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Samsung Gear Fit 2: The best, and least expensive, GPS music playing activity band available

  • Editors' rating
    8.7 Outstanding
  • $179.99

Pros

  • Lightweight comfortable band form factor
  • Vibrant AMOLED display
  • Stair tracking
  • Supports GPS tracking and onboard music playback
  • Functional software on the Gear Fit 2 and Android smartphone

Cons

  • Limited battery life, especially with GPS and music
  • Non-customizable workout displays
  • No alarm functionality

There are very few GPS-enabled wearables that also provide you with the ability to play music wirelessly without a phone at hand. Samsung's latest Gear Fit 2 brings both music and GPS tracking together in a sleek, attractive, and light weight band form factor.

The Gear Fit 2 isn't designed for the die hard runner, cyclist, hiker, or gym athlete looking to track every detail of their workout with a customized display to capture data in fine detail. It's designed for the person who wants 24/7 activity and sleep tracking that also wants to capture the basics of their run, bike ride, or time in the gym. For this user, it's tough to beat the $179.99 price and capability of the Samsung Gear Fit 2.

Specifications of the Samsung Gear Fit2 include:

  • Processor: 1 GHz dual-core Samsung Exynos
  • Display: 1.5 inch curved Super AMOLED Gorilla Glass 3 display with 216 x 432 pixels resolution
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Storage: 4GB internal for music storage
  • Sensors: GPS, optical heart rate, gyro, accelerometer, barometer
  • Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Water and dust resistance: IP68
  • Battery: 200 mAh with 3-4 day typical usage time
  • Dimensions: 51.2 x 24.5 x 11.9 mm and 30 grams (Large) (Small is 28 grams)

Similar to the Samsung Gear S2, the Gear Fit 2 is powered by the Tizen OS and offers a familiar app experience.

The Gear Fit 2 has an IP68 rating so you can workout with it in the rain, but don't take it swimming or into the shower. It's great to have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for easily syncing your workout data when you get back into range of one of the available connections.

Hardware

The Gear Fit 2 is available in black, blue, and red. The blue and red are a light navy blue and burgundy shade so all three look great at the gym and at the office. The Gear Fit 2 is very light and it will disappear on your wrist while remaining fairly secure with the press in locking mechanism.

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The display is vibrant and looks fantastic in the dark and low light situations. It's pretty terrible in bright sunlight though, especially if you also have sunglasses on. I tried to record my first five mile leg of Ragnar in the early afternoon bright sun and couldn't see the display before I had to take the handoff and start running so I was unable to initiate the start of my run.

I later discovered there is an outdoor mode buried down in Settings > Display > Brightness that punches the brightness level up to 11 for a five minute period. I would love to see the ability to use the double press action to initiate outdoor mode since I could see the display well at the 11 power level. Most of the time, I kept the display at the five or six, out of 10, level.

The display functions in a single long orientation, which works well for a wrist band and the curved screen. Samsung has its apps optimized for this orientation and I was pleased with the functionality of the Gear Fit 2 and its display. It is a touchscreen display so you swipe up, down, left, and right to navigate around the device.

There are two buttons on the right side, a shorter one that toggles between the watch face and app launcher and a longer one that functions as a back button. You can raise your wrist to turn on the display or press either button.

The band can be removed, similar to how you can remove the two sides of the band on the Gear S2. The heart rate monitor is found on the back with a couple of gold connectors that make the connection with the cradle to charge it up.

To secure the band to your wrist, you simply slide the bitter end through a loop and then press it into one of the holes in the strap. I never had it fall off while running or cycling, but I did not use it in the gym where I think it could pop off with lots of wrist movement.

Gear Fit 2 software

The first display that appears when the Gear Fit 2 turns on is the watch face. You can select from a number of watch faces on the Gear Fit 2 itself or via your Android phone through the Samsung Gear application. Press and hold on the watch face to choose, and even stylize, the watch face you prefer. Watch faces may show the time, battery level, fitness data, and more.

One swipe from left to right takes you to the notification area. The type of notifications that appear here are customized by you on the Android Samsung Gear app. Swipe from right to left off the watch face to view various widgets. These can include your activity summary, exercise launcher, step status, heart rate status, water or coffee consumption, and more. It's up to you which widgets you want shown and what information they display with a maximum of eight widgets available to be active on the Gear Fit 2.

