Samsung Gear Fit 2 review: Samsung nails design, falls short on functionality

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16

The Good The Gear Fit 2 has a slim design with a beautiful curved AMOLED display that can show smartphone notifications and weekly charts. It also has GPS, heart-rate monitoring, onboard music storage for up to 1,000 songs, all-day fitness and sleep tracking, and automatic exercise detection.

The Bad Short battery life. The accuracy of the heart-rate sensor fluctuates during workouts. You can't wear in the shower or while swimming. No iPhone support. Samsung's S Health app can be confusing.

The Bottom Line The Gear Fit 2 is a great-looking feature-packed fitness band, but its design isn't always perfect for hardcore workout warriors.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Battery 6
  • Performance 7
  • Software 7
  • Features 9

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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.