Although Samsung decided it couldn’t quite wait for the start of Mobile World Congress to announce the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, the event is the first chance we’ve had to get any hands-on time with the devices. Plus, the company had one extra surprise up its sleeve in the form of the Gear Fit, a fitness band with a curved display.
Obviously, these are devices designed to stay with you every day, right there on your wrist, so we’ll need to wait for full review units to truly be able to assess whether any of them are worth your hard earned cash. But for now, some quick first impressions.
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The Gear Fit was an unexpected launch for Mobile World Congress, and while my first thoughts when it was announced were about whether it would cannibalize sales of other Gear wearables, it’s clear that it’s aimed at a completely different buyer.
On the rear of the device is a heart rate monitor – a large part of its fitness prowess – and naturally, like the other Gear models, it’ll happily track all your walking, running and other activity too.
It’s certainly light enough to wear while running (or similar) and the curved 1.84-inch display hugs your wrist pleasingly. Thankfully, it’s also pretty bright too, which is necessary for a device that’s designed to work while active and outdoors.
Clearly, its raison d’etre is fitness tracking, but it can handle some other simple tasks too, like displaying notifications, allowing you to reject calls etc.
Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo
The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo perform similar functions and offer a similar user experience. One of the most notable spec differences between the two is that one has a camera (Gear 2) while the other doesn’t – an omission designed to keep the price point lower and add some differentiation beyond colored wristbands.
The Gear 2 is more in keeping with the original, with only a few tweaks to the actual look of the device. If you were a fan of the exposed screws of the original gear, you’ll be disappointed to hear its all flush and smooth now.
The location of the camera has also been changed – it’s now placed a little higher up the strap, towards the top of the Gear 2’s display.
One of the other differences is that the OS is now based on Tizen, Samsung’s own platform. If you’re an owner of the original gear, you probably wouldn’t have guessed as Samsung has kept navigation (swipe down to go back, left and right through menus etc) the same as on the original.
Similarly, both the devices were snappy in responding to my jabs and swipes and I was never left wondering if it had actually registered my pawing.
Samsung has clearly learned from the launch of the original Gear, and now supports far more of its own devices by default – it’s also worked to make more apps available for it too, as the first was a little limited in its functionality.
Both devices, thankfully, now sport a Home button too, so you no longer need to scroll all the way back through the menu to get back to where you started.
Keep your eyes peeled for our review of the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit in the future. Meanwhile, visit our MWC 2014 page for more coverage of the show.