Most helpful critical review
268 of 300 people found the following review helpful
Died at 7 months and Samsung won't honor the warranty
on April 11, 2014
Not a bad watch - for the 7 months it worked. However, Samsung support gets 1 star for not standing behind their devices. I would have been considering a Gear S at this point, but the issue is with Samsung as a firm (honoring their obligations), not the hardware, so I will take a pass (read other reviews - my experience is not isolated). This device I had the day of release, but perhaps my next wearable will be Motorola.
Long story short: after much arguing with Samsung, they will not honor the warranty. They are calling the device out of warranty because there is a screen / glass issue. Nevermind that there are no cracks, scratches, or chips in the glass to suggest it was physically damaged - the glass is simply coming unglued from the LCD. What's more, the remaining major issues with the device they will not fix (Bluetooth doesn't work, it boots to an error screen, and it won't hold a charge - all of which happened at different times and are unrelated to the glass), unless I pay them $149 to fix the screen.
~ 3 months: Bluetooth starts getting flaky. Have to periodically disconnect it and reconnect it from my phone or reboot it for it to find it again.
~ 5 months: The glass starts to delaminate from the LCD with no clear damage or cause - it isn't chipped, cracked, or scratched. It began in one corner and started working its way around the edges.
~ 7 months: The Bluetooth dies completely and will not turn back on. When I'd try to turn it back on in settings, it would pop up a "Processing" message, then turn back off. So I factory reset the watch back to original settings. After factory reset, the watch booted to an "Unknown error" screen and would boot no further.
~ 8 months: Watch stops charging, so now I can't even boot it back to the "Unknown error" screen to show anybody. Fortunately I took a picture first.
~ 10 months: Finally get around to opening a ticket with Samsung and send the watch in for warranty service. After they get it, I get an email telling me the repair price has changed from $0 to $149, with no explanation. When I call in (since their website wasn't working), I'm told the "certified engineer" (which they had to repeat about 10 times, as if I care whether or not the person is certified) categorized the screen as physically damaged. In addition, they refuse to fix any of the other issues with the watch unless I also pay them to fix the screen.
UPDATE (older - before the BT died and glass began to separate):
Still reasonably happy with my Gear 2 Neo. However, given there are now non-proprietary smart watches available, if I were buying again, I'd give those some serious consideration. This does what I need, but some of the newer devices have a bit more maturity - better UI, more attractive, work with non-Samsung devices, etc... One of my coworkers just bought a Moto 360, it definitely is a more attractive device. Samsung also now has the Gear Live, which is not proprietary to Samsung phones. Given that, I have a hard time seeing a compelling case for the Gear 2 Neo at this time - even if you want a Samsung watch, check out the Gear Live first.
Some of the quirks I mentioned in my review below (which was written on release day) have been addressed. The pulse feature is somewhat improved - it doesn't constantly tell me to sit still. The "S Health" integration still has a couple issues, but is cleaner than it was. The bugs in "Fitness for Gear" have largely been addressed.
All that said... Given the other options, I think the Gear 2 Neo's days are numbered.
Just received my Gear 2 Neo in Mocha Grey, and wanted to jot down a few of my thoughts while they're fresh in my mind (these have been updated several times since with additional findings and to make things a bit more concise):
* Pairing it and connecting it to your Samsung phone is easy (just make sure to have the latest Gear Manager - especially w/ Note 3).
* Screen auto-lock feature is both convenient and secure (slide-to-unlock if your watch is near your phone - pattern unlock if it's not).
* Interface is easy to use.
* Can make it turn on automatically when you lift your wrist (at the expense of battery life).
* Time and weather on one's wrist.
* Find my phone feature rings your phone even if it is on vibrate.
* Bluetooth range is excellent.
* Voice memos make it easy to make yourself quick notes.
* S Voice dialing works well, even with some background noise (don't expect to text with it if there's background noise though).
* Sleep tracker estimates how restful your sleep is by how much you move at night.
