The Gear 2 is a pretty piece of tech; the brushed-metal finish of the chassis looks great and, in our usage, resisted both fingerprints and scratches quite well. The display, which is just 1.63 inches square, is a delight. It’s bright and clear and feels surprisingly large whenever you glance down at it, and it’s plenty bright enough outdoors.
The watch itself is not too big and not too small. Admittedly, I have slender wrists for a grown man (I can’t lie, it’s true), and the Gear 2 fit me fairly well. If you’re a woman with small wrists, the Gear 2 might stick out a bit too far for your liking, but most adults with normally-sized wrists will find the Gear 2 to be an appropriate size.
The bezel sticks out just a bit further than the display itself. There’s a physical button below the display that functions as both an on/off button as well as the home button. Above the display and down the side a bit is the camera (with an IR blaster nestled next to it), and underneath the chassis, touching your skin, is a biometric sensor.
The watchband our Gear 2 came with is a black rubber number with a bumpy texture on the inside (touching your skin) and a more svelte pattern (somewhat reminiscent of the back of the Galaxy S5) facing out. The look is subtle, and the rubber is nice and waterproof for when you’re running around and sweating, and we were pleased to find that even after a spirited workout in high temps, the band didn’t smell at all.
The shiny metal clasp allows for quick and easy on and off, which is a nice little feature. Although our watchband was black rubber, Samsung also threw in a bright red leather Hadley Roma strap worth $24.95.
The included charger for the Gear 2 makes use of microUSB, just like most smartphone these days, but instead of using up valuable chassis real estate on building in a microUSB port on the Gear 2 itself, Samsung designed it so that you can securely pop the smartwatch into a cradle that has the port. There are five metal contact points on the back of the Gear 2 that connect to the cradle for charging. You can use any microUSB power cord with the cradle, which is another subtle but welcome feature.
Setting up the Gear 2 requires a few more steps than we’d like, but as we mentioned earlier, this is after all an accessory as opposed to a standalone device. First, you need a compatible smartphone. We went with the Samsung Galaxy S5, but you can pair it with 17 devices from Samsung including the Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Mega 6.3, Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014), and Galaxy TabPRO.
You have to have the Samsung Gear Manager app installed on your phone or tablet. You turn on the Gear 2 with the physical “on” button, launch the Gear Manager app on your smartphone, and select the Gear 2 from the list. You’ll be given a passkey to confirm, and then you press “install additional software” on the phone’s app. It will connect to the Gear 2, and after you agree to legal notices, you’ll click Finish and be ready to roll.