Samsung Gear S2 Review

Introduction


Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung is no stranger to making wearable gadgets. About two years ago, it brought us the Galaxy Gear, which was the company’s first attempt at making a modern smartwatch. Then came the Gear 2, which filled many of the gaps its predecessor missed, all while adding extras like a camera and a speaker. And for the Gear S, Samsung threw in a larger screen along with a SIM card slot for cellular connectivity.

The Samsung Gear S2, however, is shaping up like the first smartwatch by Samsung that holds potential to make a splash on the market -- the first that may appeal to a broad audience of geeks and non-geeks. And we’ve been excited to review it ever since it got announced -- we’ve been looking forward to test-driving its unique rotating bezel and to give its circular user interface a try.

All in all, we’re not sure if the Samsung Gear S2 is the best smartwatch ever, but it is most likely the best smartwatch that Samsung has made so far. Is that really the case, and can it justify its $350 starting price? Time to pair it with our Galaxy S6 smartphone and find out!

In the box:

  • Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch
  • A small and a large wristband pair
  • Magnetic charging cradle
  • Wall charger with non-detachable MicroUSB cable (Output: 5V, 0.7A)
  • Quick Start Guide

Design

This is what a modern smartwatch for non-geeks should look and feel like. The Gear S2 is pleasant to look at, and the rotating bezel is convenient to use.

To say that the Gear S2 is designed well would be an understatement. Both visually and functionally, it is one of the best smartwatches we’ve reviewed so far -- it is a modern, premium timepiece with a minimalist, gender-neutral appearance. It is neither too aggressive, nor too boring, nor too geeky with its looks, and we feel like that’s a recipe for success when it comes to smartwatches. Having that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the Gear S2 draws attention and becomes a conversation topic when noticed by people around us.

The casing of the Gear S2 is made of 316L stainless steel, which is a material with excellent corrosion resistance. It has been treated to a matte finish, while the beveled edges of the bezel and the buttons have been polished to a shine. Mind you, the metal is tough, but will get damaged if not treated with care. Bumps against hard, rough surfaces will most likely result in scratches on its surface. It is nice knowing that the bezel has a raised lip, which serves as a bumper protecting the screen.

Speaking of the bezel, it is one of the Gear S2’s stand-out features. By rotating it, one can navigate through the smartwatch’s menus, scroll down emails, and interact with apps, having to touch the display only to confirm a selection. The solution is elegant, convenient, and superior to anything similar that we’ve seen on a smartwatch to date, not to mention that you get to scroll down that email without your thumb obscuring the display. Better yet, every rotation of the bezel produces a satisfying click, giving you that pleasant tactile feedback response.

There are two physical buttons found on the Gear S2, both placed on its right side. The upper takes us a step back, and the bottom one takes us “home” by bringing us back to the watch face. A second press of the latter key displays the list of apps. All in all, the buttons work fine, although bit more travel and tactile response would have been welcome. We didn’t use them very often, to be honest. Instead, we mostly used a swipe down gesture on the touchscreen to go a step back.

Out of the box, the Samsung Gear S2 is equipped with an L-size wristband. L stands for “large”, as you can probably guess, and it allows the smartwatch to fit on the largest of wrists. Also included is an S-size wristband, which is of length suitable for people with smaller wrists. The material is rubbery, flexible, and soft to the touch. Now would be a good time to mention that the Gear S2 uses proprietary wristbands. In other words, you can’t put a standard, 20-millimeter wristband on the wearable, although you will be able to purchase alternative bands with funky designs from Samsung.

The Samsung Gear S2 is shielded from the elements, carrying an IP68 rating. In plain words, it is resistant to dust and water ingress. You can’t go scuba-diving with it, but you shouldn’t worry about sweat or tap water damaging its internals.

 

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Display

A high-resolution AMOLED display produces clear visuals and glows brightly outdoors. But tough luck if its 1.2-inch diameter is too small for you.

Samsung Gear S2 Review
The Samsung Gear S2 sports a Super AMOLED touchscreen display with a round shape. It measures 1.2 inches (30.2 millimeters) in diameter, meaning that it is smaller than the screens of many competitors. The LG Watch Urbane, for example, has a 1.3-inch screen, and the smaller of the two Moto 360 (2015) models has a 1.56-inch one. On one hand, the Gear S2\s display doesn’t feel small by any means and we’re content with its dimensions -- the UI does not feel cramped, and we can operate its touchscreen with relative ease. But on the other, some buttons and UI elements do feel kind of smallish, and we’re sure some folks would have loved having a bit more screen space or the option to choose a bigger model.

