A few weeks ago I was given a Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch. I’m part of a group that gets these devices and after using them in practical situations, we report back to you, the reading public, what we find and what we think.
I’ve had a Pebble smartwatch for over a year, so I have a baseline to which I can compare the Gear 2. Honestly, I was about a week from pulling the trigger on buying a smartwatch before this little beauty appeared on my doorstep, so the timing couldn’t have been better.
The initial reaction to the Gear 2 is pretty positive. It syncs up better than my Pebble, the color screen is a nice improvement and camera is a great addition. But it’s not all roses, so here’s my short list of seven things I like, and two that I don’t, about the Samsung Gear 2.
- Looks Cool – Let’s face it. Having a device like the Gear 2 is pretty cool looking. The bright display showing either a notification or a watch face is instantly noticeable and screams “I love technology!”
- Conversation Starter – Since I’ve gotten the watch I’ve had several conversations with people at meetings, dinner or other gatherings. Wearable tech is at the forefront of news and online media and when someone sees it out in the wild it really attracts attention. So be prepared to show it off (get rid of the “selfies,” if you know what I mean…).
- Saves My Phone Battery – The biggest battery drain for any smart device is the display. By not having to turn on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 every time I get a text, email or phone call, even for a short time just to see who it is, saves my battery big time.
- Changeable Watch Faces – I am always looking for a new watch face to download and install on the Gear 2. Depending on my needs, I either have an analog face with the date, battery life and a few other things, or I move to a more digital version with things such as steps or quick connects to other apps.
- Heart Rate Monitor & Pedometer – If you’re looking to keep track of your health, the pedometer and heart rate monitor provide great feedback on how you’re doing. The sleep monitor is very basic, and the phone isn’t the most comfortable to wear while sleeping, but it’s still good info.
- IR TV Remote – Definitely a cool feature. You can control virtually any TV or cable box’s channel and volume from your Gear 2. Much easier than fumbling the for the remote in the dark.
- Camera – This camera takes amazingly good photos and short video. The output is high resolution and when the autosync function works, dumps the photos right to your phone for easy sharing. And it’s WAY quicker for me to double press the watch button than to dig my phone out of my pocker, unlock it, open the camera app and get ready to take the shot.
- Water Resistant – I’m an active guy. I work in the yard, fish, hunt and other various stuff. So I don’t need to be remembering to take my watch off every time I do something moderately risky when it comes to getting it wet. The Gear 2 is water resistant so this should minimize the fear of breaking it with a lapse of concentration.
Now a couple of things I Don’t like about the Gear 2…
- Battery Life Is Horrible – The most I squeezed out of the Gear 2 is two days and that was with virtually everything turned off. No notifications, no gestures to turn on the screen, no bluetooth. So, knowing I could get at least a day using the Gear 2 as I wished, I turned on virtually everything and now I get about a day and a half. It’s a far cry from the four days I got with my Pebble, but it does charge fairly quickly and now I just charge it up when I wake up and start getting ready for work.
- App Store is Worse – The app store is by far my biggest complaint for the Gear 2. The apps are loosely piled into six or seven categories, but there doesn’t seem to be any order to how they end up there. You can’t sort them at all, either by date or alphabetically. You can’t even search the store if there’s an app recommended by a friend. As more and more apps enter the store, Samsung really needs to improve the store or no one will use it.
My opinion of the Gear 2 is that it’s a nice step forward for smart watches but it’s still just a little short of where they need to be. I’m looking forward to firmware updates, improvements in the app store, and even the next version of Android Wear gear.
The folks over at c|net have done a good review of the device if you want to see the Gear 2 in action. Do you have a Gear 2? Let me know what you think @BeBizzy on Twitter.
Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I received the Samsung Gear 2 and other devices with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own.