It's the Gear 2 without a camera and $100 less, but is it worth it?
Last week we reviewed the Gear Fit from Samsung, and now we're checking out the Gear 2 Neo after about a week and a half of use. We have the orange Gear 2 Neo here, which it's available in plenty of colors. The Gear 2 Neo is currently the same pricer as the Gear Fit, both of which are $199 right now here in the US. The differences between the Gear Fit and the Gear 2 Neo are mostly the larger display, IR Blaster, and apps. Otherwise, everything the Gear Fit does, the Gear 2 Neo does as well. The Gear Fit just looks so much nicer.
The hardware on the Gear 2 Neo is a bit different than what we had on the Galaxy Gear. I'll be comparing it to the Galaxy Gear a lot since I haven't had any hands on time with the Gear 2 yet. We now have a home button on the front of the smartwatch, which makes it easier to get home and power it off. There's also an IR blaster at the the top of the display, so you are able to control your TV and other electronics using this. On the other side of the watch, you have your charging port and heart rate monitor. Now the charging pins there actually connect to a cradle that you can then connect to any old microUSB charger.
The watch strap is also removable now. So if you ever want to replace it or get a different color, you can simply remove it and use the new one. It's pretty easy to do actually. I have to say that the Gear 2 Neo does look a lot better than the Galaxy Gear did, and it's much smaller, which is always nice too.
It's Tizen, but still looks like the OS on the Galaxy Gear. Which is probably a good thing for those that used the original Galaxy Gear. You can also sideload apps out of the box, which is pretty cool. But remember this is Tizen and not Android, so you can't just sideload Nova Launcher and use that on the Gear 2 Neo. On the Galaxy Gear, I did notice a bit of stuttering when going through different pages and stuff (it's important to note that I used and reviewed the Galaxy Gear when it first launched, so future updates may have improved this), while the Gear 2 Neo is actually really smooth. I'm not entirely sure if that's the hardware or software or a combination of both, being better over last fall's Galaxy Gear.
Where are they? I remember the Galaxy Gear launching with plenty of apps, but the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo don't have much in terms of apps, at all. going through the different categories in the App Store, there's a handful in each one. I was expecting a bit more. But I guess that's to be expected when you switch OS from the original Gear to the Gear 2. If you jump into Social Networking, there are none of the most popular apps there. There's EasilyDo, Glympse, Tick Flick Boom, OMlet, and Strava Running and Cycling (which should be in Health/Fitness, in my opinion). So it's pretty lacking in terms of apps, but that should change pretty soon I think.
Heart Rate Monitor
The heart rate monitor works just like you'd expect it to work. Since it's already touching your arm, you just need to jump into the Heart Rate "app" on the Gear 2 Neo and and hit start. It'll take a few seconds to get your heart rate, but it works just as well as it does on the Gear Fit and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Which is always great to see.
The battery life on the Gear 2 Neo is actually quite good. I know the Galaxy Gear was rated at about a day, but I was getting about 2-3 days out of it. Now the Gear 2 Neo has lasted me about 4-5 days, sometimes less depending on how I'm using it. So it's great to see battery life getting better on smartwatches now, we really don't want to have to charge our watch and phone every night, do we?
The Gear 2 Neo is a really great smartwatch, it really is. There are just a couple of things keeping me from buying one. One is the fact that it is only compatible with Samsung devices, the other being that Android Wear is coming out in the next few months. If Samsung opened up their Gear line to all Android devices running Android 4.3 and above (for Bluetooth LE support), I think they'd sell plenty more. Although they do have 70% of the market for smart watches already, so I guess that doesn't really matter, now does it?