A Worthy Apple Watch Competitor

Samsung’s Gear Sport Is Powerful Smartwatch and Fitness Tracker

At IFA this week, Samsung extended its line of wearables. The new Gear Fit2 Pro ($199) is an upgraded version of the company’s previous GPS sports band, the Gear Fit2; it now monitors sleep and nutrition, and adds a coaching feature to motivate you into shape. Last year’s IconX wireless earbuds have been phased out for a next-generation model with the same name, which now boasts a better battery life, fast charging, Bixby integration and the ability to track workouts without your smartphone nearby. The most notable among Samsung’s announcements, however, was the Gear Sport smartwatch, which looks like it could give the Apple Watch Series 2 a real run for its money.

The Gear Sport smartwatch is both a serious smartwatch and serious fitness tracker. In many ways, it combines the best of the past year’s rugged Gear S3 smartwatch and this year’s Gear Fit2 fitness band. It’s much lighter and smaller than the massive Gear S3 and it can go up to four days between charges. You can use it to send texts, answer calls, control smart-home devices, stream music to your Bluetooth headphones and talk to Bixby. It also lets you use Samsung Pay without your phone.

The smartwatch can do everything your Gear Fit2 Pro can do, too. It has an improved heart-rate sensor and will automatically track your workouts — no more pressing “Start” if you don’t want to. It’s also completely swim-proof. Maybe the coolest feature of the Gear Sport is that, thanks to a partnership with Spotify, you can download playlists to the smartwatch (it has 4GB of internal storage for up to 1,000 songs) and listen to them whenever, without your phone nearby. The Gear Fit2 Pro also shares this ability, and they’re the first two wearables to do this.

Essentially, the Gear Sport and Apple Watch Series 2 are very similar in terms what they can do. And both are heavily tied to Samsung’s or Apple’s ecosystem of apps. If there’s a differentiating factor, it’s in the looks department. The Gear Sport is beautiful, in my opinion. Unlike the square face of every Apple Watch, it has a round face that looks more like something Swiss made, and it’s compatible with any 20mm watch band. The Gear Sport also boasts the same rotating bezel that made the Gear S3 so intuitive.

Unfortunately, there’s no LTE model of the Gear Sport. If you want to go completely sans phone to answer calls and such, your best option might be the Gear S3. No Apple Watch supports LTE either, but that’s expected to change with the third generation.

Samsung has yet to announce pricing and availability, but expect it fall between the Gear Fit2 Pro’s $199 and the Gear S3’s $350.

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