Gear S2 IFA AH 1

Android Headliner: If only Samsung Gear S2 ran Android Wear

September 12, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Back at Unpacked last month, Samsung teased the Gear S2. It was the round smartwatch that had been rumored and leaked for almost a year, and was said to be the Gear A. We knew that it would not be running Android Wear, as Samsung appears to not be interested in Android Wear, and instead it will run Tizen like previous generations of Gear smartwatches. At IFA in Berlin, last week, Samsung made the Gear S2 official. Had a nice showcase showing off everything it can do as well as all the apps that are pre-installed on the new smartwatch. Which there’s a lot of. We got some hands on time with the Gear S2 while we were in Berlin, and it is pretty amazing. Spinning bezel and all. But one can’t help but wonder, what if it ran Android Wear?

The Gear S2 is a great looking smartwatch. I’d say its the best looking one that Samsung has made. Considering they spent an entire year working on it, it should be. Out of all the news that came out about the Gear S2, there was one thing that wasn’t hyped that much. And that is the OS it’s running. Ever since the Gear 2, Samsung has been using Tizen to power their smartwatches. And even pushed out an update to the original Gear to bring Tizen to it. Now we did get an Android Wear smartwatch from Samsung at Google I/O 2014 in the Gear Live, but it was basically just left over parts from the Gear Fit and Gear 2 Neo. It didn’t seem like Samsung put much thought into it.

Samsung could have built the best smartwatch ever here, with the Gear S2. There’s really only one problem or issue with it. And that’s the OS. No Android Wear, doesn’t sit well with many people. Sure Tizen isn’t bad, and I’d say turning the bezel to navigate through the OS is pretty sweet, but Android Wear is integrated into more apps that you use, it’s heavily integrated into Android as a whole, and there’s a bit more functionality, right now. Although the Gear S2 can use Samsung Pay and Android Wear cannot use Android Pay. Not to mention, Tizen seems to be a bit clunky now, with all the widgets, and the way that Samsung has you going through apps. It reminds me a lot of the Apple Watch, in trying to do way too much. This is a big reason why many people are still opting for the Pebble. Because it’s not trying to do too much, not to mention it’s price (although it is pretty ugly).

I’d definitely buy the Gear S2 – more likely the Gear S2 Classic – but because it’s not running Android Wear, I won’t be buying it. Simply because Android Wear is simpler, as well as built in tighter with whatever phone I’m using. Sure the Gear S2 is pretty integrated with their own smartphones, but what if you own a Moto X Pure? Or a LG G4? Then you’re not getting a whole lot of the extras, unfortunately. Android Wear is integrated into every Android phone, due to the Google services that are installed. I do have to admit though, that rotating bezel is freaking cool. I’d be interested to see how that would work on Android Wear, to be honest.

So I’ll leave you with this, the Gear S2 is a great smartwatch for Samsung users. For those that don’t own a Samsung device, you’re better off with an Android Wear smartwatch. Whether that is the new Moto 360, the Huawei Watch, the LG G Watch Urbane, the ASUS Zenwatch 2, or any of the new ones coming out later this year or in 2016. If you want to get the most out of your smartwatch, I’d look past the Gear S2, unfortunately.