With its latest smartwatch entry, Samsung has taken its Gear back to the drawing board, ditching the rectangular face of the original Gear S1 in favour of a much more natural and visually pleasing round watch face.
It also sports some terrific new features, including a rotating bezel that provides the same basic functionality as the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown and a beautiful Super AMOLED display.
Though embracing its design will come down to a matter of preference for each individual user, there’s no denying that the Samsung Gear S2’s round face allows the device to pass more easily for a normal watch than its predecessor.
That said, it’s still clearly a wearable gadget that seems plasticky at first glance. It isn’t, though, as it’s got a textured stainless steel case that feels quite nice to the touch.
Taking advantage of the Gear S2’s round watch face is the addition of a rotating bezel that lets you cycle through options and features with relative ease.
As previously mentioned, it works much like the Digital Crown, but in a way that’s more natural to use — options and apps are presented on a circular wheel, so spinning the bezel in the direction you want to go feels like second nature immediately.
You can also opt for the pricier Gear S2 Classic version of the watch, which has classy leather straps and a (slightly) nicer finish.
Though Android Wear has become the standard watch platform used on most Android watches, such as the popular Moto 360 and LG Watch Urbane watches, the Gear S2 expectedly runs off the Samsung Gear platform exclusively. It’s a fine platform, though with far fewer apps available to it than Android Wear.
Still, there’s plenty to praise about the Tizen-based Samsung Gear OS. Samsung has now opened its Gear platform up to all Android smartphones running Android 4.4 and above, so you won’t need a Samsung smartphone to use the Gear S2.
Its attractive interface is easy to navigate, and allows your Gear S2 device to maintain a lot of functionality even when you’re away from your phone.
In a sporty mood? Select the ESPN watch face and get up-to-date scores and stats. If you’re a business-minded individual, you can access real-time financial figures with the Bloomberg watch face.
We should also point out that its Super AMOLED screen is probably the best we’ve seen on an Android smartwatch, achieving deep blacks and wonderfully vibrant colours. Add to that an impressive battery life of 2–3 days, and it becomes clear that this is Samsung’s best smartwatch to date.
How it competes with watches using the Android Wear platform is another matter entirely.