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The Smartwatch market is heating up quickly thanks in large part to Samsung jumping in early and pushing the limits with a full array of models. So far, they’ve released the Gear S, Gear 2, Gear Fit, and Gear Live. They are all at different price points, offering something for everyone.
For the purposes of this review, we are looking at the Samsung Gear 2 Neo. What separates the Neo from the plain Gear 2? It’s actually pretty simple. The Neo does not come with a camera and is a lot more affordable because of it. The difference is about $100 in savings for the Neo. If the
Key Features of the Gear 2 Neo
I like to start out where most potential buyers would, looking at the features marketed by Samsung. See below for the most important features:
- Compatibility: Samsung definitely had their smartphones in mind when they designed the Gear 2. It’s compatible with all of the recent Galaxy Smartphones and tablets. In general, the Gear 2 Neo is compatible with any Android device version 4.3 or higher.
- Improved Battery Longevity: Compared to the original Samsung Gear, the Gear 2 Neo has greatly enhanced battery life with a 300 mAh battery. In real terms, this lasts about 24-48 hours with heavy use, as opposed to less than 24 hours for its predecessor. For light use, you can probably push it to about 6 days. In our experience with moderate heavy usage, 36-40 hours was about the limit.
- Sports/Fitness Tracking: The Samsung Gear 2 Neo has fully embraced the fitness appeal of smartwatch’s. It uses “Gear manager” to connect the health apps on your Android phone (presumably Samsung) and the data that the Gear 2 collects on a daily basis. It’s not quite real-time, but it does sync every 3 hours or you can manually trigger data transfer at any time. The most popular health feature is the pedometer that tracks steps (whether running, walking, biking, etc…).
- Refreshed Design: The Samsung Gear 2 Neo definitely has curb appeal. It doesn’t “blend in” which is good if you are looking for something a bit showy and techie. Of all the designs I’ve tested, this is right up there at the top in terms of ergonomics and functionality.
Premium Display: Samsung put a fair amount of effort into their display and it shows. The 1.63 inch Amoled display is among the best I’ve seen. It offers 320 x 320 pixel resolution (density of 278 ppi) and this works very well for the scale of the device. There also isn’t any problems with glare (a major problem for some smartwatch’s).
Pros and Cons of the Samsung Gear 2 Neo
The following is a quick summary of what I liked (Pros) and what I didn’t (Cons):
Pros – What I like
Affordable: Well, smartwatches as a whole are not incredibly cheap, but The Gear 2 Neo is right about the mid range for what you can expect to pay (maybe even slightly lower). The “camera not included” really helps bring the price down.
Useful Apps: What I like about the Samsung lineup is the time and energy put into developing useful apps. Their app store now has over 1000 difference apps to choose from, as well. This is an impressive feat. For a company like Samsung to compete with the big boys – while keeping ownership of their product ecosystem – they had to execute this properly, and they finally have! I particularly like the Fleksy text messaging app that smartly recognizes your finger tips by forming logical words even if you slightly miss the mark (and fat finger it). Another nice app is the Sleep Monitor, which works quite well.
Better Battery Life: This is definitely a good mark in my book. I was kind of frustrated by the original Gear because of this reason. 2-3 days is still just about average as far as smartwatch’s go, but the Gear 2 Neo gets an “A+” for showing definite improvement here.
Comfortable to Wear: Amid all the talk about features, apps, and technology, comfort can be missed frequently as a factor. Thankfully, the Gear 2 Neo has a comfortable yet sturdy rubberized strap with ten adjustable settings with subtle Samsung branding.
Cons – Not so Much…
No Camera: It’s not really fair to critique the Neo because it’s an intentionally left off feature, but I still kind of felt like it was incomplete without it. Maybe it’s just that I knew it wasn’t there, but it’s a relatively minor gripe. Most of the cameras on smartwatch’s are not that impressive anyway. I’m not heart-broken, but it depends on how highly you value this feature personally. Overall, if I was on a budget I’d absolutely take the trade-off.
Apps Still Relatively Limited: Relative to Apple and the Android Gear community, Samsung still lags behind competitors in terms of the number of apps available. It has improved in recent months and now boasts up to 1000+ apps. Still, Samsung has avoided the Android Wear community that Google, Motorola, and LG have been pushing and Samsung can’t really beat this. The good news is that what Samsung does offer for apps are relatively high quality. For most users, there is a limit to how many apps are relevant and/or useful. Samsung does a good job covering the bases, but still doesn’t offer the depth of others.
Not Really for Non-Samsung Owners: Partly for the reasons stated above, non-Samsung Android users will not likely find the Samsung Gear 2 Neo as relevant to their needs. It’s really built specifically for existing Samsung users as an add-on device.
Key Features At a Glance
I’ve put together another view of the features, so you can see the key specifications at a glance.
|Screen Size||1.63 inches|
|Screen Resolution||320 x 320|
|Internal Storage||4 GB|
|CPU||1 GHz Dual Core|
|Water Resistance||Water Resistant|
|Battery Life||300 mAh (2-3 days heavy use/one charge)|
|Compatibility||Android 4.3 or higher|
|# of Apps||1000+|
Other Options to Consider?
The Samsung Gear 2 Neo is a very solid smartwatch as far as smartwatch’s go. There is nothing that truly stands out as revolutionary, but it does everything it should. That said, there are some other popular options to consider.
Normally, I would mention the Apple Watch here, but if you’ve been researching the Gear 2 Neo, chances are you are looking for an android compatible smartwatch. The two watches below are among my top recommendations for the best Android smartwatch.
Sony Smarthwatch 3
Sony has long been considered an electronic powerhouse. Sometimes they do suffer from poor product execution, but the Sony Smartwatch 3 has really built a solid foundation of success.
Powered by Android Wear technology and backed by a 1 year warranty, it’s definitely a good option to consider. Other nice features include the fact that it is waterproof (IP58 rated), comes standard with ambient light sensors, “Life Log” fitness tracking, excellent voice command recognition, industry leading battery life and a mature internal GPS system.
While it normally retails in stores for close to $300 per unit, you can find it for a comparable price to the Gear 2 Neo at about $195 here.
LG Watch R
The LG Watch R is another popular option that I’ve come to really like as well. It’s not the flashiest or the most innovative, but it has a lot of really well done features. It definitely has a very different appeal and appearance, reflecting a more traditional “full circle face” style. Might not be for everyone, but it’s an elegant classic option.
Don’t be confused by the traditional appearance. The LG Watch R is powered by Android Wear, comes with a built in fitness tracker and heart rate monitor, and offers a refined Google powered voice commands. There is also a variety of color customization options to reflect your unique style. Need directions or weather forecasts?
The default watch face melts away to display turn by turn navigation or current/future weather data. The nice thing about the LG Watch R is that it has a solid feel to it and really mimics a traditional watch. The only downside is that you will have to pay a bit of a premium. You can find it for $349.99 here.
Final Thoughts and Recommendation
The short of it? The Gear 2 Neo has a lot to offer and checks all the blocks for features and performance. If you are a Samsung user already, this is an obvious choice. Otherwise, it would be wise to check elsewhere for now. Be sure to check out this listing for the latest details on pricing.
Samsung Gear 2 Neo
Quality of Design9.0/10
- More affordable option
- Good fitness tracking
- Marked improvement over predecessors
- Smart ergonomic design
- No camera feature
- Still relatively limited apps
- Best for existing Samsung users
- Not part of Android Gear community