Introduced in June 2016, the Samsung Gear Fit2 is an interesting wearable that positions itself somewhere between a basic fitness band and a smartwatch. It’s a direct successor to the first generation of Samsung wearable and offers up tracking of steps, exercises, calories burned, and more.

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As one might expect, it pairs up nicely with a Samsung smartphone; however, most of today’s Android handsets (Android 4.4+ with at least 1.5GB RAM) are compatible with the unit. One downside, though, is that there’s no way to connect it to an iPhone.

Design

The Samsung Gear Fit 2 has a slim design with a gorgeous curved Super AMOLED display. Upon taking it out of the box we immediately noticed how soft the material was for the straps and how the curvature fit our wrist. Moreover, the bands have a dimpled texture on the outside while the inside is… well, ribbed.

The Gear Fit2 we reviewed is technically considered black but it’s more akin to a very dark grey. Other color options available include a blue and pink, with the latter looking decidedly plum in our opinion. All three colors can be had in either small or large sizes.

Features

The Fit2 is water-resistant in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll want to take it into the shower. We’ve seen reports of others being told against doing so as water pressure from streams might do it harm. Suffice it to say, it’s able to withstand sweat and rain and is wiped clean rather easily. Don’t worry about dishwater or the occasional dip in the pool.

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The Gear Fit2 packs a variety of sensors to track your daily activities including GPS and heart monitoring. Internally there’s enough storage (4GB) to house upwards of 1,000 songs, meaning you can operate it independently of a phone and still rock out to your favorite jams.

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The Gear Fit2 works closely with your handset and delivers notifications, including calls and/or messages, too. Not that it necessarily needs the phone; it’s plenty smart enough on its own. Wearers can manually keep track of glasses of water or caffeine directly from the wrist. The wearable also detects if you’ve been sitting still for too long (50 minutes) and encourages you to get up and get moving.

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Like more polished and full-featured smartwatches, the Gear Fit can be tailored to your liking. This means choosing from a variety of faces with clocks, complications such as calories or steps, fonts, and colors. Should you not like what’s loaded out of the box, the Android app (Samsung Gear) will gladly hand you off to a portal with more. It’s also here where you might find other apps such as an alarm clock, stopwatch, or even spotify.

General Impressions

If there’s one thing we fell in love with almost immediately, it’s the display. Measuring in at 1.5-inches, it’s altogether large and easy to read but also unobtrusive. Thanks to the thin aspect ratio, the Gear Fit2 sits nicely on the wrist with a screen that’s both high resolution and high contrast. Seriously, the images look nearly identical to the press renderings.

The display powers itself off most of time and should wake up when you flick your wrist. We had to exaggerate our movements a few times to trigger the wakeup, but generally had no issues with quickly glancing at the screen. It was, mind you, a little more difficult to pull off when in a full stride.

The software is designed in a manner which shows only one data point per screen. This means you’ll see calories on one panel and then steps on the next, and then water intake. For what it’s worth, you can rearrange the panels to a preferred order so you’re not swiping too many screens just to see heart rate. While we may have enjoyed more of an at-a-glance view of multiple components, we were happy to trade that off with bold screens with simple graphics and text.

We found the Gear Fit2 to be more comfortable to wear than the Fitbit Blaze, particularly for longer periods of time. We’re not a fan of sleeping with things wrapped around our wrists but this one didn’t bother us as much as other watches.

We appreciate that the Gear Fit2 offers at-a-glance notification from our phone. It was surprising to see Google alerts and others that didn’t come from the Samsung ecosystem. We feared that the wearable might be too closely aligned with Samsung’s own agenda but the concerns were quickly assuaged.

Considering the way in which the Fit2 can tie to Spotify we would have liked to been able to move a playlist to the watch for offline listening. Sure, controlling music from the wearable is nice, but you’re still stuck with having the phone nearby.

Screenshot_20160706-155710The heart rate sensor captured readings once every ten minutes, logging your daily highs and lows. It’s also possible to manually trigger a check and then tag it. Perhaps you want to see what your heart was doing after that trek up a few flights of stairs. Go ahead, get a reading, and then list that you’re feeling surprised, tired, or whatever. We appreciate that the Gear Fit2 would automatically begin tracking heart rate at a near real-time rate during exercises.

While we ran into no real problems with GPS accuracy, it did take just a little longer to get locked on than we might have liked. Not that we’re prone to simply get up and take off running, but we’d like to be able to capture things quickly and from the right places.

If there’s an area where we hope to see more interoperability, it’s handing off exercises and readings to other apps. Yes, we get that Samsung wants to keep things in house as much as possible, but it would be great to export all results to Strava, Endomondo, Runkeeper, or others. Strava, for what it’s worth, was close, but still didn’t allow for heart rate.

Screenshot_20160706-155700Battery life came in around 3-4 days, which is what Samsung promises. Results varied based on using GPS, of course, but we were glad to get a couple of days out of it on a regular basis. Depending on how and where you plan to wear the Gear Fit2, you can also dial down brightness to a lower setting to squeeze out even more juice. Also worth noting, exercise tracking is going to have an impact on life, too, as it actively reads your activities.

Charging is done via a cradle which plugs directly into a standard USB port. The cradle has four sensors on it which magnetically connect to the back of the fitness band. It doesn’t take long to add juice to the 200mAh battery so don’t worry about being without for too long. A few minutes here and there should keep you from spending much time away from the Gear Fit2.

Conclusion

IMG_20160706_170146The Samsung Gear Fit2 is an excellent product that not only looks great, but also feels comfortable on the wrist. The display is gorgeous and the software makes it so that you can quickly identify readouts. We can’t speak for the other colors, but the black looks sporty as hell yet it works with semi-formal and business attire, too.

There’s plenty of customization to be had here, but the unit never overwhelms. It’s easy enough to set up and tailor and you’ll have a unique look and feel that speaks to you.

 

As somewhat of a stop-gap device between basic fitness trackers and more involved GPS-based watches, the Gear Fit2 is easy to recommend to the everyman. The suggested retail price of $180 is right in line with what we’d expect to spend on this feature set. Those who need more will likely have their eye on another brand but those looking to get more active or smarten up their fitness game will be pleased with the Samsung Gear Fit2.

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