These are both smartwatches, however, they differ in so many ways to arrive at the same destination – the newest Samsung Gear 2 versus the Sony SmartWatch 2 (SW2). Sony released their SW2 last fall and was up against the original Samsung Galaxy Gear and neither device really took off – this was new territory and consumers were weary for the most part about plunking down $200-$300 for a watch, smart or not (the watch that is). Samsung was quick to come out in April with their new Gear 2 (dropping the Galaxy name) with their new Tizen OS riding on board – how does the Sony SmartWatch 2 go up against the new Samsung Gear 2 and which one will win this comparison.
While the displays are similar in size, they are totally different when it comes to display quality and other than the batteries being somewhat close – the Gear 2 has a 300mAh battery while the SW2 carriers a 225mAh battery – these smartwatches are very different in specifications. They both carry the usual gyros and proximity features – the very basics in a smartwatch. We will mention that the SW2 is compatible with any Android smartphone running Android 4.0 or higher, while the Gear 2 still requires a Samsung smartphone to pair with.
So please, take a look over the specification sheet below and see where these two devices are similar and where they differ. The we will look at each smartwatch individually and point out the differences, along with their advantages and disadvantages. It should be easy then to select a winner from this comparison.
Samsung Gear 2
The Samsung Gear 2 is their second attempt at the high-end smartwatch category – the Galaxy Gear came out in the fall with the Galaxy Note 3 as a kind of companion device. With such a limited pairing field, it sold surprisingly well, but was not the blockbuster that Samsung was hoping for. This second rendition made a few changes – like placing the camera in the bezel rather than the strap, moving the convenient home button from the side of the watch to the bezel, they added an IR Blaster, Heart Rate Monitor and Sleep Tracker, as well as adding their own Tizen OS.
The display is always important in any device with a screen and a smartwatch is certainly no exception. While the displays are nearly the same size, what goes into the display is far from the same. The Gear 2 uses Samsung's AMOLED display with approximately 278 Pixels-Per-Inch (PPI), while the SW2's LCD display is only about 141 PPI – the Gear 2 is simply more vivid and more detailed. The dual-core Exynos processor clocked at 1GHz simply outclasses the single-core, 180MHz processor in the SW2. The Gear 2 has 512MB versus 64MB of RAM and the 4GB of internal storage in the Gear 2 is just too much for the 256MB of Storage in the SW2. The Gear 2 also houses a 2MP, auto-focus camera, as well as a Heart Rate Monitor, Sleep Tracker, IR Blaster and dedicated Music Player…and the Gear 2 also offers IP67 water and dust resistance that the SW2's IP57 can just not keep up with.
There continues to be some drawbacks for the Gear 2 though – it is required that you use a Samsung smartphone in order to enjoy all of its functionality, whereas the Sony SW2 will work with any device running Android 4.0 or above. The Gear 2 is also running Samsung's Tizen OS – not that you will notice much in the way it looks on the screen, but looking for applications could be more difficult and it forces you to use S Voice, rather than Google Now. Let's not forget the high price tag of $299 – the most expensive smartwatch on the market.
Sony SmartWatch 2
As the name suggests, SmartWatch 2, this is not Sony's first stab at making a smartwatch and it looks like they were going for the Xperia look of their smartphones, but ended up with a large square, rather retro-looking device. When it comes to looks, it is a subjective matter – I like retro and the looks of the SW2, but some think it is a little 'cartoon-like' in its appearance. The large body is made of aluminum which probably adds to its rather heavy 122.5 grams and comes with a silicone-base strap with metal ends. It has one button one the right side and on the left side is a microUSB port with a cover – the port is used for recharging the battery and the cover needs to be in place for water protection.
The specifications are relatively unimpressive – the LCD display is only 220 x 176 pixels in resolution, and while adequate, is not up to the comparisons of the newer smartwatches. The processor is bare bones, and it can show up as rather a bit sluggish or glitchy compared to the quick, smooth processor of the Gear 2. Overall memory is extremely low, although a lot of that depends on the design of the device and its needs. It certainly will connect to your smartphone and keep you updated on notifications, but without a microphone or speaker you are limited in what you can do…you can answer a phone call using a Bluetooth headset, but not the smartwatch itself…and you cannot ask it for directions, or about the weather, etc. The lack of processing power and memory also limit any extras you can experience – no Heart Rate Monitor, no Sleep Tracker, no IR Blaster, or dedicated Music Player. The SW2 also uses the older Bluetooth 3.0, eliminating the use of newer low-powered BT smart devices on the market.
Pretty much what you see is what you get – you could call it a step-up from a Pebble with the SW2's larger, colored touchscreen, okay battery life, and several additional functions – although each once you get your SW2 paired with your device, you must install additional 'smart extensions" in order to get the full functionality of the smartwatch. Extensions include: Twitter, Gmail, message handling, etc. and once that is done, using the SW2 is pretty straight forward. Our Editor, Tom, has the SW2 and wrote up a great review on the device if you would like to read more about the SW2.
…And the Winner is…
In this comparison, the Samsung Gear 2 is just too much for the likes of the Sony SmartWatch 2 – it has a better design that isn't so wide and a curved back that makes for a more natural look on your wrist. The Gear 2 is just a little overpowered for the SW2 – with the ability to answer and initiate a phone call using ONLY the smartwatch is a big plus, as is the dedicated Music Player, IR Blaster, Heart Monitor, Sleep Tracker, better water and dust protection and the list goes on. Two things to remember – One, you must use only a Samsung smartphone and second, the much higher price, especially with discounts on the once $200 SW2…but you get what you pay for with a lot more functionality and power.
If you just want simple notifications, and to save some money, the Sony SmartWatch 2 may be for you, but you may want to bypass both of these devices for a new Android Wear device. I have not written about a smartwatch yet that does not need 'more work' done before it is really great – even the Gear 2 does not take full advantage of S Voice and there is no GPS and while the new Android Wear devices offer MUCH promise, there is still more needed in the way of software fixes and more applications. Please hook up with us on our Google+ Page and let us know which one of these devices is your favorite and why…as always, we would love to hear from you.