Samsung's Gear smartwatch wasn't revolutionary and had its share of shortcomings. The company's second attempt with the wearable watch, the Gear 2, has come a bit earlier than expected. Samsung has improvised a lot many features, trying to make it cool. But does it succeed?
Design: The first Gear looked nice but stands nowhere before the Gear 2. Samsung has made the Gear 2 much sleeker than its predecessor. Weighing 68 grams, it is six grams lighter as well, which makes it comfortable to wear on the wrist. The Gear 2 comes with the same brushed-metal finish. The camera that was housed on the strap of the Gear has been moved to the body of the watch itself, above the screen. There is an IR blaster too that sits next to the camera. In addition, a home button has been added at the bottom. The textured rubberized black plastic wrist strap might not be liked by all but it can be replaced with any strap, even the leather straps available in the market. The Gear 2 is IP67 certified, which means, it is water and dust resistant, a much needed enhancement. This smartwatch did fetch a few compliments.
Display: The most important part of the Gear 2 is its 1.63 inch SUPER AMOLED display that has got 320 x 320 pixel resolution. The screen looks bright adding a premium feel. Even the touch is responsive.
Pairing and UI: I tested out the Gear 2 with Samsung Galaxy S5 and pairing it wasn't a task. The smartwatch instantly paired with the phone and had to be operated using the Gear Manager app on the phone. However, the Gear 2 can be paired with a few Samsung smartphones only. The basic gestures to use the Gear 2 are to swipe left, right, up or down. Within a few minutes, I got used to the UI. From the Gear Manager app, I could choose the wallpaper and the clock that appears on the display of the smartwatch. When swiped sideways, one can view the options such as notification, apps, logs, dialer, contacts, settings, controls, etc. in a four icon grid. Apps icon contains apps such as timer, voice memo, WatchOn Remote, weather, exercise, heart rate, etc. I was able to choose what double pressing the home key would do. For instance, the camera would launch on double pressing the home key.
Performance: The overall performance of the Gear 2 is good. I was able to answer calls on the Gear 2 while driving. The notifications for emails and messages appeared on the phone and I was even able to reach the content in the same. To save the battery, the display dimmed after a short period of inactivity. But with a flick of the wrist, it used to be back. The Gear 2 runs on Tizen, has got a dual core 1GHz processor. This seemed enough as the performance was smooth.
Camera and apps: I am not so keen about the 2MP camera added to the Gear 2 as it snaps average images. But considering you have better camera on your phone, why will you capture images using the one on the Smartwatch. The camera can also capture videos at 720p resolution. More apps can be downloaded from the Gear Manager on the smartphone. Apps are categorized into Entertainment, Finance, Health/Fitness, Lifestyle, Social Networking, Utilities, and Clock. There aren't many apps as social networking just had 5 and it didn't had the popular ones like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. The paid apps are listed in Indian currency and mostly cost Rs 50 and more.
Charging and battery: This isn't as simple as charging your phone.To charge the Gear 2, you will have to clip it to the little clip-on plastic dongle and plug it in the micro USB charger. One has to be careful with the dongle - if lost, there won't be any way of charging the Gear 2. This smartwatch takes a few hours for a full charge and continues to stay connected for close to three days.
Verdict: The Gear 2 is a great effort by Samsung but the price tag still isn't justified.
Price: Rs 22,900