Hands on: Samsung Gear Fit 2

Samsung gets sweaty again with the Gear Fit 2, and we tried it on

When you think about fitness trackers, chances are your mind jumps directly to Fitbit, not Samsung. Ever since the company released the Gear Fit back it 2014, it’s taken a hiatus from fitness trackers. Now, Samsung is getting back in the game with the new and improved Gear Fit 2.

We took a look at Samsung’s newest fitness tracker to see what’s improved and whether or not the Gear Fit 2 is strong enough to beat Fitbit at its own game. These are just our first impressions, so keep an eye out for our full review.

A sporty new look

Most fitness trackers are sporty and not very stylish. Usually, you get a silicon strap, a button or two, and a few clinking lights to show your progress if you’re lucky. Occasionally, you’ll run into a small black and white screen like on Fitbit’s Charge and Alta, but most fitness trackers eschew the screen altogether. Not so with Samsung’s Gear Fit 2. Just like the original, it has a large color screen that’s set in a silicon band, but this time, the screen curves elegantly to sit comfortably on your wrist.

It doesn’t look out of place with a t-shirt and jeans or a button-up shirt and a suit, and it would fit in just fine at the gym.

Although the 1.5-inch curved AMOLED screen on the Gear Fit 2 is technically smaller than the 1.84-inch screen on the original model, it boasts double the screen width, so you can see more on the tiny display. The wider screen certainly is much easier to navigate than the slimmer, less touch sensitive displays on most fitness trackers. The watch face is customizable, too.

The inevitable tradeoff of having a wider screen is that you end up with a wider device. On large wrists, that hardly matters, but for those with slim wrists, the Gear Fit 2 is simply less attractive looking than the Fitbit Alta or the Misfit Ray, both of which are slim and pretty. Samsung did make an effort to appease women, though, by offering a small band size and a magenta pink color option in addition to the dark blue and black bands.

The small band did fit much better than the large, though the Gear Fit 2 still looked ungainly on my spindly lady wrist. Could I wear it at the gym or on a run? Sure, but I would never wear it 24/7, which is, after all, the entire point of a fitness tracker. Ladies, buy a Fitbit Alta instead if you want a fitness tracker with a display, a Bellabeat Leaf if you want something that looks like jewelry, or a Misfit Ray if you want something in between.

However, there is good news for men. The Gear Fit 2 looks great on larger male wrists. It doesn’t look out of place with a t-shirt and jeans or a button-up shirt and a suit, and it would fit in just fine at the gym. Fitness trackers are rarely stylish, but at least the Gear Fit 2 is better looking than the outlandish, boxy Fitbit Blaze and the Microsoft Band with its awkward clasp.

It’s also less bulky than most smartwatches and definitely less chunky than your average smart fitness watch from Polar or Garmin. It’s even water resistant with an IP68 rating, so it should be safe from rain and splashes of water.

When you combine its relatively inoffensive looks with its truly stellar specs and functionality, the Gear Fit 2 starts looking like a great proposition.

A fitness tracker with notifications

The Gear Fit 2 may be a fitness tracker, but it boasts some smartwatch features, too. Any notification that appears on your Android phone will pop up on the Gear Fit 2 if you so wish. You can get calendar alerts, calls, and texts, too. Although you can’t use voice dictation to send unique replies to texts or calls, you can send canned replies or emoji. Likewise, you can’t download apps on it like you would on a smartwatch, but the ability to see notifications is very helpful.

It’s slick and polished – much like a smartwatch.

In addition to these smartwatch-like features, the Gear Fit 2 boasts GPS and a heart rate monitor, so you can really keep tabs on your workout. The screen provides real-time data while you’re exercising, and it’s nice that you can see everything without having to sync up with an app on your phone. Naturally, the Gear Fit 2 tracks your steps, distance travelled, calories burned, sleep, and other common fitness stats. It also has a barometer, too, to detect your elevation.

Automatic workout tracking is the coolest feature on the Gear Fit 2, though. It knows when you start running, biking, or working out on the elliptical; and it can automatically tell what activity you’re doing, most of the time. You will have to let it know you’re doing yoga, pilates, and other activities that are harder to sense, but that’s typical of fitness trackers. We didn’t get to test the auto-tracking feature during our brief hands on, but we’ll let you know how it goes in our final review.

Another interesting feature that makes the Gear Fit 2 stand out from the crowd of fitness trackers is its ability to stream music directly from Spotify to a pair of Bluetooth earbuds or headphones. Sadly, this only works if your smartphone maintains a connection to your Gear Fit 2, since Spotify requires an internet connection to function.

However, if you happen to have your own workout playlists, you can download them onto the Gear Fit 2 for phone-free music while you exercise. The device packs 4GB of storage onboard, which should hold hundreds of songs.

The Exynos 3250 processor and 512MB of RAM ensure that the device runs smoothly, especially since that’s the same amount of RAM that powers most smartwatches. It’s slick and polished – much like a smartwatch.

