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Samsung Gear 2 review

A cool watch - but it's already been outshone

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There's not a lot out there in terms of the smartwatch market, which is why Samsung is putting so much effort into becoming a leader before Apple joins the fray.

But can the higher price stand up to the competition, however limited it might be?

I've not included the likes of the Neptune smartwatch, as it's not widely available enough at the time of writing. The Pebble Steel is in the same boat, but it's a little more accessible and is one of the more famous of the wrist technologies.

Sony Smartwatch 2

Samsung Gear 2 review

Sony probably grunts grumpily whenever it's mentioned in the same breath as Samsung in the smartwatch arena as it's been playing here for a long time.

Whether you consider the MBW 200 as its first true smartwatch, allowing you to see notifications from your phone via Bluetooth through a tiny OLED screen, or the LiveView device which promised so much and delivered so little, there's no doubt the brand has been active for a number of years with wrist-based wearables.

When comparing the Gear 2 with the Smartwatch 2, a few obvious differences stand out, and one of the biggest is the fact that Sony's option is compatible with a wider range of Android devices, compared to Samsung which has limited the Gear to its own family.

The Sony option has a longer-lasting battery of around 4 days, although doesn't pack the same Bluetooth LE standard as seen on the Gear range – however, this does allow an even wider range of connectivity with phones running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and above.

It's a thinner device too, at 42 x 41 x 9mm, and its styling are on a par with those seen on the Gear 2 – it's almost got a designer label look about it. It's also a nearly 40% cheaper than the Gear 2, making it an attractive choice.

Sony Smartwatch 2 review

Pebble Steel

Pebble Steel

The Pebble range might be a little under the radar for some prospective buyers, but it's garnering some decent attention among the wearables community.

A project that began as a Kickstarter campaign has now led to two iterations of the cheaper smartwatch, and while it's only available to buy in US dollars ($229, although it can be shipped worldwide) the Pebble Steel is a really neat device.

It's compatible with both iOS and Android, has a metal frame and interchangeable bands and uses an LCD display without a backlight to give a week's use on one charge (it does pack a backlight too when you need it, making it more akin to E-ink than the LCD you'd find in your TV).

It too it waterproof and offers all the usual elements you'd associate with a smartwatch in terms of notifications. It's a lot less polished than those from Sony and Samsung, but it's also got a really vibrant developer community playing with it.

You can have a Super Mario character that hits a coin box to let you know the time. Tell me that's not awesome.

Pebble Steel review

Samsung Gear Neo

Samsung Gear 2 review

They often say your worst enemy is the one closest to you… or something. But in creating the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, Samsung has set up two nemeses in the smartwatch world.

Well, I can't really see how the Gear 2 could win, unless you've got someone with too much money, a penchant for metal things and a desperation to take pictures like a spy from their wrist… but with a shutter sound.

The Gear 2 Neo is lighter, just as fast and waterproof and a third cheaper than its metallic brethren, and given the specs are almost identical I can't see a reason to recommend the Gear 2 over this altogether more palatable option.

Samsung Gear 2 Neo review

Samsung Galaxy Gear

SAmsung Gear 2 review

There's not a lot of reason to consider the original Galaxy Gear over the newer version, seeing as it's still actually more expensive in some places and likely to be phased out.

It does have some unique styling thanks to the faux screws on the front, and the display is identical to the newer model, but it's light years behind in terms of functionality.

The wallpaper can't be changed, the band is locked in and the battery life is considerably poorer. In short, don't get it over the Gear 2 or Gear 2 Neo – unless you're desperate to own a piece of Samsung history.

Samsung Galaxy Gear review