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Comparing the six Samsung Gear smartwatches

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September 1, 2014

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Gear S (far left) to Samsung's previous five...

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Gear S (far left) to Samsung's previous five(!) smartwatches

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When it comes to smartwatches, Samsung has had its foot on the gas pedal all through the last year. After launching the Galaxy Gear last September, the company pushed out three more watches in April and another in July. And next month, we're going to get our first taste of the Gear S. Confused? Let Gizmag lend a hand, as we compare all six Samsung Gear watches.

If you've lost track (understandably so), these are the six Samsung smartwatches that we're going to be looking at:

  • Gear S
  • Gear Live
  • Gear Fit
  • Gear 2
  • Gear 2 Neo
  • Galaxy Gear

For each category in this comparison, you'll see two rows of watches – ordered exactly as they are in the list above. If you lose track, just scroll back up here for a quick refresher.

Software

Software platform (row 1)
Software platform (row 2)

Apart from the Android Wear-running Gear Live and the Gear Fit (which runs a barebones real-time OS), all of our watches run Samsung's Tizen platform for wearables. Though it launched with a weak app selection, I've been impressed with its steady growth since then.

The Galaxy Gear is the rare mobile device that was updated with a completely different operating system. The watch launched running a custom version of Android, but it now runs Tizen as well.

Voice control

Voice control (row 1)
Voice control (row 2)

Android Wear has the better voice control, as it puts the speed and versatility of Google Now on your wrist. Samsung is teasing "enhanced S Voice" for the Gear S, though, so we're eager to find out what that means.

Notifications

Notifications (row 1)
Notifications (row 2)

Like just about every other smartwatch you can buy, all of these watches deliver smartphone alerts to your wrist. You can also choose which phone apps will send notifications to your watch.

Size

Size (row 1)
Size (row 2)

The dimensions above measure each watch's main body – including the bezel, but not including the band.

The Android Wear-running Gear Live is the thinnest, but, having spent quality time with the first five of these watches, I don't think the Live necessary feels much thinner.

Since the Gear Fit is more of a fitness tracker than full-fledged smartwatch, it's much narrower than the rest.

Weight

Weight (row 1)
Weight (row 2)

The Gear Fit is also the lightest, though I don't think any of the first five watches feel particularly heavy on the wrist.

Samsung didn't list the Gear S' weight in its initial press materials. Based on my hands-on time with it (along with its larger screen), I'd say it's the heaviest in this bunch – but not so heavy that it gives you anything to worry about.

Swappable band

Swappable band (row 1)
Swappable band (row 2)

All but the original Galaxy Gear let you swap out their default bands for a different style.

In the case of the Gear 2, Neo and Live, you can use any standard 22 mm band. We aren't yet sure whether the Gear S supports standard bands.

Colors

Color options (row 1)
Color options (row 2)

All but the Gear Fit are sold in multiple colors.You can still customize it, though, by buying a different-colored replacement band.

Standalone wireless

Standalone (3G) wireless (row 1)
Standalone (3G) wireless (row 2)

The Gear S is a groundbreaking device, as you can pop in a SIM card and get 3G data without the help of your phone. If smartwatches are eventually going to replace our smartphones, then the Gear S is a step in that direction.

Non-Samsung Android compatibility

Always-on display (row 1)
Always-on display (row 2)

For the Galaxy Gear, Gear 2, Neo and Fit, you'll need to pair your watch with a recent Samsung Galaxy phone.

In addition to working independently, the Gear S can also pair with a phone. We aren't yet sure, though, whether that will need to be a Samsung phone. I'd bet that it will.

As the only Android Wear watch in this bunch, the Gear Live plays nicely with any Android phone running 4.3 or higher.

The Gear Fit isn't officially supported on non-Samsung phones, but if you install the Gear Fit Manager app on any Android phone (also running 4.3+), it will work. You'll just be missing a few features, like weather and fitness data syncing.

iPhone compatibility

iPhone compatibility (row 1)
iPhone compatibility (row 2)

If you're an iPhone owner, then none of these watches will work with your handset (though you could use the 3G-enabled Gear S alongside of it).

Always-on display

Non-Samsung Android compatibility (row 1)
Non-Samsung Android compatibility (row 2)

We don't yet know whether the Gear S will have an always-on display, but none of the previous Tizen-running Gears do. Only the Android Wear-running Gear Live leaves some kind of watch face showing at all times.

Curved display

Curved display (row 1)
Curved display (row 2)

In addition to its 3G capabilities, this is likely to be the Gear S' killer feature. I was a fan of the Gear Fit's curved screen, but it was hard to get too excited about such a limited device. The much bigger curved display on the Gear S could make it one of the most intriguing smartwatches yet.

Display (size)

Display size (row 1)
Display size (row 2)

The Gear S also gives you much more real estate than any of the other watches here.

That can have its advantages, but, when it comes to wearables, bigger isn't always going to be better. When we get some wrists-on time with the Gear S, we'll be curious to see if its screen looks gaudily oversized.

Display (resolution)

Display resolution (row 1)
Display resolution (row 2)

The Gear S may also look a bit sharper than the other watches.

Home button location

Home button location (row 1)
Home button location (row 2)

We've seen Samsung experiment with home buttons on the side of the watch, as well as under the screen. Android Wear uses an onscreen gesture for home, so there's only a power button on the side of the Gear Live.

