Samsung Gear Fit2 v Microsoft Band 2: Fitness tracker hybrid showdown

Battle of the band sequels
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The Samsung Gear Fit2 isn't the perfect device but it's a solid wearable for fitness-oriented folks who want a tracker with a smartwatch feel. The first-gen Fit came with a brilliant screen but lacked other features – which the Fit2 definitely makes up for. It comes with heart rate monitoring, GPS, various other sensors and the ability to hold music. It takes a few pointers from the Gear S2 smartwatch and lets you read and quick reply to messages as well.

So it's clear already that the Gear Fit2 sounds like a great fitness tracking package on paper especially at its low price, but it definitely has competition with the Microsoft Band 2 around. Another second-gen wearable, the Band 2 has upped its game as well and provides a sound array of features quite similar to the Gear Fit2.

With such similarities, comparisons can't be avoided – especially if you've found yourself wondering which one to pick, wear and use to track your daily activities.

We've already had our say on the Fit2 and the Band 2 individually, and now we've lived with both for a while. Read on for all the details on Samsung Gear Fit2 versus Microsoft Band 2 to help you figure out which is the best for you.

Gear Fit2 v Band 2: Design and comfort

Samsung Gear Fit2 v Microsoft Band 2: Fitness tracker hybrid showdown

At a quick glance, the two 2s are pretty similar looking. But on closer inspection, you'll notice immediately that the Gear Fit2 has a larger screen that's a bit more vibrant. The Band 2 has a display size of 320 x 128 at 1.36-inches while Gear Fit2 is 432 x 216 at 1.5-inches. That's a pretty big difference if you're looking for something more along the lines of a smartwatch – as in, a larger display.

The Gear Fit2 is also a bit lighter and comfier around the wrist than the Band 2, with the latter's fit requiring some work to get the best feel. It's not terrible but the Fit2's curved screen makes it sit easier on the wrist.

Samsung Gear Fit2 v Microsoft Band 2: Fitness tracker hybrid showdown

Materials used on the Band 2 are also more rubbery feeling than the smoother touch on the Gear. However, both still feel a little clammy when there's a coat of sweat in between. The Band 2 uses a sliding clasp mechanism to close while the Gear Fit2 is a push-in button clasp that goes through a loop. Both are simple to adjust making loosening and tightening a breeze.

Each band is pretty sporty looking and neither are particularly eye catching. While there are plenty of sensors in both (especially the Band 2), which we'll touch upon in a moment, neither are particularly ruggedly designed. You can drench them in sweat but there are no water resistance abilities to be found.

Gear Fit2 v Band 2: Activity tracking

The Microsoft Band 2 is filled to the brim with 10 sensors including an optical heart rate, three-axis accelerometer, gyrometer, GPS, ambient light sensor, skin temperature sensor, UV sensor, capacitive sensor, a galvanic skin response sensor and barometer. There's also a microphone for Cortana action. The latest Microsoft Health update allows Android users to use Cortana, as well as Windows Phone users, obviously.

The Gear Fit2 falls short of that list and packs a heart rate monitor, GPS, barometer, accelerometer and gyrometer.

Wearing the Fit2 and Band 2 together we found consistent step tracking data, with each matching up pretty well.

Sleep tracking was also in the same ballpark, with the accelerometers detecting the same movements. The auto-sleep functions on each kicked in as well, but you can also easily manually press the action button on the Microsoft Band. It's a bit more confusing on the Fit2 and it's not really clear what to press to trigger sleep tracking.

Samsung Gear Fit2 v Microsoft Band 2: Fitness tracker hybrid showdown

With all the sensors in each device, you can do a wide variety of exercises (minus water sports). However, you can do a little more with the Band 2. With the UV sensor, you can measure the UV rays you're being exposed to and get an idea of how much sun you're getting. Alerts can also be set to detect exposure to remind you to reapply sunscreen or to get out of the sun.

You can also set up guided workouts, have a finance ticker, load up a Starbucks gift card and use a weather app.

Gear Fit2 lacks all these other features – with the exception of a few simple, onscreen guided workouts for lunges and crunches – but it does have the ability to play Spotify from the wrist, and load up music allowing you to leave the phone at home.

Samsung S Health compared to Microsoft Health is a tough one. Both are capable of delivering a lot of good data, but Health lets you add in points of interest on the wrist that you can see later in the app. Health also gives you an estimation of recovery time for your exercises. Basically, Health is a bit more rich in terms of data analysis as it looks like the algorithms are being put to hard work.

Gear Fit2 v Band 2: Heart rate and GPS

Samsung Gear Fit2 v Microsoft Band 2: Fitness tracker hybrid showdown

Polar H7 (left), Samsung Gear Fit2 (centre) and Microsoft Band 2 (right)

In terms of heart rate, the Gear Fit2 during its initial review gave off some shaky readings. During a 30 minute walk around the neighbourhood, with both devices strapped to the inside left wrist, the results were different.

