Last year, Samsung joined the battle for supremacy over the smartwatch market after releasing the Galaxy Gear. The wearable gadget received a lukewarm reception, as it delivered several interesting features while being the source of various complains concerning the device’s battery life, the lack of support for more smartphones, and the clunky design that didn’t leave room for changing the strap.
We’re now fast forwarding to this year’s Mobile World Congress, where Samsung lifted the veil on its latest generation of smartwatches. Yes indeed, this year, the Korean giant announced not one, but two wrist gadgets as successors to the original Galaxy Gear. They’re known as the Samsung Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo. As you may have already noticed, the “Galaxy” moniker has been dropped, and you’ll find the reasons why soon enough.
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First, let’s get the basic specs out of the way. The Gear 2 weighs 68 grams and measures 36.9 x 58.4x 10.0 mm. The Gear 2 Neo on the other hand, weighs only 55 grams, and measures 37.9 x 58.8 x 10.0mm. In contrast, the original Galaxy Gear measured 36.8 x 56.6 x 11.1mm and weighed 73.8 grams.
These small changes alone are not making the biggest of differences – though in all fairness, the Neo is 20 percent lighter than the Galaxy Gear, and that is definitely a plus. Nevertheless, the biggest improvement in design is probably the fact that both the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo feature changeable straps, whereas the original model didn’t. This gives a certain degree of customizability, as users can change their gadget’s straps to match different colors. This change in design, however, led to various other ramifications, such as the fact that the Gear 2′s camera is no longer fitted on the strap itself.
Sadly, the newer devices offer fewer options in terms of colors. Both Gears are offered in Charcoal Black and Wild Orange, and the models differentiate themselves by delivering a unique, third color each: Gold Brown for the Gear 2, and Mocha Grey for the Neo.
The newer models are also Rated IP67, which makes them truly water resistant and can survive underwater for 30 minutes, at depths of up to one meter. The original Gear was rated IP55, making it only “splashproof.”
Camera and Sensors
Speaking of the gadget’s camera, the Gear 2 is equipped with pretty much the same 2.0 MP sensor as the original model. Sadly, while the camera no longer resides on the strap itself, the unit still isn’t facing the user, meaning that there are little chances for the camera to be used for video calling in the future.
Interestingly enough, the Gear 2 Neo doesn’t feature a camera, but unlike the original Galaxy Gear, both the Gear 2 and the Neo come with an IR blaster. This further expands the functionality of the smartwatches, allowing the user to control DVD players and TVs with a simple touch of the screen.
The highlight however is most likely the range of fitness-related features included in the new gadgets, such as the optical heart rate monitor which resembles the one found in the Adidas SmartRun MiCoach watch.
Hardware Specifications and Battery
We should also point out that Samsung upgraded a bit under the hood as well. The newer models now feature a 1.0 GHz dual-core processor instead of an 800 MHz one, but the amount of RAM and storage remains unchanged (512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage).
Both the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo come with a 300 mAh battery which promises more longevity, despite the fact that last year’s Galaxy Gear came with a lightly larger 315 mAh unit. On paper, the Gear 2 and Neo should remain operational for 2-3 days on a typical usage, while being capable of keeping the lights on for up to 6 days of low usage. The original Gear was rated at only up to 25 hours of typical usage, and 150 hours of standby.
Lastly, in case you’re wondering, Samsung hasn’t changed the dimensions or the resolution of the display. The Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Galaxy Gear all feature 1.63 inch Super AMOLED panels with a resolution of 320 x 320.
Lastly, we should explain why the new models have dropped the “Galaxy’ name tag. The answer is simply because both the Gear 2 and the Neo are not being powered by Android OS. Instead, Samsung has decided to adopt the OS that it’s been working on in conjunction with other companies such as Intel. We’re referring to Tizen OS.
Fortunately, in case you’re wondering about app compatibility, then there’s not a lot to worry about. Tizen OS can adopt Android apps without too much of a fuss, and both the Gear 2 and Neo are expected to come pre-loaded with a decent range of application out of the box.
At this point, your biggest question could be “why in the world has Samsung launched two smartwatches that seem almost identical?” Well, we’re not entirely sure yet either, but a good bet would be that the Neo will hit the market at a lower price than the Gear 2 – which as a reminder, boasts a camera.
Regardless, our biggest hopes are that both wrist gadgets will be more affordable than the original Galaxy Gear at launch. That, however, might not be the case for the Gear 2. Recent rumors coming from Sam Mobile’s Twitter account have suggested that the Gear 2 will hit the European shelves at the price of 299 Euros, whereas the Gear 2 Neo will be priced a bit more reasonably, at 199 Euros. Keep in mind that these prices are not official.
This pretty much covers what the new Gear series is all about, so without further ado, we invite you to join the comment section below and let us know what you think. Would any of The Diplomat’s readers be compelled to purchase the Gear 2 or the Gear 2 Neo? Have these smartwatches met your expectations?