Water resistance

Water resistance (row 1)
Water resistance (row 2)

Most of the watches offer IP67 water resistance, meaning they can sit in 1 m (3.3 ft) of water for 30 minutes, and come out as good as new. The Galaxy Gear is the lone holdout, with an IP55 rating (which is more like splash protection).

Built-in GPS

Built-in GPS (row 1)
Built-in GPS (row 2)

The Gear S is the only watch in this bunch to offer built-in GPS. Samsung is also partnering with Nokia to bring the company's Here navigation service to the Gear S.

Any time a device employs location services, though, you need to keep an eye on battery life. We'll have to wait and see how the Gear S holds up with navigation running.

Though the Gear Live doesn't have any GPS hardware onboard, it does display Google Maps navigation alerts from your phone. None of the other watches do that.

Camera

Camera (row 1)
Camera (row 2)

I wonder if Samsung is moving away from cameras in its watches, as the new flagship, the Gear S, doesn't have one. The Gear Live didn't have a camera either, but that was to be expected: Android Wear isn't currently designed for cameras.

The missing camera is also the primary difference between the Gear 2 Neo and the more expensive Gear 2.

Battery

Battery (row 1)
Battery (row 2)

All of these watches will at least get you through a full day. In my testing on the first five watches, I find the above estimates (courtesy of Samsung) to be fairly sound.

Fitness tracking

Fitness tracking (row 1)
Fitness tracking (row 2)

Any self-respecting smartwatch is going to let you track your steps, and all of these fit that bill. They can all serve as 24-hour pedometers, tracking your steps in the background, as well as logging individual workouts.

Heart rate monitor

Heart rate sensor (row 1)
Heart rate sensor (row 2)

All but the original Galaxy Gear add a little extra health awareness, with their built-in pulse monitors.

Infrared

Infrared (row 1)
Infrared (row 2)

The Gear 2 and Neo have built-in IR blasters, so you can use them as universal remotes for your TV, cable box or even air conditioner.

Samsung's WatchOn remote app, bundled with the Gear 2 and Neo, is a bit too barebones for our taste. But there's a great third-party replacement called Smart IR Remote that fills those gaps.

Keyboard

Keyboard (row 1)
Keyboard (row 2)

With its larger screen, Samsung is throwing in an onscreen keyboard for the Gear S.

Though the Gear 2, Neo and Galaxy Gear don't have virtual keyboards baked in by default, you can download the excellent Fleksy Messenger app to rap out text messages – with surprising accuracy.

Processor

Processors (row 1)
Processors (row 2)

The Gear Live is the only watch in this bunch that has a quad core processor. But I'd take that with a few grains of salt, as its Android Wear software demands a different degree of processing power. The other watches also have fast and smooth UIs, with only the Galaxy Gear clocking in a bit slower.

RAM

RAM (row 1)
RAM (row 2)

512 MB appears to be the order of the day for smartwatch RAM.

Storage

Storage (row 1)
Storage (row 2)

Likewise, apparently 4 GB is the target number for Samsung smartwatch storage. Since nearly every app you can download is only going to take up a few megabytes of memory (if that), this should be more than you'll ever need.

Release date

Release date (row 1)
Release date (row 2)

Here you can see just how aggressive Samsung has been in this budding smartwatch space. Six months after the Galaxy Gear landed, we saw three more watches. Three months after that, the Android Wear model dropped. And just over a month from now, we'll have yet another Samsung watch.

We can't blame Samsung for pushing this hard, but you'll also want to go into this knowing that, even if you buy the latest model, it might be dethroned just a few months later.

Price

Price (row 1)
Price (row 2)

We don't yet know what the Gear S will sell for, but hopefully we'll find out before long (it will likely be the most expensive watch in this group). The Gear Live, Gear 2 and Neo all fall in the $200-300 range, while the Gear Fit and (currently on clearance) Galaxy Gear dip below that.

More

Still on the fence? Then you can check out our full reviews for the first five Gear watches:

Though we'll have to wait for a full review, we got some quality hands-on time with the Gear S during Samsung's launch event.

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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
3 Comments

Do any of them have replaceable bands? I wear sun block daily, and I believe the chemicals in it attack and degrade plastics.

I've had two digital watches that I've had to throw out because the plastic bands degraded and broke.

Wombat56
1st September, 2014 @ 03:12 pm PDT

You have got to be kidding! Only one that reports seconds. Ben Franklin would have a baso vegal event!

Bill

Island Architect
2nd September, 2014 @ 10:04 am PDT

"Since nearly every app you can download is only going to take up a few megabytes of memory "

I disagree. I have a TrueSmart which is stand-alone like the gear S. I use it to track my runs, but also for navigation during sailing. Maps take up a lot of space. I have a sim card in it, but that is a cheap call and text only prepaid.

Since i use it as a smartphone replacement rather than add on, i do like having all my docs and pictures on hand. And then there's the gigs of storage that apps like whatsapp and especially facebook eat.

So... especially the gear S would greatly benefit from more storage or a micro sd slot. Especially if we get an android (wear) stand alone watch from Samsung.

Arend Hamming
7th September, 2014 @ 02:15 am PDT
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