- That gorgeous display
- Offline Spotify
- Even more fitness features
- HR and swimming inaccuracies
- Some connectivity/sync problems
- Battery could be better
The Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro arrives at a weird time. It's an upgrade to the Gear Fit2 but entering a world where fitness trackers are seemingly losing steam to more capable smartwatches, which are getting better at, and focusing more on, health and activity tracking.
Both Garmin and Fitbit are doing this, with Garmin edging more towards the smartwatch end of the spectrum with the Vivoactive 3, and Fitbit recently launching the Fitbit Ionic, its first official smartwatch.
Hands on: Samsung Gear Sport review
While the big players are moving on up into the smartwatch game, the low-end market is being moved on by companies like Huawei, who are creating more compelling, affordable fitness trackers like the Huawei Band 2 Pro, while Xiaomi continues to dominate in sales.
Can the Fit2 Pro measure up in this brave new world? Read on and find out.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro: Design
The Fit2 already had a fairly slick design, and the Fit2 Pro ain't fixing what ain't broken. There are fewer colour options, with just black or black and red rather than the three alternatives with the Fit Pro. The heart of the experience is still that beautiful 1.5-inch, 216 x 432 Super AMOLED display. It's bright and filled with colour; as far as fitness trackers go, you won't find better.
However, it's variable when standing up to sunlight. For instance, taking it for a run in the afternoon was absolutely fine, with all the information perfectly digestible, but when I was out early in the morning it was a lot more difficult to see what the screen was showing me.
The solution here is outdoor mode, which will boost the brightness up to 11 (seriously, that's the maximum setting), which lasts for five minutes before reverting back, so it doesn't suck too much battery power.
You'll be swiping that screen side-to-side a lot to get through the various modes. The main home screen can be customized with all sorts of faces, and you can download more via Galaxy Apps. Our favourite was actually the default, which cleanly gives you a look at all the big metrics of the day, from heart rate to steps to calories.
Swiping to the left will get you to your individual modes, from running to cycling to swimming. There's enough space for eight screens, though it defaults to five. You can add weather, coffee and water trackers by clicking a big old plus button at the end. Swiping to the left will take you to the notifications pane, where you'll be able to see all your incoming alerts.
There are two buttons on the right side of the device. The top button acts like a back button, taking you to the previous menu or home screen. The bottom button takes you directly to the menu, where you can get into settings and launch apps not in your vertical – and swipeable – carousel.
On the back of the device you have some latches where you take off your straps and a heart rate sensor. The whole package is waterproof to 5ATM and is durable. Trust us, we accidentally dropped it on concrete and it came away with nary a scratch.
Our favourite part of the Gear Fit2 Pro is that it doesn't feel like it's clinging to your wrist. Devices with heart rate sensors have to really hug your wrist so they can get a good heart rate reading. Often, when wearing the Fitbit Charge 2, you can feel the band's tight grip after long periods of use, and we just wanted to rip it off and let that arm free. With the Gear Fit2 Pro, however, we found the exact opposite. We slept with it with no problems and never once wanted to rip it off and give the wrist some air.
Basically, if you've seen the Fit2, you've seen the Fit2 Pro. Samsung still understands that the display is the star of the show though, and that's what steals the spotlight anytime someone looks at it. We were surprised that a couple of people saw it and instantly commented on how sleek it was. We don't blame them, though, it's a pretty impressive screen.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro: Features
Like the Fit2, the Pro also has the Galaxy App store to download apps. This includes the entire Under Armour suite, including MapMyRun and Endomondo. This, alongside running on Samsung's Tizen, makes the Fit2 Pro feel a little more smartwatch than fitness tracker – but just a little. It's more Fitbit Ionic than Apple Watch or Android Wear, but it's still a welcome treat that gives it a leg up on the competition.
