Samsung got my attention with the Gear Fit 2. It had everything I looked for in a fitness tracker: all-day fitness tracking, heart rate, GPS for tracking pace and distance when running, smartphone notifications, inactivity alerts and automatic exercise detection. It even had some features I never even thought I would use, such as onboard music storage, and water and caffeine tacking.
The Fit 2 is more than just a fitness tracker. It's a sort of like a mini fitness smartwatch. There are a variety of appealing watch faces to choose from, you can view and respond to notifications from your Android phone right on your wrist, and there's a built-in Spotify app.
I also can't forget about the design. The curved screen and beautiful AMOLED display is appealing to look at and feels comfortable on the wrist. And I really like the price. The Fit 2 is available now for $179/AU$289 (about £125), significantly less than the comparable Microsoft Band 2, Garmin Vivosmart HR+ and Fitbit Surge. Unfortunately, it's only available for Android devices.
When it's all said and done, however, I'm not in love with the band. I actually look forward to taking it off and going back my Fitbit and Garmin watches. Here's why:
A mini fitness smartwatch, but with limited apps
The Fit 2 is like a slimmed-down version of Samsung's Gear S2 smartwatch. It has the same fitness features and notifications (and those features are both very good), but it's missing app support. There are some basic apps, like a stopwatch and a timer. The one to care about is the Spotify app, which lets you control and access your playlists right from your wrist. Unfortunately, you still need a phone connected to use it.
There is 4GB of space so you can load up to 1,000 of your favorite songs right to the device, but who buys music anymore? It would have been a game changer if you were able to load Spotify playlists right on the device for offline use. Hopefully this is something that will come sometime down the road, but it isn't guaranteed.
Running is frustrating
I was excited when Samsung told me the Fit 2 has GPS. As an avid runner and cyclist, it's an essential feature to measure my pace, speed and distance. Working out with the Fit 2, however, has been nothing but frustrating. Novice runners may not have the same problems I did, but it's clear this isn't designed for serious athletes.
Most devices with GPS require you to wait until a signal is acquired. When you start a running exercise with the Fit 2, it immediately begins to countdown from three seconds and starts the timer. Each time I had to pause the band and wait for the signal to be acquired, which was never a fast ordeal. The Garmin and Polar watches I used for comparison acquired GPS within a few seconds. Meanwhile, the Fit 2 took a few minutes each time.
The other problem is that beautiful screen. There's a special outdoor mode that increases brightness and makes it easy to see, but the screen isn't always on. Instead, it wakes up when you move your arm to your face, which isn't easy to pull off mid-run. And it isn't even very responsive.
Much like the Apple Watch, the Fit 2 also only displays one data point per screen and doesn't allow you to see crucial running information at a glance. If I wanted to see distance, I had to swipe over once and then swipe two more times to see my pace. This was extremely frustrating and became increasingly difficult thanks to my sweaty fingers.
Heart rate is good, except when working out
An optical heart-rate sensor on the back of the Fit 2 measures your heart rate every 10 minutes throughout the day. I found these measurements generally accurate when compared to a Polar chest strap...until I started working out. Heart-rate data is captured at 1-second intervals during workouts. Measurements tended to be off by around 20 to 30 beats per minute, especially during harder runs. At one point, the Fit 2 even recorded my heart rate at 225 bpm (it was actually around 190).
The Fit 2 is able to sync with the popular running and cycling app Strava, but it can't upload heart-rate data, which is disappointing.
Battery life is too short
I got about two-and-a-half days of battery with everyday use, and a single 30-minute workout using the GPS. With the GPS disabled, the Fit 2 lasted a little longer than 3 days. These results are better than the Microsoft Band 2 and the Apple Watch, but far worse than similar products from Fitbit and Garmin (like the Fitbit Blaze and Garmin Forerunner 235).
Battery life with an active GPS signal is said to be around 9 hours, which is actually quite good (an hour longer than the Garmin Vivosmart HR+). I didn't get a chance to test it over any continuous 9-hour activities, though.
You can't shower or swim with it
The Fit 2 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 water, it's not recommended that you shower with it (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.
There are better alternatives
The Fit 2 isn't a bad product. In fact, I prefer it over the Microsoft Band 2. If it wasn't for the shorter battery life, it would be high on my list as a solid fitness and sleep tracker. It just didn't win me over. It's a shame, because the Fit 2 has such an appealing design. At the end of the day, there are better fitness trackers and better GPS running watches out there.
We like the Fitbit Alta and Fitbit Charge HR. Looking for a nice design? It may be a little more expensive, but we also like the Fitbit Blaze. If you want a device with GPS, check out the Garmin Forerunner 235 or Vivoactive HR. If you really love the curved design over anything else, maybe check the Fit 2 out for yourself. But at least you know the limitations.