Samsung Gear S2, Analysis: a Watch to Return to Consider The Idea of Smartwatch

The We could tackle Gear S2 as something new by Samsung -your first round smartwach – but also as his seventh attempt at the “wearables” wrist. The way attempts have been from diverse cultures to quite interesting concepts to culminate in what seems, and in more than one sense, first “round” product of the Koreans in the category.

After dazzling in the IFA past by design, the Samsung Gear S2 it comes to our test bench with several subjects on the table. Is it really as good as it seemed at first glance the interface of the Crown in every day? It hits Samsung with the bet by Tizen to their watches? Will it finish to top the year Samsung after the high level of the S6? More than one week with the clock has allowed us to answer these questions.

Gear S2, review in the new Samsung watch video

What better to start seeing the S2 Gear in action? Input here you have the review in video

Samsung S2 Gear, main specifications

Before starting with our analysis, let’s review the set of technologies with which Samsung has equipped its first round smartwatch. Must be borne in mind that there are aspects that vary between different versions (S2 Gear, Gear Classic S2 and S2 3 G Gear that we will not see in the majority of countries)

Samsung Gear S2 technical specifications
Physical dimensions 42.3 x 49.8 x 11.4 mm 47 grams in the basic version; 39.9 x 43.6 x 11.4 mm 42 grams in the Classic; 44.0 x 51.8 x 13.4 mm 51 grams in 3G
Screen 1.2 inch circular Super AMOLED. Gorilla protection Glass 3
Resolution 360 x 360 pixels; 302ppi
Processor 3250 Exynos 1 GHz; version 3G comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
RAM 512 mb
Memory 4 GB (non-expandable microSD)
Software version Tizen to wearables
Extras IP68 water resistance
Connectivity 802. 11n wireless, 4.1 Bluetooth, NFC; the 3G version adds connectivity 3G support, and SIM
Sensors Accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate, ambient light and barometer; the 3G version adds GPS
Battery 250mAh basic version and Classic; 300 mAh version 3G (non-removable)
Price 349 euros (at Amazon); the Classic version is 379 euros (Amazon)

The idea of connected after the S2 Gear clock

Perhaps the first thing that we would be facing for classify the S2 Gear is the idea of smartwatch that behind. Glancing at the history of Samsung we can stress that the main change is the step of the accumulation of capabilities for the product and interaction design.

None of the cameras integrated into the clock, nothing call handling leading doll to the mouth. The S2 Gear fits much more on the philosophy of product that we have seen in the market last year. The search for a design that flee the size and aesthetics of a “very technological thing on the wrist” and that the functional lever to be a display of the notifications on the mobile.

To that must be added to Samsung seems to abandon the idea of walls between the ecosystem and the rest. The S2 Gear, despite not coming with the operating system Android Wear, is compatible with Android phones from other manufacturers. In fact for your test we used both a S6 Edge and a OnePlus One, in both cases the experience through the application dedicated to the management of the clock has been identical.

Here the requirement is to have at least 1.5 GB of RAM and have Android 4.4, though not all those who comply will allow that our clock we associate with them, should take a look at the long list on the Samsung website.

Finally, there is one aspect in the design of product that an analysis should always make an effort to separate the personal aesthetic preference and the value of design to get the product which the manufacturer seeks. Gear S2 moves away from the “techie” positioning that distilled the previous Samsung watches: before well are a product of design that also emulates the positioning of high-end watch, they are much more of being casual and cool, sporting perhaps a little futuristic touch.

The types of Gear S2

Although all have the same size of sphere, Samsung comes to the market with various types of Gear S2. A first classification can make between the “normal” or “basic”, which is that we have tested for this analysis, and the Classic.

S2 gear Classic

The Classic aims to position itself as a more adult oriented more to racing a bike 360 or a Huawei Watch with leather strap and darker. The basic Gear S2 points to an aesthetic and more casual materials, both share the size of the sphere.

We finally have a version 3 G of the basic Gear S2. Although you can add bluetooth headset at all, only the 3 G version is offered one connectivity (adds GPS) which makes it ideal to exit without the phone. Especially when it comes to sport, measure the travel and have the map while one has connection, something that is not possible with the model we have discussed.

The latter will be difficult to see it in action. Entry in Spain or raises your time marketing. Connectivity is articulated through the standard e-SIM, in such a way that Samsung does not sacrifice design for introducing a slot to insert and remove a card. The price to pay is that only will this version 3G in the countries where the operators and the legal framework permitted.

With the Samsung S2 Gear at the wrist, we started using it

The first course with a smartwatch is that of the size, thickness and weight. The S2 Gear comes out very well: feel great on the wrist, It is very light and has a great balance between size and weight.

Indeed, as we noted, the bet of a single sphere size complicates it like everyone. Server, for example, more adult prefers clock large and aesthetic commitment (in this sense the Classic I like more but in that category, I think that Motorola is still a top in design), S2 Gear sits in a land that still fits in the type of clock with public in both genders and desires by size.

