Every time we get a new fitness band to test out in the office it feels like we come to the same conclusion: apart from a heart rate sensor we can’t see the point of the product if you carry your phone everywhere with you. While the Samsung Gear Fit2 still doesn’t change that, we still finally see a reason why we’d buy one.
And that reason is fact that the Gear Fit2 can store its own music and play it over Bluetooth. This means that, finally, you can go for a run without your phone and still listen to your favourite tunes.
Yeah – it’s the small things in life that count.
That said, with just 4GB of storage, you probably won’t be able to cram your entire library on here unless you have very limited tastes. But it’s enough for a workout playlist that you won’t need to change for a few weeks. From the app you can push songs from your phone to the Fit2 and away you go.
It will automatically pick up any Bluetooth speakers or headphones close to it and start streaming. The quality of this, even using terrible low bitrate MP3s is impressive. It obviously doesn’t make it sound any better, but we didn’t hear any further degradation. Using the Zagg Flex Arc Wireless we found no difference between using the Fit2 or a phone.
More impressive still is the fact that switching between your phone and the Fit2 is easy and it’s going to be a real treat for that niche market that spends 24/7 with a Bluetooth headset in their ears.
But the tunes you listen to are only a small part of what a fitness band is supposed to do. All the other facets and features of the Fit2 are exactly what you’d expect. The heart rate monitor, the exercise tracker, the GPS and sleep tracking all works perfectly.
These are all features that we’ve come to know and love and nothing new is being done with them here. Failing to innovate isn’t a necessarily a deal breaker (hell, it’s Apple’s entire business model at the moment), but, the music functionality is the real must-buy feature here with everything else being left as you’d expect it.
The Fit2 obviously does sync with a phone when one’s available, and the Samsung Gear app is used to manage all the features and data from the band. It all works as it should but doesn’t push any boundaries. One feature we noticed that may entice people is the option to directly challenge another person to see who does the most exercise. While competition and group fitness apps have existed for a while, it’s nice to see it as a native feature.
From the app you can change watch faces, push music to the gear, backup data stored on the Fit2 and change the layout and how you view notifications. One particularly nice feature is the ability to find your phone or Fit2 depending on which one you have and which one is missing. It doesn’t use GPS but rather a loud siren will go off pointing you in the device’s general direction.
While the app does work with Samsung’s fitness app, S Health, it does not integrate into MyFitnessPal. It may be a small gripe for some as the band and the app give you the information to easily enter into MyFitnessPall, but we feel integration really should be included.
The battery life of the Fit2 was a real mixed bag. You can get a full charge after just under two hours from a wall socket, but the life after that is less predictable. We almost got three full days when we did nothing but sit behind a desk and be lazy, but really struggled to get a full day out of it when we spent a day walking around an expo.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of exercising, listening to music and tracking your heart rate and water intake, you will struggle to get a full day out of it.
What’s it like on your arm though?
The hardware packed into the relatively small Fit2 is is really impressive. Crammed into that tiny body is a 1GHz processor that Samsung made itself, a gyrometer, a heart rate monitor, 4GB of storage and 512MB of RAM. All of that is powered by a 200mAh battery and its finished off with a gorgeous display.
This display is one of the clearest and best defined we’ve seen in a long time and we spent a good while admiring it when we took it out of the box. The touch functionality works great even if its lined with sweat and and the two physical buttons to the right of the display really help with navigation.
There are some quirks, however. A feature we loved – a reminder to get up and walk around when we’ve been sitting too long – is buried deep within the settings and some features require needless swipes and taps. We hope this becomes more streamlined in the future.
There is one problem with the Fit2, however. It’s just a bit uncomfortable to actually wear. And in the summer heat the band gets even more uncomfortable as it causes and catches perspiration. Yes, the Fit2 made me sweat, and not in a good way.
The same happens when you’re exercising. You’ll need to stop and wipe off the build up as it will begin to irritate you. As a lifestyle product which is supposed to worn at all times, it was a massive problem and the Fit2’s biggest flaw.
Samsung Gear Fit2 review: Conclusion
At R3 999 the Fit2 is pricey, but justifiably so. The FitBit Blaze, for example, has the same RRP, but lacks that all important on-board music. While the Blaze may be objectively better looking and can be disguised as a watch, the Fit2 is the better fitness band.
If you’re on the fence you need to ask yourself if music, GPS and heart rate tracking on top of all the other standard fitness band features is enough to justify the price to you.