Samsung has its expertise in a wide range of products around various needs, and in the recent years, the overdrive around health and fitness devices is very evident. And why not, there is a good demand for fitness trackers and some products that can be called as boosters which motivate one to hit the gym or go on a hike. These devices are becoming more friendly with each iteration and getting much closer to accuracy. But all of this comes at a good price! Remember the Samsung Gear Fit from last year? The Korean company has now come up with a successor in the form of Gear Fit 2. How good is this compared to the original Gear Fit? What improvements does it bring? How different is it from the likes of Misfits and Fitbits out there? Read on, as we make an attempt to answer all this and more in our detailed review of the Gear Fit 2.
We really wanted to save this till the end, but figured why not break the good news at the start! The Gear Fit 2 is truly a good successor to the original Gear Fit and we have fallen in love with it. The first thing that strikes you is that gorgeous AMOLED display coming at 1.5 inches packing 432 x 216 pixels that is curved just about right for convenience. Those 322 pixels per inch pack quite a punch that’s literally unmatched by any other fitness wearable out there in the market, which makes it delightful delightful! That delight continues as Samsung has strengthened the screen with Gorilla Glass 3 protection which stood well in our tests which were rather carefree as we went about our fitness! No scratches or dents or cracks though the Gear Fit 2 got flung around during some of our runs. Wait, flung? Blame the strap! More on this in a bit. There is a power button that doubles as a home button and also a back button for navigating across different screens and work quite well. On the bottom portion sits the heart beat sensor and the charging pins. These pins sit well on the charging cradle which is well designed.
The Gear Fit 2 has a textured elastomer strap that comes in two sizes – small (125-170mm) and large (155-210mm). These two sizes will ensure folks from small wrists to real big ones are catered to. That strap is IP68 certified for a maximum water depth of 1.5 meters for a maximum duration of 30 minutes. An occasional splash or shower is fine but no you cannot dunk it in water or have it on when you’re out there in the pool. While the strap has a good feel, snug fit and is very light, there is one issue that caused many flings. The strap seems to start expanding a bit over a period time and the holes too. This causes the snap-in prong to give away if you’re jogging or sprinting with those hands gushing through the air. There are times you may not notice the Gear Fit 2 has lost you as it’s so light – 28-30gms in fact. So be very mindful when your fitness involves rapid hand movements. On the positive side, the Gear Fit 2 withstands falls and the strap comes in many different colors if you’re not up for the rudimentary black one.
Powering the Gear Fit 2 is Samsung’s home grown Dual Core processor clocked at 1GHz with 512 MB of RAM and a good 4GB of internal space. Tizen OS caters to the software needs and boy has she improved by leaps as compared to last year! Butter smooth performance, lag free transitions and crash free delivery – we loved every second we spent with it. This time around, Samsung has made the UI as a portrait only mode and this infact has better readability thanks to the screen size and the choice of colors used. Also, lifting your wrist towards your face lights up the display, and it works every single time. Clasp your hands on the display and it goes off.
Swipe right while on the home screen to view all your notifications coming in from Samsung apps, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Messenger and SMS apps. And you can tap on these to reply via pre-defined quick messages right from there! Swipe down from the home page to get access into brightness adjuster, battery level indicator and the music player. In case you’ve been inactive for 50 minutes or more, it’d poke you there with an “Inactive” icon. Swipe to the left from the home screen and the Gear Fit 2 walks you through the screen that tell you the number of calories burned, the type of exercise, number of steps, number of floors you’ve taken, heart beat monitor and you can add in more – caffeine and water intake and a challenger mode that lets you take on with your friends. Tapping on each of these screens take you through one or more levels of drill downs to provide you with more information – mostly historical in nature – that let you know how you’ve performed in the last few days. And if you’re too bored of what’s provided to you, hit on that bottom home button that lets your venture into settings where you can change the home screen patterns (and you can download more from the Samsung store if you want, via the phone), set your profile up, manage device, BT and WiFi connections and vibrations. Simplicity is the name of the game here and Samsung has done a great job.
The Gear Fit 2 lets you track upto 15 types of fitness activities including Yoga, Rowing, Lunges, Cycling, Step Machine and so on, in addition to it automatically being able to detect what you’re doing. This is made possible with the sensors Samsung has added – GPS, heart rate monitor, gyroscope, barometer and accelerometer. Yes, GPS too! And the readings from the GPS is displayed on the screen as well, so you get to see the path you’ve taken while on the jog – good stuff. The readings of activities from the Gear Fit 2 proved to be acceptable overall, as no fitness tracker is 100% accurate out there. As long as it’s consistent in what it reports, it should be fine. The same cannot be said for the Heart Beat Monitor as it was quite off in terms of accuracy most of the times. This is not just the problem of Gear Fit 2, but those sensors themselves are still evolving and would take a year or two until they throw out readings that are reliable. And in case you are wondering, Gear Fit 2 doesn’t come with continuous Heart rate monitoring, but does constantly check (every 10 minutes or so).
If you think your own readings aren’t motivating enough, you can set goals and the Gear Fit 2 will push you towards achieving those goals and also pat your back when you achieve it! Of course not literally, but with a notification accompanied by a vibration, the only language that it can speak to you with.
The Gear Fit 2 can feed data into an app that resides on any ANDROID device that runs on 4.4 or above. Sorry Apple boys, this is for Android bots only. In fact, you’d have to download more than one app – a Gear Manager app plus a Gear Fit 2 plugin app. These two together help pair up the phone via Bluetooth. Once done, you can manage what notifications you’d want to see on the Gear Fit 2 and also change the home screen design. All the readings can also be accessed and the app puts everything in the form of neat dashboards. You can also share the data across to third party apps like Misfit, Fitbit and so on, but for that you’d have to go into Samsung’s app store. So the whole software management affair on the phone is a bit too tedious and confusing, so be ready to go through a learning curve here. Most of the tasks you do on the Gear Fit 2 can be done on the phone – setting goals, tracking scores, setting fitness types and so on. There is also a cool “Find My Gear” feature that compliments the “Find My Phone” on the device. Overall, it’s a comprehensive package.
The Gear Fit 2 comes with a 200 mAh battery and Samsung claims this would last you for 3-4 days. Yes, this will be true if you’re not using much of GPS and not having the device hooked to your phone via Bluetooth all day long or may be not a social media fanatic in which case you’d have notifications being bombarded all day long. 1.5 to 2 days is more realistic if you go full throttle on the features. The device takes a little more than an hour to charge up fully with the provided cradle. In case the Gear Fit 2 is running out of battery, it prompts you and you can move it to battery saving mode. The display goes black and white with minimal info. This can go on for another 30 mins at least.
Coming at $149 in the US or Rs 13,990 in India, the Gear Fit 2 falls somewhere in between a fitness tracker and a smart watch, and it sure is a sweet spot for many. An awesome display, reliable activity readings, butter-smooth well performing UI/OS, light weight unit, IP68 certification and well designed charging cradle makes for a good offering. With the lack of iOS compatibility, unreliable heart-beat readings and mediocre battery life stops the Gear Fit 2 from being a thorough package as compatibility range is what strengthens most of the offerings out there. Having said that, you will certainly not be disappointed if you were to get one as the device constantly “communicates” with you in its subtle ways and execution of creating that bonding is highly appreciable. Look out for the new generation of Fitbit devices too before make a final decision.
Good health be yours, for ever. And keep running towards being fit folks!