Samsung Gear 2 Neo review

The best smartwatch on the market so far

Samsung Gear 2 Neo review
Slimmer, cheaper and drops the metal - the Neo is a big improvement

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The Samsung Gear 2 Neo is an interesting smartwatch, not least because it's actually rather impressive. It achieves this, bizarrely, by shedding bits from the more premium model and then hits that all-important price point.

The switch to Tizen is a natural one when you think about it: before Android Wear came around, there was a lot of hackery needed from Samsung's engineers to make the Google platform applicable to wearables, something I bet has informed the move to Wear.

Why not use its own work with Tizen to make an identical OS for its Gear range, but with the key difference of being more powerful with longer battery life? It's a no-brainer for me.

Samsung Gear 2 Neo review

Early adopters are being punished, but if what Samsung told me comes true (that Tizen is coming to the older Gear) then they shouldn't feel too hard done by, especially if battery life increases.

I liked

The design of the Gear 2 Neo is more understated and arguable less premium than the metallic Gear 2, but I don't feel that it really suffers too much, and the lower weight makes it more palatable to cart around on the wrist.

The loss of the camera is a good thing in my eyes, as it's just wasted space. If you're going to put bonkers things on there, where's the laser? It's about as useful.

The battery life is much improved, and while three days is still too short in my opinion, there are definite strides being made here too.

Samsung Gear 2 Neo review

New watch straps that you can add in yourself? Yes please. Another tick from me, Samsung.

The remote control app needs some work in terms of actual use, but its presence is nice here still. Being able to pause DVD players as well would be good, but just being able to control volume is cool.

I disliked

There's actually very little I disliked about the Gear 2 Neo - the interface is still clunky and hard to use from the wrist, but that's a solution no watch manufacturer has come close to solving.

Actually, that hits on the real 'negative' with the Gear 2 Neo that, like all its wrist-based compatriots, there's very little point in it still. Yes, notifications on your wrist is cool, but for hundreds of pounds or dollars it's hard to justify still.

Samsung has made the Gear 2 Neo much better value for money by lowering the cost and adding in the ability to track fitness - sadly, not well enough, but it's the right move.

Samsung Gear 2 Neo review

The running capability is basic thanks to being stride-based, and the constant confusion over how many steps I've taken - along with having to constantly manually start the pedometer - makes it a hard to sell the watch based on this capability.


The Gear 2 Neo is a step forward for Samsung, and one that's very much in the right direction. It's the best smartwatch on the market right now, no question, perhaps only challenged by the Pebble Steel.

It lacks the longevity of the Pebble, and needs more developers on board still to be a truly decent option, but there's a lot going on here to like.

I'm looking forward to an improvement in the fitness abilities, perhaps not with this model but subsequent upgrades from Samsung. Given the speed with which the first Galaxy Gear was replaced, we'll be on version five of the Gear by the end of 2014... probably.

The Gear 2 Neo is a long way from perfect, but whether it's the high quality screen, heart rate monitor, water-resistant capabilities, infra-red remote or just the move of the home button, Samsung has put a lot of thought into how to make the first Gear better.

Some might baulk at the plastic finish, but the Gear 2 Neo looks the part and offers some real benefits if you're willing to spend that much to supplement your Samsung smartphone or tablet.

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.