The first time when I saw the Gear Fit during Samsung’s Galaxy S5 launch in Malaysia nearly two months ago, it came to mine that hey – the curved screen is definitely something special! Touch screen with a Super AMOLED display, a heart rate sensor, and also able to vibrate when notifications come in? On paper, that makes the Gear Fit sounds like a jack-of-all-trades.
After having that thought – I looked at my wrist, and there I saw a Black Dice GURU on my wrist, an LED watch that I always wear to wherever I go. Then again, my Black Dice GURU doesn’t have anything “smart” or “fitness” in it, it’s just an LED watch that shows me the time and date.
My question is – how does it fare out compared to the Gear Fit? In this review, I’m going to split it and look at the Gear Fit in 3 different perspective – as a smart complementary device for your smartphone, as a fitness device, and lastly as a watch. Of course, we’ll into some other common traits first.
Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. It’s packaged in the usual Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5’s box, with wooden texture printed on top of the cardboard. I have to say, it sort of matches my table’s wooden texture. Opening the box, you’ll be presented with practically nothing, other than the watch itself. Digging deeper, you’ll see all the necessary things inside. Here’s all the accessories you get. The watch, micro USB wall plug, a micro USB to the Gear Fit’s proprietary charging dock, some manuals, guides and also a warranty card.
[nextpage title=”Screen, ports and buttons”]
There are only a few things on the Gear Fit – a power button on the right side, a heart rate sensor and the charger dock at the bottom. Of course, there’s also the touch screen.
It sports a 1.84-inch with 432×128 pixels on a Super AMOLED screen, and it’s also curved. This is the first ever device by Samsung that uses their bendable screen technology, but just how practical is it in the real world – especially for a watch?
[nextpage title=”As a smart device”]The Gear Fit tried to be a smart device – sending you notifications, able to find your device control your phone’s media, and even show you weather information that it got from the Samsung device that it paired with.
Here’s a gallery of what it can show you.
Sure, it can show me all these notifications but the thing that bothers me a lot is the vibration that it gives when a notification is received. It’s a little too subtle and most of the times I can’t even feel it. You’ll have to wear the Gear Fit a lot tighter than usual, which obviously caused discomfort – and we’ll talk about that in a while.
Scrolling through notifications is not the best thing to do on the Gear Fit, as the Gear Fit couldn’t preview a lot of the notifications and it kept on telling me to go back to my device to check it – and the really did defeat the purpose of having a smartwatch entirely.
What about its other functionality?
The Gear Fit is first of all, a complementary smartwatch for Samsung devices only. You’ll need to get to the Samsung Apps Store to download the required app to pair with the Gear Fit, which is conveniently named Gear Fit Manager. The app does guide you through some easy steps to pair with the Gear Fit, which then presents you with a bunch of options.
Technically you can do almost everything on the app for your phone/tablet, except the ability to change the screen orientation, setting up the user profile, and the brightness, which you’ll have to do it on the Gear Fit itself. Also, you can add a custom image as your background for the watch face by selecting an image from your Samsung device and cropping it. Neat if you have some custom design that you like to have it as your watch face background.
From all the different styles of watch faces to choose from, some of them are pretty useful, such as the one that shows the weather alongside with the date and time. Other than that, there’s a dual-clock, event clock, some funky styled ones and some typography styled ones.
This is another feature with I think isn’t really useful if your Samsung device is docked somewhere while playing music and you’re somewhere within Bluetooth range. Let’s just say you want to change the volume or change track. You can do it directly on the Gear Fit itself. Handy? Yes. Useful? Rarely.
The last thing that falls under the smartwatch category is the ability of find my phone – more specifically though, it should be called find my Samsung device instead.
Keep in mind you’ll have to be connected via Bluetooth to have this function running. With that said, it means that you’ll have to be closer than 100 meters in range from your Samsung device, otherwise you’ll not be able to use this at all – with obstacles not taken into account yet.
One you tap on the little green button, your allegedly lost Samsung device will start to ring at its loudest volume with the LED flash shining brightly.
