Product Samsung Gear S2
Specifications 42x50x11.4mm, 47g, 1.2in circular Super AMOLED display, 360x360 resolution, 302ppi, Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi and NFC connectivity, Tizen OS, 1GHz dual-core Samsung Exynos 3250 processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB ROM, 250mAh battery
WE'LL ADMIT off the bat that the Samsung Gear S2 has been one of our more highly anticipated smartwatches, owing largely to a single quirk: besides replacing the first Gear's rectangular shape with a new, more attractive circular design, Samsung had the bright idea of adding a rotating bezel that can be used as a control method in place of the usual touch gestures.
There are, in fact, three Gear S2 models that feature this bezel: the standard Gear S2, the formally styled Gear S2 Classic, and the nano SIM-equipped Gear S2. We were provided only with the basic version, but happily even that has proved itself to be a pretty desirable wearable.
Connecting the Gear S2 to a smartphone is simple enough. After installing and launching the Gear mobile app, and then agreeing to the terms and conditions, the two devices will quickly detect each other via Bluetooth. From there, it's simply a case of choosing whether to enable Reactivation Lock, a security feature that permanently links the watch to a certain Samsung account log-in, and then confirming that the same code appears on the smartphone and the watch. On doing this, it's ready to go almost immediately.
However, we did need two attempts to pair the Gear S2 with our smartphone. The first was thwarted by the fact that the Reactivation Lock was already engaged, perhaps from a previous reviewer, with no way to hard reset it. We ended up sending it back to Samsung for a replacement.
We're actually glad that the feature works because it was designed to deter thieves, after all, not law-abiding technology journalists. But be warned: a Gear S2 bought second-hand might be unusable.
The rotating bezel doesn't stand out aesthetically, but it's the biggest and best aspect of the Gear S2's design. It doesn't completely eliminate the need for on-screen tapping, which is still used for selecting, but it feels much quicker and more intuitive to scroll though long menus, apps lists and the photo gallery with a turn of the bezel than with the frantic swiping required by other smartwatches. Like a traditional watch bezel, it also clicks as it turns, which helps with accuracy and provides an immensely satisfying tactile effect.
There's no crown but there are Home and Back buttons mounted on the right edge, the former of which can be programmed to act as a shortcut to a chosen app with a double press. They're almost flush with the case, which contributes to a sportier look than the Apple Watch, Huawei Watch and Motorola Moto 360.
This particular basic model of the Gear S2 measures 42x50x11.4mm. That makes it slightly thicker than the Huawei Watch and both Apple Watch variants, but tapered corners make it look slimmer than it is which, let's be honest, isn't particularly chunky to begin with. At 47g it's also plenty light enough to stay comfortable on the wrist, including during exercise.
Despite this, the case feels extremely tough, being made from stainless steel and meeting the IP68 standard for water- and dust-proofing. The straps are removable via clips, but these clips are very resilient, to the point where they almost bruised our thumbs attempting to detach them.
Speaking of the straps, we're not overly fond of the grey rubber defaults. They're clearly meant to be sporty, but end up feeling a bit cheap and flimsy, like a child's watch strap might be. At least they can be replaced without needing a trip to the jewellers.
The Gear S2 includes all the fitness-focused tracking hardware you'd expect from a consumer smartwatch, like a pedometer and heart rate sensor.
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