Product Review: Samsung Gear 2

Admittedly, I was wrong about wearables. This another one of my mea culpa posts.

I wasn’t a fan of wearables — though I’m excited for Android Wear — until I got the opportunity to test drive the Samsung Gear 2 courtesy of AT&T.

Samsung Gear 2

The Gear 2 is one of the most useful pieces of Android tech — yes, I know it runs on Tizen — I’ve come across.

Some kind of fantastic

For starters, I am not a watch guy. I haven’t owned a watch since 2003, and I hadn’t intended to renew any sort of love fest. Until I tried the Gear 2.

Gear 2_1

Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch connects via Bluetooth to any — it works best with Samsung’s devices — phone or tablet. The Gear 2 is really similar to the Gear Fit, though the device has a lot more features. Personally, if I had to select between the two smartwatches, I’d probably spend more for the Gear 2.

Here’s why lawyers will benefit from wearables

The greatest advantage to wearable watches, and perhaps even Glass, is the ability to receive subtle notifications without making an embarrassing reach for the phone.

Gear 2 Notifications

The Gear 2 gives you the ability to quickly capture information, though there’s a limited ability to provide a proper response. I really loved being able to see my emails, text messages, or other notifications with a quick and simple swipe — admittedly though, I don’t get a lot of calls or texts.

One of the nicest features of the Gear 2 is the Dick Tracy watch of our time.

Dick Tracy Watch

True, the Gear 2 is missing the television component, but the call quality is fantastic. I talked to a number of folks on the wrist, they couldn’t tell the different between the watch and my phone (that’s also a testament to how great the Samsung Galaxy S5’s call quality is).

Music control

I also loved the Gear 2’s “music on the go” feature, which allows you to control your songs from your wrist.

Gear 2 Music

I paired my Soundbot Bluetooth headphones and my Mpow Bluetooth earpiece to give me the ability to listen to music or talk on the phone.

Still time for improvement

Samsung likes to tout the small, 2.0 megapixel camera on the watch.

Gear 2 Camera

I wasn’t too impressed with the camera. It’s a fun extra gadget, but I couldn’t find too many opportunities where the camera was better or easier to use than my phone. Of course, if you have to snap a quick photo, the camera does its job well.

Here’s a pretty good hands-on look at the Gear 2.

Final assessment

Overall, Gear 2 isn’t going to be for everyone; especially since it’s really best compatible with Samsung devices. Secondly, at $299 (Amazon) many folks will probably opt for the less expensive brother, the Gear 2 Neo ($197).

The Gear 2 has fitness features, just like the Gear Fit, but they’re best served on Samsung’s systems. Once again, when I hacked my Nexus 5 phone to install Gear’s software, I had about 50/50 performance. I could never get any notifications to work.

I also disliked how Gear 2 doesn’t automatically track health information. I much prefer Fitbit for that functionality.

Samsung

Once again, the benefit of wearables isn’t necessarily their styles or additional features, but it’s the access to information that you’ll have.

If you thought wearables weren’t an option for you, it’s time to reconsider.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.