Samsung Gear S2 Smartwatch Review: Tizen Excels

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Gear S2 Intro and Specifications

The nascent smartwatch market has delivered a number of near-winners thus far. The Apple Watch and Microsoft Band, for example, are better-than-average fitness trackers and smart timepieces. The 2nd generation Moto 360 is impressive from an aesthetics standpoint. The Huawei Watch hits the mark for those looking for a good-looking, functional, timepiece that also happens to feature smartphone notifications. And then, there's Samsung.

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In a bid to be first to market, the original Galaxy Gear was launched with a less-than-optimal design, poor battery life, and a camera that wasn't very useful. That was just over two years ago though, and the company has since popped out a multitude of wearables since. The Galaxy Gear 2 eventually arrived, as did the Gear Fit and the original Gear S. For one company to have three distinct wearables selling simultaneously makes you wonder if it were just testing multiple designs to see which would take off. 

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Whatever the case may be, we've now got the Gear S2. It's a clean, no-nonsense looking device, which runs Tizen rather than Android Wear. It follows the design language of a conventional timepiece (very much unlike the Dick Tracy-styled Galaxy Gear), which means that its primary rivals in terms of aesthetics are the Huawei Watch and Moto 360. The other notable inclusion on the Gear S2 is the innovative control mechanism. Though there's a capacitive touchscreen, the primary input device is a rotating ring around the bezel. It'll spin left or right to trigger different screens, and once you've found the information you're after, tapping the screen becomes the next step. In terms of its specifications, here's what you'll find under the hood...
Apple and Samsung have already had their annual smartphone launch parties, and now, Motorola is taking its turn. For the third year in a row, a new Moto X has arrived on the test bed. There's no mistaking the design -- visual cues that created the silhouette of the original still remain on the Moto X Pure Edition, but it's clear that the company is evolving its flagship phone based on market demands. For instance, the 5.7-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) display would've been viewed as monstrous in 2013, but today, it feels wholly natural. Moto has also included a few useful extras like TurboPower (which injects 10 hours of life into the phone after just 15 minutes on the charger) and a water-repellant nano-coating.

The Moto X Pure Edition (also known as the Moto X Style in non-U.S. markets) has plenty of competition, but in some ways, it exists in a niche of its own. Samsung and Apple have long since garnered the lion's share of mobile profits in North America, but those flagships start at around $649 and peak at nearly $1,000 with a halfway decent amount of internal storage. 

Apple's unlocked 128GB iPhone 6s Plus goes for $949 exclusive of tax, while Samsung's 64GB Galaxy Note 5 checks in at around $800. Rather than bark up that tree, Moto is hawking a great phone, completely unlocked, at a price point that's downright cheap in comparison. While the $399 base price only includes 16GB of storage, even the 64GB model only costs $499. What's that coin get you? Let's take a look.
Apple and Samsung have already had their annual smartphone launch parties, and now, Motorola is taking its turn. For the third year in a row, a new Moto X has arrived on the test bed. There's no mistaking the design -- visual cues that created the silhouette of the original still remain on the Moto X Pure Edition, but it's clear that the company is evolving its flagship phone based on market demands. For instance, the 5.7-inch Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) display would've been viewed as monstrous in 2013, but today, it feels wholly natural. Moto has also included a few useful extras like TurboPower (which injects 10 hours of life into the phone after just 15 minutes on the charger) and a water-repellant nano-coating.

The Moto X Pure Edition (also known as the Moto X Style in non-U.S. markets) has plenty of competition, but in some ways, it exists in a niche of its own. Samsung and Apple have long since garnered the lion's share of mobile profits in North America, but those flagships start at around $649 and peak at nearly $1,000 with a halfway decent amount of internal storage. 

Apple's unlocked 128GB iPhone 6s Plus goes for $949 exclusive of tax, while Samsung's 64GB Galaxy Note 5 checks in at around $800. Rather than bark up that tree, Moto is hawking a great phone, completely unlocked, at a price point that's downright cheap in comparison. While the $399 base price only includes 16GB of storage, even the 64GB model only costs $499. What's that coin get you? Let's take a look.

Samsung Gear S2 (2015)
Specifications & Features
OS Tizen
CPU 1Ghz dual-core processor
BT: Exynos 3250
3G: MSM8x26
Memory 512MB RAM
4GB Internal Storage
Display 1.2-inch Full Circular sAMOLED
360x360 resolution (302ppi)
Wireless Bluetooth 4.1 LE, Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g; NFC
Size BT:  42.3 x 49.8 x 11.4 mm
BT classic:  39.9 x 43.6 x 11.4 mm
3G:  44.0 x 51.8 x 13.4 mm
Audio Single microphone; no speaker
Sensors, etc. Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Vibration/Haptics engine; Heart rate monitor (PPG), Barometer, Ambient Light, GPS (3G Model Only)
Battery BT: 250mAh; 3G: 300mAh
Case Options Silver; Dark Gray
Price $259 to $349

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At around $250 currently on Amazon (or $300 for the Gear S2 Classic, which eschews the standard rubber band for a more upscale leather one), the Gear S2 is priced right in line with the rest. Pretty much every smartwatch on the market retails for between $250 and $350, with surprisingly little variation in terms of innards and functions in the current generation. What we're left with is a battle of minutiae. So, without further delay, let's see how Samsung's latest stacks up.

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