Samsung unveiled its revision of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch at Mobile World Congress 2014. The Gear 2 joins a growing number of second generation wearables led by the Pebble Steel.
Both watches can display notifications, open apps and, yes, even tell you the time. But does the longer battery life of the Pebble Steel, or the extended functionality of the Gear 2 win out? Let battle commence as we pit the Samsung Gear 2 against the Pebble Steel.
Samsung Gear 2 vs Pebble Steel – design
Samsung’s Gear 2 retains its predecessor’s brushed metal finish that so divided critics, and is roughly the same size and weight. That means it’s a fairly chunky and unsubtle device – certainly not a watch you’ll put on and forget about.
However, the formerly strap-mounted camera has been relocated to the watch’s face itself, as too has the watch’s mic The change has allowed Samsung to make the strap detachable so that you can swap and change the less than attractive plastic watchstrap as you see fit. On the whole though, the Gear 2’s design remains a little bit ‘marmite’ and one that is hard to see having mass appeal.
By comparison, Pebble’s watches are famously stripped-down, so don’t expect a camera, mic or even a touchscreen on the Steel. What you will get however is a lighter and smaller device that makes a more comfortable fit on your wrist. The Steel’s design mimics that of a regular watch – metal strap and all – so while it might not be as much of a conversation starter as the Gear 2, it’s a more viable choice for the fashion conscious.
Samsung Gear 2 vs Pebble Steel – three key features
Compatibility – one of the main complaints of the Galaxy Gear was that it only worked on a small number of Samsung’s own devices. That’s still the case with the Gear 2, and though the number of devices has been upped to 17, you’ll still require a Samsung smartphone.
By contrast the Pebble is friendly indeed and can be tethered to a whole range of Android and Apple handsets. Such mass compatibility does mean that updates to the watch’s firmware can be slow to come along, but if you want a smartwatch and don’t have a Samsung phone, it’s most definitely your best bet.
Battery life – Samsung went as far to admit that the Galaxy Gear had poor battery life during its MWC 2014 press event. It claims that the Gear 2 has triple the battery life of its predecessor at a claimed three days. That’s better, if still not ideal, and something we’ll be testing in our labs.
The Pebble Steel wins the battle of battery life by lasting for as many as seven days between charges. If you head out without packing your charger, then at least with the Steel you’ll have more chance of returning home without it running out of juice.
Interface – the Gear 2 now includes a home button, much like your smartphone, which makes it much easier to return to the homescreen if you want to quickly check the time. Its touchscreen should also make it intuitive to use for anybody who has ever owned a smartphone.
The Steel doesn’t actually have a touchscreen at all, and is navigated by side-mounted buttons. While it’s easy enough to navigate it can feel somewhat clunky at times, especially now that the Gear 2 has that home button. Ultimately the decision will come down to personal preference.
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