Samsung Gear 2 review

A cool watch - but it's already been outshone

Samsung Gear 2 review
An upgrade worth waiting for?

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Samsung is making some clear statements with its launch of the Gear 2: firstly, it made a mistake with the Galaxy Gear. There's no way a brand of Samsung's size would launch a wearable in September 2013 and then launch another in February the next year without realising it needed to do something.

It's a great move and one that should be admired, in my opinion. Apart from the early adopters being left in the cold a little (although they now have the option to move onto the Tizen OS too) the new devices are a much, much better attempt at making the smartwatch more relevant.

Samsung Gear 2 review

A worthy contender with a few issues

Are there compromises made that I can't tolerate at times? Of course - but it's worth remembering that the smartwatch arena is one that's still highly nascent.

I liked

The design of any gadget these days needs to really create an emotional connection, and I would have argued that was one of the strongest elements of the first Gear.

With the Gear 2 that message has been pushed on even further, with Samsung's decision to move the home button and integrating the camera into the main body of the watch a really nice one.

This is particularly useful as it allows the use of personal watch straps - while I'm willing to bet most will stay with the out of box option (they do look nice and, you know, match) the option is what matters most to people.

Look at the amount of people that buy a phone because it has a microSD slot, and then don't put anything in there. With such a bevy of technology on offer, future choice is very important.

The speed and battery life of the new Gear 2 is excellent as well, especially when compared to the first model. Where before I would have to charge every day and a bit, I can easily get around three days' usage with the new Gear range.

The WatchOn remote is a nice addition, if not one that I'm not going to use a huge amount - it's another cool-to-have feature rather than one I'd recommend the Gear 2 for.

And then there's the fitness stuff on the market as well - and the Gear 2 is designed to cater for that. As you'll see, I'm far from convinced about the fitness prowess of the new Gear, but I think in the months to come this will become a real boon.

I disliked

The price. It's still too expensive and when you've got the Gear 2 Neo on the shelves as well, there's very little reason I can see to recommend the standard Gear 2.

The only good thing is the design, where a metal shell looks more premium than the plastic chassis of the Neo.

But that's it - in every other way the two are identical. Oh, apart from the camera, but I really don't see the point in that for a watch. I'd much rather save a third on the retail price and have a lighter and less obtrusive smartwatch on my wrist.

Plus it's got competition from cheaper and every bit as stylish Android Wear watches now, such as the Moto 360.

The fact it factory resets every time I turn off the phone is a gruesome piece of software glitchery, and one I expect will be righted very soon.

And there's the user interface, which is too convoluted in my opinion. I liked the large icons of a single icon for each homescreen, where now there's a grid of four.

I understand that there are a lot, lot more apps on the phone now, but it should be my choice. I'd much rather have them all listed in the apps tray and then choose the ones I'll use regularly to 'make big'.


The Gear 2 is a big step forward for Samsung, and revisiting the smartwatch game a few months later made me realise that I do really long for a wrist-based accompaniment to my smartphone.

However, I do think Samsung would benefit from making the compatibility universal, and dropping the price of the Gear 2. I know some will say that the Neo is just that, but the metal frame would be awesome if it didn't pack the pointless camera.

Overall I'm going to say it's very hard to recommend the Gear 2 to anybody as a) only a certain section of the watch-buying public will have a Samsung phone, and even fewer will have the cash to afford the Gear 2.

A less obtrusive charging dock is nice to see and a more refined design is a strong move from a brand readying its battle lines to face off the Apple Watch, but it's just too expensive.

Were the Neo not on the market I would have been inclined to raise the review score of the Gear 2, as it is a well-packaged choice that adds something to the smartphone experience.

But I think price is still king, and Samsung is still offering the Gear 2 for too high a cost. Give it time though and with a bit more finesse and some software upgrades, Samsung could have a hit on its hands.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.