Samsung has announced three new smartwatch devices at MWC this year, including the successor to last year’s Galaxy Gear, the Gear 2, as well as a sleeker version called the Neo, and a fitness- and fashion-focused wristband device called the Samsung Gear Fit.
The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo both offer companion features for a user’s smartphone, which include the ability to receive notifications around incoming calls, texts and other communications. They have a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display capable of 320×320 resolution, as well as a 1.0GHz dual core processor and a 2.0 megapixel autofocus camera. They can record video at 720p, and also support microphone input. The Gear 2 also operates as a standalone music player, with easy transfer of music from your phone so it can be used independently.
Built-in health sensors include heart rate monitors, pedometers and sleep monitoring. Plus, the Gear watches are now based on Tizen OS, instead of on Android, despite very little outward changes to the OS itself. They each have an accelerometer and heart gyroscope, but despite the bevy of sensors, and the comparable specs, the changed OS now allows the device to get up to six days of usage under light use conditions, or between two and three normally. This sounds like it should exceed the first generation (Samsung says it’s three times longer-lasting).
Samsung also played up the ecosystem development for Gear 2, with many more apps, as well as direct TV connectivity via a built-in IR blaster. The company is also finally opening up the Gear SDK for third-party developers. It’s also compatible with 16 different devices in the Galaxy lineup, instead of the one (1!) the original Gear worked with at launch (the Note 3).
The Gear Fit offers the same pedometer, heart rate, sleep and other activity monitoring (plus compatibility with 20 Galaxy devices), with an accelerometer and gyro built-in, but it has a smaller display and sleeker profile. It also provides notifications around SMS, calls, email and apps, but it weighs less, and has a three to four-day battery life under normal usage (though only five under light usage conditions). The Gear Fit seems like a more Pebble-style approach to smartwatches, with minimal features and lightweight design. Samsung also seems to see it as the more stylish option, and provides swappable straps just like on the Gear 2.
The Gear Fit allows for two-way interaction with Samsung phones, including the ability to receive or reject calls and provide pre-set responses to incoming messages. Both the Gear 2 (and Gear 2 Neo) plus the Gear Fit ship on April 11 in nearly 150 countries.