Size aside, the display on the Gear S2 has a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels, producing 302 ppi for crisp and clear images. Even text of small size is easy to read, not only due to the pixel density of the display, but also because it is usually displayed in white letters against a dark background for optimum contrast.

One of the advantages of AMOLED screens over LCD ones revolves around power efficiency. Basically, pixels that display black consume no power. Because of that, you may choose to enable the Gear S2’s always-on display feature without worrying about battery drain. We did and found it to be pretty neat as the time is shown constantly on the screen. On a related note, using a watchface that has a bright, colorful background instead of a black one has a noticeable impact on battery life.

As the Gear S2 has an ambient light sensor, it can adjust its brightness depending on the environment. We noticed that its screen automatically gets brighter under bright light to improve visibility. Another effective way of adjusting its brightness is manually, from a pull-down screen or the settings menu. Overall, the Gear S2 is usable outdoors as it glows brightly enough, although we really wish that the glass cover protecting the display was less reflective.

A weakness we had to deal with was that the Gear S2’s display becomes less responsive when moist -- during an intense exercise, for example. Sure, you still have the convenient rotating bezel at your disposal, but that is of little use when the touchscreen fails to register your taps or switches between menus on its own.

Samsung Gear S2 Review

Introduction


Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung is no stranger to making wearable gadgets. About two years ago, it brought us the Galaxy Gear, which was the company’s first attempt at making a modern smartwatch. Then came the Gear 2, which filled many of the gaps its predecessor missed, all while adding extras like a camera and a speaker. And for the Gear S, Samsung threw in a larger screen along with a SIM card slot for cellular connectivity.

The Samsung Gear S2, however, is shaping up like the first smartwatch by Samsung that holds potential to make a splash on the market -- the first that may appeal to a broad audience of geeks and non-geeks. And we’ve been excited to review it ever since it got announced -- we’ve been looking forward to test-driving its unique rotating bezel and to give its circular user interface a try.

All in all, we’re not sure if the Samsung Gear S2 is the best smartwatch ever, but it is most likely the best smartwatch that Samsung has made so far. Is that really the case, and can it justify its $350 starting price? Time to pair it with our Galaxy S6 smartphone and find out!

In the box:

  • Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch
  • A small and a large wristband pair
  • Magnetic charging cradle
  • Wall charger with non-detachable MicroUSB cable (Output: 5V, 0.7A)
  • Quick Start Guide

Design

This is what a modern smartwatch for non-geeks should look and feel like. The Gear S2 is pleasant to look at, and the rotating bezel is convenient to use.

To say that the Gear S2 is designed well would be an understatement. Both visually and functionally, it is one of the best smartwatches we’ve reviewed so far -- it is a modern, premium timepiece with a minimalist, gender-neutral appearance. It is neither too aggressive, nor too boring, nor too geeky with its looks, and we feel like that’s a recipe for success when it comes to smartwatches. Having that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the Gear S2 draws attention and becomes a conversation topic when noticed by people around us.

The casing of the Gear S2 is made of 316L stainless steel, which is a material with excellent corrosion resistance. It has been treated to a matte finish, while the beveled edges of the bezel and the buttons have been polished to a shine. Mind you, the metal is tough, but will get damaged if not treated with care. Bumps against hard, rough surfaces will most likely result in scratches on its surface. It is nice knowing that the bezel has a raised lip, which serves as a bumper protecting the screen.

Speaking of the bezel, it is one of the Gear S2’s stand-out features. By rotating it, one can navigate through the smartwatch’s menus, scroll down emails, and interact with apps, having to touch the display only to confirm a selection. The solution is elegant, convenient, and superior to anything similar that we’ve seen on a smartwatch to date, not to mention that you get to scroll down that email without your thumb obscuring the display. Better yet, every rotation of the bezel produces a satisfying click, giving you that pleasant tactile feedback response.

There are two physical buttons found on the Gear S2, both placed on its right side. The upper takes us a step back, and the bottom one takes us “home” by bringing us back to the watch face. A second press of the latter key displays the list of apps. All in all, the buttons work fine, although bit more travel and tactile response would have been welcome. We didn’t use them very often, to be honest. Instead, we mostly used a swipe down gesture on the touchscreen to go a step back.

