Samsung’s wearable attempts over the past few years have been pretty underwhelming. Either they lacked necessary features, or they missed the mark in terms of design. Worst of all, only one of them was compatible with non-Samsung hardware. In 2015 however Samsung changed all of that with the Gear S2. With a striking new design (both on the Gear S2 and the Gear S2 Classic) and one unique and frankly awesome feature, they might have one of the best smartwatches on the market. Should you buy it? Let’s find out.
- 1.2″ AMOLED Display – 360×360
- Exynos 3250 Processor
- Tizen OS
- 512MB RAM
- 4GB Storage
- 250mAh Battery
- Qi Wireless Charging
The Gear S2 Classic is Samsung’s “premium” version of the Gear S2. It features swappable watch bands and also a ridged bezel. That bezel design really adds a lot of class compared to the standard version. Rather than looking futuristic, the Classic looks, well, classic. It really looks like a normal watch.
The hardware overall is actually pretty nice. The entire body is made from metal and it feels great. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it feels premium, but it certainly doesn’t feel cheap. One huge downside in my opinion however is the size. Personally I’m a huge fan of larger watches such as the LG G Watch R and Moto 360, so the Gear S2 Classic felt pretty small on my wrist. Of course this comes down to preference. If you have smaller wrists, the size of this watch will be awesome for you.
The highlight feature of the Gear S2 Classis is without a doubt the rotating bezel. With a smaller display that many other watches, a touch-based interface would make it difficult to see what’s on the screen. With the rotating bezels you can easily navigate through notifications, apps, and more. I’ll get more into how the bezel affects the software in a minute, but for now let’s talk about the actual hardware of this bezel.
At a glance the bezel on this watch might seem as if it would rotate smoothly with no tactile feedback, but in reality it’s just the opposite. When you rotate the bezel you can feel it click and each of those clicks is visible on screen as well within the software. On click usually means you’ve moved one screen over. It’s by far the best feature I’ve seen implemented on a smartwatch since the beginning.
On board the Gear S2 Classic is Samsung’s own Tizen software. While yes, Tizen is still not the OS I’d run on my smartphone, I actually prefer it over Android on my watch. Android Wear is a great platform, but with the Gear S2 you can see that Samsung really took the time to optimize the entire interface for a watch. Rather than a cards based interface, Tizen uses a collection of widgets.
Turn on the display and go to the right of your watch face and you’ll see all your widgets. These might include a calendar, your step counter, music controls, your daily agenda, or a news ticker. You can fully custimize the layout of these widgets to better suit your needs and you can enable even more of them through applications you download.
Turn to the left of your display and you’ll find your notifications. These will be split up by application with each one taking up one screen. You can filter which notifications appear on the watch through the Gear app on your connected smartphone as well.
Where the software hurts just a bit is in third-party applications. There are quite a few to choose from, but they aren’t as easy to install as they are on Android Wear. With Android Wear I can download any app I want from Google Play and if it has a watch app, it’ll be installed. With the Gear S2 Classic, I have to seperately download each app from Samsung’s app store.
Where the software runs into issues is with pairing. Twice within the first week of usage my Gear S2 Classic just decided to forget that my Nexus 6P existed. I tried reboots, pairing through the phone, everything, but to no avail. The only way to repair my watch was to factory reset the watch. Disconnects are something I can certainly understand, but completely forgetting the connected phone is something that really needs to be worked out.
The Gear S2 Classic packs a 1.2” AMOLED display which is pretty nice. Since Tizen uses a mostly black color scheme the watch also benefits from better battery life since it doesn’t have to light up those pixels. Overall there aren’t any complaints at all with this display.
Battery Life & Charging
Even with it’s slim and small body, the Gear S2 Classic manages to pack enough battery capacity to last quite a while. Most days I can get through the day, no problem. There are times where I’ll cut it pretty close and be near 10% when it’s time to go to sleep, but overall battery has been solid. Generally I use the device without “ambient display” turned on and battery is notably better without it. With the feature turned on I’ll make it to the end of the day, but that’s it.
For charging, Samsung has finally ditched their proprietary adapters. The Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic both use wireless charging over the Qi standard. The included dock looks and works a lot like the one found on the Moto 360, but with included magents for better alignments. There’s a screen that comes up when charging that works just like a bedside clock and charging is speedy with no issues at all.
Pre-installed on the Gear S2 Classic is a leather band which is pretty decent. It’s nothing amazing by any means, but it certainly feels more premium that a silicone band. As I mentioned eariler this is a smaller watch, so the band is also pretty small. It measures in at 18mm and looks a bit small on my wrist. Of course you can easily replace this band with any other 18mm band you have.
So overall, is the Samsung Gear S2 Classic a watch worth buying? If you have a Samsung device, without a doubt. If you’re using another device, you might want to look elsewhere first. In either case however, I can’t say you’d be dissappointed with this device. It looks great, has well thought-out software, and works with just about everything. It works best with a Samsung device connected, but it will work with any Android phone running Android 4.4 and up with at least 1.5GB of RAM. Samsung has even announced that iOS connectivity is coming soon, which is a huge plus.
What’s not a huge plus is the price tag. With a starting price of $349, this is not a cheap watch. While you can save $50 by picking up the stanard Gear S2, personally I’d spring for the classic since it has replaceable bands.
If you’re interested in picking up the Samsung Gear S2 Classic, check out the links below to check it out!