The Galaxy Gear can be classified as a mediocre first try although Samsung has improved and re-entered the market this time around before some other competitor manages to perfect the idea. According to a news report, the technology giant may already be on the right path as it has captured almost 71 percent market share for smart watches, within the first quarter of 2014. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, the company had unveiled 3 smart watches- the Gear Fit, Gear 2 Neo and Gear 2. The Galaxy branding has been removed from this line of smart watches because they do not use the Android interface.
Specifications and Design
One of the complaints that people had against the flagship Galaxy Gear was that it looks pedestrian. Samsung had rectified this complaint by brushing the new models with a stainless steel finishing. Samsung has also improved the practicality and functionality of the design of the Gear 2, compared to its predecessor.
The microphone and camera are now incorporated in the watch's body rather than the strap and the home button has been placed at the front instead of the side. Also the Gear 2 is lighter and thinner at 68g and 10mm compared to the previous model of 74g and 11mm. The mechanism for release at the hinges of the strap can be used easily and you can avail the straps in a number of hues. However, the clasp is quite unreliable on the model. You need to hear the click to make sure it is kept in position otherwise the watch could fall or yanked off very easily.
The face of the watch is almost 1.63 inches and is LCD Super AMOLED with 320X320 resolutions. By far, it is the best screen seen on a smart watch. The white and black screen of the Pebble seems quite pale when compared to this. There are a number of fitness features included in this model such as a heart rate monitor on the rear side, similar to the one used in the Galaxy S5. The speaker and charging terminal have been placed on the back. The charging cradle snaps on, much like the Galaxy Gear and the regular MicroUSB charger may be plugged into it. The smart watch has been rated with waterproofing of IP67 up to 1m for almost 30 minutes.
A Dual core 1GHz processor powers the Gear 2 and a RAM of 512MB is there too, much like the Galaxy Gear. A flash drive of 4GB is used in the watch for the purpose of storage. The battery used is 300mAh instead of 315mAh which was used earlier. Samsung says that charging the watch once would keep it powered for 2 to 3 days which is a vast improvement over the Galaxy Gear's 25 hours battery life. Beside the 2MP camera, an IR blaster has been included.
Usage, Software and Performance
One of the prime changes in the watch comes in the kind of software it uses. Samsung has begun using the Tizen, an OS developed with Intel based on the Linux OS. The Galaxy Gear shall also be changed to Tizen from Android. Samsung also intends to launch smartphones based on Tizen.
The Gear 2 may be connected to a number of smartphones from Samsung through a low powered Bluetooth link. The set-up is user friendly and very simple. The Gear Manager application helps you to effortlessly set up the smart watch. The OS used in the Gear shows no lag.
The default settings are liable to change, including the ones for home screens, numerous applications and general settings. You can customize the phone to show the camera application by clicking twice on the home button. The clock can be customized to look like watch instead of a digital contraption. The screen blanks out at rest although if you raise your hand you can wake it up.
From the top, if you swipe downwards once, the watch will read it as “back” feature. It may be used to return to the home screen which shows the clock. Users may also view menu icons on the screen as large individual tiles or in groups of four. Notifications are shown on the Gear 2 although they cannot be responded to. You would have to divert your attention to the smartphone paired with it in order to address those notifications. Only for the messaging app is a preset response provided. The Gear 2 can be used to check logs, make calls, and play music especially if you have a Bluetooth headset. A scroll mechanism is featured in the contacts application. The Gear 2 can perform numerous other functions.
The fitness apps are one of the other functions performed by the watch. The Heart Rate application can check the number of times your heart beats in a minute when you wear the watch under your wrist bone. The monitor is more functional than the one used in the Galaxy S5. The pedometer checks the number of steps taken by you and hence the number of kilometres that you have travelled. However, it does not work well. The exercise application may be used at the time of cycling, running and walking. Samsung has tried to create the Gear 2 as an all in one fitness tracker and smart watch. However, the features of fitness are not very good. Specialist devices crafted by Fitbit are perhaps a better choice.
In reality, the Gear 2 worked well for 2 days, as Samsung had predicted. It is a good performance from a smart watch. Also, when the battery is low, the smart watch automatically lowers the screen brightness and jams the connectivity via Bluetooth.
Before jumping on the bandwagon to buy the watch, there are numerous factors to be considered like limited long run support and quick obsolescence. Like the Galaxy Gear, Gear 2 also has a lot of factors against it.