Out of the box, the Samsung Gear S2 is equipped with an L-size wristband. L stands for “large”, as you can probably guess, and it allows the smartwatch to fit on the largest of wrists. Also included is an S-size wristband, which is of length suitable for people with smaller wrists. The material is rubbery, flexible, and soft to the touch. Now would be a good time to mention that the Gear S2 uses proprietary wristbands. In other words, you can’t put a standard, 20-millimeter wristband on the wearable, although you will be able to purchase alternative bands with funky designs from Samsung.

The Samsung Gear S2 is shielded from the elements, carrying an IP68 rating. In plain words, it is resistant to dust and water ingress. You can’t go scuba-diving with it, but you shouldn’t worry about sweat or tap water damaging its internals.


Display

A high-resolution AMOLED display produces clear visuals and glows brightly outdoors. But tough luck if its 1.2-inch diameter is too small for you.

Samsung Gear S2 Review
The Samsung Gear S2 sports a Super AMOLED touchscreen display with a round shape. It measures 1.2 inches (30.2 millimeters) in diameter, meaning that it is smaller than the screens of many competitors. The LG Watch Urbane, for example, has a 1.3-inch screen, and the smaller of the two Moto 360 (2015) models has a 1.56-inch one. On one hand, the Gear S2\s display doesn’t feel small by any means and we’re content with its dimensions -- the UI does not feel cramped, and we can operate its touchscreen with relative ease. But on the other, some buttons and UI elements do feel kind of smallish, and we’re sure some folks would have loved having a bit more screen space or the option to choose a bigger model.

Size aside, the display on the Gear S2 has a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels, producing 302 ppi for crisp and clear images. Even text of small size is easy to read, not only due to the pixel density of the display, but also because it is usually displayed in white letters against a dark background for optimum contrast.

One of the advantages of AMOLED screens over LCD ones revolves around power efficiency. Basically, pixels that display black consume no power. Because of that, you may choose to enable the Gear S2’s always-on display feature without worrying about battery drain. We did and found it to be pretty neat as the time is shown constantly on the screen. On a related note, using a watchface that has a bright, colorful background instead of a black one has a noticeable impact on battery life.

As the Gear S2 has an ambient light sensor, it can adjust its brightness depending on the environment. We noticed that its screen automatically gets brighter under bright light to improve visibility. Another effective way of adjusting its brightness is manually, from a pull-down screen or the settings menu. Overall, the Gear S2 is usable outdoors as it glows brightly enough, although we really wish that the glass cover protecting the display was less reflective.

A weakness we had to deal with was that the Gear S2’s display becomes less responsive when moist -- during an intense exercise, for example. Sure, you still have the convenient rotating bezel at your disposal, but that is of little use when the touchscreen fails to register your taps or switches between menus on its own.

Interface and functionality

Beautiful things can happen when hardware and software are built hand in hand, and the Samsung Gear S2 is a great example of that.

On the Gear S2 runs the Tizen operating system, with UI designed to make the most of the wearable’s rotating bezel and circular display. The interface is simple and easy to use, with all important screens and widgets within a few twists of the bezel away. Text is easy to read and its size can be adjusted, which is nice. The limited screen space, however, is a bit of an issue. Some buttons and UI elements -- the start button in the stopwatch app, the mode toggles in the pull-down menu, the “Next” button in the music player, for example -- are a tad smallish, making them a bit tricky to be tapped. But once we got used to their size and placement, our accuracy improved.

Before you get to use your Gear S2, however, you have to pair it with a smartphone. The process isn’t as smooth and fool-proof as pairing an Apple Watch to an iPhone, but it is not painfully tedious either. It involves installing the Samsung Gear companion app on your _phone_ and following the on-screen instructions. On a related note, this is also the app you use to send apps, music, and images to the wearable. After a few minutes of setting up, our Gear S2 was ready to use.

Be aware that to use the Gear S2, you need a smartphone running Android 4.4 or higher, with 1.5GB of RAM and above. Basically, most Android phones purchased within the last couple of years or so should be compatible. Also, the Gear S2 should work with Android phones of any popular brand, not just Samsung handsets. While we paired ours with a Galaxy S6 for the needs of this review, it also got along well with an LG G4. The wearable can’t be used with two phones at the same time, however. Pairing the Gear S2 with a new _phone_ requires the watch to be reset. Apps and data that haven’t been synced with a Samsung account will be lost in the process.

