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Samsung Gear Fit2 review: A likeable fitness band with built-in GPS

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
180
inc VAT

This stylish fitness tracker is well featured and easy to use

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Samsung splashes its “Gear” brand onto everything from cameras to VR headsets. In this case, the Gear Fit2 is an upmarket fitness-tracking watch that partners with your Android phone, providing message notifications as well as health data. If you’re looking for the full “OK Google” experience, however, you’ll have to go elsewhere: instead of Android Wear, the Gear Fit2 uses Samsung’s own Tizen OS.

The design

There’s no denying that it’s an attractive design. The little 128 x 432 touchscreen is bright and colourful, thanks to Super AMOLED technology, while the black rubber strap is tastefully low-key – though if you’re looking for something more showy, you can snap it off and replace it with a range of coloured or metal bands from Samsung and third parties.

The Fit2’s various menus can all be navigated with a swipe of the finger, but there’s also a pair of physical buttons on the side, for selecting features and stepping back through the interface. We like the positive feedback this gives: touchscreens don’t always work perfectly once rain or sweat start to drip on them.

On that topic, another strength of the Fit2 is its IP68 certification, meaning it’s water-resistant to a depth of 1.5 metres for up to half an hour. We wouldn’t recommend you wear it for a lengthy swim, but you don’t need to worry about a spot of rain while you’re out running – and you can leave it on in the shower afterwards.

The waterproof design necessarily means there’s no USB charging socket. Instead, like the Moto 360, the Gear Fit2 stands on an inductive dock to recharge. If you pop the strap off it doubles up as a stylish bedside clock. While you won’t have to recharge it every single night, you can expect the Gear Fit2’s dinky 200mAh battery to need a refill every two to four days, depending on which functions you’re using. We didn’t find that too annoying, though: you get plenty of warning when the battery is running low, and – like some of Samsung’s smartphones – the watch automatically switches into a low-power mode, with a greyscale display, to eke out a few extra hours of use when it’s close to expiry.

In use

So much for the design: how does the Gear Fit2 serve as a fitness tracker? The answer is, pretty well. It comes with its own GPS receiver, so you can leave your phone safely at home while you go for a run. You don’t even have to forgo your playlist: the Fit2 has 4GB of internal storage for music, and can be paired directly with a pair of Bluetooth headphones.

You tell it when you’re starting and stopping an exercise session using the physical buttons; the touchscreen then lets you cycle through six displays, showing the duration of your workout, distance covered, calories burnt, pace, average speed and heart rate. Upon finishing, you get a nice summary of statistics, which are then automatically beamed across to Samsung’s S Health app for Android.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best fitness trackers

While that’s all good stuff, we also like the neat way the Gear Fit2 keeps track of your activity even when you’re not “doing exercise”. On our morning walk to the Tube station, it consistently notified us that we were “walking at an excellent pace”, and urged us to keep it up – a good bit of encouragement to stay active in our daily life. Similarly, the Fit2 notices when you’ve been sitting still for too long, and prods you to get up and move around.

You can add some interesting widgets too, which appear when you swipe left or right from the home screen. We liked the one for recording how much water and caffeine you’re consuming each day. You have to log your drinks manually – the watch isn’t quite smart enough to infer quantities from the tilting of your wrist alone – but having the widget a mere swipe away makes it easy to keep track.

In all we found the Fit2 worked well. It’s easy to use, and we had no problem with GPS accuracy. However, we did notice one blip with the heart-rate tracking: at one point the Fit2 recorded a steep drop in our pulse rate in the middle of a run, which we’re absolutely certain didn’t really happen.

The S Health app

As we’ve mentioned, the Gear Fit2 syncs with Samsung’s S Health app. If you have a recent Samsung Android phone this will be preinstalled; otherwise you can download it onto any device running Android 4.4 or later, with 1.5GB or more of RAM.

The app certainly has its positives. We love the way it automatically takes over tracking duties should your Gear Fit2 run out of battery – assuming you have the phone with you, of course. And there’s no denying that it presents your fitness data in a nice, bright, easy-to-follow interface that’s packed with charts and graphs.

Compared to what you’ll get from Fitbit, Garmin and TomTom, however, it feels a bit limited. Some of the presentation is pretty airy: for example, you can see that you took more steps on your way to work than in the hour that followed, but there’s no easy way to drill down into the data and see exactly how the two periods compared. There’s also no web integration, so you can’t pull up and review your history in a nice big desktop browser.

Verdict

If we had to criticise, the Gear Fit2’s real weakness is perhaps that it falls slightly between two stools. At £180, and with its built-in GPS receiver, it seems to want to be a high-end sports accessory, to rival the likes of the Garmin Vivosmart HR+. But the S Health app feels like it’s designed more for the casual consumer than the devoted fitness buff – and that odd anomaly in our heart-rate tracking would make us nervous about using it for serious training.

All the same, there’s much to like here. The design is stylish and fully featured, with just enough versatility to serve as your everyday smartwatch, and it’s supremely easy to use – especially if you have a Samsung phone with S Health already installed and set up. Unless you’re the sort of serious runner who wants to analyse every minute of every mile, it’s a great tracker.

 

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