Samsung Gear S2 review – premium appearance combined with tons of features
Even though smartwatches have now found their place in the mobile market, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. It’s only logical that all the major manufacturers want a bigger cut. Samsung is one of the companies that has already showed their interest in the market as they’ve released a couple of wearable smart devices over the years. The latest addition from the South Korean manufacturer is Gear S2 and it’s one of the competitors for the best smartwatch. The device uses a combination of sleek design and a large variety of features to achieve its goal. However, let’s go through our full in-depth review of the model before we give our final opinion on the device and also keep in mind that the price of Gear S2 isn’t the low at all.
Samsung Gear S2 has two versions – Sport and Classic. In this article, we’re going to review the Classic model. The main difference between the two versions is that the Sport version has a silicone band while the Classic adopts leather.
You can check the price and availability of Samsung Gear S2 at the following link: http://amzn.to/1PxiDpO
What’s in the box
Gear S2 comes in a stylish, cylindric box. In it, aside from the watch itself, you’ll find an additional leather strap, a magnetic charging dock, a normal charger, and a couple of user manuals.
Design and construction
As we already mentioned, Gear S2 is available in two versions – Sport with a silicone band and Classic with leather. The leather band definitely gives a more premium appearance to the watch as it has a standard metal clasp and nine holes, guaranteeing it will fit you perfectly.
The watch itself is made from stainless steel and looks very sleek. There’s a rotational ring around the display that helps you move through the menus faster and easier. The bezel is toothed and gives out a clicking noise when you rotate it. On the right side of the watch you’ll find two physical buttons and between them – the built-in microphone. The upper one serves as a back button while the bottom one as a home button, which also opens the app drawer.
Gear S2 Classic’s thickness measures at 11.4 mm, which is quite okay, considering that the Moto 360 has the same thickness, while the Apple Watch – 10.5 mm. The weight of the watch, on the other hand, is on another level. Gear S2 weighs only 42 grams, while the Apple watch, for example – 50 grams.
Being waterproof is a typical characteristic for modern smartwatches, but unlike most models, Gear S2 has an IP68 certificate, so you can dip the watch at up to 1.5 meters depth for up to 30 minutes.
Gear S2 Classic has a 1.2-inch round display meaning that it’s smaller than other competitor models, such as the Moto 360 and the Apple Watch. The resolution of the screen is 360 x 360, providing relatively detailed images with pixel density of 302 ppi, which is higher than the one of Moto 360 and equal to the Apple Watch’s. The display also has a Super AMOLED panel, which as we all know, provides bright and vivid colors. You won’t have any trouble using the watch outdoors, even under direct sunlight. Moreover, the Super AMOLED panel provides wide and comfortable viewing angles. The oleophobic coating will protect the device from fingerprints while the Gorilla Glass 3 will prevent any scratches from the display.
Gear S2 has a 250mAh Li-ion battery. Its endurance, however, isn’t measurable and strongly depends on the way each user uses the watch. For example, if you want the display to be constantly turned on and often resort to the assistance of S voice, then the battery life will be drastically shortened. However, the watch will be able to go through a whole day, even after heavy usage, with only a single charge. Keep in mind, that if you try to preserve the battery charge even a little bit, the durability can be increased to two, three and even four days. A nice addition we found on the Gear S2 is the Power Saving mode and it actually helps a lot. Also, you can charge the watch directly with the USB cable or by using the charging dock.
- Minimalistic design
- Premium materials
- A convenient way to view your messages and notifications
- Automatically detects the level of physical activity
- Autimatically records fitness data in your activity journal 24/7
- Encourages a healthier lifestyle
- Monitors caffeine /water intake
- Measures your heart-rate
- Tracks the number of steps taken
- Proximity light sensor
- Wireless charging
- 1.2-inch Circular Super AMOLED дисплей, 360×360, 302ppi
- CPU: 2-core, 1.00GHz
- OS: Tizen based platform
- Storage: 4GB / RAM: 512 MB
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC
- Battery: Li-ion, rechargable, 250 mAh
- IP68 water and dustproof certificate
- Dimensions: 39.9 x 43.6 x 11.4 mm
We think that the rotational toothed bezel around the screen is a great addition to the watch. It offers a fast and comfortable way to control the device and go through the menus. You can still perform the same tasks using the touchscreen, though, but it’s more likely that you’ll resort to the first option, since the small screens of smartwatches often prove to be troublesome to use. And in case you have your hands wet, it’s way more convenient to just use the bezel. Anyway, here are the available menus.
Besides providing information about the battery charge, the drop-down menu also gives quick access to some of the settings. If you have your Bluetooth on, or are connected to a Wi-Fi network, you’ll see an icon right next to the battery. At the bottom, you’ll find shortcuts to the music player, “Do not disturb” mode, which will turn off the notifications and vibrations of the watch, as well as quick access to the brightness setting with levels from 1 to 10.
To get to the notifications center you have to swipe to the right.