Difficult to get a smartwatch can go through a conventional clock better than the S2 Gear

Bad news, the belt system is the owner, making it available for our Gear S2 alternative belts market is not too broad. Yes there will be – in fact we have on the market for output – belts of third parties (some with pedigree) and in tests we’ve done, change them is easy.

Our test unit, which is the one that comes with the basic product, is silicone and has touch of plastic. For something more adult or elegant we can opt to replace this Gear S2 normal belt or go to the Classic version.

The sphere is of stainless steel, which does nothing heavy watch. The most important thing is the rotating bezel on it – more about it later – and the two buttons on the side. Difficult to get a smartwatch can go through a conventional clock better than the S2 Gear, being one of the subjects that Samsung had to deal with if we recall the spectacular pantallón curved from the previous Gear S

The S2 Gear charger is wireless. Works very well, is fast and added the improvement with respect to others (me comes at the forefront of motorcycle 360) be magnetic, which helps to not move and it may happen that we leave the watch on it and that it is not charging. That Yes, as with other clocks, sacrificing the microUSB in the sphere of the device is that when traveling, we have to remember Yes or Yes to this other additive which is the wireless charger.

Finally several very notable additions. Four gigabytes of disk to store music on the clock, images and videos and the application data. There are 2.5 gigabytes available to the user with the system and some newly installed applications.

The mechanism of the bezel, the idea behind it, execution, user experience complete with him… are magnificent

It brings NFC to Samsung Pay bracket and that future to pay with the clock; also heart rate sensor, very well integrated with the service from Samsung, S Health; Finally a IP68 water resistant so that can shower or wear it in the rain without problems.

A circular screen for a round clock

Samsung may have made many attempts, it may have come later to the circular clock, but so has achieved with the interface based on the rotating bezel is a small marvel of usability. The mechanism, the idea behind it, execution, user experience complete with him… are magnificent.

In this aspect the Gear S2 works perfect and manages to articulate the best physical control for a smartwatch I’ve tried so far. Serves well to move between options (list of apps for example that the Circle line), but also to scroll on the screen. Maybe, while you interact have full screen to not interfere or covered anything by hand.

The rest of the interface complete touch screen next to two physical buttons. One “back” and another go to the screen with the hour from anywhere (unless we are at the time, in which case leads to the apps list screen).

Indeed, that it may be somewhat complex input (especially when back button and home do the same in according to contexts, that perhaps here it would have been desirable to simplify and everything can be done also touch), but the end result is an outstanding experience once you have become accustomed. Great job of Samsung here

The screen – remember Super AMOLED of 1.2 inches with a resolution of 360 x 360 (302 ppi) – is remarkably high. It offers dazzling black Samsung also leverages very well by putting the interface always on that color.

It allows 10 brightness levels but there is no possibility of establishing the automatic brightness according to the ambient light. This causes the small problem of not adapting to the context and, as a consequence, optimize battery consumption. Very well outdoors, also in interior and even offers good experience seeing pictures. In my case I have finished setting brightness to 7, thus a good balance between experience and autonomy.

In designs of the “watch faces” being tizen and not android wear, are very far from all the possibilities that allows today’s competitor created by Google

Something that also found it very appreciable is clock that we can always leave “on” screen, in a way that even though it does not show colors and the design you have chosen, that always gives the time when Let’s take a look at the doll without waiting for gesture one. This point meets the small problem of many connected watches: as they become black to save battery power until we make a gesture with the wrist, happens that often do not detect it well… and we were watching us nothing without knowing the time until we repeat the rotation of the forearm.

With Tizen clock

Tizen is based that on the one hand we have a list of widgets and other applications list. In both cases they are configurable and you can decide which appear; Some indeed as the full calendar for a month in a display of 1.2 inches do not seem too useful.

Happens, that Yes, that combo bevel more two buttons next to the two screens of widgets and applications resulting in an experience with some learning curve. Samsung has a subject with the simplicity of the clock, somewhat relieved by the fact that the experience with the bezel is so good that costs little effort to invest time in it.

Something that is very well solved is the control of playing music on the mobile. After test Spotify and Google Music is one of those small use cases in which one appreciates a smartwach

In designs of the “watch faces” being tizen and not android wear, are very far from all the possibilities that allows today’s competitor created by Google. Samsung offers input nearly two dozens and some of famous designers (for example from Agatha Ruiz de la Prada), as well as to adapt from the basic version to create the we want (here without too many options at the moment).

As we anticipated, Gear S2 is a great display of notifications. We can control what applications and, in some cases, manage them with functionalities such as respond to messages. To view the notifications don’t need anything from the developer, clock manages everything. For them, turn bezel to the left and there are grouped by app. With the bezel we can scroll and see it all on the clock, until long post. We can also dismiss each notification, something that is synchronized with the mobile in the remains dropped at the same time.

To answer we have… a T9 keyboard integrated into the clock to operate touch and voice. Of course this last is not the most appropriate, it is the type of functions that one recognizes the Samsung’s years ago, and that if anything can test once as a curiosity, but little else.

