Reviews

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Fitness Tracker – User Review

July 31, 2016

Samsung’s Gear Fit 2 is the update to the original Gear Fit activity band. After a hiatus of nearly 2 years, the Gear Fit 2 is augmented with GPS, music playing capability and multiple sports tracking profiles compared to its predecessor. On paper, the Gear Fit 2 looks stellar for its price.

I had the Samsung Gear Fit 2 for about 2 weeks now and here’s what I have to say.

IN SHORT

Pros:

  • All day activity tracker. Automatically steps, calories, floors climbed, sleep, and all day resting heart rate
  • GPS enabled with optical heart rate sensors
  • Multiple sports profiles including running, hiking, yoga, Pilates, biking etc
  • Automatically identifies certain exercises such as crunches, squats and lunges
  • Vibration enabled for  inactivity alerts, smart notifications and alarms
  • S Health mobile app syncs wirelessly with Gear Fit 2
  • Stores and plays music with on board 4GB internal memory via Bluetooth earphones
  • Controls music on connected smart phone device
  • Tracks water and caffeine intake with widget
  • Touch enabled Super AMOLED Gorillas Glass 3 display
  • Bluetooth and WiFi enabled
  • IP 68 certified
  • Battery life of 3-4 days. Up to 5 days in standby mode and up to 9 hours in GPS mode
  • Independent usage without a smart phone connection
  • Access to Samsung online app store for watch faces and widgets

Cons:

  • Not compatible with iOS
  • Can’t manually enable HR tracking for certain activities like rowing or gym workouts
  • Can’t store music from Google Play or Apple Music. Can’t create playlists
  • GPS pick up slow and erratic. Unable to tell when signal has locked on
  • Display not always on and visibility under bright sunlight poor
  • Actual battery life poorer than advertised

Read on for details on how the Gear Fit 2 works!

LOOKS AND PRESENTATION

gear fit 2 -feature-4The Samsung Gear Fit 2 is of poly-carbonate, aluminum and fiberglass make and feels incredulously lightweight. I’ve used a lot of activity trackers with optical heart rate sensors and those tend to be pretty thick. Samsung has done an excellent job keeping the profile of the Gear Fit 2 low. The activity tracker is slim and tapers at both ends.gear fit 2 -wrist-strapThe wrist band is soft and thin so it won’t get in the way of your work on the keyboard. The single clasp is easy to put on and not once did I experience the wristband coming off during the usual activities I engage in.

However, I’ve read multiple reviews of users who complain about the clasp coming off easily. Your mileage may vary.gear fit 2 -removable-wrist-strapsThe changeable wrist band also has mild elasticity that’s going to come in handy during heart rate monitoring. Perhaps there might be more varieties of wrist bands to be released by Samsung subject to the take up rate of the Gear Fit 2.gear fit 2 -feature-2The AMOLED screen is oleophobic and I was impressed that after a full day with the device, there’s not a single finger print marring the beautiful display. And even when there is, a simple clean removes any smudges easily.gear fit 2 back-optical-HR-sensorThe back of the Samsung Gear Fit 2 houses the optical heart rate sensors. You can also see the charging pins.samsung-gear fit 2 -charging-cradlesThe charging cradles features a magnetic catch that should hold the Gear Fit 2 in a vertical position nicely. The charging cables plugs into a standard USB port.gear fit 2 -physical-buttons

Two physical buttons adorn the side of Samsung’s fitness tracker with the touch enabled display providing another.

The display looks gorgeous indoors or under low light conditions and the user can adjust the brightness from levels 1 to 10 and even 11. (Outdoor mode) Unfortunately, viewing of the display is near impossible under bright sunlight without shade. You can simply turn off the display by covering it with your hands.

Bear in mind that the brighter the display, the faster the battery depletes. The display is not always on, you can choose timeout of 15 seconds, 30 seconds or 1 minute.gear fit 2 -featureThe fitness tracker is IP68 certified so it’ll survive the sweaty workouts and showers alike. The Gear Fit 2 is vibration enabled but there’s no audio.

The operating system is Tizen, Samsung’s in house created OS. Charger is proprietary and features a magnetic cradle design.