Press the small app launcher button to go to the app launcher where all of your apps, not just your widgets, can be found. The app icons appear in a vertical list with small icons. Apps include exercise, 24 hour log, steps, music player, floors, settings, heart rate, water, caffeine, find my phone, timer, stopwatch, and together. You can also find, install, and rearrange apps in the Samsung Gear store on your phone.

After selecting exercise, you will find that the Gear Fit 2 supports up to 15 different activities. These include running, cycling, hiking, step machine, treadmill, pilates, yoga, crunches, squats, and more.

I highly encourage you to jump into these apps and view all of the overwhelming amount of data that is collected and presented by the Gear Fit 2. While all of this data can be viewed in the S Health app on your phone, it's fun and convenient to check it out on the Gear Fit 2. Everything flies on the Gear Fit 2 and it has also been rock stable for me for the last couple weeks.

One of the cool functions of the Gear Fit 2 is the ability for automatic activity tracking. I walk from the train to my office, about a mile each way, and the Gear Fit 2 picks that activity up each morning and afternoon to capture it separately from just standard steps. You can also use the auto tracking for your other activities, but you will capture GPS data and more if you initiate a start and stop of your workouts.

The Gear Fit 2 is designed for the more casual athlete so there is no ability to customize your workout displays. For example, if you choose to track a run then you will see screens with elapsed time, distance, calories burned, average pace, average speed, and heart rate. You have to manually swipe through these displays as you are running to see the various pieces of data.

Swiping down from the top of the display presents you with shortcuts to brightness, do not disturb, and the music player. Touchscreen controls let you play/pause, skip forward, or skip backward. Swipe up from the botton of the display to select from a number of ways to select what music you want to enjoy.

You can choose to control the music on your phone with the Gear Fit 2, similar to how most bands work. Even better, you can sync music to the Gear Fit 2 and enjoy music streaming to your Bluetooth headset while your phone stays at home. Music played flawlessly for me with the Jaybird Freedom headset.

Android software

There are two pieces of software to install on your compatible Android smartphone in order to have a complete experience with the Gear Fit 2. The first, essential piece of software is the Samsung Gear software that manages the connection and settings of your Gear Fit 2. Samsung still hasn't released a version of this software for iOS, but if it ever does then you should be able to use the Gear Fit 2 and Gear S2 with an iPhone.

The Samsung Gear software is used to connect your Gear Fit 2 to your phone and then select watch faces, apps, specific notifications, sync music to your Gear Fit 2, find your gear, and control all of the settings. While the Gear Fit 2 runs Tizen like the Gear S2, there are fewer available apps because of the limited screen space and orientation.

You can setup quick messages so you can respond to a text from the Gear Fit 2 since there is no text entry option. You can enable an app to launch with a double press of the home button on the Gear Fit 2.

The other app you should install is S Health. Last month Samsung released a major update to S Health that finally brought other connected services, such as Strava, RunKeeper, and more, to Samsung's rather closed platform.

S Health is a very functional and customizable application with tiles available for various forms of exercise and health tracking. There is a large number of available partner apps, but I personally don't use any of them. These apps include fitness, nutrition, health, and more services that often require some type of subscription.

You can connect a number of Bluetooth and ANT+ accessories, including the Garmin speed and cadence sensors I have mounted to my bike, in order to make S Health more valuable for data tracking of your events.

Now that a number of connected services are available for S Health, my last wish is to see a web interface to be able to run reports and view my data on a bigger display.

Competition

As previously mentioned, there are very few GPS-enabled wearables that provide you with the ability to store and stream music offline. The Moto 360 Android Wear supports it, but it has a very weak Bluetooth radio that will make you want to smash it in frustration. The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music is a good option, but it's not very comfortable wearing the watch beyond the time you workout. Timex and Adidas make GPS smartwatches, but the reviews for both are horrid and I would never recommend such a purchase.

So as you can see, if music playback is important to you then the Samsung Gear Fit 2 may be the best choice currently available. The Apple Watch plays music wonderfully, but there is no GPS so you need to bring along your iPhone.

