Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatch Arrives, Bringing a Friend…
By Pete Pachal
The Gear 2 (right in the pic above) and Gear 2 Neo expand Samsung’s wearable line to a pair of smartwatches (while evidently dropping the “Galaxy” moniker). The main difference between the two new models is that the Neo lacks a camera. Also, the camera on the Gear 2 is now built into the main watch body rather than the strap, as it was in Gen 1. That’s a big plus for owners who may want to swap the provided strap with one of their own.
As expected, there are upgrades. Each of the two new smartwatches includes a heart-rate sensor as well exercise modes, making them bona fide fitness wearables — not just tiny windows to your smartphone (which they still are). The watches now have their own music players, too, able to output audio wirelessly to Bluetooth headsets.
Extra bonus: The watches also have an infrared emitter so you can use them as a basic remote control for your TV, just like Samsung’s recent tablets and phones.
Even more interesting is what’s inside them: This generation of Samsung smartwatches is powered by Tizen, which Samsung is now saying is its official operating system of wearables (the previous Gear was Android-based). As more and more devices become “smart” — from smartwatches to thermostats to TVs — a new platform war is emerging, and Samsung appears to have nominated Tizen as its champion in that arena.
It’s unclear what the switch to Tizen will mean for the compatibility of Gear apps, but at least you can use these models with more devices: Samsung says the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will be compatible with dozens of the company’s phones.
Like the original Galaxy Gear, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo each sport a 320 x 320 1.63-inch touchscreen. The new models pack a dual-core 1GHz processor (the original was single-core 800MHz chip) as well as 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage (same as the original).
Without the 2-megapixel camera, the Gear 2 Neo is slightly lighter than the Gear 2, 1.9 ounces vs. 2.4 ounces. Both watches are available in Charcoal Black and Wild Orange, while the Gear 2 also comes in Gold Brown and the Gear 2 Neo can come in classy Mocha Gray.
No prices yet, but Samsung says they’ll be on store shelves in April. We expect to get some hands-on time after Samsung’s big Unpacked 5 event in Barcelona on Monday.