We reviewed the Samsung Gear S2 soon after it launched, but we now have its better-looking fraternal twin, the Gear S2 Classic, in house. Let's take a quick look at Samsung's US$50 more expensive smartwatch that looks like a real watch.
Apart from their external designs, the standard Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic are the same watch – so we'll make this quick. The Classic gives you the same awesome rotating bezel (our favorite smartwatch control method so far), sharp display and good battery life as the vanilla Gear S2.
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It just crams those same parts into a design that looks more like a classic watch, less like Samsung's equivalent of the Apple Watch Sport:
In place of the elastomer (rubber-ish) band and matte steel body of the standard Gear S2, we have a leather band, glossy steel body and ridged dial. It doesn't look as much like a high-end timepiece as the Huawei Watch or Tag Heuer Connected, but it's still a nicely-sized smartwatch that can pass for a regular watch. When the underlying smartwatch experience was already one of the best around, that's a product worth paying attention to.
Not only does the watch itself look snazzier, but it can pull off watch faces that look out of place on the plain ol' Gear S2. For example, while minimal and futuristic clock faces look at home on the standard model, more complex faces with traditional watch hands and dials make it look a bit like a PC monitor using a grandfather clock for a screensaver. Those same clock faces fit like a glove on the Classic, accentuating its traditional watch look.
Otherwise its strengths and weaknesses are the same as the regular Gear S2. Rotating bezel, fun UI, small-ish size, great screen and good battery life on the plus side; weak third-party app selection, mediocre voice assistant and no way to schedule reminders or calendar events on the minus side.
If you're considering the Gear S2 and you want your wearables to be smart without looking like tech products, then we think the Classic is easily worth the extra money.
To upgrade from an entry-level Apple Watch with rubbery band to a sharper-looking (steel) one with leather band, you're paying at least an extra $300. Samsung's $50 price difference for a similar upgrade sounds very reasonable by comparison. That isn't a completely fair analogy, since the Apple upgrade also changes from glass to sapphire and from aluminum to stainless steel, but you get the point.
The excellent Gear S2 Classic is available now (though still in scarcer supply than the standard model) for $350 from Samsung, Best Buy and Amazon.
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