The smartwatch market is crowded: Just about every phone manufacturer worth a dime has a smartwatch out, so it pays to be a little different to stand out from the crowd.
Samsung’s Gear S2 smartwatch has a rotating bezel to make it standout. And standout it does. It could well be the best smartwatch on the market right now.
The Gear S2 is compatible with a number of Android smartphones but the bezel really does stick out as a highlight of using it. It’s intuitive and it just makes sense to twist it left and right to access the watch’s information. Yes, you’re still going to have to tap the touchscreen to access applications and do things like set alarms and dismiss notifications, but the bezel is a nice way of seeing those notifications or how many steps you’ve walked or what the weather’s doing. I actually just found myself twisting the bezel because it was so much fun: It just works.
The Gear S2 seems a more sports-orientated watch, thanks to its construction and rubbery straps, as well as built-in heart rate apps and active activity counter (the watch even prompts to move around when it senses you’ve been inactive for too long) and while you can replace the straps (not with standard watch straps, though) you’re not going to wear the Gear S2 as a dress watch. Talking of straps, I, ahem, ah, managed to somehow snap both off my review unit S2. Maybe the unit had had a hard life thanks to other reviewers or I don’t know my own strength but it’s the first time I’ve ever done that in years of reviewing hardware.
Where the Gear S2 differs from its smartwatch counterparts is that it’s not using Android Wear as most Android-based smart watches do, but Samsung’s own Tizen operating system, and it’s a nice one at that, which a clean look and responsiveness.
Compared with Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, there are nowhere near as many apps for Samsung’s Gear S2 but that’s not necessarily a bad thing: It means the Gear S2 isn’t bogged down by thousands and thousands of pointless apps. For me, there was no Tizen version of cycling/running app Strava for the Gear S2, which was annoying, so if you’re the type of smart watch wearer who needs an almost inexhaustible supply of apps for your watch, you might have to look at another smartwatch.
Look, I really loved the Samsung Gear S2 watch. If I was going to buy a smartwatch to replace my LG G Watch R, it would be would be the Gear S2. I really do think it’s the best smartwatch on the market right now. Plus it’s got that rotating bezel. It’s a winner.