FUNCTIONS AND DATA PRESENTATION

S Health

Before we go on to the hardware capabilities of the Gear Fit 2, I thought it’s only fitting I make mention of the S Health mobile app.

Available only as a mobile app version, the S Health app syncs and captures all the data tracked by the Gear Fit 2. Presently it’s available for Android devices only.

When paired, you can examine the details of the tracked stats more closely. The Gear Fit 2 keeps records of 28 days of data on device and once that fills up, the only way to access old records is on the S Health app. So sync regularly.



Heart Rate Monitoring

There’s no online web platform for Samsung’s S Health app so I was unable to download the tracked HR data for comparison. What I did was screen grab the tracked HR session of the Gear Fit 2 and compare it versus a screen grab from that of the Garmin Forerunner 735XT, the best I could do. The 2 HR graphs appeared similar and the maximum HR detected by both devices differed by a single beat only.gear fit 2 -HR-vs-FR735-XTThroughout the workout, I found little discrepancy between what the Gear Fit 2 tracked and what was read by the Forerunner 735XT. So far so good. That being said, I did strap the Samsung device tightly and ensure that it’s worn above the wrist bone.gear fit 2 -HR-monitoringWhen “Auto HR” monitoring is enabled, the Gear Fit 2 will take HR whenever it detects periods of rest and the results are then shown on the HR widget. This is good for viewing the resting HR over time.s-health-auto-HR- gear fit 2You can see from the screen grab of the S Health app above that resting HR is taken roughly once every 10 minutes.

Gear Fit 2 Tracked workouts

There are a multitude of tracking profiles that include running, walking, hiking and so on which will automatically activate the optical HR sensor when tracking starts.gear fit 2 -workout-summaryAt the end of each workout, the user can access and view the summary of the workout right on the Gear Fit 2. Sharing via Facebook is possible if the Gear Fit 2 is connected to a compatible mobile device.

I’ve read other online reviews from users who are frustrated that they can’t activate the HR monitoring function for their gym workouts which they will then tag to “Other workouts.” This is true.

Of the entire list, only “Rowing machine” and “Other workouts” do not activate the heart rate monitoring function. Also there’s no way currently to tweak this.



GPS enabled workouts

The on board GPS is able to track some of your activities such as run, walk, hike, bike. I’ve had some issues with the GPS capability. There’s no way to tell if the device has locked on a GPS signal and if it did, the process was too slow for my liking or the tracked stats were erratic. Perhaps it’s just my unit that’s a bit wonky on the GPS front.gear fit 2 -tracking-and-end-summaryDuring and after the tracked workout session, the user can access information such as:

  • Duration of workout
  • Distance
  • Calories
  • Speed
  • Max. heart rate
  • % of time in vigorous intensity zone

gear fit 2 -running-summaryA heart rate versus speed graph along with a map of your tracked GPS session will also appear on the Gear Fit 2 itself provided location detection is enabled.gear fit 2 -map-on-trackerThe map is a tad small to be considered useful but it does give a bird’s eye view of the entire route. You can also choose to share the session summary via Facebook if it’s connected to  your mobile device.gear fit 2 -GPS-enabled-activity-screensDuring the GPS enabled workout itself, you can view the duration, distance, heart rate, pace, speed, calories by swiping to the right or left.

Static workouts

I needed to make special mention of this because Samsung has made good progress with activity identification.gear fit 2 -static-exercisesThere are a total of 3 activities consisting of lunges, crunches and squats which can be recognized by the Gear Fit 2. By following the recommended method of executing the exercises, you can rest assured that the number of repetitions are automatically tracked and tallied right from the Samsung tracker.gear fit 2 -squats-exampleThe ideal way to perform the static exercises are displayed right on the device before workout commences.

While I applaud Samsung’s progress into this realm, I found it less than useful to start and stop tracking whenever there’s a need to move from one exercise to the next. Had Samsung allowed the user to manually create custom workouts from the 3 exercises, it might have been more useful.

Also, the workouts are mainly focused on the legs and abs, leaving the arms neglected. While there are other apps on the Samsung App store, it would have been great if it was native rather than from a 3rd party.

