“Samsung’s latest Gear range including two smartwatches and a fitness tracker come across as useful accessories for fitness-buffs”
The Korean giant Samsung is betting big on the burgeoning segment of wearable gadgets. At an event in New Delhi today, the company has launched its whole range of Gear products for the Indian market along with its flagship, the Galaxy S5. While the company had entered the segment last year with the Galaxy Gear, the gadget didn’t take off as well as expected. The latest launch seems to overcome that by catering to individual needs with different devices, instead of just one. The new Gear range includes two smartwatches and a fitness tracker, with the latter aptly tagged as the Fit. We spent some quality time with them and here’s what we think about them.
The first thing you’ll notice between the Gear 2 and its predecessor is the missing Galaxy moniker in its name. That’s because the company has used Tizen OS to power them and ditched Android which ran on its predecessor. However, from the usability perspective, there’s not much difference between the interface of the Gear 2 and its previous iteration. Use of Tizen also improves the battery life of the Gear 2, which is now up to three days as per company claims, in contrast to just one day’s worth of usage offered by the Galaxy Gear. The design of the latest smartwatch also brings some much-needed changes especially with respect to the placement of the camera. In the Galaxy Gear, the camera was available on the strap of the watch, whereas now it’s placed atop the 1.65-inch AMOLED display itself. The 2-megapixel camera can capture full HD images and up to nine seconds of 720p video. The new design also gives you the option to change the straps on the Gear 2. The strap gets an adjustable metallic clasp to fit to one’s wrist easily. The latest watch also weighs less than the Galaxy Gear. Another difference with regards to its design is that the Samsung Gear 2 now features a physical home button below the dial, allowing you to return to the default screen from any app.
It seems that Samsung is targeting the health-conscious users with its latest devices. Just like the Galaxy S5, the Gear 2 also comes with a heart rate monitoring sensor, placed at its back. However instead of placing your finger on the sensor in case of the S5, here you don’t have to do anything apart from starting the heart rate monitor since you’re already wearing the band. The rear also has pins to connect it to its charging dock, which also means that you should always have the latter with you, as the smartwatch can’t be charged with a generic USB cable. The device also comes with an Infrared port that adds universal remote functionality. It also has a speaker and in-built mic, allowing you to handle calls from the watch itself.
The guts of the device include a 1GHz dual-core processor coupled with 512MB of RAM. It also has 4GB of onboard storage, which is utilised to store images/videos as well as music, making it a portable music player. The Gear 2 connects to the smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0 LE.
The Gear 2 features a swipeable interface allowing one to navigate menus by swiping in both directions, as well as return to previous screen by swiping from top to bottom. You’d see the options to keep track of your health and fitness with a pedometer, exercise and heart rate, along with the options to use the camera, WatchOn (remote control), check call logs, notifications, among others. It also has a music control feature that can play music on the connected smartphone remotely or in the watch itself.
As mentioned earlier, Samsung is focussing on all kind of users. Keeping that in mind, it has also launched the Gear 2 Neo which is just like all the ‘Neo’ line of devices it has launched – a cheaper variant of the main product. The Samsung Gear 2 Neo is same as the Gear 2, minus the camera.
The Gear trio is completed by Samsung’s very first fitness tracker, the Gear Fit. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most innovative devices we have seen from the Korean brand of late. The most striking feature of the band is its curved AMOLED display, which in our opinion is the actual use-case for curved display technology instead of a mobile phone. The 1.8-inch touchscreen offers ample brightness and viewing area for checking fitness stats. Another good thing about the band is that it’s extremely light-weight at 27 grams. Similar to the Gear 2’s strap, the one on the Gear Fit sports a metallic clasp, and can be changed if required. The rear of the band includes a heart rate sensor and a charging point. The power key is placed on the side.
The interface and navigation of the Gear Fit is similar to its smartwatch sibling, though there are fewer menu options.
A lot of players are vying for the market share in the upcoming wearables space, but Samsung has the unique advantage because of its massive market share. The company has also incorporated the user feedback in the latest Gear range along with launching different devices for different use-cases. However, we will reserve our final judgment about the gadgets till their full review. You might also be wondering about the differences between the Gear 2 and Gear Fit, especially since both of them have a screen, connect to the smartphone and boast heart rate sensors. The difference actually lies in their usage. The Gear 2 offer smart functionalities such as taking calls, checking notifications, extend its usefulness with the apps from Gear App Store, playing music (both on the watch or remotely) and even a camera to capture a moment instantaneously, making sure you hardly need to take out your phone from your pocket. On the other hand, the Gear Fit acts as a dedicated fitness tracking device while offering a few smart features like indicating notifications (but you can’t read them on the band itself). Sadly just like the Galaxy Gear, both the smartwatch and fitness band are compatible with a limited number of Samsung Galaxy range of devices. They can be connected by Gear Manager or Gear Fit Manager app, while all the health-monitoring data is synced through the S Health app.
The price tag of Rs 21,900 for the Gear 2 does seem little high, but there’s no denying that it’s a one-of-a-kind gadget. The Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit are priced slightly lower at Rs 15,900, though we think the price could have been lower for a fitness tracking device. Being targeted at fitness-enthusiasts, the devices are resistant to dust and water. Both the Gear 2 and the Fit are available in various hues such as black, orange and grey.