Essential reading: How to use your fitness tracker to actually get fit
There's also now Spotify offline playback, so if you have a Spotify account you can sync over albums and playlists and listen to music on your run (as long as you've got a Bluetooth headset). This is supposed to be preinstalled, but it isn't really as you have to install the Spotify app in Galaxy Apps on your phone. There's 4GB of space for you to store your music and you can also transfer your music over with Gear Music Manager. This works a little differently depending on your phone. If you've got an Android phone, you simply use the app to transfer over music. If you have an iPhone, however, you have to use a web browser on your computer.
You have to make sure your Pro and computer are on the same Wi-Fi network, then you initiate the process on your Pro, which will give you an IP address to type into your browser. Once you're there, you can manage your tracks and transfer them over. It's very convoluted, and makes us not want to deal with it at all. If you've got an iPhone, Spotify might be a better option – and that's a big thing Samsung is able to laud over its rivals right now.
Speaking of, the other big feature with the Gear Fit2 Pro is iOS compatibility. In using the Pro with an iPhone, we found a mostly seamless experience. It was a bit of a mess getting the Fit2 Pro to connect to the iPhone during the setup process, but after a couple of forced restarts we got there. The music process, described up above, was also a pain. What was worse though was the syncing process, which was just too often a hassle on iPhone. On Android our experience was much better, so we hope Samsung can make life a bit easier for iOS users in future.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro: Fitness and activity tracking
The story of the Gear Fit2 Pro's sports tracking abilities is one of entrenchment. Samsung is doubling down to give you more options and, hopefully, make it even easier to work out how and when you want.
Read this: Swimming with Apple Watch Series 3 and Fitbit Ionic
The two big examples of this are improved waterproof rating and pre-installed apps via Galaxy App integration. The Gear Fit2 held an IP68 water resistant rating, which makes it good for rowing or running and cycling out in the rain, but not enough for swimming. The Pro holds 5ATM waterproofing, which means you can rest easy and go for a swim without worrying that you'll need to put your tracker in rice later on.
Also making it easier for swimming is a new water lock mode. You access it by swiping down to bring up the settings pane, and then clicking water lock. This pretty much locks the screen so that it doesn't confuse water drops for finger touches. Samsung has tied up Speedo On to track swimming, just like on the Gear Sport. This allows you to get metrics like distance, strokes, lap time and that ever-present favourite SWOLF to measure swimming efficiency.
Samsung wants to make getting into a workout as easy as possible, which is evidenced by how well the Gear Fit2 Pro automatically tracks workouts. If you're cycling, it'll recognise that you're cycling; if you're walking it can tell. Generally we've found the auto detection to be very accurate.
That's sadly more than we can say for some of the other workout features. Heart rate is still iffy on the Fit2 Pro, and it's the same problem we see time and time again. When running, during steady increases and decreases of intensity it managed to keep close when put against the Polar H7 chest strap, but if we abruptly pick up the pace, or start pushing up a hill, getting that heart rate up into the 175-180 bracket, we found the Fit2 Pro dragged behind, sometimes by as much as 10bpm. Same for when we were coming back down again. In fact in once instance it was reading an alarming 199bpm, while the Wahoo Tickr had us at 177bpm. This was obviously way too high, but it didn't happen again, so we'll put it down to a glitch.
Even so, the sluggish optical readings are too consistent to ignore. For casual runners the Fit2 Pro will probably be enough, but interval training is off the menu here – it just won't keep up. The GPS is nice and accurate though, and connects impressively fast. With the auto-tracking you don't even need to think about it, as Samsung just automatically finds a lock in the background.
With swim tracking we put it to the test using the Speedo On app, which comes pre-installed and measures lengths, distance, time and SWOLF. We like it, but the accuracy was disappointing. In a 850 yard swim it told us we'd done 925 yards. Since testing this, Samsung has pushed out an update that changes the look of the app and the way metrics are shown on screen, so we're going to test it again and see if this has improved accuracy too. While the Apple Watch Series 3 and Fitbit Ionic had some disagreement over the number of lengths we swam, they were both more accurate on total distance covered. As we say, we'll return to this once we try it again with the new update, but we're not holding our breath…
Also, if you're using the Fit2 Pro, we'd advise you to update Speedo On via the Gear smartphone app to the latest version (you'll see a prompt when connected) before logging anything else, as this caused us to lose a bunch of data saved on the device that hadn't yet sync'd to the phone.