As for battery life, the Gear Fit 2 should last three to four days on a single charge, though if you stream a lot of Spotify from your phone via Bluetooth, it may run out faster. Luckily, it’s easy enough to charge with the magnetic charger.

Fitness tracking is better with S Health updates

Since the Gear Fit 2 boasts a full color AMOLED screen, it’s very easy to see all your fitness data at a glance. The wearable runs Samsung’s Tizen OS, just like the Gear S2 smartwatch, but since the Fit 2 is rectangular instead of round and focused on fitness instead of information, the operating system looks quite different.

There’s a lot of swiping and scrolling involved to view your fitness metrics, but it’s nice to have it all there. You swipe through several screens, including your notifications, calories burned, workouts, steps, floors climbed, heart rate, water intake, caffeine intake, and the leaderboard where you can compete with your friends.

Inside each of these menus there is more detail if you tap and scroll through all the data. For example, if you go into the workout menu, you can tap to see all the details from your last workout, including a map of your route. There, you can share your workout on Facebook, if you want to brag. Inside the workout menu, you can also start a new workout with a specific exercise.

Each menu is laid out in a similar way, so it’s a bit difficult to navigate through all that data. There’s almost too much going on at your wrist, and it can be overwhelming to go through everything. That said, all the data is helpful and interesting – it just takes some time to learn how to find it all. Luckily, the redesigned S Health app should help you sort through all the data and get meaningful results on your phone or tablet.

We’ll have to take a deeper dive into the Gear Fit 2’s operating system to let you know how useable it really is once we fully review it.

Conclusion

If fitness trackers are your thing, but you want the notifications of a smartwatch, too, the Gear Fit 2 was made with your needs in mind. It’s a fitness-focused device that handles notifications just like a smartwatch would, minus the stand-alone apps and wimpy battery life. It works with any Android smartphone, and Samsung says it’s working to get iOS compatibility, too.

Extras like Spotify streaming via Bluetooth and the 4GB of onboard storage are intriguing, as is the automatic workout tracking, but both bear further testing before we can truly say if the Gear Fit 2 can tackle the Fitbit to win the title of best fitness band. It costs $180 and you can pre-order it on June 3.

Buy on Amazon  Buy on Best Buy

Highs

  • Wide curved display shows stats
  • Heart rate tracking
  • Tons of fitness metrics
  • Notification support

Lows

  • Still too big for the small wristed
  • The interface is too dense
  • No iOS support — yet
Deals

Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear S3 smartwatches get big price cuts

The Apple Watch Series 3 and Samsung Gear S3 are at some of the lowest prices we've seen since so far this year. With discounts from Amazon and Walmart, now is a great time to find spring savings on wearables.
Wearables

Looking to get into shape? Snag one of these fitness trackers

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Outdoors

The best sustainable outdoor gear for Earth Day and beyond

Take some time to clean up trash on a highly-used hiking trail for Earth Day, but don't stop there. Take the next step by choosing only sustainable gear for your outdoor adventures.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for April 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Wearables

Army uses modified Microsoft HoloLens 2 for ‘real-life game of Call of Duty’

The U.S. Army gave CNBC an exclusive look at its modified Microsoft HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset. The Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, provides various functions for training and combat.
Wearables

Now is the time to pick up and wear a discounted TicWatch smartwatch

Mobvoi is running a promotion on two of its desirable smartwatches, the TicWatch C2 and the TicWatch Pro, where you can get 20-percent off the usual price. This brings our favorite, the C2, down to just $160.
Wearables

The ultimate golf watch isn’t a smartwatch. It’s Hublot’s Big Bang Unico Golf

Forget golf smartwatches, the Hublot Big Bang Unico Golf is the ultimate timepiece to wear out on the links. It's the world's first mechanical golf watch, and will keep score for you throughout the game.
Wearables

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch: Is more expensive better?

Samsung has finally launched its latest smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. The device is aimed at sporty people and is clearly well-designed. But is the new device better than Samsung's flagship watch?
Deals

Smartwatch deal: The Apple Watch Series 3 just dropped to $199

Now’s a perfect time to grab the last-gen (but still awesome) Apple Watch Series 3. It's a great wearable for those looking to hop into the world of smartwatches, and this limited-time deal makes the Series 3 even more attractive.
Deals

Apple Watch Series 3, Fitbit Charge 2 see price cuts from Walmart and B&H

Save around $50 on the Fitbit Charge 2 from Amazon and more than $100 on the Apple Watch Series 3 at B&H Photo Video and Walmart. These may be slightly older models, but they're still excellent fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Health & Fitness

From the office to the gym, these are the best smartwatches for fitness

The line between smartwatch and fitness tracker continues to blur. To help narrow the field of the best fitness watches, we sifted through what's available and curated a list of devices worthy of a spot on your wrist.
Product Review

This $295 smartwatch has the Armani name, but not the looks

The Armani Exchange AX Connected smartwatch does everything right. It has strong technical features, a good design, and isn’t over-priced. But is subtle brand name appeal enough to recommend it?
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!