The first thing you notice about the new thin Samsung Gear 2 and the Gear S2 classic is that they look and feels like a traditional watch, the only difference is that when it is in sleep mode you have a big black screen instead of a stylish watch face.
You can even choose from eight different watch bands.
The S2 Classic is only 40mm wide and comes in a black gloss finish, a ceramic bezel, and a replaceable leather strap.
The S2 Standard is 11.4 mm thin and 42mm wide. The straps are available in Silver or Dark Grey. The catch: It’s only compatible with special Samsung straps.
Both models will work with any Android OS smartphones despite the device running Samsung’s Tizen operating system.
Both smartwatches come pre-loaded with 15 watch faces and sport a 302 pixels per inch (ppi) resolution screen, a 1 GHz dual core processor, and run Tizen OS.
Battery life is around 24 hours if you are accessing it regularly or 30 to 36 hours if only occasionally.
Both devices have 512 MB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory, 1.9GB of which is user accessible.
A hear rate and pulse monitor is built into the base, the Dick Tracy camera has gone.
The watches are compatible with Android devices running 4.4 (KitKat) and above, with a minimum of 1.5GB RAM. Both models are Wi-Fi compatible, and offer NFC and Bluetooth 4.0. A 3G compatible version is expected at some point in the near future.
The S2 standard retails at $499 while the S2 Classic is $599. The Watch bands range from $59 to $89.
The S2 is available from the Samsung Experience Store or the Samsung eStore from today.
I have only been in possession of the Gear S 2 for 18 hours and I am impressed, but I still want to see some of the other new models set to be released in coming weeks.
I love watches but I always struggled with early model smartwatches.
The Gear 2 feels very comfortable on and is the closest yet to what I believe a watch should look and feel like on the wrist.
The model I have been testing comes with a steel grey bezel and black rubberised band, I would have preferred leather as I believe that rubberised watch bands make your wrists sweat.
The new Gear 2 has a 1.2-inch display, which like the Apple Watch, automatically comes to life when you raise your wrist as if to check the time.
On the watch’s right side are two small buttons. The top one is a universal Back button, which takes you one step back in whatever app you’re using. On the bottom is the Home button, which returns you to the watch face; pressing it from there takes you to the apps menu.
To get started you have to download from the Samsung store an app called Samsung Gear Manager.
This automatically pairs the device with an Android smartphone which in my case was a Samsung Note 5 smartphone.
The watch’s home screen is, naturally, a watch face. You can customize the colour and style of that face, and change it from digital to analogue by long-pressing it for about a second. You can check your notifications by either swiping down on the watch face screen or by scrolling to the left.
Scrolling to the right brings up shortcuts to your apps screen, favourite contacts, settings, and Samsung’s S Voice voice controls. Moving further right brings you to the Gear S2’s step counter, calendar, weather app, music controls, heart-rate monitor, and activity tracker.
Like the Apple Watch, the Gear S2 alerts you when it detects that you’ve been sitting for too long and reminds you to stand and move around.
Messaging from your wrist
Beyond telling the time, the Gear S2 also provides you with notifications from your smartphone which does come in handy when you are in a meeting, the Gear S2 also includes a T9-style keyboard so you can actually type your own messages. The keyboard is tiny, but it’s fine for sending a quick text, like yes no or okay.
Messaging works with a variety of apps including Gmail, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, HipChat, and others.
In addition to sending messages, the Gear S2 works with a host of first- and third-party apps including CNN, Bloomberg, Nike+ Running, ESPN and others. To get those apps on the watch, you have to first download and install them on your phone.
You also have access to Samsung’s Milk music app, and if you have the space you can go into settings and nominate which apps that are on your smartphone that you want the Gear 2 to recognise.
The display on the S2 is seriously impressive due to it being an AMOLED screen (1.2-inch, 360 x 360). I don’t think I’ve seen any other smartwatch with as nice a display as the S2.
Another standout feature is the rotating bezel that allows you to scroll through apps and settings.
The bezel rotates with ease especially when used with two fingers. The use of a bezel to control a smartphone makes a lot of sense, because with that small 1.2-inch screen, swipe across and your finger will cover most of it. Browsing watch faces using the bezel, for example, is particularly handy.
Another big feature is the fitness apps which interface directly with Samsung fitness apps on your smartphone.
The processor is fast and this makes a big difference especially as lag found on several other smartphones is eliminated.
From what I have seen in the short time that I have had this device, it stacks up but I want to reserve judgement until I have seen the new Moto 360 and the new Huewei smartwatch.
Then we will tell you who has the best smart watch.