Samsung’s Gear Fit 2 ($179.99) 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.
- 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
- 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
The 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.The 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.The 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.The 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.The back of the Samsung Gear Fit 2 houses the optical heart rate sensors. You can also see the charging pins.The 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.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.The 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
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.Throughout 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.When “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.You 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.At 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.During and after the tracked workout session, the user can access information such as:
- Duration of workout
- Max. heart rate
- % of time in vigorous intensity zone
A 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.The 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.During the GPS enabled workout itself, you can view the duration, distance, heart rate, pace, speed, calories by swiping to the right or left.
I needed to make special mention of this because Samsung has made good progress with activity identification.There 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.The 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.
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.You 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!The individual steps and floors climbed widgets also shows the current progress versus goal. A single tap on the screen bring up the past history.And 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.Interface is decently fast with very mild lag, almost as if I’m swiping and scrolling on a smartphone device.
Sleep tracking commences automatically and a summary is provided every morning listing the sleep efficiency.There 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.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.I 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.
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?I 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.
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.
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.
Together– 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.Samsung 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.Achievements – 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.Quick 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.It 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.S 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.The 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.Samsung’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!