Here we have another interesting matchup with the Samsung Gear Live versus the Samsung Gear 2 Neo – which is basically a Gear 2 without the camera and not a bad trade-off for the $100 in savings. The biggest differences in these two devices – the Gear Live is running Google's Android Wear OS, which is like Android for wearables, while the Gear 2 Neo is running Samsung's own Tizen OS – and the Gear 2 Neo has both a microphone and a speaker…allowing it to be both a standalone Music Player and the ability to answer and initiate phone calls.
Both devices use the exact same 1.63-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 320 x 320 pixels and 278 pixels-per-inch (ppi). They both sport 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage with no means of expanding that via a microSD card. Neither smartwatch has camera or video capabilities and they both use a 300mAh battery for power. You can probably get through 2-3 days on a charge, but anything more than that is simply not going to happen. Both devices are very similar in size, with the Gear 2 Neo's 10mm thickness slightly more than the 8.9mm of the Gear Live, although surprisingly, the Gear Live is slightly heavier at 59g versus the Gear Neo 2's 55g. They both have the usual gyro, compass, pedometer, accelerometer, etc, as well as a Heart Rate Monitor. They also use a standard 22mm wrist strap that can very easily be removed and replaced with a band of your choice.
Please look over the specifications below and compare the Gear Live and the Gear 2 Neo and then we will look at what makes these individual devices different from each other and maybe then we can pick out a clear winner.
Samsung Gear Live
The Samsung Gear Live is surprising device – given that Samsung seems so set on using Tizen OS for their devices and especially their smartwatches – but at the same time a welcomed Android Wear device. At Google I/O they no sooner announced the new Android for wearables and before you know it both Samsung and LG announced they would be featuring a smartwatch with Android Wear – and that they would be available immediately. Samsung basically took their Gear 2 Neo and gave it Android Wear…minus a few bells and whistles. What we have is a nice looking device, built along the other Gear lines with a stylish metal bezel and a rubber wrist strap, which is also replaceable.
The Gear Live does have a faster processor, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core clocked at 1.2GHz versus the Samsung Exynos dual-core processor clocked at 1GHz in the Gear 2 Neo. In a device like a smartwatch, the difference in processors should not make much of a difference in performance. What is also nice about the Gear Live is that you can use ANY Android smartphone running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or higher – you are not restricted to a Samsung Galaxy only device. One thing must be pointed out to be fair to the Gear Live – both the software (Android Wear) and the accompanying applications are still in their very early stages and it shows to some extent. However, I would expect to see improvements by leaps and bounds in the near future, so please give Android Wear a chance. Right now, either device will set you back $200 to own.
Samsung Gear 2 Neo
The Samsung Gear 2 Neo is basically a stripped down Gear 2 – the camera is removed and the metal bezel is traded in for polycarbonate (high-grade plastic) – but the rest of the functions come intact. The Gear 2 Neo does have a slight downgrade in processor from the Gear Live – an Exynos dual-core clocked at 1.0GHz versus the Snapdragon 400 quad-core clocked at 1.2GHz found in the Gear Live. This is certainly not a huge difference, especially when we are talking smartwatches. The real down-side to the Gear 2 Neo is that you must pair it up to a Samsung Galaxy smartphone in order to enjoy all of its features. Samsung has insisted on an 'Apple-like' approach to its ecosystem of smartphones and watches – one has to wonder why Samsung would hinder the sales of its smartwatches by insisting on such a stubborn approach.
The Gear 2 Neo does offer several nice features that are missing on the Gear Live – for instance, it can be a full-fledged Music Player and you can listen via a bluetooth headset or from the speaker in the watch. It also has the ability to control your TV via its built-in IR blaster – just bring up the App, aim your Gear 2 Neo at your TV and adjust the channel, volume and more. It also has the infamous Samsung Home Button to quickly get you back to the home screen or to power it on/off – this saves you from swiping through the cards. The biggest feature I saved to last – you can answer an incoming phone call or initiate a new call from the Gear 2 Neo. The call is actually 'processed' on your smartphone, however, with the microphone and speaker of the Gear 2 Neo, it feels as though the smartwatch is actually a phone – a very cool feature and a must for any smartwatch that I would buy.
…And the Winner is…
This was a much easier decision for this round since the Gear 2 Neo was the same price as the Gear Live – the one BIG caveat is that you must use a Samsung Galaxy smartphone in order for this combination to work…if you already use a Samsung smartphone, then the decision is very easy, however, if you would sooner burn in hell than own a Samsung smartphone, then you probably would not be looking at a Samsung branded smartwatch either.
In the looks department, you would probably have to call it a toss up – while the Gear Live does have more metal on the bezel than the metal/polycarbonate front of the Gear 2 Neo, they both look remarkably sharp. The Gear 2 Neo simply has more features and feels a little more 'polished' than the Gear Live. While they both are IP67 certified for water/dust resistance, both sport a Heart Rate Monitor and easily replaceable wrist strap – only the Gear 2 Neo can handle your TV, act as a standalone Music Player, and make and receive phone calls. The Gear 2 Neo just offers up more for your money if you own a Samsung smartphone, all for the same $200 price.
Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know what you think about these two smartwatches and what do you see as the pros and cons of each one…as always, we would love to hear from you.