Samsung will offer a trio of new wearable smartwatches, but which is the right one for you?
In February, Samsung introduced not one but three new Galaxy Gear smartwatches. The first two were more or less the same. The Galaxy Gear 2 and the Galaxy Gear Neo have the same specs except for one detail: the Neo doesn't have the integrated camera that is present on the Galaxy Gear 2. This is a key difference between the two, but it's one difference and one that is clear. The differences between the Gear 2 and the Gear Fit are a little more varied. Some are obvious, some aren't. Both devices monitor and track heart rate, exercise and sleep, both display notifications from your smartphone. They seem kind of the same, despite outward appearance. So, which is better for you? The answer lies in what you want out of your smartwatch, because while there is huge overlap in functionality, these are two very difference devices.
Let's start with form factor, because it's the most glaring difference. The Gear 2 features the same 1.63-inch 320 x 320 square face we saw on the original Gear, though the camera is no longer built into the wrist strap. If you were happy enough with the look of the original Gear, the Gear 2 will no doubt pass your style test. Bonus: you can change the straps to suit your mood.
The Gear Fit also has interchangeable straps, but chances are the strap isn't the reason you're eyeing up this smartwatch. With its curved 1.83-inch 432 x 128 AMOLED display, the watch fits flush against your wrist and offers a more streamlined and understated aesthetic than the large-and-in-charge Gear 2/Gear Neo. It's the more fashionable of the two, and Samsung said it expects the Gear Fit to be quite popular for that reason alone.
As far as weight is concerned, the Gear 2 is 68 g (the Neo is 55 g due to the omission of the camera), while the Gear Fit is just 27 g.
Beauty is only skin deep; a closer look at these devices reveals some pretty big differences. The Gear 2 features a heart rate monitor and the ability to track walking, running, cycling, hiking, sleeping, and stress. Pretty sporty for the non-fitness offering. It also has a music player, can act as a remote for Samsung-made products, and comes with S Voice, a stopwatch, timer, weather, and media controller. It, of course, displays alerts from your smartphone and can make calls.
The Gear Fit is more limited in its functionality. It too can monitor exercise, heart rate, sleep, and steps taken. It also has a stopwatch, a timer, and media controller, Smart Relay, and the ability to display notifications from your Samsung smartphone (SMS, call, email, apps). However, you can't actually make calls from the watch itself, like you can with the Gear 2, and it doesn't have a standalone music player. It is, when you get down to it, a fitness tracker that you can pair with your phone so you don't miss notifications.
Software and Apps
Samsung made the move to Tizen for the Gear 2. The original Gear ran on Android. This means the apps made for the original Gear aren't going to be compatible. Okay, so developers will have to develop Gear 2-specific applications, and users will have to deal with a limited number of applications at launch. But that number will hopefully grow over time. The Gear Fit is another ball game. Already stunted by lesser functionality, the Gear Fit is dealt another blow in that it runs on a different OS. It's not Android and it's not Tizen. Samsung says the Gear uses an RTOS to prolong battery life, but that means there won't be an SDK for developing Gear Fit apps. Instead, developers will be able to customize Android apps to communicate with the Gear Fit as opposed to develop apps that run on the watch itself.
Given the broader functionality and bulkier (in comparison) OS, the Gear 2 is a bit stronger than the Gear Fit in terms of specs. It boasts a 1.0 GHz dual core processor, that 1.63-inch (320 x 320) Super AMOLED display we mentioned earlier, a 2.0-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB of internal storage, and a 300 mAh battery. The Gear Fit packs a 1.83-inch (432 x 128) curved Super AMOLED display, and a 180 MHz ARM Cortex M4 CPU. Samsung hasn't talked about storage or RAM, but we reckon there isn't much to report on that front, given less is required of the Gear Fit than its more capable brother.
The battery in the Gear 2 is 300 mAh, while the Gear Fit has a battery of unspecified capacity keeping it chugging along. What we do know is that Samsung has said the Gear Fit will last longer than the Gear 2. This is down to that RTOS and a lower power processor. The Gear 2's 300 mAh is apparently good for between two and three days, while the Gear Fit can go for three to four days.
By now, you've probably twigged that the Gear 2, despite not being as sexy in appearance, is the big cheese, and that comes at a price. While official pricing has not been released, leaked pricing for Europe puts the Gear 2 at €299 and the Gear Fit at €199. The dark horse here is the Gear Neo, which will apparently be priced to match the Gear Fit. That's right, if you're willing to let go of the camera, you can get the Gear 2 at a pretty hefty discount.
At the end of the day, these are two very different devices. The Gear Fit offers very little in the way of standalone functionality. Though both devices rely on your smartphone for an awful lot, Gear 2 users will have third-party apps, the standalone music player, the ability to make phone calls, and more, on top of the fitness tracking. However, not everyone wants a watch that can do it all. Certainly, if you're just looking for a watch you can wear while you're working out, the Gear Fit is a perfect… fit (sorry). It'll track your workouts, keep you informed of any pressing alerts from your cell phone, and it's light, attractive, and (hopefully) not too expensive. The Gear 2 does more, but the tradeoff is a higher price tag, a chunkier design, and a heavier product.