There are a number of GPS-enabled wearables, some from Garmin, Polar, and Suunto that are focused on the serious athlete and others from Fitbit and Microsoft that are geared towards the more casual athlete. None of these support music playback.

The very first device I thought of when I saw the Gear Fit 2 was the Microsoft Band 2. The Band 2 is a solid device at $175 that works with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. However, it is not as comfortable or as compact as the Gear Fit 2. If I was to choose between these two, I would definitely select the Gear Fit 2 with its gorgeous display, more useful information on the device, and ability to enjoy music during a workout.

The Garmin Vivosmart HR+ also looks similar to the Gear Fit 2, but has a more limited app experience with a monochrome display. There is no music playback on that device, but it is rated for 5 ATM so you can take it swimming.

Daily usage experiences and conclusions

In my quest to find a wearable that plays music without a phone, frustration with finding a device had me change my philosophy so I do pack a phone along in a belt pack so I can enjoy music and also have a safety net in case of an accident. I'm attached to my Garmin Fenix 3 HR and don't think any other wearable will get me to leave it behind.

That said, the Fenix 3 HR is very expensive, large, and designed for people who are serious about tracking a multitude of activities in fine detail. If I was looking for an all-day activity tracker that offers the ability for GPS tracking and music playback then it would be a no-brainer to pick up the inexpensive Samsung Gear Fit 2.

I was pleased to learn that the Gear Fit 2 also tracks flights of stairs since this statistic seems to have been rather exclusive to Fitbit in the past. The automatic activity tracking is useful for some sports, but you get more detailed information when you start an activity manually on the band.

While you can export your cycle data in GPX format, for some reason run data is not allowed to be exported. My hang-up with this exportability was somewhat relieved when Samsung added external service syncing in the latest update to S Health, so I am satisfied with the S Health ecosystem now.

The battery is advertised to last three to four days in typical use with up to nine hours for GPS tracking. In my experiences, I saw the battery burn down at a rate of almost 40 percent an hour when tracking my run with GPS while playing music on my Bluetooth headphones. When using just GPS, I saw a burn rate of about 30 percent per hour so I might be able to run a marathon with the Gear Fit 2, but it's best to charge it up every other day if you plan to track your activity, sleep, and a regular workout every day or two. Long battery life is one reason I went all in with the Garmin Fenix 3 HR.

One function I cannot believe is missing is an alarm clock. I figured the Gear Fit 2 would have smart alarm functionality like most all other bands, which wakes you during a light phase of your sleep. There isn't even a manual alarm clock on the Gear Fit 2, which boggles my mind.

The Gear Fit 2 is extremely comfortable, has a vibrant display (except when in direct sunlight), has a ton of functionality in a rather small band form factor, and is reasonably priced.

Specifications

Miscellaneous
Sensors accelerometer, barometer, gyro sensor, heart rate
Color Category Black
Color black
Body Material Aluminum
Max Depth of Water Resistance 5 ft
Compliant Standards IP68
Protection IP68 water resistant, dust resistant
Processor
Clock Speed 1 GHz
Communications
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.2, IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Battery
Run Time (Up To) 4 day(s)
Technology lithium ion
Capacity 200 mAh
Style
Product type GPS Sport watch
Header
Brand Samsung
Product Line Samsung
Model Gear Fit2
Packaged Quantity 1
General
Size 1.5 inch
Wearing Style wrist
Clock Display Yes
Integrated Components heart rate sensor, navigation
Set Goals Yes
Tracking Data activity, sleep activity, steps taken, time, calories burned, distance, floors climbed, heart rate
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen
Touchscreen Technology capacitive
Band
Size fits wrists 155-210 mm
Fits Wrist Size 6.1 in - 8.27 in
Features
Sensors accelerometer, barometer, gyro sensor, heart rate
Dimensions & Weight
Width 1 in
Depth 11.9 mm
Height 2 in
Weight 1.06 oz
OS Provided
Type Tizen OS
CPU
Manufacturer Samsung
Connectivity
Wireless Interface IEEE 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2

Where To Buy

Price
$179.99

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Where To Buy

Samsung Gear Fit 2 (black, large)

Part Number: SM-R3600DAAXAR
Price
$179.99