If Samsung could follow in the footsteps of Atlas Wearables and expand their library of recognized workouts in due time, I’d be really impressed.

Fitness tracker

There are various ways to access the tracked stats such as steps, calories and number of floors climbed. Samsung has provided a 24-hour log; a one scroll summary of the day’s activities.24-hour-log- gear fit 2You can see when you were sleeping, the exercise periods, inactive periods, and when you weren’t wearing the Gear Fit 2.

The 24-hour log provides a quick overview of the day. I can further tap on each of the item on the 24-hour log to expand and gather more details. Impressive yet intuitive!gear fit 2 -steps-and-averageThe individual steps and floors climbed widgets also shows the current progress versus goal. A single tap on the screen bring up the past history.s-health-steps- gear fit 2And this is how the step count is stored in the S Health mobile app. It’s possible to easily access past records of step count.gear fit 2 -stairs and aveerageInterface is decently fast with very mild lag, almost as if I’m swiping and scrolling on a smartphone device.

Sleep Tracker

Sleep tracking commences automatically and a summary is provided every morning listing the sleep efficiency.gear fit 2 -sleepThere are times during the day when the Gear Fit 2 would erroneously list a less than active period as sleep. This doesn’t happen too often, just the rare occasion.s-health-sleep-graph-gear fit 2 This is the screen grab of the sleep tracking details as stored in the S Health mobile app.

It is also not possible to manually commence sleep tracking. That means those of you who nap will have to depend on the Gear Fit 2’s capability to detect your snooze.

Water and Caffeine intake

You’d be pleased to know that Samsung has included a water and caffeine intake widget.gear fit 2 -water-and-caffeineI see these 2 widgets more of a novelty than an actual fitness or health based function. Simply because we seldom drink from the same cup throughout the day. Heck some of us even drink from our own bottles. The same issue surfaces with coffee. Caffeine concentration differs from cup to cup. The estimation is rudimentary at best.

I was intrigued with these 2 functions for a few days before the interest fizzled out. It’s like tracking your daily expenditure right down to each item; would’ve been good if it was done but boy is it tedious. Literally took the fun out of my coffee every morning.



Music

You can send music to the Gear Fit 2 straight from your smart phone device. Coupled with Bluetooth capability, you could transmit music directly to your connected Bluetooth wireless ear phones while running outdoors with the GPS enabled Gear Fit 2. Did I mention there’s no need to bring your smart phones?gear fit 2 -pairing-with-BTI paired a set of economically priced MPow Cheetahs to the Gear Fit 2 with ease and played the pre-installed tracks from Samsung. I was also able to wirelessly send a music track from my smart device to the Gear Fit 2 with ease and play it without any issues.gear fit 2 -playing-music

Unfortunately you can’t send files from Google Play or Apple Music to the device. Furthermore, you also can’t create playlists. So you’re pretty much stuck with jumping from song to song to find the one you desire.

Smart notifications

When connected to a compatible smart phone device, smart notifications will automatically appear on the Gear Fit 2 band. You can also receive calls and reply with pre-set messages, limited emojis and so on.

However calls must be made through the connected smart phone device.

ANYTHING ELSE?

gear fit 2 -extrasTogether– function that allows the user to connect with friends who are on the S health app they can compete with one another. Since no one I knew had the Gear Fit 2, I wasn’t able to review this feature.

Alarm – I was unable to find the alarm function initially and it left me perplexed why the Gear Fit 2 shipped without this capability given that it’s vibration enabled. It was only later I found this feature in the Samsung app store which I had to download and install.gear fit 2 -watch-facesSamsung Galaxy online app store –  I was able to download custom watch faces to give the default look an upgrade. The pre-installed watch faces can be further stylised giving the user lots of options for customisation. There are no lack of custom watch faces if you find those on Galaxy app store limited. A good example if 3rd party apps such as Watchmaster on Google Play.

Health nudges – Samsung’s equivalent of inactivity alert where the fitness tracker detects the user being inactive for extended periods of time and sends a buzz via the Gear Fit 2.gear fit 2 -achievements-and-expanded-viewAchievements – When the user manages to hit the target for the day in terms of steps, floors climbed and so on, the user will receive a notification detailing the achievement and the day when the feat was completed.

