The Gear Fit 2 is a premium fitness tracker with smartwatch capabilities. Unlike other products in the Gear line-up, such as the Gear 360 and Gear VR, the Fit 2 isn’t restricted to Samsung smartphone owners and is compatible with all recent Android phones.
Fitted with a GPS, heart rate monitor, accelerometer, gyro and a barometer, you’ll be hard-pressed to think of something the Fit 2 doesn’t automatically track. The device also lets to manually track things that can’t be tracked by sensors, such as the amount of water or, more worryingly coffee you drink.
In terms of activities available to track, there are simply too many to mention, but suffice to say, whether you hike, row, practice yoga, run or wish to record activity on machines in the gym, the Gear Fit 2 is aiming to be your number one fitness companion.The device also aims to encourage sharing your fitness, with Facebook sharing and the option to challenge friends who also have S Health.
Now that we’ve run through the features, I want to break the review into the good and the bad.
The Fit 2 - whether on a male or female wrist - looks great, is light and unobtrusive. While there’s no doubt that it looks like a fitness tracker, it’s far more subtle than some other designs out there.
The screen is bright, with rich colours, and while the resolution is fairly average, it’s only really noticeable when you realise how little of your texts, emails and social media alerts can fit on screen at one time.
On that note, the smartwatch-light approach is nicely managed. Text messages give you the option to reply with one of three ‘quick auto responses’. They are pretty useful, though a lot of my friends did start to question why I began replying to them with ‘roger that’, sounding like a World War 1 pilot.
Music can be exported directly to the Gear Fit 2’s onboard storage, however as we live in an age where MP3s are becoming a thing of the past this may not be as useful as Samsung hope. I personally stream all my music through Google Play Music, which usually plays second fiddle to Spotify, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the Fit 2 gave me the ability to skip tracks from the watch with ease.
Customization options are a nice touch, with a number of free-to-download watch faces available. As with all these things, there are also premium watch faces to buy, if that’s the kind of thing you want to spend your money on.
In terms of activities, the watch excelled when hiking; far surpassing previous experiences hiking with a running watch. Everything from the elevation stats to heart rate tracking, followed by the surprisingly detailed summary page upon completion really give the feeling of reward after a particularly taxing hike.
Finally, the battery life was certainly acceptable. My previous smartwatch experience with the original Moto360 and its barely-20 hour battery life was thankfully not replicated here. I got between 50 hours while actively tracking hikes and runs, and up to 60 hours use when only tracking general walking. While not remarkable, I never felt cheated when the battery reminder popped up.
Now onto the cons. I should say, while they aren’t plentiful, one in particular for me is a deal breaker.
To begin with, the app itself, S Health is, quite simply, cluttered and unintuitive. It feels like the result of dozens of clumsy additions to an aging design that wasn’t built to handle the new features and, in my opinion, feels in dire need of an overhaul.
Tracking data, such as runs from previous days is far more fiddly than it should be and after a few weeks have passed, becomes so inaccessible it doesn’t feel worth searching for it.
On that note, there’s zero web access, with all data restricted to the app. If Garmin Connect, Google Fit and dozens of alternatives offer it, why not S Health? It just seems ill-conceived as a whole.
Beyond issues with the app, the watch has a few annoying quirks, too. Occasionally you’ll check the 24 hour log to find that the watch claims it wasn’t on your wrist for a period of time in which it definitely was.
Secondly, the floors reading can be extremely unpredictable. For the first three weeks it was way off. After spending a day sat at my desk, walking no further than the kitchen or the bathroom, I was told I scaled 150 floors. I live in a single-storey apartment
It has to be said, it seems to have been behaving itself more recently, possibly the result of a recent update, but it was too drastic to not mention.
Beyond that, occasionally I’d wake to find the sleep analysis data was blank. It would just ask if I had been asleep for a certain period of time - no reason was given for why this might be the case.
Driving with the Gear Fit 2, is frankly a pain. When I’m driving, the last thing I need is for my watch screen to flash on every time I turn the steering wheel because it thinks I’m trying to check the tie. Suffice to say, it’s far more distracting at night. Surely there must be a way to switch the screen’s wrist flick gesture off when the watch detects itself travelling over 30mph. Either way, I have found myself having to switch the wrist gesture off each time I get in the car at night, just to avoid this issue.
It’s also worth mentioning that Samsung’s Tizen OS has some performance issues at times - there were a few occasions the watch froze, before finally dragging itself back from the brink seconds before it found itself being thrown out the window.
Finally, FINALLY, and this is the dealbreaker for me. I wanted the Fit 2 to replace my old Garmin Forerunner 410 – a 5/6 year old running watch. And despite the fact the Fit 2 has far more sensors, functionality and a nice colour screen, there were a couple of reasons why the Garmin will continue to live on as my primary running watch.
The Gear Fit 2 screen ‘times out’ after a certain period. Even if you select ‘always on’, the running stats will time out to a clock display. This means you constantly have to flick your wrist while running to just view your current stats. This wouldn’t be so bad, but with the constant motion while running, the device doesn’t even acknowledge the wrist has been flicked unless you perform a cartoonish exaggerated movement to flip the screen on.
Not only that, but the Fit 2 provides each piece of data on its own screen, meaning to find your pace you have to clumsily swipe to the left to bring your stat up, then clumsily swipe back, trying not to accidentally tap the pause button - something that is remarkably easy to do.
Compare this to my Garmin Forerunner, that has an always-on screen, with no wrist flicking required, and provides up to three pieces of information on screen at a tie. It knows what runner want t see and when they want to see it; whenever they want.
The biggest crime, however, is the degree of inaccuracy with regards to distance covered. I took both my Garmin and the Samsung out for a run, and after covering four miles, discovered the Fit 2 was 0.11 miles behind - which is enough to ruin any training plan.
When you’re training for weeks to knock a few seconds off your time, every tenth of a mile counts. Furthermore, when running a Thanksgiving 10k, I checked my pace and saw the time frantically flicking from as low as an impossibly fast 4:00 mile to as high as a 20 minute mile, all while I was running at a steady 7:30 pace.
Ultimately as a replacement, the Gear Fit 2 just doesn’t cut the mustard. Despite the fact my Garmin has a screen that would look at home in the early 90s and can take a while to locate itself, the data is solid and the experience while running is hassle-free.
As someone who has followed four-month marathon training plans to the letter, and hopes to again in the future sometime, the Gear Fit 2 is too inaccurate and troublesome to take seriously.
It is worth stressing, however that if you are more casual in your approach to running, or simply worry less about obsessively checking your current pace, these issues may be of no concern.
The term jack of all trades, master of none seems the perfect description for fitness trackers, and the Fit 2 is no different. If you have no specific expectations for the Fit 2, it’s unlikely you’ll find any reason to be disappointed, even considering some of the irritating quirks. Ultimately, at this price point, it’s great value, particularly when you consider a running watch with HRM would be double that and then some.
If you want to track your activities, but don’t care about revisiting them at a much later date; if you want to increase your activity levels, but don’t have very specific expectations for it to achieve and if you want basic smartwatch functionality, but don’t care about downloading full-fat smartwatch apps, the Fit 2 is very likely to be the perfect tracker for you.