The first Gear Fit wasn’t a bad product. It was just one that wanted to be something for everyone, disappointing most in the process. Of course, 2014 was a few lifetimes ago. Much has happened in the world of wearables. Samsung, for its part, has made some strides in the space, as well, as is illustrated fairly well by the company’s smartwatch evolution from the Gear 2 to S2.
Two years after the release of the original Fit, the company is ready to give it a go. As with the original, the Gear Fit2 splits the difference between fitness tracker and smartwatch, delivering most of the former in the form factor of the latter. Of course, the device has learned a few new tricks as well, and, perhaps most importantly, the new Fit, well, fits better than its predecessor.
At a glance
- 1.5-inch Super AMOLED display
- Auto-sleep and exercise tracking
- Three days of battery life
- Sharp screen
- Good fit
- Solid battery life
- Data collection is hit or miss
- Limited app offerings
- No iOS compatibility
For other companies, a device like the Fit2 might raise concerns about cannibalizing existing smartwatch properties. For Samsung, however, it’s really just par for the course. In a briefing with the company ahead of the announcement, a rep referenced the tremendous growth of the wearable space, noting that fitness bands, unsurprisingly, account for a huge chunk of the final numbers.
Choosing between smartwatches and fitness bands is not really an either/or proposition for the company. If people buy both, why not just make both? Surely consumers will figure out which works best for them.
While there’s certainly a fair amount of overlap in functionality, the aesthetic differences are immediately clear. While the S2 was quite likely the most beautiful piece of wearable hardware the company has created, the Fit2 is decidedly more discreet, with a design more focused on function than fashion.
That’s not to say the Fit’s a bad-looking device — not at all, but like the bulk of wearables from companies like Fitbit and Jawbone, it’s not necessarily designed to be noticed as much as it’s designed to take what the world throws at it with a rugged rubberized band that latches on to either side of the 1.5-inch display. On the side are two buttons, power and back, which supplement the touchscreen functionality.
The screen’s curve has been increased over the previous generation, making it conform more closely to the curvature of the wrist. Until Samsung rolls out a display that’s flexible as well as curved, the product isn’t destined to be one-size-fits all, though I found it to be a lot more comfortable that a number of the display-sporting fitness bands I’ve tried. And for those with smaller wrists, the company has rolled out a more petite version for a two-sizes-fit-most approach.
The display is the device’s centerpiece in more ways than one. It’s sharp, it’s colorful and it’s easily read — if a bit glossy — in sunlight. The limited size and resolution means that Samsung can only do so much, but the company does a pretty solid job making the most out of things, with easy to read text and a slew of bright colors in keeping with the whole neon-clad fitness aesthetic.
By default on the main page you get the time, floors climbed, calories burned and, of course, steps walked. Pressing and holding will bring up nine pre-loaded faces, with an option to download more through the Samsung app.
Left-swiping will bring up a slew of additional analytic cards, breaking down the aforementioned data points in more detail, along with heart-rate info and notifications (which send a pleasant heartbeat-like haptic buzz when they arrive). You can rearrange the order and add and delete cards to your heart’s content.
One of the unsung additions this time is about the ability to auto-track exercise. Honestly, it’s something that should be standard on all fitness trackers, but some have been a bit behind the curve, requiring users to manually let the device know when they plan to embark upon a given fitness regimen. That option is still present, but the Fit2 will also do its best to automatically detect what you’re doing.
Unfortunately, I found the results to be… mixed, with the band losing track mid-workout and often switching between different exercises — like walking and the elliptical — mid-stride. Getting such detection perfect is no doubt difficult in a wrist-worn fitness tracker, and for the most part, the step count registered similar to other devices I was wearing — though the unit the company sent me did have some weird bugs here and there, flashing unreasonably high step and floor counts.
The company assured me that it was an issue with this particular unit, and have sent me a replacement. I’ll update here after I’ve had a little time with the new product. The heart-rate monitoring, meanwhile, seems pretty spot on, measuring in at regular intervals, or manually, if you so choose. I’m currently at 68 bpm. NBD.
Sleep tracking is tough to get right. It’s a bit of a mixed bag here, but the Fit2 does seem to do a better job tracking overall sleep time than a number of wrist-worn devices I’ve tried out in the past. Rather than breaking things down into deep, light and REM, the Fit2’s sleep tracking is largely motion based, registering things as light, restless or motionless.
The Fit2 also features built-in GPS tracking, though I have to admit I didn’t really get much use out of it, as someone who does most of his working out at his local gym’s hamster wheel. Still, it’s nice to have the feature built-in, particularly for those who want to go on a run sans-phone. The built-in storage is also handy for that, making it possible to keep your data saved (as I had to do for a few days before getting my hands on an S7 — the only device that was compatible ahead of launch).
Local storage also means you can drag music directly onto the device to listen to offline, just like in the good old days of the iPod nano. There’s Spotify compatibility here too, making it possible to access playlists on the smallish screen, but, for now, at least, that requires being directly connected to a handset, which, at launch will include any device with Android 4.4 and up. iPhone support is likely on the roadmap, somewhere far-ish down the road.
As for the 200 mAh battery, I got around three full days without a charge. That should prove sufficient so as to not feel tethered to the charger — and to get some decent sleep tracking under your belt.
A decent fit
The second Fit is a marked improvement of generation one, bringing some nice new features to the table and an overall more well-rounded experience. Given Samsung’s concurrent investment in the smartwatch space, it is, perhaps, not the most necessary device in the world, stripping functionality and third-party apps for the sake of the fitness band form factor.
At $179, it’s pretty reasonably priced — that’s $20 cheaper than the Fitbit Blaze’s MSRP, for instance. It’s a fairly well-rounded little device, designed to be largely out of the way until you need it. The Fit2 isn’t going to catch the exercise wearable market by storm, but it’s a solid choice for those looking for a device with a lot more up its sleeve than an entry level tracker.