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Samsung Galaxy Gear vs. Sony Smartwatch 2

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September 12, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Gear or Sony Smartwatch 2? Gizmag compares their features and specs

Samsung Galaxy Gear or Sony Smartwatch 2? Gizmag compares their features and specs

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Wearable computing has been standing in the wings for a while now, waiting for its moment in the spotlight. And this holiday season looks like it's finally time for smartwatches' first big entrance. Watches like Pebble and Sony's original Smartwatch have been around for a while now, but Samsung's Galaxy Gear and the Sony Smartwatch 2 are about to heat things up. Let's compare the specs and features of the two big touchscreen watches, and see how they stack up.

Size

If you take bands out of the picture, then the Gear is taller and thicker

This is a little different from comparing smartphones, tablets, or laptops, because you won't be using either of these watches in the disembodied states you see above. But for what it's worth, the Samsung Galaxy Gear's face is 39 percent taller, and 23 percent thicker. The Sony Smartwatch 2 is 14 percent wider.

Weight

If you use Sony's metal band, it's a much heavier watch

You don't want your smartwatch to be too heavy on your wrist. You can replace the Smartwatch 2's strap, so Sony gave us a couple of different specs here. With its metal band, though, it's 66 percent heavier than the Galaxy Gear.

Build

No plastic watches here

No cheap plastic here. The Gear is made of stainless steel, and the Smartwatch 2 rocks an aluminum body.

Display

Display sizes are similar, but the Gear's screen is much sharper

The Smartwatch 2 gives you 96 percent as much screen area as the Galaxy Gear does. The Gear also has a much sharper screen, with a pixel density much closer to what you'd see on modern smartphones.

The Galaxy Gear has a Super AMOLED display, while Sony's watch has a Transreflective LCD, which should keep it plenty readable in direct sunlight. Samsung says the Gear will look good in the sun too, but we'll have to test drive both phones before we take that at face value.

Compatible phones

The Gear is limited to one phablet at launch, but the Galaxy S4, S3, and Note 2 will be su...

The current generation of smartwatches have a secret: they really aren't all that smart on their own. In fact, their main job is to leech brainpower from your much smarter smartphone. So it's essential that you buy a watch that's compatible with your phone of choice.

This is a big advantage for the Sony Smartwatch. It's compatible with any Android phone, as long as it's running Android 4.0 (which was released in late 2011) or higher.

At launch, the Galaxy Gear is compatible with – drumroll please – one phone, Samsung's new Galaxy Note 3. Within the next month or two, software updates will make it compatible with the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, and Galaxy Note 2 as well. But this is an extremely limited list, compared to the countless phones the Sony Smartwatch will pair with.

iPhone compatibility

Neither watch is compatible with the iPhone (for that, you can check out Pebble)

Neither phone, though, will sync with an iPhone. If that's what you're looking for, your best bet right now might be the Pebble smartwatch. If you wait a while though (a month? a year?), Apple is rumored to be working on its own iWatch.

Bluetooth

Both watches connect to your phone via Bluetooth, but the Gear uses the low-powered Blueto...

Speaking of pairing with your phone, both watches are going to do that via Bluetooth. Here the Galaxy Gear uses newer technology, the battery-conserving Bluetooth LE (Low Energy).

Notifications

Receiving smartphone notifications on your wrist is one of the biggest purposes of a smart...

The biggest gift that smartwatches give you is instant notifications right on your wrist. As with Pebble, and every other recent smartwatch, both of these deliver.

The Galaxy Gear also has an eye-catching feature called Smart Relay that automatically opens the corresponding app on your phone when you pick it up. If that doesn't make sense, just picture receiving an email on your watch, picking up your Galaxy Note 3 to read it in its entirety, and having your email app waiting for you when you pick it up.

Battery life

If we take manufacturers' claims at face value, then the Smartwatch 2 gets an extra 2-3 da...

According to Samsung's and Sony's estimates, the Smartwatch 2 has the advantage in battery life. It supposedly lasts three to four days with typical use. Samsung says the Galaxy Gear will get over 24 hours with heavier use, but you'll definitely want to plug it in before you hit your pillow at night.