Watchfaces


One of the first thing we did after setting up our Gear S2 was to check out the different watchfaces it had to offer. Over a dozen of them come pre-loaded and most are customizable, allowing us to select between various complications, backgrounds, dial and accent colors. Most watchfaces have a classic look and feel, others take things a step further with animations and graphics -- the Activity Sparkles watchface, for instance, draws more sparkles the more active you are. Furthermore, alternative watchfaces can be downloaded from the Samsung Store. Still, we were expecting a bit more variety and options. Don’t get us wrong -- the selection of watchfaces we’re given is great and all of them are really nice. But at the end of the day, the Gear S2 can’t match the variety offered by competing platforms, such as Android Wear. At least not right now.

Notifications, interaction, voice commands


Like most other smartwatches in existence, the Samsung Gear S2 isn’t meant to be a standalone device. Fundamentally, its purpose is to serve as an extension of your smartphone and an extension of yourself -- by conveniently bringing notifications to your wrist, by serving voice commands, by tracking your activity and being a useful fitness companion. Does the Gear S2 excel at that?

First things first, the Gear S2 turns its screen on when it detects a lift or twist of the user’s hand. It does turn on accidentally -- like when we’re lifting a glass to have a sip, for example -- but that’s an issue all smartwatches are affected by. What’s more important is that the screen turns on when it is supposed to almost all of the time. Our success rate is well above 90%, which is good enough, we’d say.

To inform you of a pending notification, the Gear S2 emits a vibe that we can easily sense. The vibrating motor inside it feels like a regular one. It isn’t as sophisticated as the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine, which feels a lot nicer, but it gets the job done.

Notifications and incoming messages are displayed in their entirety, which is awesome. You don’t need to pull out your phone to read a lengthy email, for example. However, the thing about notifications is that not all of them are pushed to the Gear S2. On one hand, that’s cool as you don’t need to be notified each time an app gets updated. On the other hand, some notifications that you do want to read, such as those from Skype or Viber, need to be activated manually from the Samsung Gear companion app. Not a biggie, but still a bit annoying.

The Gear S2 puts notifications to your wrist, but it also lets you interact with them. On some apps, such as Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, and Gmail, you may respond to incoming messages, which can be a really handy feature. That is most conveniently done by speaking out your response -- seriously, we did reply to an email this one time simply by stating our response, consisting of several sentences. The software’s voice recognition engine turned our words into text and punctuation marks without making a single error. Alternatively, there’s an on-screen keyboard with old-school T9 text prediction. If you’re thinking that typing on a 1.2-inch screen is a frustrating experience, you’d be correct. Still, a tiny keyboard is much better than no keyboard at all.

For the most part, we’ve been interacting with our Gear S2 using the bezel to navigate and the touchscreen to select items. However, it can also respond to voice commands -- you may ask it to call or send text to a specific contact, to show your last text message, to display the weather forecast, to launch a specific app, to set a new alarm, or to play music, to give a few examples. In our experience, voice commands failed to work on rare occasions, we’re not sure why. But most of the time, they did what they were supposed to.

Activity tracking


As a smartwatch of this class should be able to, the Samsung Gear S2 can track the progress of your exercising session. That is done via the S Health app or widget -- you give it a duration and the type of exercise you’re performing, and the app takes care of the rest. It keeps constant track of your pulse, the number of steps you make, and the distance you travel. Once you’re done, you’re given a timeline of your progress and the number of calories you burned. All in all, the Gear S2 is a clever and useful fitness companion. An hour of exercise tracking eats up about 15% of the device’s battery, in case you’re wondering.

The Gear S2 keeps constant track of your steps as well. We tested the pedometer’s accuracy by walking a thousand steps around the block -- the Gear S2 was off by just one. And it is good to know that typing on a keyboard does not mess up with the sensor -- keystrokes never register as steps.

Staying hydrated is important to one’s health. That’s why the Gear S2 lets you track your water and caffeine intake as well. It won’t log the data automatically for you -- that would be a little tricky -- but a dedicated widget helps you count the number of coffee cups and water glasses you drink during the day.

To make sure you get your daily dose of movement, the Gear S2 will remind you to stand up and move around if it detects that you’ve been sitting for too long. Some might find this feature annoying and might want to turn it off, but we didn’t. Movement is good for our health, after all.

