Samsung started from scratch with the Gear S2. The company had churned out smartwatches before rivals entered the category, but following the large stride made by Apple, was prompted to return to the drawing board if it wanted its wearable to be adopted by the mainstream.
Almost a year and a half has elapsed since the company unveiled its previous smartwatch range. The time has been invested in the development of the Gear S2 and the S2 classic, smartwatches mature in design, software and usability.
Few differences set the smartwatches apart other than the design. The classic variant opts for a leather strap and a black finish, while the Gear S2 targets "those who are on-the-go and have an admiration for minimal and modern design".
Combating Apple’s digital crown is Samsung’s rotating bezel. It’s joined by discreet home and back keys in a move that echoes the way its smartphones work. Only Samsung’s flagship watch is not an Android smartwatch.
The Gear S2 further distances Samsung from Google by running Tizen, an open source operating system based on the Linux kernel. Samsung’s reliance on Tizen recently increased as it adopted the platform for its range of smart televisions and select smartphones sold in foreign markets.
Former Samsung smartphones had quadrilateral screens that dared to wear a subtle curve at the most. These smartwatches resonated more as electronics and less like timepieces.
Deviating from tradition is the familiar circular watch face. It is a Super-AMOLED display that spans 1.2-inches, has a 360x360 resolution and a 302 pixel-per-inch density.
The remaining hardware is competitive for a wearable. Inside beats a 1GHz dual-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage and a 250 milliamp-hour battery, which Samsung claims is enough to power the smartwatch for up to three days. A page is borrowed from Motorola’s notebook as the Gear S2 charges wirelessly using a bundled dock.
Connectivity specifications include single band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC, the latter of which will facilitate tap-and-go payments.
A 3G variant of the Gear S2 comes with an e-SIM (short for embedded-SIM) and a larger 300mAh battery. The option of a 3G capable smartwatch makes it possible to access emails and other notifications without being tethered to a smartphone or Wi-Fi network.
The refined cut of the smartwatch doesn’t preclude it from being an exercise companion. Samsung claims it has “new fitness functions” and it can be used to record daily activity. It also benefits from IP68 certification, which ensures it is dustproof and resistant to water more than a metre deep.
Samsung Electronics Australia confirmed the smartwatch will be launching locally:
“We are very excited to confirm that the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch will arrive in Australia soon. We look forward to providing more details regarding local pricing and availability closer to the Australian launch.”