Phone calls

Samsung's S Voice lets you control some functions (we still don't know the full list) of t...

The Galaxy Gear has a speaker and microphone, to let you make phone calls through the watch. Well, technically, the call is being placed by your phone, but on the user end it should seem like it's happening entirely on the watch.

The Smartwatch 2 doesn't have this kind of calling feature. Sony is pitching its ability to help you make a call via a Bluetooth headset, but that sounds more like a half-hearted attempt to cover up a weakness than a real marquee feature.

Voice control

You can make touch-free phone calls straight from your Galaxy Gear

Our future smartwatches will probably all feature some sort of voice control. It makes sense, right? The screen is too small for any meaningful text entry, so talking to your phone is the next best way to dictate a message or look something up.

Here Samsung has the advantage, as a pared-down version of its S Voice (Samsung's Siri rival) is on board. We're anxious to put the Gear's version of S Voice through the paces, to see just what it can and can't do.

Camera

The Gear also has a low-res camera in its strap

The Galaxy Gear also sports a camera on its strap. Activation is easy: swipe from the top of the screen to the bottom, and tap on the screen to shoot. It might be a little creepy just how discreetly you'll be able to snap photos, but at least your victims can rest easy, knowing that they'll only be about the same quality as your phone's front-facing camera.

Water resistance

Both sport some water resistance, but Sony's will let you go for a swim

Both watches have some water resistance in tow, which is pretty much essential for a wearable device. Sony's water resistance is much better though, as you can go swimming in your Smartwatch 2. The Galaxy Gear is limited to some rain and maybe a shower.

Processor

The Gear has the faster processor

We aren't going to dwell too much on components like processors here in these early smartwatches, but the Galaxy Gear's single core CPU is faster.

Wristband swapping

Sony's watch lets you swap the default band

You can swap the Smartwatch 2's default band with any standard 24 mm strap. The Galaxy Gear's band, camera and all, is a permanent part of the package.

NFC

The Sony Smartwatch 2 has NFC, which might make pairing (still via Bluetooth) a little eas...

Sony is playing up the Smartwatch 2's near-field communication, but we don't think that should be a deciding factor. It supposedly makes pairing with your phone easier (just bump and it pairs), but the actual pairing still happens over Bluetooth. NFC just (allegedly) makes an already easy process even easier.

Apps

Both watches get the green light for running apps, but Samsung has many more popular devel...

What would a mobile device be without apps? Both watches will run apps, but at launch this is an overwhelming advantage for Samsung. The company lined up deals with some popular developers, and will run wrist-based versions of popular apps like Path, Evernote, Pocket, and Glympse.

Wrap-up

We're still at the beginning of the story of wearable computing. But these two early entries each offer something a little different.

The Galaxy Gear shows all signs of being the more advanced device. It has more smarts in its own head, and borrows even more from its connected phone.

But that singular "phone" also looks to be the Galaxy Gear's biggest weakness at launch. On day one, you'll need a Galaxy Note 3 if you want it to be anything other than a US$300 time keeper. Like we already mentioned, support for other Galaxy devices is on its way, but even that makes for a pretty narrow list.

So, by default, the Smartwatch 2's killer feature is its compatibility. As long as your Android phone runs Ice Cream Sandwich or beyond (any recent mid- to high-end Android phone should), then you're in the clear.

We'll be getting our hands on Sony's watch soon, but you can already check out our full review of the Galaxy Gear.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
12 Comments

Yes.....and I really am going to chuck my Rolex so I can wear some cheap plastic tat.......

hkmk23
13th September, 2013 @ 02:07 am PDT

One of the most important considerations in any product is the price (excluding Saudi Oil Sheiks) . In this article the $300 price tag is only mentioned in passing and so casually that its not clear to which watch it refers. The price should be in the first paragraph; the reason being that if this has a $10k price tag its wasting my valuable time reading it.

