No other smartwatch has impressed me as much as Samsung’s Gear S2.
It’s by far the easiest smartwatch to use, and as a result, I ended up using it more than any other smartwatch I’ve tried so far, including several Android Wear smartwatches and the Apple Watch.
Just about everything about how you use the Gear S2 is better than the Apple Watch, including the rotating bezel, the buttons, and the Tizen OS.
It’s so simple to use. To get quick, useful bits of information from apps — like notifications, weather, calendar reminders, music controls, and a step counter — I simply need to rotate the bezel left or right. They’re all on a horizontal plane.
And when I want to get more notifications or information from an app on the Gear S2, I simply tap the relevant screen and can scroll up and down with the rotating bezel. It’s intuitive and works for both horizontal and vertical scrolling; the Apple’s Watch’s rotating crown only works for vertical scrolling.
To get glances on the Apple Watch, I have to swipe up to get to the glances menu and then I can swipe left and right to get my quick bits of information, which is an extra step than on the Gear S2.
When using the Apple Watch, I also found that swiping up to get to the glances menu was finicky, and I rarely ever went to the glances as a result. Rotating the Gear S2’s bezel felt far more reliable.
And the Gear S2’s buttons make sense. The top button is a universal back button and it returns you to the last screen you were on, which is useful if you want to go back and check another app. The Apple Watch’s crown button simply takes you back to the watch screen, which forces you to swipe up again to get to the glances menu if you want to check another app.
And the bottom home button on the Gear S2 takes me back to the watch face when I’m done using apps. You can also set a shortcut to an app for ultra-quick access when you double press the home button.
If I’m on the watch face, pressing the home button will take me to the app hub, but I rarely need to go there because I already have quick access to shortcuts of my favourite apps.
It’s much more useful than the large oval button on the side of the Apple Watch, which only takes you to the contact wheel. Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue suggests it’s a waste to use such a large button for such a single, relatively mundane feature. And double pressing will bring up Apple Pay. You can’t change what it does.
And then there’s Android Wear, which is a mess compared to both the Apple Watch and the Gear S2. It’s so difficult to use that I couldn’t remember how to it worked when I picked it up after I hadn’t used it for a couple weeks. It’s leagues behind the Gear S2 when it comes to ease of use.
There’s good news if you like the Gear S2 but don’t own a Samsung phone. It’s compatible with any Android phone running Android 4.4 and up, even if it’s not made by Samsung. That said, iPhone users are out of luck. For $US300, it’s about the same price as most other smartwatches for Android, like Motorola’s new Moto 360. That’s a pretty good deal.