Samsung Gear S2 review

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Samsung has been trying to figure out smartwatches for as long as anyone its earlier efforts have been disappointing but the new gear s2 promises to be different and in many ways it is it’s got a sleeker more attractive design a completely new interface and finally works with more than just Samsung phones gear s2 is far from perfect but it demonstrates some really great ideas about how a SmartWatch should look and work and can be a learning tool for the rest of the industry the gear s2 is the first round SmartWatch from Samsung and it’s by far the best-looking wearable the company has ever made it’s not too big not too thick and it’s comfortable to wear I’ve been testing the $299 standard gear s2 which has a rubber strap and smooth brushed metal finish it’s not the design I choose the $349 gear s2 classic with its leather strap and darker finish is more my speed unfortunately the standard s2 uses a proprietary strap mount which means that you can’t go into any jewelry or watch store and swap it out for something else the round design is there for more than just looks it enables the rotating bezel control which is the smartest way to interact with the SmartWatch I’ve ever used sure you can swipe through the screens with the touch screen just like an Apple watch or any Android wear model but once you use the bezel to control the watch you’ll wonder why nobody else has done this before the rotating ring is predictable and reliable unlike Apple somewhat confusing digital crown and it lets me navigate the interface without blocking any of the content with my finger that great experience is helped by the fast and easy to use interface on the s2 turn the ring to the right from the main watch face and you access widgets of information turn it to the left and you see your notifications use it to scroll through text when reading a message or a list and it behaves exactly like you’d expect it to a button on the side of the watch jumps back one level while another button takes you back to the main watch face it’s all very simple to understand and use and I never felt lost or confused the gear s2 s display is great it’s bright and sharp and easy to read indoors and out you can turn on an ambient mode to always display the time but that will have an impact on battery life I was able to go 2 days between charges with the ambient screen off but only one with it on neither option is great you’ll still be charging it at least every other day and you shouldn’t travel without it’s charging dot but at least the gear s2 doesn’t die halfway through the day but here’s where I run into some big issues with the gear s2 it’s great for checking and even replying to some notifications and tracking your physical activity but beyond that there isn’t much else you can do with it while Apple and Google boasts thousands of apps for their watches including useful ones like citymapper dark sky and google maps the gear s2 lacks both quantity and quality apps right now that’s not likely to change anytime soon the gear s2 runs a different platform than Android wear or the Apple watch and it’s not likely that developers are going to devote much effort to supporting it even some of the apps Samsung demoed at its launch at the s2 such as uber aren’t available for yet there are a number of attractive watch faces included with the s2 but third-party options like the apps left me wanting and while the Apple watch and Android wear will let you do a bunch of things with your voice the gear s2 s voice actions are slow and really limited I can’t even use it to settle a reminder for example and that really is what has me worried for the gear s2 it’s a fine functioning and looking SmartWatch today but I’m not confident that it will get the support needed from developers to turn it into something really special tomorrow I want a SmartWatch it looks good it’s easy to use shows me notifications tracks my activity and lets me do certain things without pulling my phone out of my pocket the gear s2 gets a lot of those right but that last one that’s what really separates a great SmartWatch from the rest and the s2 doesn’t yet fulfill that need Samsung came awfully close to making a brilliant SmartWatch this time but his journey isn’t over

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