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March 26, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:14am

Everything you need to know about Samsung’s Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches

The smartwatches are aimed at sport enthusiasts.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

Korean manufacturer Samsung launched two successors to its Galaxy Gear smartwatch at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February 2014: the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo.

CBR tells you five things you need to know about the latest specs, prices, competitors and reviews.

1. Design

The watches are designed to be sleeker and lighter than Samsung’s original £300 Galaxy Gear, which was criticised for having only a single day of battery life, a limited selection of apps and a clunky camera.

Both models are 10mm thick and come with removable straps, which include charcoal black, gold brown and wild orange for Gear 2, and charcoal black, mocha grey and wild orange for Gear 2 Neo.

Most notably, the Android operating system that powered Galaxy Gear has been ditched in favour of Samsung’s own Tizen software, which it hopes will offer better connectivity and integration.

The all-metal Gear 2 weighs 68g and has moved the 2-megapixel camera that includes 720p HD video capture to the watch-face itself, whereas the plastic Neo weighs 55g and has no camera.

Both watches have the same 1.63-inch 320×320 AMOLED screen as their predecessor and use a faster dual-core 1GHz processor with 512MB of RAM.

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They’re also dustproof and water-resistant, and feature a 300mAh battery with up to three days of standby time, a built-in speaker and mic, 4GB of storage, and a heart rate sensor and pedometer to measure stress levels, sleep and exercise (with or without a smartphone).

2. Application

The watches are meant to act as a companion device for about 16 of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets. Calls can be taken via the wrist, while the screen notifies users on incoming emails, phone calls, text messages and social media updates without having to check their phone.

Samsung wearers can download apps from the watch’s app store, which currently has 23 apps that are designed to improve lifestyle.

A WatchON Remote app, paired with the Gear 2’s inbuilt IR blaster, controls electronic devices like a TV or video recorder, while Sleep Genius is designed to track sleep cycles and improve sleep quality by waking users up gradually.

Other standalone apps so far include Runtastic’s fitness tracker app, an iHeartRadio streaming radio app, an events reminder app and other fitness apps. Songs can also be loaded and played when paired with a Bluetooth headset.

Like startup Omate’s TrueSmart, Samsung is looking to find the best apps on the market after releasing its own Tizen software development kit (SDK) for developers.

3. What do people say about them?

Although the watch has not yet been released, CNET’s Scott Stein said the prototype version of Gear 2 Neo "feels loud and big" next to a Pebble Steel.

The heart rate monitor, he added, responded quickly and gave "a readout within seconds" after testing it on his wrist.

Esat Dedezade, a staff writer for Stuff, said both watches have addressed most of the original Gear’s design flaws, while the camera is "far more discreet" than before.

"They’re also more useful than the original Gear as they can play music without your smartphone – no more carrying your phablet around while you run," he added.

Commenting on the AMOLED display, Chris Martin from PC Advisor said: "Looks gorgeous with good contrast and the eye-popping colour that we’re now accustomed to with Samsung products. It’s nice and responsive to the touch.

"The interface looks very similar to that of the Galalaxy Gear. Navigation is simple and easy to get acquainted with and the physical home button really helps."

4. Competitors

Samsung joins as the market for smartwatch technology grows increasingly competitive. In the next three years, it could skyrocket to $30-$50bn as hardware improves and sensors and batteries get better, according to a report by Credit Suisse.

The likes of $249 Pebble Steel, which has already received positive reviews, Meta, Omate’s TrueSmart and Sony’s SmartWatch 2 are all trying to stake a claim.

And of course there’s Apple, whose iWatch is also rumoured to be big on fitness, Google and Microsoft, which are expected to enter the market later this year.

5. Price

The Gear 2 will be priced at $299, while sister device Gear 2 Neo will cost $199.

AT&T said it expects to ship the devices in April, discounting both by $50 if you purchase them alongside the Galaxy S5.

Both devices are due to reach consumers on April 11 in parts of Asia and in the US.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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