Apps


If you open the Samsung Gear companion app on your smartphone, you’ll see a section for apps developed for the Gear S2. But once you start browsing, you’ll notice that there isn’t a whole lot available for download. Most apps listed at Samsung’s Store are watchfaces, and few of the apps that aren’t look like something we’d use regularly. Overall, Samsung’s Store for Gear apps could use some love.

But the Gear S2 does come with a handful of useful pre-loaded apps. These include essentials like a Clock, Calendar, Email, Weather, Contacts and phone apps, all of which work in sync with their counterparts installed on our Galaxy smartphone. There’s also a navigation app powered by Here maps and a Find My phone app, in case you happen to lose your handset. However, don’t expect finding versions of Facebook, Messenger, Viber, Gmail, or other popular third-party apps tailored for the Gear S2. Yes, the watch can interact with the notifications pushed by them, but can’t fully access these services on command. And we never expected it to as this isn’t the wearable’s purpose.

Processor and memory

The Gear S2 runs smoothly. Hiccups are rare. On-board storage is sufficient, unless you need to store a ton of songs on it.

Samsung has outfitted the Gear S2 with an Exynos 3250 SoC, which sports a 1.0GHz dual-core CPU. However, the 3G-enabled model comes with an MSM8x26 SoC, better known as the Snapdragon 400. RAM stands at 512MB and storage capacity is limited to 4GB, with 2GB available to the user for storing apps and media. Although 2 gigs don’t sound like much, they provide plenty of space for your apps, most of which occupy just a few megabytes. Practically, the only way of running out of space is by filling your Gear S2 with music, and it should be able to carry about 300 songs, Samsung claims.

Technical mumbo jumbo aside, the Gear S2 is one fast smartwatch. Most of the time, it responds instantly to our input, with only minimal lags on rare occasions. The only time when performance is noticeably affected is when you’re installing an app or transferring data from your smartphone to your Gear S2. Other than that, performance is on par with, if not better than what we’ve experienced with other smartwatches.

But as far as stability goes, there’s clearly room for improvement. Since we started using the Gear S2 last week, it has already crashed on us twice, requiring a reboot to return to its normal working state. Hopefully, a software update will change things for the better.

Connectivity and sensors

The Gear S2 maintains a reliable connection over Bluetooth. NFC enables Samsung Pay compatibility, and Wi-Fi keeps us online even when our smartphone isn’t around.

The Samsung Gear S2 we’re reviewing supports Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi, and NFC connectivity, but a 3G model is also to be released. It will cost you about $50 extra and will have a built-in SIM card. This will let you stay connected to the web and make phone calls even when your smartphone isn’t within reach.

By default, the Gear S2 connects to a smartphone over Bluetooth and manages to sustain a reliable connection from up to 30 feet (10 meters). But the connection does hold up beyond that point, and even though response is slower, we were able to get our notifications from up to 60 feet (20 meters) away. Pretty good, we must say. That’s with no walls in the way, of course -- such boundaries have a significant impact on signal strength. Although we had no problems getting our notifications at home even when our smartphone was in another room.

Samsung Gear S2 Review
When the Bluetooth connection between the Gear S2 and your smartphone is lost, the smartwatch connects to Wi-Fi networks it has access to -- passwords are obtained automatically from your smartphone, which is convenient. Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to continue receiving notifications from your smartphone even when it is out of range. The Gear S2’s internet-dependent features, such as obtaining weather data and executing some voice commands, also function as usual.

As we mentioned above, the Samsung Gear S2 comes with a built-in NFC radio. This allows it to be used with Samsung Pay -- Samsung’s mobile payments platform. But beyond that, NFC on the Gear S2 doesn’t seem to have any other practical use.

As far as sensors go, the Gear S2 has an accelerometer and a gyroscope to track the wearer’s motion. The built-in barometer aids in determining elevation, we assume, while the light sensor detects when a boost in screen brightness is needed. The heart rate sensor is located on the back of the timepiece and takes measurements at set intervals. In addition to these, a GPS radio is found on the 3G-enabled model.

Multimedia

The Gear S2 can store music and beam it to a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Pretty cool!

Samsung has loaded a music player app on the Gear S2. While the device can’t play music on its own -- only the 3G model of the watch has a built-in speaker -- the Gear S2 can beam audio to a pair of Bluetooth earphones. This lets you listen to music while exercising without the need to have your phone nearby, which is pretty neat. But do keep in mind that battery use increases significantly -- an hour of listening to music eats up about 20% of the watch’s battery. We must also note that we experienced occasional choppiness in the audio stream when listening through a pair of Level U earphones, and we’re not sure why.