[nextpage title=”As a fitness device”]This is where the Gear Fit’s name came by – it’s focused on fitness. It has these 3 functions that is very common these for fitness bands. Also, you’ll be needing an app called Fitness with Gear to go alongside with these fitness functionality. Technically, it’s S Health. It syncs all of the Pedometer, Exercise, Heart Rate and Sleep into the Samsung device, which then syncs to with Samsung’s server.
Surely these 3 apps are a little wonky too. Firstly. the pedometer isn’t accurate at all, which some random hand movements can also be detected as a step, and sometimes one step can be detected as a few steps. Hey Samsung, I’m not an octopus.
For the Pedometer and the Exercise mode, you’ll have to tell Samsung that you want it to be in Pedometer or Exercise mode. It’s a shame, why can’t the Gear Fit just acts as a pedometer passively and detect my steps every time, then send all those information to my Samsung device at the end of the day? The same goes for the Heart Rate mode. Just detect it periodically, and then send to my Samsung device at the end of the day without me telling you to do so. As for the Exercise mode, I can understand if there’s a need to tell it to do so.
Another thing to note is the heart rate sensor requires your hand to be super steady and with absolutely no movement – even talking is not allowed. The reason I said that the heart rate sensor is wonky is because the sensor takes quite a long time to sense your heart rate, and sometimes with quite a big deviation if your detect two consecutive times.
Then there’s the Sleep mode. It tracks your sleep pattern and tells you how long you slept, and how much you moved during your sleep. Technically it doesn’t tell much, but it’s there.
It’s also quite dumb to have to TELL the Gear Fit when you’re sleeping and also when you’re waking up. To tell the Gear Fit when you are going to sleep is pretty understandable, but the fact that you’ll have to TELL it that you woke up is a completely different story. Why can’t the Gear Fit just detects something like “Oh! Vigorous movements! The user must be awake!” and just shuts off the Sleep mode, and sync everything with the paired Samsung Device? I really can’t understand why.
[nextpage title=”As a wristwatch”]This is where everything gets a little twisted. For the first few days, I only my Nexus 4 with me, which I then followed this guide and the Gear Fit with my Nexus.
Obviously there isn’t any sort of Samsung Account available for my phone, thus the Gear Fit is reduced to practically just a wristwatch with media controls, a heart rate sensor, and a find my device function.
However, I do have another watch – the Black Dice GURU – an LED wristwatch, that I’ve been wearing for more than a year. It also has a curved screen just like the Gear Fit, which I think has a very similar form factor here is while the Gear Fit is reduced to only a wristwatch, I think the comparison between both the wristwatches.
First of all, I love the Black Dice GURU. I love every single part of it – the curvature, the simplicity, and the durability. It already has a lot of scratches, but it still works completely fine.
Both of these watches have a curve to the screen, but not on the chassis of the watch themselves. The Gear Fit has a subtle curve on the chassis, which makes it to adapt to the human’s wrist shape a little less comfortable than the Black Dice GURU did. Both of them have one button, with the button on the Gear Fit a lot harder to press than the one on the GURU.
Both the watches fit pretty nicely, but the Black Dice GURU is obviously larger than the Gear Fit by quite a large margin. Of course the fonts are a lot larger and its display is on an LED matrix and not on some fancy Super AMOLED screen.
Of course, the Gear Fit has an upper hand with the gesture detection that when you mimic the action of turning your wrist to look at the time, the screen automatically turns on for you.
Speaking of the display, this Outdoor brightness mode is something that Samsung included for the Gear Fit so that you can look at the time under sunlight without difficulty. Another dumb thing to do is not including a light intensity sensor into the Gear Fit so that it can have an auto-brightness mode.
You’ll have to manually go to the settings on the Gear Fit, then navigate to Display and bump up the brightness. Once you’ve selected Outdoor mode, you hit OK and then a message comes out saying that the Outdoor mode is only turned on for 5 minutes max, and it’ll automatically revert back to brightness level 5 after 5 minutes. You’ll have to repeat the process again if you’re going to go back to Outdoor brightness mode.