Russell Willmoth
13th September, 2013 @ 02:38 am PDT

http://www.cookoowatch.com/Product_features.html

I think this is the closest to being the best companion watch for my phone. It has neat features and doesn't replicate any of functions of my phone. Plus first and foremost, its a watch with great battery life. The only thing its lacking is a date display and text readout instead of just icon indicators (for mail, text...)

Prospector
13th September, 2013 @ 06:01 am PDT

The battery life of these watches is terrible, you don't need to have a computing powerhouse in a smartwatch, it should be more like an interface for your smartphone.

Still I think the best option right now I'd the kreyos meteor

Mario Bogantes
13th September, 2013 @ 08:18 am PDT

Sony a clear winner! With Samsung I may as well wear my phone in a wrist strap. To much, to much, to much. HUGH watches are for skydiving and scuba diving, otherwise there in the way for a serious active person.

Ron Spicer
13th September, 2013 @ 11:01 am PDT

Maybe i'm to old school but since I already carry a Nexus phone & a 7" Nexus tablet I can't imagine having a watch that I'd also have to remember to charge. My Tag Heuer Aquaracer keeps great time, looks great & takes one heck of a beating which is all I really need from a watch. I'd need to see a toughness test like the "Timex" "Takes A Licking & Keeps On Ticking" before I'd every consider buying one of these.

Lance Miller
13th September, 2013 @ 12:00 pm PDT

I've read every one of these comparo articles I can find and only 1 mentions one of the most important distinguishing factor, and it is in passing...

As a smartwatch 1 wearer, maybe i'm more in touch with the device's shortcomings that the average journalist.

The transreflective LCD is very important, it means that the screen is always on, like a normal watch. the screen on the Smartwatch 1 and as far as I can tell the Gear, doesn't have that feature.

The biggest shortcoming of the original smartwatch is having to turn it on to see what time it is, because it is first and foremost... a watch.

Pete Flanagan
13th September, 2013 @ 12:50 pm PDT

Nothing wrong with either... but $300 for an accessory is too much. I love my Sony SmartWatch, and I do intend to upgrade to the SW2... but over $200 is too much. Even if it has a ton of features, it's not worth it since it's not a primary device.

John Lacson
14th September, 2013 @ 03:58 am PDT

The main issue I have with the Galaxy Gear is that you NEED a S4 or Note 3 for it to work, where the SmartWatch is that it works with any ICS or higher smartphone and would match perfectly with my Xperia Ion and I don't have to upgrade.

Brian Nguyen
14th September, 2013 @ 05:05 pm PDT

So, you can have a slightly better smart watch if you agree to have a terrible phone, great!

Simon Tompkins
11th October, 2013 @ 02:15 am PDT

The Sony watch still mimics your cell phone if you get a text on your phone it goes to your watch, a call sadly has to be answered by way of the phone it's not waterproof it's actually splash proof meaning it can take on a little more water than the gear, maybe the reviewers can put that to the test.The design of the watch is horrible, it looks more like a toy than a watch actually it looks more like a nano. Despite the gear companion not having 3rd party apps I'm glad I didn't wait around for this watch. I like the fact that on the gear I can send a voice text unlike on the Sony they have pre installed limited text response. I also like that I can speak through the watch when I'm driving and don't have to rely on that ugly Bluetooth sticking out of my ear... The gear can take water from washing dishes, and rain. I haven't and will not try the shower I think that's pretty gross to wear your watch in the shower.

My battery on my gear lasts me 2 days and that's good enough for me considering the gear has a faster and stronger processor as well as a crisp bright display short battery life is to be expected, like I said mines last For 2 days

In the end we buy what fits our taste and our needs .Don't get me wrong the Sony watch is Nice, but it's not very appealing to me.

Annette Drake
22nd October, 2013 @ 05:34 pm PDT

Hi all I went and bought a gear watch I am from London it is £300 from the local shops I got from eBay £220 quite a saving and it arrived in two day dhl impressive I have a big wrist not over large and the watch strap is to tight I have it on the last notch and the metal bit digs in I have to take it of after 4 hours I like the watch but don't know what to do any ideas Danny

Boone
3rd November, 2013 @ 01:40 am PST
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