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Samsung Gear Fit Review

By Simon Thomas on 21st April 2014


3G Total Score
Pros: Cons:
+ Good looking (for a smartwatch) - Time display very unrealiable
+ Decent build quality - Lacks GPS tracking
+ Curved display is bright - Can't see long texts
+ Battery should last up to 3 days - S Health app is not user friendly
  - Doesn't automatically detect sleep or excercise

Verdict:

"This is a smartwatch/fitness tracker that falls short on what it promises. The Gear Fit does have a lovely screen, easy-to-use user interface and will fit most people’s wrist, but it has too many issues. It’s heading in the right direction but is not yet the smartwatch we’re all waiting for."

Full Review and Specification for the Samsung Gear Fit

 Samsung Gear Fit

Samsung has put together a smartwatch and fitness tracker with its Samsung Gear Fit, which aims to run your life from your wrist – there for text and email notifications, checking your heartrate, how far you run – and all for £169. Is it worth the price tag? And will you want to dump your traditional wristwatch and fitness band for it?

Hardware

Samsung Gear Fit On Wrist

So here we have a curved, Super AMOLED touchscreen measuring 1.84 inches, attached to a plastic and rubber wristband. You switch the watch on and off using the power button on the side, and the strap easily adjusts to fit any wrist size. You can also change it for a number of different coloured straps produced by Samsung.
 
The heartrate monitor sits on the back of the device and charging is carried out via a cheap plastic dock that is all too easy to lose. The battery life is between two and three days so you’ll need that dock quite a lot.

Samsung Gear Fit Back
The display itself has a glass cover for protection and offers a 432 x 128 resolution. A slim chrome bezel surrounds it. The Gear Fit looks good, has decent build quality and feels strong enough to survive any sweaty gym workout – luckily it is also waterproof up to one metre for up to 30 minutes, so should be fine if you forget to take it off in the shower afterwards.

It’s also really light – weighing in at 27g – and you soon forget you have it on. With dimensions of 23.4 x 57.4mm and being nearly 12mm thick, it fitted under shirt sleeves and was less awkward than the Gear 2. Mind you, one friend did say it looked like “a futuristic prison tag”.

Display

The display is sharp and bright and easy to read in bright sunlight – it’s just a shame the screen doesn’t automatically adjust to ambient light as those on smartphones do. The Gear 2 has the same issue. But at least on that you can switch to outdoor mode by pressing down the Home button.

Adjusting brightness means heading to the home screen, and going through a series of taps and swipes to get to the settings where you can choose one of six levels of brightness. It’s hard to do this outdoors if the screen is not bright enough to see – and like the Gear Fit 2, Outdoor Mode switches off after five minutes to save battery life.
 
Despite this, Samsung has done a decent job in creating the Gear Fit. It looks good and feels like a quality product. It’s just a shame it is lacking that ambient light sensor.

Operating system

Samsung Gear Fit Software
The Gear Fit runs on Samsung’s own OU, Tizen. On either side of the home screen sit carousels of apps, which can be opened by tapping them. You can alter the screen to be used by right-and left-handers – and it can also be viewed vertically – reading horizontally is not always best to facilitate reading at a glance.

Unfortunately, like the Gear 2, the Gear Fit doesn’t light up when you flick your wrist – which makes it hard to check the time – bit of a problem for a watch! Even exaggerated wrist movements didn’t work all the time – and by the time I had managed to get the screen to light up I’d pretty much given up. Here’s hoping Samsung can fix this with a software update.

The user interface allows you to check notifications for texts, calls, emails and apps such as twitter and Facebook, which is handy if you don’t have your smartphone to hand.
 

Samsung Gear Fit Notification
You can’t actually make or receive phone calls as you can on the Gear 2. What happens when someone calls is that the watch vibrates and lights up and offers the user the choice of rejecting a call, or rejecting it with a text message to the caller. You have to pre-write these texts using the Gear Fit Manager app on a Samsung smartphone.
 
You can read your texts on the Gear Fit, but if they are longer than two sentences you won’t see all of them – and will have to look at them on your phone instead. On one occasion a text arrived on my phone but all I could see on the Fit was an old message from the same contact.

Battery life

According to Samsung you should get two to three days out of the Fit’s battery with regular use – and with light use up to five days. Our tests seemed to agree with that, with the pedometer on, a Bluetooth connection to a phone and adjusting the screen brightness according to the ambient light.

Exercise tracking

Samsung Gear Fit Health Tracker
The onboard pedometer works well, but you must remember to start it every time you want to start tracking steps – and you will need to sync it manually with the S Health app on your S5 smartphone – even though there is a permanent Bluetooth connection. Plus you have to let the Fit know when you wake up or go to sleep, something that other fitness bands detect automatically. It also needs to be told if you are hiking, running or cycling.

 You can set a goal of steps you want to achieve daily – a vibrating alert will let you know when you hit your target. Using the S Health app 3.0 you can access lots of data and customise it. You can enter height and weight, do regular heartrate readings, record your exercise and diet details – and then head to the app’s ‘coach’ section for advice on diet, sleep, weight and so on – in fact there’s rather too much available here.


Samsung Gear Fit S-Health
While there’s plenty of functionality there is often too much going on and many of the features will probably not be used more than once. For example, the food coach analyses your diet – well once you know you are a reasonably healthy eater you’ll probably ever look at it again. Samsung could easily simplify a lot of the features in the next incarnation of S Health.
 
It’s a pity, too that it is not possible to track runs on a map as many running apps for iOS and Android already do. While you’re running you can play music through Bluetooth headphone, but it has to be streamed through your phone – you can’t store music on the Fit.

Our verdict

 
The Gear Fit was a favourite when we went to the Mobile World Congress technology show earlier this year. The Gear 2 is too pricey and has too much on board, while the Fit has kept it simple.
 
The idea of the Gear Fit is sound – and perfect for those who don’t need or want to pay out for a full smartwatch. But unfortunately there are too many issues – Samsung needs to get things like displaying the time correctly sorted out first. Also, not being able to read longs texts and having to tell the watch when you are asleep, awake or exercising is a bit of a nuisance, and something other fitness trackers are already capable of detecting automatically.

 

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Samsung Gear Fit Review Scoring

  • Style and Handling
  • User Friendliness
  • Feature set
  • Performance
  • Battery
  • Overall Score

Samsung Gear Fit Phone Specification

Dimensions: 23.4 x 57.4 x 11.95mm
Weight: 27g
Screen size: 1.84 inch OLED display
Screen Resolution: 432 x 128 pixels
Processor: 180MHz processor
Battery Capacity: 210mAH
Operating System: Real-Time Operating System
Bluetooth/NFC/Infrared LED Yes/No/No
WiFi/3G/4G No/No/No
Sensors: Accelerometer, gyro and hear rate
Colours: Black, Brown, Blue, Green, Orange and Red (interchangable straps)
Launch Date: Out Now
Price: £180

# sales team/customer service: 0800 358 9048

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