Samsung’s newest smartwatch, the Gear S2, is finally available in India – and boy is this one a looker. If you’ve been shying away from smartwatches because they look like little computers strapped to your wrist – I’m looking at you, Apple Watch -- you should look at the S2. No one’s going to mistake this steel and leather classic for a computer, although make no mistake: it is one. I got some time with the device and here’s how it went.
It is different
The Samsung Gear S2 combines fitness tracking and notifications. It pairs with Android phones and will eventually work with iPhones, according to Samsung.
The best thing about the S2 is its rotating bezel that you use to manipulate screen elements. It’s fun to use, and beats touching the screen like most Android Wear smartwatches. It’s also a more natural way to interact with a watch than, say, the digital crown on the side of the Apple Watch.
The Gear S2 is round like regular watches and is significantly less bulky than other popular smartwatches like the LG Urbane and the second-generation Moto 360.
S2’s fitness skills
Strapping on the Gear S2 is a great motivator. I’m not a morning person but since the Gear S2 tracks my steps and calories, I decided to take it for a test jog. It comes with the S Health app that’s found on most flagship Samsung smartphones, but you can also install others like Nike Plus, which can track you runs.
I copied some music to the S2 from my phone – great if you want to leave your phone behind when you go for a run -- and paired some Bluetooth headphones. Unfortunately, the Gear S2 doesn’t come with a GPS so I couldn’t map my path. I wish I could tell you how accurate the results were, but I stopped to catch my breath in a couple of minutes. I’m obviously in great shape. The S2’s heart rate monitor showed me that I was doing 90 beats per minute.
Replying to texts and mails
On my way to work, I started getting a barrage of emails and WhatsApp messages. A colleague texted: could I pick him up on the way? Replying to his text was a piece of cake. The S2 gives simple, predefined options like “Yes”, “No”, or “I will get back to you”, but I wanted a send a more complex reply with directions. I chose the voice reply option on the S2 and dictated my message, which the S2 then transcribed. It was flawless.
I could do the same with email, but reading and replying to long emails on a tiny screen on your wrist is far from ideal.
The flaw and battery
The only thing that bothered me about the Gear S2 was that I couldn’t make or receive a call from the watch, like you can do with an Apple Watch Currently, No Android Wear device can receive calls but can just start a call on the phone. For a smartwatch that costs Rs. 24,300, that’s a glaring flaw.
I am also concerned about the Gear S2’s battery life and the effect that it has on my phone’s battery since they are paired over Bluetooth all the time, but on day one, the odds seem to be in S2’s favour. Halfway through the day, the S2’s battery is still at 75% -- a feat, considering how much I’ve been using it.
My first impressions of the Samsung Gear S2 are positive. But I’ll be putting it through its paces, so stay tuned for a full review in the days to come.