Samsung Gear Fit 2 review
With an improved screen, added GPS and waterproofing, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 improves on the original in almost every way, but the battery life may hold you back.
Samsung’s original Gear Fit took the growing trend of fitness wearables in a new direction. Where the likes of Fitbit had focused on lightweight devices with a bare minimalist display (or no display at all), Samsung dropped the Gear Fit with a stunning curved AMOLED screen that turned the device into a wrist-based notification machine.
The downside was that the screen was just too narrow to be practical, and the battery life the original Gear Fit provided was just a little too low to make using it full time feasible.
Fortunately, Samsung has improved on the original Gear Fit in practically every way with the Gear Fit 2. The screen is a bit wider, making it easier to read, while Samsung has improved the internal sensors and battery life to offer even more functionality for the wearable.
Samsung has gone out of its way to make the Gear Fit 2 as functional as possible without requiring a smartphone. There’s a new GPS chip inside, plus 4GB of onboard storage for music so you can effortlessly get outside without your mobile.
The end result is a remarkably powerful fitness tracker. It still runs a little lightweight on the battery life, but if you prepare yourself to charge it every second day or so, you can take advantage of its solid fitness tracking abilities.
Samsung Gear Fit 2: Specs
Like its Gear S2 smartwatch, the Gear Fit 2 runs Samsung’s own Tizen operating system. That doesn’t mean the device is locked to Samsung phones however. Unlike the original Gear Fit, you can pair the Gear Fit 2 with any Android device running KitKat and above.
|Samsung Gear Fit 2|
|Screen size||1.5in curved AMOLED|
|Band options||Black, Blue or Pink, Small or Large Bands|
|Battery||200mAh, 3 days|
|Heart rate sensor||Yes|
Upsides: Why you’d want the Samsung Gear Fit 2
- Gorgeous screen. The Gear Fit 2’s main selling point is that gorgeous AMOLED screen. While the core design hasn’t changed from the original version, Samsung has made the Gear Fit 2 just a tiny bit wider, which makes the whole experience infinitely better. Reading notifications and tracking your activities is incredibly easy, even in bright sunlight.
- No need for a smartphone. Samsung managed to cram the Gear Fit 2 with all the sensors. There’s the standard accelerometer and gyroscope for tracking your steps, but there’s also an integrated GPS unit to track your activities, a barometer for assessing your elevation (so you can keep tabs on how many stairs you walk up) and a heart rate sensor to make sure your ticker is still ticking. All of these can be used without pairing the device to your smartphone, with results displayed on the screen, though for more detailed insights you’ll want to pair it to your phone.
- Automatic activity tracking. Samsung’s algorithms are good enough to automatically keep track of your workouts, without you having to manually kick things off yourself. The Gear Fit 2 will automatically track running, walking, cycling, elliptical, rowing machine and sleep, all without requiring any input from you. You can manually start off a number of additional activities, including hiking, lunges, pilates, yoga or crunches as well.
- Social challenges. It’s always easier to get active when you have a bit of friendly competition keeping things going. Samsung has included the ability to challenge friends and compare your fitness performance with other Gear Fit 2 users. Setup is easy and almost automatic through the S Health app for Android.
Downsides: Why you might not want the Samsung Gear Fit 2
- Battery life. The Gear Fit 2 will get you through about 3 days worth of activities with light to medium use. Compared to non-screened wearables like the Jawbone UP 3 or the Fitbit Charge HR, that’s a fraction of the time between charges. It’s definitely manageable with some clever charging strategies, but it doesn’t lend itself to 24/7 use.
- Notifications could use improvement. It’s nice to be able to see your emails from your wrist without having to pull out your phone, but it’s far from a perfect system. For a start, the screen doesn’t lend itself to reading longer messages. But more importantly, the Gear Fit’s engagement tools just didn’t work reliably. Despite being given the option to archive emails from your wrist through gmail, attempting to do so instead pushed a “Check phone” prompt on the Gear Fit 2. Moving to the phone (in this case a Galaxy S7 Edge), and there was no indication the wearable had done anything.
- App ecosystem feels unfinished. Samsung’s Gear app lets you download and purchase apps for your Gear Fit 2. But the entire experience feels underdone. For a start, the bulk of the apps are for watch faces of varying qualities. But more disappointing is both the lack of major third party fitness platforms. There’s no Strava or My Fitness Pal to be found anywhere and the disappointing app discovery system makes you browse through the “Essential” and “top” lists, without offering any form of search or categorisation options.
- No iOS support. Samsung has opened up the compatibility of the Gear Fit 2 compared to the original. No longer do you require a Galaxy smartphone to use the wearable, so long as you have a compatible Android phone. But there are still restrictions, with the biggest being that there is no support for iPhone owners wanting to get their Gear on.
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Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
Samsung may have opened up the device compatibility of the Gear Fit 2, but it’s still best suited to Galaxy smartphone users who aren’t afraid of Samsung’s S Health app. While you can get a fair amount of functionality out of the device itself, there’s still a natural symbiosis between the Gear and Galaxy devices.
For those who aren’t keen on being tied to the Gear platform (or just iOS users looking for a fitness wearable), the Gear Fit 2 competes directly with the likes of the Microsoft Band 2 or the Fitbit Charge HR in terms of functionality.
The other alternative would be to go full blown smartwatch, which offers the benefit of a screen and a more robust app ecosystem should you opt for the Apple Watch or something running Android Wear like the Moto 360 or the Huawei Watch Elegant.