I may or may not have said that the new Samsung Gear 2 was a wreck (I did, and the word was “disastrous”), but there’s a chance I was wrong. Dan Seifert just reviewed the new smart watch for The Verge and he didn’t hate it. He actually kind of liked it!
Ultimately this product is irrelevant to me since I won’t be buying a Samsung phone in the near future, but I couldn’t help but check this thing out and see what it’s got on offer.
The Gear 2 has, well, 2 things wrong with it in my book. Most importantly, it does not run Android Wear. This essentially means that the app market that Wear has been building up over the past year and a half is worthless. Devs who have created an Android Wear app need to build yet another interface. If I were a developer with an Android and Wear app, you would really have to convince me that making a Gear 2-only app was worth my time.
The most telling part of the review in regards to apps was this bit:
Third-party apps are also few and far between on the S2 – even the apps Samsung demoed at the launch event for the watch, such as Uber, aren’t available. While I can get apps like Citymapper, Dark Sky, and Google Maps on the Apple Watch or Android Wear, the Gear S2 sticks me with Yelp, Bloomberg, CNN, and Here Maps, none of which are particularly fast or usable on a small watch display. Likewise, while there are a number of attractive watchfaces included with the S2, third-party options left me wanting.
Moving on to the good stuff, I was shocked to see how much Seifert liked the rotating bezel. I’m still not sure about it, but the more people say they like it, the more I have to believe it’s a decent input method. I still don’t see what this does that the digital crown on the Apple Watch does, but I’ll let that go.
Additionally, and this is a big one, the Gear 2 seems fast. This is something that I desperately wish my Apple Watch could match. I have found the ideal smart watch interaction takes 1-5 seconds, and you really can’t do that if you’re sitting through loading screens. The Apple Watch isn’t terribly slow, but it is a little too slow more often than I would like.
The Gear 2 seems to zip around the interface quicker than I’m used to, which is fantastic. As long as it can do a few critical things very quickly, it doesn’t matter as much if the app selection is worse. Although I have to say that the inability to set a reminder with voice controls eliminates about 1/3 of my smart watch use case.
So was I wrong about the Samsung Gear 2? While I’m not prepared to say that it’s going to be brilliant, I do think I was premature in calling it a disaster. If I had a Samsung phone and if I was looking for a smart watch, I might consider the Gear 2.