Before I updated the Gear Fit, there was a fuss about the Gear Fit not being able to rotate the screen orientation, and had to wait for an update to bring that option in. Seriously Samsung, my Black Dice GURU is a watch that I pay what I get for – no firmware updates or any sort of aftermarket support – and it’s able to rotate the view.
Also, my Black Dice GURU is able to do this with its large display.
What’s a wristwatch without commenting on the wristband?
The clasp used on the Gear Fit definitely uncomfortable, by having a belt-life two-pin locking mechanism, which is very flimsy and if you’re not careful enough, a simple hook to the clothes can have the Gear Fit falling down on the ground.
Also, the build quality of the clasp isn’t exactly the best after all.
However though, there are some positives in the wristband.
There are some ridges along the entire length of the wristband, which I think is something to prevent uncomfortable extreme sweating on the strap, but then again that’s not really effective since the watch itself does not have any ridges. Hello, sweaty wrist.
The Gear Fit does have a removable strap for you to change to some other colour or design according to your own preference, but of course it is also water resistant – meaning that you can wash the Gear Fit and the strap with water, but it’s not waterproof, so don’t bring it to the pool or the beach to have fun.
General comfort wise, the Gear Fit doesn’t have the heft to it that you can readjust a wristwatch by just vigorously twisting the hand – it’ll require you to use your other hand to adjust it. Also, without the heft to it, you won’t know if the Gear Fit is still attached to your wrist – it can be dropped somewhere without you even knowing, given the super-light weight. I feel that even the gesture sensitivity is a little too slow and not as good as the Gear 2. Maybe that’s why the battery lasts a lot longer than the Gear 2? I can’t really describe how sensitive it is, you’ll have to test it for yourself.
This is just a personal preference, your mileage may vary.
[nextpage title=”Battery and charger”]When I first saw the things included with the Gear Fit, I was baffled by it. Everything – except the paperwork – is necessary to be brought out and about if you are travelling. There is absolutely NO escape from the unnecessary bulk.
The charging dock, though small, is definitely cube-ish in shape and is proprietary. This means that if you lost this charging dock, you’re screwed. Sure, you can also use other wall adapters to charge the Gear Fit, but the charging dock is absolutely necessary.
Charging the Gear Fit is rather annoying. Since it’s supposed to be a smart device that tracks your sleep cycles, your steps, and also your exercise routine only when you’re wearing it, you’ll have to put down the watch some time during your daily routine to charge the watch. That means you’ll have to put it to charge during your sleep – which it will then be unable to track your sleep cycle, or leave it on the table when you’re working on the desk.
The Gear Fit can be charged completely within an hour, and has a battery life that lasts for about 3 to 4 days – most definitely better than the other smartwatch that I’m currently reviewing, the Gear 2. I’ve been wearing my Black Dice GURU for more than a year now and the battery is still running great.
[nextpage title=”Wrap up”]So the Samsung Gear Fit is a device that tries to be 3 separate things at the same time – a smart device, a fitness band, and also a watch. The reason why I don’t consider the smart and watch together is because I think that the Gear Fit can also be a fashion accessory since Samsung did boast its form factor so proudly to the world.
For general comfort? Meh, I think you’ll have to wear the Gear Fit pretty tight on the wrist to have the smart and fitness functions working properly. It does look attractive with the curved screen, but then again ever since the announcement of the Gear Fit, people have been mistakenly asking me if that’s a Gear Fit on my wrist.
Hey Black Dice, no lawsuit?
All jokes aside though, here’s the summary.
Rating : 4/10
The Gear Fit tried to be too many things at the same time, which then turned out to be sub-par or mediocre in all the things that it does as compared to other devices out there that only costs a fraction of its price. It does make a fashion statement somehow with its bright screen, but with a recommended retail price of RM599? That’s definitely a tipping point in my decision.
It’s just too small, and I couldn’t find any real practical use that will make me buy the Gear Fit.
There’s a reason why I gave it an even lower score.
It only works with Samsung devices.
Seriously Samsung, please open up.
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