* Fast and responsive - no stuttering or delays that I've observed.
* Band is replaceable with regular watch bands.
* Can store MP3's on the watch, and use it as an MP3 player when working out without having to bring your phone with.
* The "S Health" app on my Note 3 doesn't want to sync with the Gear 2, but the "Fitness for Gear" app that works with the Gear 2 doesn't have support for weight and calorie tracking like "S Health" did (nor does it appear to support 3rd party ANT+ devices like "S Health"). Stupid having to use both apps when they're both from Samsung.
* The "Fitness for Gear" app also is a bit buggy. Sometimes I open it and have data and it will sync, and sometimes I open it and it shows "no data" and won't sync. Has a few other display bugs too (like sometimes the history comes up in a giant font where half the data is off-screen and inaccessible). I assume this will be fixed soon (but if it doesn't get fixed I'm going to knock another star off).
* While the device is not as bulky as the original Galaxy Gear, it's certainly not small - especially if you have small wrists.
* Even though the device itself is not small, if you have large wrists the included band may be a bit snug.
* Heart rate is not taken periodically - only during exercise or on demand.
* Charging requires a proprietary cradle.
* It only works with Samsung phones, and long term I'm not sure how much 3rd party integration we'll see as a result.
* Application selection in their app store is quite limited.
* While the interface is easy to use, it is a bit bare bones in appearance.
A Bit of Both
* Battery life is mixed. With normal usage I get about two days. However, with heavier usage I get more like 36 hours.
* The pedometer is nice, but it tends to pick up other motions as steps (such as petting my cats). That said, if your gait is regular and you aren't doing other stuff w/ your hands, then it is seemingly accurate, so for exercise it is ok (just not as a daily total step counter - over the course of a day it seems to over-count by about 25% to 30%).
* Exercise tracker and pulse-based trainer is a good idea, but the pulse is inaccurate and finicky. For resting pulse I have to take it repeatedly while it tells me to be still and quiet. With exercise it obviously allows movement, but the accuracy is doubtful (told me I had a 58 pulse while taking a walk yesterday - I'm not in that type of shape). If I can't figure out a way to improve this, it will move to the con's list.
* Remote control feature is a neat idea, but it's inadequate for many setups (such as if you use a receiver or a Blu-ray player) - it only controls the TV and set-top box. It also lacks the complex navigation for the guide and DVR on the cable box. If you mostly watch TV though and don't use a receiver, then it might be a convenience for you. Would be better if they made it programmable.
The Gear 2 Neo is functional, but still just a bit large, limited, and rough around the edges. At present (4/11/14), this is likely the best smart watch available, but smart watch technology is still not quite fully mature - if you get one, consider yourself an early adopter. I can't give it 5 stars, but it is pretty consistent with what I was expecting, so I think the 4 stars are warranted. If they don't fix the "Fitness with Gear" bugs or I can't find a way to get a more reliable pulse out of it during exercise, then I may reduce my rating to 3 stars. Part of the reason I got the device was to have one device that did it all.
Also, if you are thinking about buying one, be aware that Android Wear gear from Motorola and LG is supposed to come out this summer. I can't speak to feature set of those devices yet (nor their battery life), but the pictures make them look a bit more polished than the Gear 2, and they will work with any Android phone with a new enough OS (rather than just Samsung's), so they'll probably get better 3rd party app support as well.
If you're determined to get a Gear 2 Neo or Gear 2 now though (which is not a bad thing - obviously I decided to get one myself)... The only significant difference that I'm aware of between the Gear 2 Neo and Gear 2 is that the Gear 2 has a camera while the Neo does not (I've heard others comment that the Gear 2 also has a stainless steel body while the Neo is plastic - I can confirm the latter, but haven't looked into the former). However, unless you see yourself taking pictures from your wrist often (it doesn't face the right direction for video chat), I'd recommend saving the $100 and getting the Gear 2 Neo (particularly when the technology is still in its infancy, since we're going to see much better devices come out over the next couple years).