Battery life – Rated at 3-4 days with typical use. Needless to say, playing music the entire day with endless notifications and having the display set to max will no doubt cut that estimate drastically. The Gear Fit 2 lasted close to 2 days per charge and my usage was conservative.gear fit 2 DND-and-quick-accessQuick access and DND – A single swipe from the top of the screen down brings up a quick access menu where you can view the brightness levels, set up the Do-Not-Disturb mode or go straight to music player.gear fit 2 without-smart-deviceIt is actually possible to use the Gear Fit 2 without having it connected to a compatible mobile device. Perhaps this is Samsung’s subtle way of letting users on iOS on board; the Gear Fit 2 is not compatible with iOS devices.gear fit 2 training-programmeS Health has a few training programmes that you can pick from. Once selected, it will sync with the Gear Fit 2 and you’ll be able to select that workout from the list of sports profiles.


GEAR FIT 2 IN A NUTSHELL

I won’t deny that I was pleasantly surprised the first few days I wore the Samsung Gear Fit 2. Having cut my teeth with Fitbit, Garmin, Apple and even Xiaomi, the top 4 activity tracker producers in the world, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 piqued my interest easily. Yet it was upon using the Gear Fit 2 that all the issues started surfacing.gear fit 2-feature-5The short battery life and GPS reliability are 2 main issues I have with the Gear Fit 2. The lack of a playlist pretty much reduces the music player capability of the Gear Fit 2 to that of a USB storage drive with songs.

I don’t see myself wearing this outside of my workouts as I’m not a big fan of overtly large wrist bands that makes no effort to conceal its fitness tracker identity.

Had Samsung put more thought into how people would use the Gear Fit 2, perhaps all the issues would have been averted.gear fit 2 -IG-featureSamsung’s Gear Fit 2 retails at $179.99 and is available in blue, pink or black. The changeable straps are available in 2 sizes; small or medium/large.

You can purchase the Samsung Gear Fit 2 from Amazon where there’s usually a small discount, great return policy, and free delivery depending on where you reside. In return your purchase helps to offset the costs associated with the running of this site. Thanks for reading!

18 Comments

  • Reply Chris August 1, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Thanks for the detailed review! I had high hope for this but it seemed like it won’t quite meet my needs either… could I ask 3 questions that’s not Fit2 related, as I am still researching to find what device fits my need the best?

    (1) I know you mentioned you have a small wrist – do you mind sharing what the measurement is? Just want to see how it compares since I don’t have easy access to all the diff wearables to try them on in person

    (2) Are there any wearable device that let you create a gym workout plan e.g. I am terrible at remembering what stretching (or strength or whatever) exercise to do; so I want to be able to create a workout plan that lists the 10 stretching exercises I am supposed to do as a reminder (I don’t need it to track how well I’m doing them or anything like that… so more like a checklist if you will) I tried googling about this but didn’t find much… I signed up on Garmin Connect and it doesn’t seem like the customized Workout Plan let you do that… I am sure there are apps that can do this, but would love to have this on a wearable instead to avoid bringing the phone…

    (3) I do mostly Walk/Run HIIT – and based on your Fit2 review, it won’t meet that need even if I do it manually in my head (i.e. if Fit2 would just constantly display the HR while I walk/run, and I will look at the treadmill clock to manually time the interval, and just memorize what my HR for each zone should be). I like that the Forerunner 225/230/235/735XT has the HR Gauge, but I read that 235 may not be best for HIIT especially if I just do short sprints – is 735XT better for it? I guess there’s always using 230 with a chest belt instead… I’m not that active so not sure if 735XT would be an overkill (or even 230 /235 really… I looked at the Polar M400 also but didn’t quite like that one. Hence was hoping Fit2 would work in a roundabout way) But apart from tracking my steps and sleep, this is probably the most important feature for me… so any advice on which device is best for HIIT would be appreciated!

    Thanks again for all your reviews!!

