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Wearable Tech

Samsung goes after Fitbit with the Gear Fit 2

We go hands-on with the Gear Fit 2, Samsung's latest fitness tracker with smartphone alerts, GPS, and all-day activity and heart rate tracking.

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Samsung's been serious about fitness for a few years now, but now the company has its sights set on both Fitbit and Garmin with the announcement of its latest fitness tracker. The Gear Fit 2 is a full-featured fitness band, and even a mini smartwatch. And it looks like it's learned a few lessons from the surprisingly good Gear S2 that debuted last fall.

The new Fit 2 packs even more features than the original Gear Fit, covering the bases on what most people would look for in fitness tracking. Automatic exercise detection, detailed progress charts on the band, a detailed mobile app and a much-improved vertical viewing mode make it feel pretty slick based on our short hands-on time. The Fit 2 comes with a bunch of watch faces that look a lot better than what most competing fitness trackers offer.

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The original Gear Fit (left) next to the new Gear Fit 2 (right)

Sarah Tew/CNET

The second-gen model isn't just limited to Samsung devices and will now work with any device running Android KitKat or higher, but there's still no iPhone support. It also sports a more vibrant 1.5-inch curved touchscreen display and adds GPS for tracking pace and distance when running.

What really excites me is the onboard music storage. It's similar to what we saw in the TomTom Spark, there's 4GB of internal storage for your favorite songs. These songs are stored right on the device and you can stream them to a pair of Bluetooth headphones -- no phone required. Samsung has also partnered with Spotify to let both premium and non-premium users control music right from their wrists. At this time you will need to be streaming Spotify songs from a connected phone, but I wouldn't be shocked if we saw offline playlists support arrive sometime in the future.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Everything else is comparable to other dedicated fitness devices in the wearable market right now. The Fit 2 tracks steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and sleep. An optical heart-rate sensor on the back will measure your heart rate every 10 minutes (or at 1-second intervals during workouts). You can also view and respond to notifications from your Android phone right from your wrist.

Similar to what Fitbit and Garmin have implemented in their devices, the Fit 2 is able to automatically recognize and record when you are walking, running, cycling, rowing or on an elliptical, although these use the accelerometer and not the GPS, which has to be manually turned on.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung has said with normal usage you will get between three to four days of battery life, and up to nine hours with an active GPS signal, which tops Garmin's recently announced Vivosmart HR+.

The tracker isn't fully waterproof. It has an IP68 rating, so it will do just fine out in the rain, doing the dishes and during workouts. While you can submerge it in up to 3 feet of static, it's not recommended that you shower with it (this is due to varying water pressure levels from different shower heads), although it isn't likely to break if you forget to take it off once in awhile.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

You would think that with all of these features, the Fit 2 would come with a premium price tag, but that isn't the case. The tracker will retail for $179 (£125, approximately AU$250), less than comparable trackers like the Microsoft Band 2 and Garmin Vivosmart HR+.

The Gear Fit 2 will be available in small and large sizes in black, blue and pink on June 10. Preorders begin on June 3.

We are currently testing the Gear Fit 2 and will have a full review in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

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