As the era of wearables knocks on the doors of our kingdom, there is little to suggest, that this is the perfect time to open the door and greet everything with as much glee as we think it merits. With just about every major OEM, except perhaps Apple, throwing some sort of wearable in the ring, there is little doubting that the average consumer has sufficient choices, but are these choices worthy of the attention? Perhaps not really.
When Samsung announced the original Gear it was met with facepalm from the entire industry. Too complicated, bulky, terrible battery life and just generally poor design were some of the grievances. Samsung listened and within an year of the original Gear, presented the Gear 2. However, this time, the Gear 2 did not come alone, it brought with it the Gear Fit, a fitness tracking band that compliments the S-Health feature on the Galaxy S5, the device in whose conjunction it was launched.
It was a common cry, that the Gear Fit was the most interesting wearable in the arsenal of Samsung which also now feature Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo alongwith the original Gear. We used the Gear Fit judiciously over the last week, and here is our assessment of the nifty little gadget.
Availability, Box and Content
The Gear Fit is available for Rs 15,500 from Samsung’s E-Store in India. Unfortunately the gadget is not available on some of the more used e-com portals such as Flipkart or Amazon. On road too, unless you are at a Samsung Store, the Gear Fit is pretty tough to find, making the availability of the device a bit of an issue.
The box of Gear Fit is very much like what we have seen with the likes of Galaxy S5 with a wood like print on cardboard. The content of the box includes, a charger, some documentations and a small dock which lets you connect the device to the watch. It is pretty much an uncomplicated packaging from Samsung, just like any other product from them recently.
Do check out our unboxing of the device above. Obviously since we were unable to find the product in the market at enough places, we would be unable to comment on the best bargain price that you could drive.
Design and Feel
Before we really rant about things, we must admit the design of the Gear Fit is definitely the best that Samsung has in its wearables lineup. The device is light, looks pretty sleek, and we actually kind of like the strap locking mechanism on the watch. It is obviously the very first major release with a curved AMOLED display, no we will not count Samsung Round here, and that is a major advantage over any other fitness tracker as it is able to supply information to you on the move, unlike the other trackers where you need to connect the device to a bigger display like, say a smartphone. We could not help but feel that if kept horizontally, the device resembles the visor on the helmets of Daft Punk, and we love Daft Punk, so we actually liked the design of the watch, when shut.
We specifically mentioned when shut because when the device is on, the vertical design is not very practical. More on that when we discuss the screen. The black plastic built screen though is surrounded by a neat chrome like rim and it looks really good. The main tracker can be removed from the band which basically clips it from the edges and be replaced. You have options like black, orange or grey but neither of these plastic bands add any sort of premium feel to the device. We hope Samsung would bring maybe some sort of leather straps for the tracker to add bit of sweet feel, for now though, you are stuck with rubber made band which gives a bit of a toy like feel.
However, the overall curved feel of the device means it sits well on your wrist without standing out like a brick which could easily be mistaken for some sort of advanced remote to launch a satellite to outer space!
Display, Other Specs and Touchscreen
The Gear Fit comes with a 1.48 inch curved AMOLED display with a resolution of 432×128. The capacitive nature of the screen meant the screen response was terrific. The touches were registered immediately and with 4 GB internal storage, there was enough place for all the data to be recorded. The Gear Fit comes with a 1 GHz Dual Core processor and a 512 MB of RAM making the whole experience pretty much lag free. Unlike Samsung’s phones, the experience here was refined while the screen retained the same high contrast and large gamut of colors that Samsung has been famous for. The outdoor visibility though in direct sunlight was pretty bad.
However, the major issue we had with the display was its orientation. The display is vertically oriented. The text on the display can either be horizontally or vertically read by going into the settings. Neither of these two are very comfortable though. If you have the text flowing in horizontally, you really have to tilt your hand in a very awkward position to read the text and if you have it vertically downwards, large notifications are simply impossible to read given how much you have to scroll due to the form factor. This makes us question, why did Samsung go with this form factor at all, as it really is useless unless you are looking at just very minute sets of data like the heartbeat or just time. maybe Samsung could have reduced the height on the device and broadened it? Well, the options are many, but this design makes reading text just plain awkward and uncomfortable.
You can also change the order in which the icons appear, as well as the clock faces and wallpapers using the Gear Fit application. Of course the Gear Fit works only with select Samsung Galaxy devices such as the Galaxy S5 and Note III for now, which means unless you have either of those phones, the gadget is pretty much a waste of space.
Notifications and Battery Life
To our surprise, the Gear Fit handled notifications better than the Gear 2. The notifications were always a split second faster than what we experienced with Gear 2. The device goes into standby when there is no activity based on your preference and to wake up you simply have to do a wrist motion by turning it as if to see the time, this turns the display on, or you have the physical button on the side. While the motion sensor worked reasonably ok, there was a lag of about a second which got really irritating after a while. By default, the device wakes up when it receives a notification and you can delete the same right from the device. This clears the notification from your Galaxy smartphone too, which was handy.
You can set which apps would be able to send notifications to the device so that you do not receive any unnecessary stuff to disturb you. We had just our Twitter and Gmail app send the notifications, and although reading notifications was a problem, we did not miss a single notification in our time with the device. The Gear 2 lasted about 2 and a half days on full battery. Samsung does claim a battery life of about 96 hours, but with 3 E-mail accounts constantly buzzing and a lot of walk tracking, the Gear 2 was looking for its charger within three days. Standby time was average and the device dropped about 4-5% battery overnight when we had it disconnected from the phone.
Galaxy Fit as a Fitness Tracker
As a standalone fitness tracker and nothing else, the Gear Fit is pretty much a mixed bag, it feels as though a lost opportunity at times. We use Nike FuelBand SE as our everyday tracker, and the Gear Fit certainly gave us more information than that. You can measure your Heartbeat per minute, which is more reliable than the S5 (though still very inconsistent) as long as you are still and not moving all over the place. The device also lets you count the steps you have taken and the calories burnt as a result. Not just this, you can programme your stats and have the device record your exercise. You have the option of going for a run, walk or cycle with the device and it basically monitors the heartbeat continuously, the distance you have travelled and your average speed. Gear Fit is IP 67 certified means it will resist water and dust well for you!
As a tracker, we found the results to be pretty much in sync with that of the Nike Fuelband+ which was satisfactory. However, when it comes to the software side of things, you really see deficiencies of Samsung. The Gear Fit syncs with the S-health app and that is not the most informative health tracking software out there. It is unstable and at times will take forever to sync the data.
Not just this, the device only tracks things including sleep when you instruct it to and after a while this become a bit of a laborious exercise. As a health tracker, you want the device to be always on and give you your results seamlessly. The Gear Fit fails at this. However, given the device is relatively new, we are sure Samsung will add on things and features to the Gear Fit to ultimately make it a more fitness oriented product than jack of all and master of none that it is currently.
While the Gear Fit is a giant leap from the Gear 1 (yes we know, not the same category, but simply in terms of what we have expected from the manufacturer) which was just an appalling piece of product, we feel it is a stepping stone to something much better. The Gear Fit at the moment is a condensed Gear 2 which does pretty much everything that Gear 2 does and some basic fitness tracking.
The whole process of setup can put you off too as its just too complicated and with a condensed UI just not very ideal. We can see the place in the market for the product but would once again advice our audience to hold back before purchasing it. There are rumors of several other health trackers coming this year including one from Apple, so that perhaps would be a better time to weigh the options. For now, unless you are desperate for a smartwatch like health tracker, you should skip the Gear Fit. As much of an improvement it is from anything else Samsung has to offer, it just does not justify you spending on it.