Gear S2

Samsung does some really cool things, especially when it comes to displays: curved edges, round screens, and even screens that wrap part way around your wrist! That last one was one of the things that attracted me to the Galaxy Gear S – the big, beautiful screen that wrapped around your arm. However, two aspects to the otherwise amazing wearable kept it off my wrist: it ran Tizen when Android Wear was just gaining in popularity and functionality, and you could only pair it to a Samsung phone or phablet.

This year’s Gear S – the appropriately named Gear S2 – is still powered by Tizen (rather than Android Wear), but thankfully works with any Android (so long as you’ve got 1.5GB RAM or more, and you’re running Android 4.4+). As an additional perk, it’s is “one of the most attractive wearables of IFA 2015“.

“Personally speaking, I think this is a really sharp looking smartwatch with a really interesting user-interface, and I can’t wait to try it out properly.” – Michael Fisher

Gear S2

Hardware

Gear S2 hands on 2There two versions of the Gear S2 (once referred to as codename Orbis): one that’s “classic”, and the other that’s a bit more “modern”. They both have the same innards, so other than cosmetics, the watches are basically the same.

The screen is a round 1.2-inch OLED display with a resolution of 360 x 360 (which calculates out to 302 ppi). It can connect to your watch via Bluetooth 4.1 or to WiFi (b/g/n). There’s going to be cellular connectivity in there, too – just like the previous generation.

Thanks to built-in NFC you’ll be able to use Samsung Pay right from your wrist, and you’ll be able to wirelessly charge the wearable via a magnetically-orienting Qi charger. Despite having a relatively small 250 mAh battery, Samsung promises 2.5 days of typical use (though we expect that will be cut in half if you’re using it in its “standalone” mode, despite the cellular version reportedly having a slightly larger battery).

There’s even an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance.

Software

gear-s2-uiWhile all that sounds great, there are two major stumbling block: performance and app support.

Despite having a dual-core 1GHz SoC with 512MB RAM, activities and apps on the Gear S2 aren’t always as speedy as its Android Wear counterparts (though that’s being observed on software that’s not yet final).

The second issue centers around the fact that apps written for Android and Android Wear aren’t compatible with the Tizen-powered Gear S2. Developers must rewrite their apps and publish them to Samsung’s store if they want their bits on your Samsung-clad wrist.

Given the popularity of Apple Watch and Android Wear, the amount of time developers would have to invest to support Samsung’s wearable just doesn’t sound like a profitable return on investment.

Your turn!

What are your thoughts? Can the Gear S2’s awesome hardware overcome its software shortcomings? Head down to the comments and let us know!

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