The Gear S2 watch can store 300 songs, according to Samsung, which should be enough to get you through the day. As for the music app itself, it is rather simple in nature, but it definitely gets the job done. With your watchface displayed, you just pull down and press a shortcut button to get to your music controls. Once there, you rotate the bezel to change tracks or pull up to access your playlists and songs, which are organized by artist, song, or album name. If you wish to change songs without waking up the Gear S2, you should be able to do so from your headset’s control buttons, assuming it has any. By the way, the music controls widget can interact with third-party music apps playing on your smartphone, including Spotify, but only after they’ve been launched on the handset.

The Gear S2 also comes with an image gallery. Yes, you can view photos on its small, circular display, although we can’t imagine anyone using the feature frequently. You can’t simply tap into your phone’s gallery, however. Images need to be transferred to the Gear S2’s storage before they’re accessed.

Speaking of which, photos and music are copied from your smartphone to your Gear S2 using the Samsung Gear application. You may transfer media manually, or select playlists and albums to be synchronized automatically.

Not to be forgotten is the Voice Memo app loaded on the Gear S2. It lets you take voice notes on the fly using the built-in microphone. Sound quality is mediocre, but it is good enough for the occasional voice note. What’s cool is that the app uses speech recognition software to save a transcript of your voice note.

Battery

If used with moderation, the Gear S2 will last a couple of days between charges.

Samsung Gear S2 Review
Samsung Gear S2 Review
Inside the Samsung Gear S2 is tucked a 250mAh non-removable battery, or a 300mAh one in case you have the 3G-capable model. Even the latter seems smallish next to some other smartwatches’ batteries – the LG Watch Urbane and the 46mm Moto 360 (2015 edition), for example, come with ~400mAh cells.

But despite the unimpressive battery capacity, Samsung promises up to 3-day battery life for the Gear S2. That’s rather optimistic, we’d say, but in our experience, the timepiece has no troubles enduring two days of normal use between charges. That’s at 60% brightness, without us even trying to conserve power. Even if the watch is used heavily, with the always-on screen feature enabled, it is unlikely that you’ll need a recharge before bedtime. Having the screen always on has a noticeable, but mild impact on battery life.

When the time comes for a recharge, you just place the Gear S2 on its color-matching cradle, which it conveniently snaps to using magnets. The battery cell is charged inductively, meaning that there are no exposed terminals and no wires to worry about. Using the stock charger, the Gear S2 goes from zero to full capacity in about 2 hours, which is acceptable. Our only complaint is that the charger’s wire should have been longer. It is about 3.3 feet (a meter) in length, so we hope you have an outlet available really close to your desk or bedside table.

Conclusion


Samsung Gear S2 Review
If the Gear S2 is any indication of where Samsung is headed with its Gear series, then we’d say that the lineup is on the right track. Finally, we have a Samsung smartwatch with the potential to appeal to a broad audience -- both men and women who aren’t necessarily tech experts. It is not a smartwatch that aims to put every smart feature imaginable on your wrist. Rather, it is a device focused on several key, meaningful functions a device of this class should be able to perform -- to let you interact with notifications, to be an activity monitor and fitness assistant, and to tell the time in style. And it does all these things pretty well.

Features aside, the Samsung Gear S2 is a smartwatch built with attention to detail -- one that easily draws attention when spotted on a modern lady or gentleman’s wrist. From its circular shape and metal construction to its innovative rotating bezel, it is evident that meaningful design has been a priority to Samsung’s engineers. And with IP68 certification, the gizmo doesn’t mind getting wet under the rain or during an intense exercise.

Do keep in mind that the Gear S2 isn't perfect. It doesn't give you as many colors, materials, and wrist band designs to choose from as the Apple Watch. It doesn't give you the freedom to go with a bigger circular screen, as you may if you choose to go with a popular Android Wear smartwatch. Also, it lacks the expansive app selection and voice command proficciency of Google or Apple's platforms.

Nevertheless, the Gear S2 outshines its rivals with its practical and attractive design. By making hardware and software work in harmony, Samsung has made a device that is useful, fun to use, and one that you will want to be seen wearing. This is what makes the Gear S2 a worthy alternative to the Apple Watch or any Android Wear gadget in existence, despite its considerable starting price of $350.

Software version: R720XXU2AOJ3

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