Samsung Gear 2 Neo review

The second generation of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch is here but Samsung has dropped the first part of the name. That's because the Gear 2 Neo runs Tizen, not Android so read our hands-on review from MWC to see what it's all about.

We were surprised at the premium £299 price tag of the Galaxy Gear but Samsung promises that the Gear 2 Neo smartwatch will be cheaper, although its price is still to be confirmed so we'll see whether that is the case or not. It will be Samsung's entry-level smartwatch with the Gear 2 expected to be still on the expensive side of things. See also: Samsung Gear Fit hands-on review: a skinny smartwatch designed to help you work out.

Samsung Gear 2 Neo smartwatch

The Gear 2 Neo looks similar to the Galaxy Gear but the device has been trimmed down so it doesn't feel like wearing a brick on your wrist. It feels like the size of a normal watch, but of course it has a touchscreen instead of a normal clock face.

Like the Galaxy S5 smartphone, the Gear 2 Neo is dust- and water-resistant to an IP67 certification and will come in various different colours.

That 1.63in Super AMOLED display (the same as the Galaxy Gear) looks gorgeous with good contrast and the eye-popping colour that we're now accustomed to with Samsung products. It's nice and responsive to the touch and unlike the Galaxy Gear, the Gear 2 Neo has a physical home button positioned below the display.

Like other smartwatches, the Gear 2 Neo connects to a companion smartphone over Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy. You'll need to have a compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphone though, of which there are 17. Once connected you can get notifications, manage calls and messages and do other tasks like control music playback. The Gear Manager app on the smartphone is used to customise the Gear 2 Neo's clock face, wallpaper and what apps are installed.

Samsung Gear 2 Infrared

For some strange reason, Samsung put a camera into the Galaxy Gear, but for the Gear 2 Neo this has been replaced with a much more useful infrared transmitter which can be used to control your TV with the WatchON app. Fortunately, it doesn't need to be a Samsung either.

Another key feature is a built-in heart rate monitor which can, well, measure your heart rate surprisingly.  This is appropriately place on the back on the watch where there are also metal contacts for charging the Gear 2 Neo. Combine this with the built-in pedometer which can be used in different modes (running, walking, cycling and hiking) and the Gear 2 Neo is an activity tracker as well as a smartwatch.

Samsung Gear 2 heart rate monitor

Samsung says the typical battery life of the Gear 2 Neo is between two and three days. We're unable to test this at MWC so we'll have to test this out when we get a review sample.

As we've mentioned, the Gear 2 Neo runs Samsung's own HTML-based Tizen OS rather than Android. However, you wouldn't know this just by looking at the smartwatch. The interface looks very similar to that of the Galalaxy Gear. Navigation is simple and easy to get acquainted with and the physical home button really helps.

A 1GHz dual-core processor means everything is nice and snappy. Samsung says the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will launch with around 100 apps.

OUR VERDICT

We're still waiting for the price but the Gear 2 Neo is a lovely little smartwatch from Samsung. It's got a stunning screen and handy features including an infrared transmitter and heart rate monitor. It's also lighter and thinner than the Galaxy Gear so we just hope the price is right.