Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro review: Brilliance refined
With the Gear Fit2 Pro, Samsung has found itself in a difficult, if quite privileged, position: the fitness tracker was so good it’s hard to know how you’d improve it. How good, exactly? Well, if you’re not convinced with my glowing five-star review, then you should know that I actually bought my own after Samsung cruelly took their review model back.
Given the sheer number of fitness trackers we get sent to review, that’s a serious endorsement.
While it’s tempting to say Samsung should have quit while it was ahead, that’s not the way company shareholders tend to see the world working. And so, here’s the Gear Fit2 Pro: a modest improvement with a higher price tag. Said price tag is entirely justified given the feature set but it still makes for a tricky recommendation for most people, when the original is now easy to find cheap and does nearly everything that the Pro and almost as well.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro: Design
The Gear Fit2 Pro looks almost identical to the Gear Fit2. I know this because keeping both my classic version and the new one on the same charging stand caused no end of confusion.[gallery:1]
There are differences. For starters, you can only get it in two colours: plain black, or black with a flashy red underside. The strap is still rubberised, though the pattern on it is definitely more stylish: while the original had a bunch of lines, the red Pro model is decorated with an attractive selection of tessellated geometric shapes. It’s subtle, and probably won’t show up in the attached photographs, but it’s definitely there and it looks great close up.
Finally, while the original model was attached to the wrist with a studded clasp, the Pro version has a more traditional buckle, which is definitely an improvement. It didn’t happen often, but occasionally the first edition would fall off my wrist if it caught on something – and being quite light it’s not always immediately noticeable it’s come off, either. There’s no risk of it coming loose by mistake here.
Everything else is the same. It still has the sharp 1.5in 128×432 AMOLED touchscreen. It still has two buttons on the right and said screen is still super sharp, bright and vibrant. It really is an eye-catching wearable; a world apart from the boring, chunky, greyscale devices that you often see adoring runners’ wrists.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro: Performance[gallery:2]
Still, it’s not just (mildly) improved aesthetics you’re paying for here; the Gear Fit2 Pro has received a substantial upgrade in the form of waterproofing. Not only can you shower with the device without fear, it now has a 5ATM rating. You’re actively encouraged to swim with it with the included Speedo app in place to measure your various water-based statistics.
I’m not a swimmer, so I have passed the Gear Fit2 Pro onto our reviews editor to add his thoughts on the swimming elements here in due course. But for now, just know that this is one point that the Pro version indisputably has over its ageing rival. The app promised to measure stroke type, lap count, lap time, distance and pace.
Another point it has is support for offline Spotify from the wrist (with a Premium account), which is definitely handy. Connect a pair of Bluetooth earphones, and you’re free to run without your phone, using the built-in GPS. It’s extremely liberating but slightly annoying that you have to log in to Spotify using the tiny onscreen keyboard, especially so if your password happens to be a series of random letters and numbers as mine is. Thanks, LastPass.
That’s a great new feature but there’s one small problem: it’s now present in the previous model too. I tested this for myself and found I could log in in exactly the same way, and still download playlists for offline listening. That’s great and full credit to Samsung for providing the backwards compatibility but it does limit the reasons to upgrade further, especially since the new model costs £200, and I bought my older model, brand new in box, for £71 from eBay.
It’s not so much that the new model isn’t worth £200, more that – if you’ll pardon the double negative – the old model isn’t worth significantly less. They both offer an excellent user experience: the screen is bright, the UI is quick and easy to understand; it has buttons as well as a touchscreen for use in the rain. It tracks steps, distance, sleep, stairs climbed and heart rate. And there’s GPS, too, even if it is sometimes a little off the pace.[gallery:3]
You can even add in extra widgets for the watch, giving you everything from calorie counting from My Fitness Pal to a simple toggle you add to every time you drink a glass of water.
The battery life lasts for around two days, just like the old one, although it runs out sooner if you hammer the GPS. Helpfully, when it hits 15% remaining, the device will offer to enter a battery saver mode that turns the screen grey and simply counts steps. It loses its pizazz in this mode but it is helpful for eking the last dregs of life out of it until you can find a charger – although you won’t just find one lying around at work.
It’s a proprietary charging stand, so you can’t just plug in any cable; the good news is it charges the Fit2 Pro quickly. Even a short, ten-minute burst generally gives it enough juice to get you through half a day, so it’s worthwhile topping it up between activities. It’s a shame the watch face doesn’t stay on while charging, as it would make a rather nice bedside clock, otherwise.
Like the Gear Fit2 before it, this version does require proprietary Samsung software: the Gear and Health apps. If you own a Samsung phone, it’s already on there. If you don’t, it’s a slightly harder sell: it’s not that the apps are bad but bloating a clean phone with two unnecessary extras feels hard to justify when there are so many great fitness apps out there already.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro: Verdict[gallery:5]
So, the Gear Fit2 Pro is another fine wearable from Samsung. The trouble is that so is the original Gear Fit2 and thanks to the inescapable march of time, it’s now very, very cheap. And almost as good.
Jon will be testing the swimming side of the Gear Fit2 Pro soon and maybe that’s where it will come into its own. Certainly, keen swimmers won’t want the original, so check back in a few days if that’s important to you. If not, and you just want a wearable to track steps and the occasional run, then it’s hard not to recommend looking for a deal on the original Gear Fit2. eBay found me one for £71, still boxed, and a cursory glance around the site tells me such deals aren’t rare.
For £20 more than the suggested price of its predecessor, the Gear Fit2 Pro is a no-brainer, even if you only swim once per year. For £100+ more, you should stop and think. It’s still a five-star product but it’s a hard one to fully endorse when last year’s model is still so good.