Samsung have been in the smartwatch industry for some time. The original Galaxy Gear was hardly a huge success against the likes of the Pebble and the Pebble Steel.

This hasn’t deterred Samsung at all. They have just released the new Gear 2 smartwatch. A common argument with the watches is they are not “smart” enough. Has Samsung proven that statement wrong this time round?

The new Gear 2 is running Samsung’s Tizen-based operating system. Its design has had somewhat of an overhaul. No one wants to wear an ugly timepiece. There is no chance of feeling embarrassed wearing this. There is a camera embedded in the watch face itself sitting alongside an infra-red blaster. There is no longer a huge power button on the side of the watch.

There is a home button on the watch face which turns the screen on an off. You now need to double tap apps to fire them up. Turn it over and you will see a superb heartbeat monitor, very similar to that of the Samsung S5 phone.

A great feature is the IP67 rating. This means the watch is fully waterproof up to 1m with a temporary submission survival time of 30 minutes. This will save you taking the watch on and off for every shower you have.

The screen is a 1.63in 320×320 AMOLED display. Text and icons are very sharp and easy to read. It does use a lot more battery power than other screens on the market but is definitely worth it due to the rich colours. It also uses Gorilla Glass 3, so any accidents you may have wearing the watch will not cause too much of a problem.

The battery will give you around two and a half days with heavy use. Quite an impressive battery. We wouldn’t want to see the Gear 2 being charged daily.

An issue we have found with the device is that it is only geared up to work with Samsung phones. This isn’t good seeing as other manufacturers of smartwatches such as Sony and Pebble work with all iOS and Android devices.

Although the Samsung device doesn’t use an Android operating system, we were very happy with the Tizen-based OS. It is a lot faster compared to its predecessor and we didn’t notice any lag. This may be due to its slightly faster 1GHz processor.

Navigation is much smoother due to the Gear 2 having a home button. You swipe left and right to flick between apps, swipe down to go back a screen, and can even customise your home screen by holding your finger on an app and moving it to the sides of the screen like you would on any smartphone on the market.

Messages and are able to be received on the watch. It’s a great way to grab your messages without having to keep getting your phone out of your pocket. The screen is too small to reply using an on-screen keyboard. You have two options for this. The first is actually getting your phone out and using that, or secondly, the S-Voice function. This enables you to control your watch features with your voice.

The onboard memory can store up to 4GB of music which is great for you enthusiasts that do not want to carry around an extra device in your pocket. It has a built in speaker too which was surprisingly good for its size. You can connect Bluetooth headphones to the Gear 2 as well so you can listen to your tunes without disturbing those around you.

The S-Health app uses a variety of sensors to measure your exercise regimes. It has an inbuilt heart rate monitor, which requires the watch to be strapped a lot tighter than normal to your wrist for sufficient skin contact. It also has a step counter and a pedometer. It can produce some very accurate results and stores them in the S-Health app for your viewing.

I can’t see much use for the Gear 2’s camera apart from taking selfies, but if you are going to use it, it can produce some good results considering its size. It has a 2MP camera built in. There is no flash either, but for a camera built into a watch, there is no problem with the spec. The photos will be good enough for the likes of Facebook. There is also a 720p recording mode, great for a quick film.

Apps are a problem. With a new operating system in place, there is a huge lack of apps compared to other devices such as the Pebble. We hope to see more apps for the Gear 2 in the future.

 

 

 

 

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Stef Murphy

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