Samsung Gear S2 Classic review

When I sold my Apple watch a few years ago, I wasn’t planning on buying another smartwatch. I thought my next smartwatch would be another Apple watch and since I cannot afford that yet, I will make do with a regular wristwatch. And then after a while, I started to miss the one thing that sets smartwatches apart - notifications. Many times, I would get messages or notifications on my phone while I’m driving or riding my bike but I could not immediately look at them for obvious reasons. With a smartwatch, I could quickly take a glance and read my notifications especially for important ones. That’s when I decide I’ve got to have a smartwatch, even the cheap Android or Samsung ones.

Now Android Wear-based smartwatches are not exactly cheap. They start from 800 ringgit onwards, even for secondhand ones. Then after much research and review, I finally decided on the Tizen based Samsung Gear S2 Classic smartwatch, a second hand unit of course.

While the new one would cost 800 ringgit or more, this second unit was only 550 ringgit. I really like how it looked like a classic round watch with very little hint of it being a smartwatch (apart from the watch face that is). To be honest, I preferred the classic round watch design than the rounded rectangle of some other smartwatches, including the Apple Watch. If Apple started making a round smartwatch in the future, I would be tempted to consider them again.

The S2 classic features a pair of genuine leather bands to make it look more premium than its counterpart. It reminded me of the old Moto 360 albeit this one is narrower in width just like a regular wrist watch. In fact, you can actually swap the attached bands with any other regular bands on the market. Surrounding the watch face is a rotary bezel which doubles as screen dial for the watch interface. It helps you to switch between menus and select options. Other than that, you can swipe the watch face on all four sides to navigate the UI. Although not as numerous as Android Wear, there’s a fairly large selection of apps and watch faces on the Samsung Gear apps store. I particularly enjoyed picking amongst the hundred watch faces on the store.

The S2 classic is rated IP68 so it should be safe if submerged in up to 1.5 meters deep in water. The attached bands got a bit wrinkled after a while and yet I could not find another replacement that looks quite as good (or affordable) to buy. The watch connects to my iPhone via bluetooth although sometimes I will have a hard time making the connection and they don’t easily reconnect if I move my phone far enough from the watch. In short I don’t get auto reconnect feature that I usually get with my Apple Watch. A lot of time, I’ll just wear the watch without the bluetooth connection. Disappointing experience but not totally surprised though because of Apple’s walled garden. The battery last about 2 days with normal use, nearly a week if you totally disconnect from your phone. I like the wireless charging dock and how you can place your watch snuggly around it while it charges.

As I’m using an iPhone, the S2 Classic functions are severely limited to mostly notifications and some basic exercise functions. This is much expected of any smartwatch that connects to an iPhone other than the Apple watch whether they’re Tizen or Android Wear. One noticeable thing that the S2 Classic lacks is a built-in GPS. The watch needs to have your smartphone connected to use navigation or location tracking features. I tried running using the built-in exercise menu but the mileage and cadence were simply wayward. The S-Health apps were good to track my foot steps and remind me of my daily targets. There’s a rudimentary optical heart rate sensor included under the watch to measure your heart rate but other than that, I could not fully utilize all other smart functions like voice navigation or browsing the photo gallery.

Despite all the drawbacks, I use my S2 Classic mainly for reading notifications and I don’t have much qualms about the Tizen on iOS limited capabilities. As long as I could tell the time, date and have a quick glance on the notifications while I’m riding my bike or driving, that’s good enough. If I wanted a fully functional smartwatch with all the bell and whistles, I would have stuck with the Apple Watch or switch to an Android phone.

Would I recommend the Samsung Gear S2 Classic smartwatch? Totally if you’re using an Android phone. For iPhone users only if you really don’t like rectangle watches or don’t mind missing out on many of the major features. The S2 Classic like its namesake is really a classic smartwatch from Samsung. Others may have tried to imitate it but none have yet to succeed in making a smartwatch that looks more like a classic wristwatch than a smartwatch.

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