    • Reply Michael S August 1, 2016 at 10:35 am

      Thanks for the detailed review! I had high hope for this but it seemed like it won’t quite meet my needs either… could I ask 3 questions that’s not Fit2 related, as I am still researching to find what device fits my need the best?
      (1) I know you mentioned you have a small wrist – do you mind sharing what the measurement is? Just want to see how it compares since I don’t have easy access to all the diff wearables to try them on in person
      Sure Chris, my wrist is about 6 inches in circumference.
      (2) Are there any wearable device that let you create a gym workout plan e.g. I am terrible at remembering what stretching (or strength or whatever) exercise to do; so I want to be able to create a workout plan that lists the 10 stretching exercises I am supposed to do as a reminder (I don’t need it to track how well I’m doing them or anything like that… so more like a checklist if you will) I tried googling about this but didn’t find much… I signed up on Garmin Connect and it doesn’t seem like the customized Workout Plan let you do that… I am sure there are apps that can do this, but would love to have this on a wearable instead to avoid bringing the phone…
      Unfortunately, there’s nothing I know of on the market that’s capable of doing what you are asking for. Your best bet would be using apps (e.g Google Keep) that are capable of doing what you asked for in a smartwatch (Android Wear). Then again, that may not be what you want since fitness functions on a smartwatch pale in comparison to fitness focused GPS watches at the moment.
      (3) I do mostly Walk/Run HIIT – and based on your Fit2 review, it won’t meet that need even if I do it manually in my head (i.e. if Fit2 would just constantly display the HR while I walk/run, and I will look at the treadmill clock to manually time the interval, and just memorize what my HR for each zone should be). I like that the Forerunner 225/230/235/735XT has the HR Gauge, but I read that 235 may not be best for HIIT especially if I just do short sprints – is 735XT better for it? I guess there’s always using 230 with a chest belt instead… I’m not that active so not sure if 735XT would be an overkill (or even 230 /235 really… I looked at the Polar M400 also but didn’t quite like that one. Hence was hoping Fit2 would work in a roundabout way) But apart from tracking my steps and sleep, this is probably the most important feature for me… so any advice on which device is best for HIIT would be appreciated!
      Polar is releasing a new GPS enabled M600. It is capable of running 3rd party apps from Android and features an optical HR sensor I’ve never seen before. Pretty cool. That will retail at $329.99 thereabouts. If the FR735 is overkill. You can keep a lookout for this. Polar must have learnt from their A360 optical HR sensor so the M600 is an upgrade really.
      I can’t say much about HIIT with FR735XT or FR235. Your best bet would be to try it yourself. What I gathered is that some people track really well with optical HR sensors while some just don’t. If you’re concerned about HR accuracy during HIIT, perhaps you can wear the chest strap HR monitor during the intervals. That should give you peace of mind.

      Thanks again for all your reviews!!
      Glad you liked it!

  • Reply Chris August 2, 2016 at 1:25 am

    Thanks for your detailed response! Thanks for the heads up about Polar M600! guess I will wait and see if it fits my needs better… if not, I can always get the Garmin FR with a chest best as needed like you said. And you are right, a smartwatch won’t be as helpful for me… I guess always still go with the paper route I suppose.

  • Reply Stefano October 14, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Would you recommend this over Garmin Vivosmart HR+? Or would you recommend otherwise?
    Thank you

    • Reply Michael S October 15, 2016 at 2:14 am

      The Gear Fit 2 is feature packed for its price but usability becomes an issue because you can’t tell if a stable GPS signal has been locked. Also, you’d have to use S Health mobile app which isn’t compatible with iOS devices.

      On the other hand the Garmin Connect platform is familiar and is the benchmark for how a fitness tracker platform should look like. The Vivosmart HR + records only in smart mode. If you’re not particular about the ANT+ broadcasting, I’d suggest you take a look at the Forerunner 35.

      I’m neutral between the 2 devices, opting for the Gear Fit 2 for its features and the Vivosmart HR+ for the presentation platform.

  • Reply Stefano October 15, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Thanks for you quick reply.
    So I believe you’d suggest me to go with Forerunner 35 instead of GF2 to and HR+. I’m looking forward for your take on Forerunner 35. It might be the best option, though the appearance doesnt look appealing for me.

