The Samsung Gear Fit2 around my wrist thinks I am the world’s most ambitious stair-climber. On Tuesday, the sensors packed inside believed I’d climbed 96 flights. At the most, I climbed 70. OK, fine. More like ten.
Samsung Gear Fit2
Better than your average fitness tracker with an AMOLED screen, music player, GPS, and notifications. Great price for feature set. Comfy fit. Automatically recognizes some types of exercise.
Android-only phone features. It’s waterproof, but wearing it in the shower can confuse the barometer. Not many apps available for the band itself.
Beyond that little inaccuracy, the Gear Fit2 is a simple and surprisingly robust fitness tracker. You won’t find many apps for it, but it has a big screen, days-long battery life, and handles some key smartwatch functions. For $180, you get a full-featured tracker that brings phone notifications to your wrist.
The soft, sporty, rubbery strap feels good, and a gentle curve on the back of the 1.5-inch AMOLED touchscreen provides a comfy contoured fit. It’s waterproof, so go ahead and dive into the pool or step into the shower (though that does throw off the barometer). Left and right swipes take you through activity screens, paging through daily logs and colorful visualizations for steps, floors, heart rate, calories burned, and custom activities. Vertical swipes drill into deeper visualizations and activity logs. The two buttons on the side take you back a step or return you to the home screen.
You can customize the watch face on the home screen using the Samsung Gear app for Android (and Android only). I dug the one with a funky ’70s vibe. Other options let you keep chosen stats on the main screen. The screen, by the way, is off most of the time to conserve energy, but it comes alive with a twist of the wrist. You also can configure it to turn on or merely buzz when a notification arrives.
When the screen is off, the band has an understated look—just a thick black bracelet. But when it’s on, it gives the Fit2 slick and futuristic looks. The colorful data visualizations and watch faces really pop on the pin-sharp screen.
The back of the tracker features a pulsating green heart rate monitor. Set it to record at intervals, check your pulse manually, and even assign tags like “happy,” “tired,” and “in love” to heart-rate measurements in your log. An accelerometer, gyroscope, and barometer log your steps, track your calories burned, know when you’re sleeping, and attempt to count the number of floors you’ve climbed. You can track specific exercises—running, walking, cycling, squats, and so forth—by selecting them from a menu and tapping “Start.”
But in a few cases, say while power-walking to lunch or breaking into a jog to catch your train, the band automatically logs the activity. I was hustling along to avoid an impending storm when the band pulsed to let me know it was kicking in. Then it came alive and displayed, “Healthy pace! Keep it up!” Stats in the log revealed my average speed, heart-rate stats, and route on a map.
Built-in GPS means you don’t need to keep the Fit2 paired to your phone. Four gigs of flash storage and a music player that handles a slew of formats means you can leave the phone at home. Just use the Samsung Gear app to send MP3s to your tracker, pair your Bluetooth headphones, and you’re good to go. If you have the Fit2’s location services turned on, tapping “View log” after a run shows your route on a map that you can share to Facebook if you’re Bluetooth-tethered to a phone.
While the Fit2 is a fine a standalone device, a phone expands its skill set. The tethering and notifications make the Gear Fit2 more than a fitness tracker, and you can use the band as a wrist-mounted remote for your mobile device. (Killer feature: Hitting the snooze button on your wrist to silence your phone’s alarm.)
You use the Gear app to configure the notifications you want sent to your wrist; it supports anything that appears in your phone’s notifications feed. When an incoming message arrives, the Fit2 pulses like a heartbeat. You can’t bang out an email on its little screen, but the Fit 2 does offer canned one-tap auto-responses like OK, Nope, and 😄. You can compose your own one-tap replies in the Gear app, too.
The band uses Tizen, and apps are scant so far. Spotify is the marquee app and includes curated workout playlists, but using Spotify on the band requires a Bluetooth connection to your phone. That makes it more like a wrist-mounted remote for Spotify—handy, but not really a standalone app. Tethering to a phone also is important for configuring the band via the Gear app and shuttling data to Samsung’s S Health app for a big-screen look.
I mostly kept the Gear Fit2 tethered to my phone with many notifications turned on, which gave me about two days of battery life. Use it as an untethered standalone device and Samsung says the 200mAh battery will last up to four days. The Fit 2 magnetically attaches to the charger (included) in landscape mode and needs about an hour to charge. Disappointingly, the USB-connected charger doesn’t come with a wall adapter.
As to the inaccuracy counting stairs, Samsung says wearing the Gear Fit2 in the shower can temporarily throw off the barometer. That explains why the thing went nuts on me for a day. So although you can wear the Fit2 in the shower or the pool, doing so may screw up your stats for a day. At least you’ll look like a stair-climbing beast.