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Samsung Gear S2 review: Worth buying in 2018?

Samsung Gear S2
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £250
inc VAT

The clever bezel is just part of the Gear S2's great design but we're not sold on Tizen yet


Samsung Gear S2 review: Battery

I don’t know if it’s the AMOLED display, Samsung’s Exynos chipset, efficiencies on the part of Tizen, or all three, but the Gear S2’s battery life is excellent. With light use, I got two full days of use out of it, with plenty of battery to spare. This is in spite of it only having a relatively small 250mAh battery – even the smaller version of the Moto 360 2nd Gen uses a 300mAh battery. It’s a great achievement and means you can go away for the night without a having to take the charger.

It comes with a little wireless charger, which uses the Qi standard, so you can also charge it on most wireless chargers (such as those built into some Ikea furniture). The charger is magnetic, so the Gear S2 sticks to it and won’t get knocked off accidentally.

Samsung Gear S2 review: Tizen

Android Wear has come a long way of late, but Google continues to lockout manufacturers from making any significant alterations to it. Samsung’s own Tizen operating system provides that leeway, but at the cost of the support of Google itself. This can be seen in both its support for Google’s own services and its inability to make the most of Android’s notification system.

The first thing you’ll notice is that there’s no Google Maps here. If, like me, you rely on Google maps for almost everything now, having to use HERE Maps is a bit of chore – not that it’s bad per se, just different. Google knows where my home, my office, my friend’s houses and favourite bars all are, plus it has a fantastic grasp of London public transport. HERE Maps doesn’t even come close. 

Samsung Galaxy Gear S2 apps

Notifications generally work well, but they lack little niceties, such as bringing up a picture of the contact emailing you in the background. More annoyingly, you can’t get back a notification once you’ve swiped it away, with no undo function provided. It’s something I complained about vociferously with Android Wear and which has thankfully been added to more recent versions. I also failed to receive notifications for some emails, despite them appearing on my S6 and the app being enabled in the settings.

I didn’t find the voice recognition to be as good as Google’s version; it wasn’t that it got things wrong, as much as it didn’t realise I’d stopped talking and would continue to listen to background noise to find more speech. It also badgered me to use Samsung’s Messages app rather than Chomp SMS, though disobeying it didn’t seem to cause any problems I could see. These are only minor points, but they’re enough to mar the overall experience.

Samsung Gear S2 review: Verdict

The bezel is the best input device I’ve seen for a smartwatch, but having said that, smartwatches are still primarily passive devices. They show information as you need it, saving you digging out your phone, but any task that takes more than a quick tap is probably better done on your phone. A smartwatch is merely an accessory of your smartphone, and so getting the two working together in harmony is paramount.

If you have a Samsung smartphone and are looking for a smartwatch this looks to be the obvious answer. However, as a Samsung user, you probably still use a lot of Google apps and services, and you may not always get the best support for these from Tizen. On the plus side, you’ll get access to Samsung Pay when that launches in the UK, so you can pay for stuff using your watch.

If you’re using another Android smartphone then it’s a bit trickier to set up, but it’s still a great device, with an excellent design, screen and hardware. I just personally wish it was running Android Wear, I currently prefer Google’s (admittedly more-limited) operating system and have greater faith in its gradual improvement in the future – much in the way that ‘vanilla’ Android has gone from being a bit half-cooked to excellent over the last few years.

I really wished I liked Tizen more, but for me it holds back the Gear S2 and so I can’t give it full marks.

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Heart-rate monitorYes
Display size1.2in circular
Resolution360 circular
OS supportAndroid 4.4+
Battery life2-3 days
WarrantyOne year RTB
Part codeSM-R720

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