Samsung Gear S2 review: Full circle

Samsung's Gear S2 was launched in Berlin during IFA and even though it seemed like a case of old wine in new bottle, in reality, it does have a few quirky features that could just help Samsung come up trumps on this gamble.

At first sight, chances are, you will not be bowled over. I was sent the Gear S2 with the silicone band and grey steel case for a review and when I opened the circular box, I was, to put it mildly, underwhelmed.
However, I brushed it aside, charged it and then switched it on and from then on began my rather interesting tryst with Samsung’s Tizen rocking smartwatch.

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Does the Samsung Gear S2 run Android Wear?

Tizen, Samsung’s home grown operating system is the beating heart on the S2 and it is both a good thing and bad. Good because it can do a lot more than Android Wear can, atleast on paper. And frankly, with Android Wear, there is only so much customisation a manufacturer is able to do. It is a very basic OS and unless Google loosen their tight grip on it, there is no escaping it.

Tizen also spells bad news for the Gear S2 because of its bare ecosystem. Imagine a swish new apartment that is bare and you cannot buy any furnishings for it because everything is the wrong size. 

Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch hands-on review


How does the Samsung Gear S2 work?

There are two crowns on the side, one to ‘go back’ to the previous screen and the bottom one is the home button. The bezel of the watch moves too even though you wouldn't know from sight. It sits flush with the rest of case and just move it to hear the faint and strangely reassuring clicking. The bezels don't just turn as a good to have, the turning is key to how the watch works. The bezels help the user scroll through the different settings and functions, so move it clock-wise to look through information cards with calendar appointments, weather, steps counter etc and anti-clockwise to look at missed calls, newly arrived emails and text messages as well as other notifications. The watch is touch-screen as well so you then tap on your notification to read it in full and swipe to dismiss. You can go back to the previous menu option by clicking the crown at the 1 o’ clock position. Users are also able to reply to messages on the watch itself.

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Should I buy the Samsung Gear S2?

I have tried out four wearables in the past four weeks and this includes the Apple Watch. It turned out to be fiddly with appalling battery life and very confusing functionality, nothing you would expect from Apple. I also tested out the Huawei Watch which apart from being quite a bobby dazzler failed to impress. I was most taken by the Gear S2 despite the silicone strap and unassuming look because for the first time, a smartwatch was actually comfortable to wear. Not just that, but also because it worked, almost intuitively. The buttons don't need you to be fluent at morse code and the rotating bezel is a stroke of genius and is one of the most intuitive functions I have ever seen on a wearable. Tizen is new and very bare but it had the apps I would most need and the battery life was very good indeed.

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If you really want to buy a wearable this Christmas, I would encourage you to give the Gear S2 a go. It doesn't work with iPhones yet, but it does a good job of beating its Android Wear peer group at everything else.

Samsung Gear S2: Specs

Display :1.2”, Circular Super AMOLED, 360x360, 302ppi 

AP :Dual core 1.0 GHz 

OS :Tizen based wearable platform  

Memory :Storage: 4GB Internal Memory / RAM: 512MB 

Features :Communications: Contacts, Notifications, Messages, Email, - Preset text, Voice Input, Emoticons, Keypads

Features :S Health, Nike+ Running 

News, Maps, Music Player, Gallery, S Voice, Voice Memo, Find My Device, Power Saving Mode, Safety assistance, Privacy lock 

Features: IP68 Certified Dust and Water Resistant 

Connectivity: Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth® 4.1, NFC 

Sensor :Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate, Ambient Light, Barometer 

Dimension: 44.0 x 51.8 x 13.4mm (51g) 

Battery : Wireless Charging, 300mAh Li-ion, Typical Usage 2 days 

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