I’ve tried to manage mail Gmail, hangouts and up to Whatsapp messages conversations and in this set of popular apps everything goes like silk. That Yes, the list of supported applications is not very extensive in the case of Tizen, great weakness of the platform, and with most of the rest, we will not have a strong integration allowing management more than to see the notification and discard.

Something that is very well solved is the control of playing music on the mobile. After test Spotify and Google Music is one of those small use cases in which one appreciates a smartwach: to leave the phone on one side and go through songs only with the clock. In fact, Samsung has integrated this player with much hierarchy in the clock, it is on the menu that displays when you touch down scroll along with the information of autonomy and brightness control.

In any case with Tizen should return to the weakness in the offer of third parties upon him. There are very few apps compared to the ecosystems of Android Wear and Apple Watch. What is missing are the sports (they have Nike + but remains to be Runtastic, Endomondo…) or Google Maps (have Here but this not not far so good). It would also be desirable in messaging is pudisese be proactive (send a whatsapp without just being reactive to a notification) or select Evernote-Onenote-Keep to save voice notes.

In my case, counting all absences, the worst arrives on maps. One of the smartwatch use cases that I like most is the power follow a map with the clock and their vibrations, without losing me the landscape, the city, be attentive to the instructions of the mobile. With the S2 Gear I has proved impossible to get a just well.

In the part of quantification, we have S Health that has improved a lot. It has taken a step forward with the integration of heart rhythm, also on the “ludificada” of challenges and logos… but as the rest of the sector, follows behind Fitbit and its social layer which in this regard continues to be the King.

Tizen is a complicated strategic choice: Samsung goes only with it, on the one hand part of very few applications, few designs for the display of the clock and the developers have incentive to do all this for platforms with more volume; on the other hand it gives them autonomy to do different things like the rotating bezel or integrate Samsung Pay. The future debate is whether Samsung will have force if only to push Tizen watches as third platform with possibilities or not… and don’t have anything clear the answer to this question.

The voice

Doubts in the future are not there. My impression is that in the long term the absence of an Assistant to the Cortona Cortana / Siri / Tizen Now can take you its toll. The ideal interface for a watch will be the voice, but the voice right now is a weak point of the S2 Gear, not a fortress.

You can dictate text and in those cases it goes reasonably well. A little is worse than other solutions that have been tested, like Microsoft or Google in detecting when we stopped talking, discriminate well at all between voice and background noise. In addition to time the list of commands to manage possible actions falls short.

It is not that the competition reached the nirvana of perfect integration and natural language processing, but at least has begun the road. If it were not because Microsoft has their own plans in wearables, one would be by asking that you give Cortana to Samsung to create together a much better experience in the S2. Unfortunately for Samsung, do not think that will happen.

Autonomy

Gear S2 passes the border of the day. The critical point from which we consider acceptable – in a relative manner, compared with the market – connected clock is input. In use we have given (always active display, mobile earring listen our voice command to activate, and then a half usual check several times a day for updates and quantification, manage spotify at times in two trips by public transport, and play around with the interface sometimes dead), is enough to give us a day and a half.

With more intensive use (e.g. with bluetooth headsets, more brightness…) difficult to leave us without the day of autonomy. It is not the smartwatch with more autonomy we tested (in fact Apple Watch has gone us a little better), but isn’t bad for the 250 mAh battery. Good job Samsung here.

The opinion of Engadget

Samsung in his best style. A lot of attempts to find a formula that have coupled with the best of them in his classic side (a pointer hardware) with the best face that this year have been taught in their s6, design with a great user experience.

That they have joined the mechanism of interaction that best has been integrated into the design of a classic watch: the use of the rotating bezel is all a find and puts the bar very high.

In design we believe that they have done an excellent, although by size job and aesthetics go into that land of the subjective. It is essential that they have left watches anchored on an idea very “techie”, with many features and have passed to seek first of all to be a much more casual Court watch.

Tizen works very well but in ecosystem remains very from behind. This section and the lower development of Assistant voice is increased shadow in the S2 Gear and Samsung strategy.

Finally: is a smartwatch. That means that today it is a viewer notices on the wrist with a few additional uses beyond avoid us take mobile in certain contexts. It is a much more guided by the design and the emotional that purchase because they solve a pressing problem today. Recently, but what makes good makes it very well, to the point that for the not very convinced of the idea of smartwatch as a server begins to arise which could have more travel that one thought.

Once taken all that, the S2 Gear has many ballots to compete for the best of the year in the category.

In favour

  • The mechanism of the bezel is fantastic
  • A smartwatch which at first sight is indistinguishable from a watch
  • Spectacular display
  • Compatible with other manufacturers of smartphones

Against

  • Low autonomy, requires you to carry extra charger travel
  • Very short Tizen apps ecosystem
  • Use voice very limited, Assistant absence
  • Doubts in the future with Tizen