    • Reply Michael S October 16, 2016 at 6:35 am

      Well Stefano, I hope your patience pays off. It’s always good to wait till November thereabouts to make your purchases if you’re looking to buy a fitness tracker; with Black Friday deals and all. Either that or January-February when people start returning their purchases. But I noticed most companies will showcase all their ware before the holiday seasons. I’m nearly done with the FR35 and am awaiting the arrival of the Polar M200, another device which you might be interested in as well.

  • Reply Andre December 23, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Hi! Thanks for a great review. I just got my Gear Fit 2 and downloaded the Alarm app from the Galaxy App Store. How do I get that app to show up on the Gear Fit 2?

    • Reply Michael S December 24, 2016 at 3:13 am

      Hi Andre,

      Upon installing of the Alarm app, it should automatically show up when after you sync the Gear Fit 2 to your mobile device. You can see the alarm icon together with the tab that has Exercise, Settings and so on.

      Hope that helps
      Mike

      • Reply Andre December 24, 2016 at 6:35 am

        Hi Michael, thanks for your prompt reply. I just realised that it only appears when I press the menu button… I thought it would let me add the alarm through the different faces when I swipe on the main screen. Cheers! 🙂

        • Reply Michael S December 24, 2016 at 6:45 am

          Glad it worked out for you.
          Mike

  • Reply Clarck_ February 1, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Hi, I’m wondering to buy this unit Gear s2 and I’m a bit worried with HR sensor. I can´t get sure that it’s going to be accurate so I don´t know if I have to purchase with the Vivosmart HR that I don’t like the design at all or with Gear Fit2.
    Usage will be for Gim, runn and mountain walking and I don´t mind to get GPS as I hallways have Endomondo, Runtastic or similar apps tracking and registering with phone GPS.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Reply Michael S February 1, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      Hi Clarck,

      It will boil down to what you need and it sounds like you just need an optical HR sensor such as Scosche Rhythm + or chest strap (Polar H7?) to go with your mobile apps!

      However if you’re looking at all day activity tracking, then there are numerous options.

      Have you looked at the entry Forerunner 35 or Polar M200/ Polar A360?

      The former 2 offers GPS while the Polar A360 is merely a wrist based activity tracker with optical HR sensors.

      You could also explore hearables with HR monitors as well. Such as the Bragi Dash, Jabra Elite Sport or Samsung Icon X.

      Options are limitless at present. If you could be even more specific, I can probably throw up some names to further narrow it to something more suited for you.

      • Reply Clarck_ February 1, 2017 at 3:59 pm

        Hi Michael,
        Thanks for your answer. In fact I’d like to get an activity tracker and to receive notifications on it that’s why Have discarted HR sensors with chest strap.
        Does Gear S2 gives good HR as good as a garmin or Polar? I like the A360 but it I can´t share HR with app other than polar on the phone. By prices, talking about “new” second hand devices Polar A360 and Garmin Fivosmart HR are at about 60€ and gear 2 110€.
        Between those thee what will be your order of preferences and what is the main reason?

        • Reply Michael S February 2, 2017 at 12:53 pm

          In terms of specs, the Gear Fit 2 is going to beat both Vivosmart HR and A360 hands down.But neither of the 3 devices can share HR data with other apps easily. Unless you’re talking about syncing workout data and not transmitting of HR real time.

          The defunct Basis Peak used to do that and it was great.

          Anyway, it’s going to be hard to beat the features of the Gear Fit 2. Specifically GPS, 4GB on board music and playing music via Bluetooth headphones and many more. I’m not a fan of the Samsung app and the limited app availability.

          For HR comparison, I’m not the authority to state which device is more accurate given that I’m just a single user. If it helps, I found it comparable when used against a Garmin FR 735XT.

          Mike

  • Reply Clarck_ February 2, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    OK, thanks for your help. Now I just have to decide… So hard.
    For info at the end of february for Gear Fit2 and in furure months Gear S2 and S3 will be able to share info directely with endomondo.
    Best regards,
    Clarck

  • Reply Clarck_ February 2, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Here is the link: https://support.endomondo.com/hc/en-us/articles/115002165168

    • Reply Michael S February 4, 2017 at 7:56 am

      Thank you very much Clarck. I’ll leave the link here.

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