Samsung Gear S2 review

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.

SamsungGearS2Samsung’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 aGearS2pps 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.

Huawei Smartwatch: A classy and stylish piece of wearable tech

Since getting a Huawei smartwatch, my usual watch, an LG G Watch R, has been sitting unused and idle, gathering dust. Well, that’s not true: My teenage son has decided to flit between the LG and my FitBit surge.

I’ve hardly taken the Huawei watch off my wrist in the past two weeks. In fact, the only time I’ve taken it off is when I have a shower and when it needs charging. I really grown to love the watch, which makes my LG seem, frankly, bulky and unwieldy.

The Huawei makes a class impression from the moment you open the rather large box it comes in. The matte black stainless steel version that I had (it also comes in a stainless steel and gold versions) was nestled on a faux leather liner in the box, with the watch placed strategically in the middle. It oozed class and style.

An email notification appears on the Huawei's AMOLED screen. Swipe to the left to close it, swipe up to dismiss the program.

An email notification appears on the Huawei’s AMOLED screen. Swipe to the right to close the email,  swipe up to dismiss the program. Easy.

With a 1.4-inch AMOLED screen (with a resolution of 400×400) and 4.2mm in diameter, the Huawei watch will suit smaller wrists and won’t look out-of-place on your wrist, like I feel that my LG does at times, and I liked that the watch’s strap was a standard 18mm strap, meaning you can replace it easily. It comes with all the features you’d expect  a wearable to have, including a surprisingly accurate heart rate monitor. The only button on the watch is one set at the 2 O’Clock position. On the back is a heart rate sensor.

I’ve had my LG smartwatch for a few months now so I’m no stranger to Google’s Android Wear smartwatch software, so using the Huawei felt intuitive and familiar. With a smartwatch your preaching to the converted and I can’t actually imagine not having one these days. I used the Huawei’s inbuilt alarm to wake me in the morning and track my steps throughout the day.

The Huawei Smartwatch's sporty green watch face. That green circle? That fills up the more active you are.

The Huawei Smartwatch’s sporty green watch face. That green circle? That fills up the more active you are.


The screen is fantastic on the Huawei watch: Colours are bright and vivid and everything just looks much clearer than on my LG, even with my ageing eyesight. The display really is superb.

Navigating through the Huawei’s mentions are as you’d expect with an Android smartwatch: You swipe left and right through the screens, up and down to find the app you want and then tap the icon. It’s easy, to be honest.

You can change watch faces either by touching and holding the watch face itself then scrolling left and right to the face you want or through the Android Wear software on your phone. The Huawei had a good selection of watch faces that suit a variety of situations and you can buy new ones for a handful of dollars. My personal favourite watch face was green sporty, which shows your activity during the day through a green circle that progressive moves around the watch face the more steps/activity you do throughout out the day.

The Huawei uses a magnetic docking station (it attaches via some gold contact pins on the underside of the charger) and battery life was what I expect from a piece of wearable tech: I got roughly a day to a day and a half, depending on how many notifications I got throughout the day, before it needed recharging. Charging was quick, too, and I’d usually plonk the watch on the docking station when I was getting ready for work in the morning and it would be close to fully charged by the time I was ready to go.

The underside of the Huawei Smartwatch. The gold pins magnetically clip to the charging port.

The underside of the Huawei Smartwatch. The gold pins magnetically clip to the charging port.

The big question is: Is a smart watch essential? Well, no, it’s not but for me, as I said earlier, I don’t think I could live without one. Wearing one has made my life a whole lot easier and the Huawei looks classy enough to wear everyday.

Wearing a smart watch is part of my daily routine. And since wearing a smart watch, I don’t look at my phone nearly as frequently as I used to: The smart watch lessens the number of times I pull my phone out of my pocket to check that message, that email, that social media comment. If I get a notification (be it email, social media or email), all I do is check my watch and if it’s urgent, I’ll get my phone and reply. If it’s not, I’ll just leave it till I’ve time to answer.

If there was any negative to Huawei’s watch it’s the price: The black stainless steel watch (with matching black leather strap) will set you back around $750, while the gold-plated version is close to $1000, which makes the Huawei considerably more expensive than some other Android smart watches on the market. As a comparison, my LG G Watch R was about $479 when it first came out.

Make no mistake, Huawei’s smart watch is a premium piece of hardware with an absolutely stunning and vivid screen that makes it one of the best Android smart watches around right now, but it’s going to face stiff competition in the coming months as manufacturers bring new hardware to the market, one of those being Samsung and its new Gear S2 [Look out for a review of Samsung’s smart watch soon]

It’s going to be an interesting few months for fans of wearable tech.