As for sleep tracking, the Gear Fit2 Pro isn't about to topple a Fitbit Alta HR or Huawei Band 2 Pro in this department. You get some good metrics, like "actual" sleep time, which calculates how much of your sleep was actually sleep and not just you accidentally waking up. In a night where it said we got 5 hours and 34 minutes of sleep, it said our actual sleep was 2 hours and 27 minutes. However, it also said our sleep was 90% efficient. You'll also get things like calories you burned while you sleep. Other times the sleep tracking was better, but as far as we can tell, Samsung's relying just on movement data here, which is always going to be a poor indicator in isolation. Fitbit's is better because heart rate is part of the equation.
One odd thing: As you sleep, that bright display will sometimes turn on. It's not a huge issue, but you'll definitely notice your wrist turning into a beacon in the cold, dark night as you nudge awake to adjust your covers or pillow. Finally, you can also rate your sleep should you feel good or bad about it, helping Samsung and its algorithms get better at their jobs.
Other tracking metrics include coffee and water, which are basically tallies. When you drink a cup of coffee, you tap the little plus and count it. When you drink a cup of water, you do the same. If you accidentally add too much water or coffee, there's a minus button too. It's nice to have, but the effort to actually do it doesn't make it worth it, unless you're someone who really needs to keep tabs.
In the fitness area, the Gear Fit2 Pro is just Samsung topping up some things on the Fit2 Pro. Looking back at our Fit2, many of the issues we had on that device have carried over to this one. The big differences, of course, being that the Fit2 Pro has some preinstalled apps and is more durable and waterproof. That's great for people who want to swim, but when it comes to everything else it's not much of an upgrade in this department – hence the name, really.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro: Notifications
The Gear Fit2 Pro's notification system is maybe our favourite thing about the device. First, all of your notifications will funnel right there onto your wrist, and you'll see enough information on that beautiful screen to tell you what you need to know.
Read this: Fitbit Charge 2 v Apple Watch
The notifications will also collect in the notification pane off to the left, so you can easily slide on over and see what you missed during the day. The curved display also makes these incredibly satisfying to scroll through. Then, at the bottom, you can easily clear away everything.
The very best part of notification is related to fitness tracking. As you're going about your day, you won't realise that the Fit2 Pro has auto-started a workout, and every once in a while it'll send you a little notification telling you to "Keep it up!" Again, we've found the auto-detected workouts to be consistently accurate.
The Gear Fit2 Pro made us feel good about regular things during the day with a couple of simple notifications. This is a world of a difference from things like reminders to stand or to breathe, which can easily get annoying. This is positive reinforcement on things we've already done, rather than negatively telling us what to do in the future.
Notifications are often the forgotten about feature in trackers, but the Gear Fit2 Pro manages to do them in a satisfying way that makes you feel good, rather than overwhelmed.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro: Battery life
The Fit2 Pro carries a 200mAh battery, and Samsung promises about three to four days of battery life – nine hours when you're using GPS. In our testing, we got a little less than that, at about just over two days. The big driver here is notifications. The more notifications you get, the more that battery will drain. If you get fewer, you may see better results.
This battery life actually got the most disappointing when it came to sleep tracking. For instance, there was one night where we went to bed with the Gear Fit2 Pro on our wrist, but when we woke up the device was dead. We learned better the next night though, topping it up just before bed so that we were good to go.
The other thing here is that the battery life is still disappointing in a world with the Fitbit Ionic, which has GPS and sensors and apps and still manages to do about five days. The Fit2 Pro has smart features, but it's not a smartwatch, and it somehow has less battery life.
How we test