to 300mAh from 315mAh – the Gear 2’s lasts much longer in actual use.

It strolled through three days moderate usage, which is two full days longer than the Galaxy Gear, but’s still short of what we would like to see on a wearable. It means you’ll need to charge it at least twice a week, whereas we’d really like a watch to last at least a week.

At least the Gear 2 doesn’t take long to charge, though. The Gear 2 can be from single digit battery life to 100 per cent in around two hours. But the Gear 2 still requires a dedicated dock to charge. Although significantly smaller than the full cradle of its predecessor, this proprietary charger is a nuisance if power is running low at the office or on a weekend away. A standard micro USB part would have been a far more convenient choice.

On a connectivity front, the Samsung Gear 2 raises a number of issues. As well as being limited to just 17 Samsung devices, it can also be connected to just one device at a time, with a full factory reset required to move the peripheral between connections.

While this might not sound like a big deal to some, for those with both a compatible Samsung smartphone and tablet, the inability to get fitness data or app management on both devices is sure to cause irritation.

Samsung Gear 2

Should I buy the Samsung Gear 2?

Is the Samsung Gear 2 an improvement on the original Galaxy Gear – yes, undoubtedly. But should you buy it? No.

Samsung’s continued efforts in the smartwatch space show progress, but not enough. It ultimately fails to make the smartwatch a concept we can see ourselves adopting into our daily lives, especially considering the prohibitively expensive £250 asking price. No task or feature is easier or more convenient than simply picking up the paired smartphone. This is its fundamental downfall.

If you absolutely must have a Samsumg smartwatch, the £80 cheaper Gear 2 Neo (review coming soon) makes far more sense. It lacks a camera, but you won’t miss it, and is otherwise nearly identical.

Verdict

Samsung has made numerous improvements, but the Gear 2 remains an unconvincing smartwatch, doubly so considering Android Wear watches are due later this year.

Overall Score

5

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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