Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo Smartwatch Review
Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo Smartwatch Review. You’ve been reading about the wearable tech out lately or maybe you already own a piece of electronic jewelry or even a smartwatch. Samsung’s Gear was closely scrutinized but never the less became the popular smartwatch. The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches from Samsung has a few changes outside of the physical remodeling. The new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo are IP67 Certified for dust and water resistance. It’s nice not to have to worry so much about washing your hands, rain or beer spilling on you at the bar.
Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo Hardware Specs
The Gear 2 uses a 1.63″ Super AMOLED touchscreen display at 320×320 resolution, a 1 Ghz Dual Core processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage and runs on a Tizen-based platform instead of Android, bluetooth 4.0 LE enabled. Tizen is an open-source OS created by Samsung. You’ll be hard pressed to notice any changes on the front end as the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo both run pretty snappy, as snappy as it was under Android on the original Galaxy Gear; boot and reboot time is acceptable and shut down time is super snappy.
There is a 2MP camera with auto focus able to shoot at 1920×1080, 1080×1080 or 1280×960, as well as Sound & Shot pictures and 720p video. Sensors include an Accelerometer, Gyroscope and Heart Rate sensor. Providing power to the device is a 300mAh LI-ion battery and is good for about 2 to 3 days of typical usage. 36.9 x58.4 x 10.0 mm at 68g. The battery life wouldn’t be as bothersome if the method to charge didn’t require a separate cradle. That said, the battery life with mild to avg usage, mostly just checking the time and notifications gave us about 4 days time.
The Gear 2 Neo comes without the built-in camera and measures 37.9 x 58.8 x 10.0mm and weighs 55g. The weight difference is enough to be noticeable over extended periods and may be suitable for those who are looking for more of a wristwatch. The Gear 2 Neo not only drops the camera hardware but the metal bezel as well in favor of a lighter black hard plastic bezel and black button which accounts for the weight difference. The look is slick and stealthy.
Gear 2 Remodeled
Most notably are the physical changes as the wearable device has been remodeled a bit. It still uses a proprietary charging cradle, though it’s been slimmed down and only attaches from the rear but the principle is the same. The charging cradles for the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit are all different so you can’t share your friends charging cradle if you are in a pinch and means you will want to carry it with you everywhere you go if you plan to be away from any extended length of time. Although the two chargers cradle-backs appear the same, they simply will not fit on anything other than their intended devices.
Check out our Gear Fit Curved Screen Wearable Tech Review
All of the electronic hardware has been moved to the main body of the watches. The Camera on the Gear 2 has been streamlined to recess back into the watch with a squared glass lens cover flush with the bezel, instead of the protruding circular camera on the first Gear device that had it’s home on the watch band. The camera on the Gear 2 still faces forward and away from you so you won’t be able to do any video chat calls with the Gear 2. The main button has also been relocated to the bottom edge of the bezel under the glass which to me is a bit awkward to use. The side button felt closer to where the crown would be on a traditional mens timepiece. Not that the Gear 2 is uncomfortable, it isn’t. But for me the original Gear felt much more comfortable around the wrist.
You’ll find a new IR blaster on your Gear 2 just like on the Galaxy smartphones and tablets so you can control your Television or Cablebox. When I don’t feel like searching for my remote that is always lost for some reason, the GS5 Active or Gear 2 comes in handy for a backup remote.
You can now change out the strap on your Gear 2 or Gear Neo with any normal 22mm watchband of your liking and why Samsung decided to thin the clasp and relocate the speaker and camera to the watch body instead of the wrist strap. The new speaker position however is a bit less than ideal for usage.It is a bit less obstructed if you wear your watch on the right wrist but the speaker resides on a beveled surface on the underside edge of the watch so if you bend your wrist slightly you can no longer hear or it becomes extremely muffled. Microphone performance seemed on par with the Gear 1 during phone calls and using the watches for phone calls did fine in relatively quiet areas. This is still a handy feature for when you have your hands full.
It’s not a Gear Fit with a ultra-streamlined design and curved glass but the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo both include a heart-rate sensor and step counter. The heart-rate monitor however should be used with a grain of salt. The unit will provide you with general numbers, consistently but none-the-less general. If you are in need of very accurate heart-rate numbers there is a stand-alone device that you probably should be using. Step counts, hiking and cycling did also yield varying results when simultaneously running the same respective counts on the native SHealth app on the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S5 Active.
Real World Usage
Spending tons of time with your wrist cocked so you can look at the face of the watch isn’t a comfortable position for any extended length of time. I wear a watch on my left wrist so the relocation of the speaker knocks down the usability as a speakerphone a notch, as the sound gets too muffled and have to play this game of keeping my wrist straight at all times while using it to chat. Phone calls are still possible, just a little more difficult to hear at different times.
You can make an receive calls from your Gear 2 as well as control your TV/Cable Box, receive notifications, measure your pulse with the heart rate sensor, count your steps with the pedometer, monitor your exercise, walking, running, cycling, hiking. You can also download additional apps for your Gear 2 like calculators, flashlight, voice memo, quick settings.
Using the Gear 2’s UI is a bit more intuitive than it used to be on the original Gear. There’s a universal swipe downward for your back button has been adopted making the controls more uniform and easier to navigate. I do however like the actual back button on the Gear Fit’s UI; it’s quick and convenient to use, where the swipe down from outside the screen sometimes takes a tiny bit of concentration.
Media controller is still a winner for me, it’s fun to be able to control your wireless speaker from your watch. the IR blaster for remote adds a convenient option to control my cable tv box when you’re too lazy to go searching for your remote control. Find my phone is also a great thing to have for someone like me who constantly loses his phone around the house and it works in both directions; phone to watch, watch to phone as long as you keep your bluetooth connection alive. It will also buzz you when you walk out of range of your phone.
Viewing the watch outdoors during the day can be a challenge even with the outdoor brightness mode turned on. It only lasts 5 min max so if you’re outdoors and need it, you’ll be continually double tapping with two fingers and setting the outdoor brightness up.
The Flagship smartwatch Gear 2, as well as Gear 2 Neo offer an IP67 rating to give you that added confidence when you get caught out in the rain or spill a drink. You can personalize your device with interchangeable straps, smaller charging cradle and IR blaster. It’s a fun device to play with and offers some minor but very handy conveniences to help you stare at your phone a little less throughout your day.
Gear 2 available for $299 with Charcoal Black, Gold Brown or Wild Orange straps
Gear 2 Neo available for $199 with Mocha Grey, Wild Orange or Charcoal Black straps