All of the other menus can be accessed by swiping to the left from the home screen. The first one has four submenus – Apps, S Voice, Settings and Buddy.
You can go directly to the apps menu by pressing once the home. The menu itself incorporates three app pages, some of which will also require you to download them on your phone. You can still download a lot of other apps for the watch, but that requires Samsung profile. Anyway, there are more than 20 pre-installed apps available on the watch.
S Voice is your personal virtual assistant, who will take various voice commands from you. You can make Web searches, phone calls, etc. The watch also integrates a Wi-Fi module, which means that you can do Internet searches without being connected to your phone.
“Buddy” allows you to select people from your contacts list, whom you’ll be able to quickly dial or send texts. You can select the “Buddy” contacts from your smartphone.
There’s a wide variety of options in the settings menu. The first one is the display menu that helps you select the way the screen looks, adjust the brightness, change the wallpaper, adjust the size of the texts, etc. We also find a couple of useful features, such as double tapping the home button takes back the previously opened app. You can also activate a wake-up gesture, which will turn the watch’s screen on when you rotate your wrist. If activated, it will turn the screen to a black and white mode and will limit the features of the watch to only calls, texts and viewing notifications. Some of the other submenus are vibrations, screen lock, keyboard, etc.
You can see all the available features of the Gear S2 by swiping left from the home screen and the pedometer, which measures the steps taken for the day, is also there. By taping once on the screen you’ll be presented with a more detailed statistic, including a graph and information about the traveled distance.
The next feature we stumble upon is events. It provides you with a list of your upcoming events and also allows you to create and save them as on yourr calendar.
There’s a feature, which allows you to check the weather forecast from your watch. You’ll need to use your smartphone to select the places you want to get information about, but after that, when you’re checking the temperatures, all you’ll need is Wi-Fi connection.
There’s also an audio player available on the watch. You can use it to play or pause the songs on your phone, swipe between them and also adjust the volume, without having to take your smartphone out.
Gear S2 has an integrated heart-rate sensor and there’s a dedicated submenu on the watch. Once you open it you’ll be presented with information about the last time you measured your heart-rate and by tapping once, the display, it will start measuring. After that, you can choose the mood you’re in and are you measuring your heart rate after any physical activity in order for you to see if the result is in the normal values.
The next submenu combines the functions of the pedometer and heart-rate sensor and adds even more information and statistics. You can check when were you physically active and what type of activity were you doing. Moreover, you can track burned calories, traveled distance and average speed. You can also set various goals that you want to achieve and the watch will help you do it, by presenting you with motivational messages from time to time. You can also measure your fluid intake.
Lastly, you’re presented with the option to add new widgets to the already listed functionalities. This way you can create a shortcut for your calendar or news stream for example.
Samsung Gear app
In order for you to make the best out of the Gear S2, you’ll need to download the Samsung Gear app for free, from the Google Play Store and pair your smartphone with the watch. Keep in mind that there are certain criteria that your phone should cover in order for you to download and use the Gear application. You will need a smartphone running Android 4.4 KitKat or newer, as well as 1.5GB or more RAM. You can check if your device is compatible in Samsung’s official web page. However, the manufacturer states that the list is soon to be updated:
Watch faces is the first menu in the Gear S2 app. In it, you’ll find various themes. For example, you can adjust your home screen to display information about the remaining battery charge, steps taken, stopwatch, world time, heart-rate, etc. Some of the modes have their own unique features – CNN, for example, includes top stories of the day. The variety is big and if you don’t like any of the currently available, you can always find more in Samsung’s online store.
In the notifications submenu, you’ll find various settings for the notifications you’ll receive on the watch. For example, you can select which apps can send notifications. The apps submenu layout presents you with a list of all the available apps on the watch as well as to move them to other positions or pages. The settings submenu includes various options, most of which are available in the watch’s settings. With “Find my Gear”, you can activate the display and vibration of the watch, so you can locate it easier as long as it’s near the smartphone.
With Gear S2, Samsung proved that they know how to make a combination of premium appearance and heavy on feature software fit in a wearable. The model looks very stylish thanks to its round shape, stainless steel body and leather band. We’re also very pleased with the display that has a Super AMOLED panel with great brightness and contrast ratio making the watch easy to use even outdoors. If you are a fan of S Voice, you will glad to hear that Samsung has implemented it very well, including other neat features. Even though Gear S2 has a sleek, premium appearance, it is also suitable for the more physically active, due to its ability to track a lot of your sports activity and its heart-rate sensor.
You can check the price and availability of Samsung Gear S2 at the following link: http://amzn.to/1PxiDpO
- Sleek, premium design and circular shape
- A stylish leather band, plus an additional one in the box
- Relatively long battery life
- Neat Samsung Gear app
- Super AMOLED screen with high brightness and contrast ratio
- Supports voice commands
- Hear-rate sensor
- Built-in Wi-Fi module
- Lack of loudspeaker
- Lack of built-in GPS