Samsung’s had another stab at owning the wrist – but what’s the difference between the two?
We all expected Samsung to launch a new Galaxy Gear at MWC 2014, but to have two come along at the same time is a little odd.
If there was a vast difference between the spec sheets, we’d understand the logic, but there are many similarities between the two watches, which will make it hard for the prospective buyer.
There are key upgrades on offer though from the original, which will make it hugely more popular if the price is right.
So check out our gallery of the new watches, and let us run you through some of the key specs so you can tell which is right for you.
This is the main area where the two differ, and we can see this will be partly where the two are sold against one another.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 doesn’t deviate a huge amount from the first iteration, coming in with 36.9 x 58.4x 10.0 mm, and weighting 68g. That’s not a lot different from the Galaxy Gear 2 Neo, which clocks in at 37.9 x 58.8 x 10.0mm, but is 20% lighter at 55g, which will make a fairly big difference.
However, both are thinner than the original, which came in at 37.9 x 58.8 x 10.0mm and weighed a whopping 74g in comparison.
The main upgrade between the new two and the original is the band – Samsung is going to allow users to change the strap on their Gear 2.
This is partly allowed by the moving of all the new sensors into the head of the watch, which means you can customise it without having to be stuck with one colour, which users had to do with the original Gear to allow for the camera.
Sadly the charging block still exists for the Galaxy Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo – any hopes of being able to connect the watch straight into a standard phone charger are scuppered here.
Camera and infra red
The camera has been kept for the Galaxy Gear 2, but it’s another missing feature for the Galaxy Gear 2 Neo.
It’s barely been changed from the whopping sensor on the original Gear (a 1.9MP offering), but has been moved into the main head of the watch to allow for the aforementioned straps.
The camera still isn’t facing forward, so any hopes of a Dick Tracy-style video call have been scuppered.
A new addition for both the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo is the infra red blaster, which Samsung already has on its flagship phones and most tablets.
This is pretty cool, as it will allow you to control the TV or DVD player with a touch of your finger right from your wrist – although it’s likely this will appear cool simply because most of us hankered for that digital watch that could act as a remote from childhood.
Now this is a surprise: the new Galaxy Gear range will run on Tizen rather than Android. This is a bold move from Samsung, as while it has put a lot of effort into the new OS it’s co-creating with others (with Intel a big partner) it’s yet to make it to the big time.
Given that in the press release Samsung was crowing about the fact the Gear 2 will be able to connect with a range of devices, it looks likely we’ll be seeing TVs and other gadgets running the OS too so Samsung can offer real interoperability.
Those worried about the apps already made for the original Gear shouldn’t – and not just because there are far more pressing things to get upset about. The Tizen OS is set up to port over Android apps pretty easily, and given there weren’t a huge amount made in the first place chances are the Gear 2 will offer a decent suite and backwards compatibility.
There are also quite a lot of launch partners as well, with the likes of Banjo, BMW, CNN , Conde Nast, Expedia, eBay, Evernote, Feedly, Garmin and Glympse all playing the game.
From that list above you’ll see that the fitness apps are missing – well, don’t worry, as Samsung is making a big play into the fitness space (and there should be a couple on the way from third parties too.
The move is likely triggered by the impending iWatch, but the new Galaxy Gear 2 range comes with some huge new hardware: an optical heart rate monitor, like that seen in the Adidas SmartRun MiCoach watch.
This is a really killer feature as it will allow for more of a controlled fitness program, one that can really help you improve as you monitor via the heart rate. On top of that Samsung has allowed for running and walking and as a cycling and hiking companion.
Although hiking does sound a lot like walking.
There’s sadly no GPS on board as rumoured, which makes the running apps a little redundant, but being able to fill the 4GB of storage on the Galaxy Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will help a lot as the device can function as a standalone music player on your runs.
There’s even a sleep and stress sensor package to download – although it begs the question of when you’re going to charge it.
This is an odd one: while Samsung has shrunk the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo over the original and in doing so dropped the battery capacity from 315mAh to 300mAh, it now reckons you’ll get 2-3 days of power from a single charge – six if you use it in ‘low usage’ mode.
Compare that to the 25 hours quoted for the original, and you can see that Tizen must be kinder to the power pack – with that extra heart rate sensing too the Gear 2 must be pretty efficient.
We sadly don’t know the price of the Gear 2 range as yet, but we’d wager that the Neo will be around 15% – 20% cheaper than the main Gear 2.
Both need to cost a lot less than the original, which was one of the main problems that consumers had with a largely pointless device.
The new range is definitely a step forward, and brings a new flavour in the shape of fitness abilities that put it head and shoulders above the other smartwatches on the market – although that’s still not enough to entice most people.
The price is key here – if it’s the same as before, Samsung is going to have a really hard sell. At least there’s a degree of autonomy on offer, allowing you to wander away from a phone from time to time.
In terms of recommendation, the Galaxy Gear 2 Neo seems like a much better option out of the two new devices. Shorn of the pointless camera and being a little lighter, there’s a lot more to love if you’re after a new watch.
They’re still not perfect, but the Gear 2 brothers are a big step forward over the original, and could be just enough to keep Samsung relevant in the impending war with Apple.