When compared to the Polar H7 (heart rate monitoring chest strap) and the Band 2, Samsung was closest to the chest strap. The Band 2 was off by 29 beats on average while the Gear Fit2 was off by seven beats. Only at the beginning and towards the end of the walk did all three sync up to within a few beats. At rest, all three devices synced up fine as well after five separate readings.

Samsung Gear Fit2 v Microsoft Band 2: Fitness tracker hybrid showdown

For GPS pickup, they were both quick to connect and accurately log the route. In general, the GPS works for running, walking, cycling and hiking – with both being able to show little maps of your routes right on the wrist.

Gear Fit2 v Band 2: Notifications

It's neck and neck when it comes to notifications. You get a decent amount of phone call, calendar, social media, mail snippets and text notifications with each device. Both of the bands also have very similar approaches to sending and receiving messages: the good 'ol quick reply.

With each, you get the option to use preset text when replying to messages. You can also head to your phone and load up your own messages.

However, on the Band 2 if you're using a Windows phone or a phone with Android 4.3 or higher, you can bring up a miniature keyboard to text a reply message containing 160 characters or less. Keep in mind, it's a tiny keyboard and if you can't get it you're not missing out on a whole lot because it's a little complicated to get used to at first. If on a Microsoft phone, you can also use Cortana to dictate messages.

Amazon PA: Microsoft Band 2

Speaking of tiny, it's already a chore reading messages on small smartwatch screens – and the bands have even smaller screens. Microsoft utilises the space with quick read which displays the message one word at a time at customizable speeds.

Gear Fit2 doesn't employ any extras to make reading messages easier, but it doesn't really need to. Since it's a vertical screen, scrolling down shows you everything plus it's a larger screen so chances are, you won't need to even scroll that often.

Band 2 wins for innovation but reading messages on Gear Fit2 is better.

Gear Fit2 v Band 2: Battery Life

There's nothing vastly different between the two devices when it comes to battery life. Both can manage about two days and then some if you've turned off notifications and haven't used it for every little bit of tracking.

Samsung claims the Gear Fit2 can last much longer – around three to five days – but we haven't gotten past two and half.

It's a bit unclear who the winner is here, but it'd be Fit2 if you could actually manage to squeeze in all that time without it dying. For now, we'll say it's a draw on battery life.

Gear Fit2 v Band 2: Price and compatibility

Samsung Gear Fit2 v Microsoft Band 2: Fitness tracker hybrid showdown

If price is a deal breaker, you actually can't go wrong with the Samsung or Microsoft devices. A year ago, we'd have said the Fit2 is the best deal at $179.99, but Band 2 has since seen a price drop on the Microsoft Store and an even bigger drop on Amazon. As of this writing, a size large Band 2 is the cheapest at $120, a medium the most at $174.99 and a small is only $144.90.

Microsoft's device works with Windows Phones best since you get extra Cortana features, but it'll also work with Android and iOS too which is handy. Samsung is well, less friendly. Gear Fit2 is only compatible with Android devices. It's a step up from Samsung-only phones, but still, iPhone users are out of luck with this wearable.

Gear Fit2 v Band 2: Verdict

Samsung Gear Fit2 v Microsoft Band 2: Fitness tracker hybrid showdown

This was a tough decision and when it comes down to it, the Gear Fit2 would be our preferred fitness tracker if it were cross platform compatible. The Samsung wearable is more comfortable and offers up decent auto-tracking options for the casual user. Its accuracy is also on par with what we'd expect from such a device and while not the most definitive readings were initially given, during this versus it came out on top.

That's not to say the Microsoft Band 2 is a terrible option, especially if you've got an iPhone. The Health platform is hands down more comprehensive than S Health. And if you're looking for something that's able to track a variety of activities, plus give you some watch smarts along with GPS, Band 2 could do it. Just make sure you have a chest strap to compare readings with at the end of an exercise for better heart rate accuracy.

Amazon PA: Samsung Gear Fit2

Simply put, Gear Fit2 is the better choice for Android users but if on an iPhone, Band 2 isn't the worst you can do. Bonus, each tracker costs under $200.

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Lily is a writer and editor specializing in tech, video games, marketing, education, travel writing, and creative fiction. 

She has over 10 years of experience covering the technology beat.

Lily has a passion for VR and AR technologies and was associate wearables editor at TechRadar US, before joining Wareable as US editor in 2016.

Lily will graduate in 2023 with an MFA in Creative Writing.

In her spare time, Lily can be found knee-deep in zine collaborations, novel writing, playing Dungeons & Dragons or hiking and foraging for mushrooms.

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