Samsung leaps back into fitness tracking, with a wearable for your wrist and another for your ... ears?
When a company launches a major consumer tech product that goes without a successor for more than two years, it's usually a fair bet that it's gone to the great gadget graveyard in the sky. But Samsung brought the Gear Fit line back from the dead with a similar-looking Gear Fit 2, along with a pair of workout-focused wireless earbuds.
The original Gear Fit had a novelty factor to it when it launched in early 2014, when tech-makers were still just starting to cut their teeth on smartwatches and fitness trackers. Its curved screen with heart rate sensor and built-in water resistance were, at the time, a bit like a Photoshopped fantasy concept come to life.
Its software, however, was another matter. Samsung's Tizen OS was good enough at tracking your steps and other basic workout info, but it didn't add much of any context to the data. With the benefit of hindsight, the Gear Fit was a pretty weak product masking rudimentary functionality with a sleek, futuristic design.
Does the new Gear Fit 2 change any of that? It does have an auto-activity tracking feature, like many of today's fitness wearables, that will automatically detect and start logging your workouts – without your having to fiddle with the watch. Samsung says it can do that for running, walking and cycling, as well as rowing and elliptical machines.
Physically, the Gear Fit 2 looks similar to the first one (or, if you prefer, the Microsoft Band), only with a curvier AMOLED screen. The 216 x 432 display's aspect ratio also comes out a bit wider, making it something of a hybrid between the first Fit and 2014's Gear S.
Other additions include built-in GPS (another similarity with the Gear S) and better water resistance (IP68 vs. the original Fit's IP67). There are still some smartwatch functions added on, like receiving and responding to text messages, but the focus here is primarily on fitness.
If you prefer your fitness trackers stuffed into orifices, then maybe Samsung's earworn Gear IconX wireless earbuds will be more up your alley.
In addition to playing music – either streamed over Bluetooth from your phone or played from the buds' 4 GB of internal storage – the IconX buds also have a built-in accelerometer and heart rate sensor to track your fitness data. Samsung added a built-in voice guide to give you instant exercise feedback without having to whip out your phone.
We may get our hands on Samsung's new fitness trackers later on to have more to say, but from where we stand now, the company is launching these devices into a fitness tracking market that's much harder to stand out in than it was two years ago. To transcend the original, the Gear Fit 2 will need to move beyond sleek-looking tech and offer software that tells you something significant about your data – becoming more of a full-fledged fitness tracking system. That's something previous Samsung wearables haven't excelled at.
The Gear Fit 2 will launch on June 10 for US$179 ($20 less than the original), while the buds will ring up for $199 a pair when they launch sometime in Q3.