The last few months have given us a ton of options to crowd our wrist with, from the fitness trackers to smartwatches, but arguably the most balanced wearable available right now is the new Samsung Gear Fit – a blended fitness-centric smartwatch with a curved AMOLED display.
Samsung Gear Fit design: Understated innovation
The curved screen itself is a thing of beauty and the line it creates certainly helps this watch stand out from its Gear siblings as well as other smart rivals. Around the display is a chromed border which looks to be the only bit of ‘bling’ on offer, a surprisingly restrained approach when looking at the likes of the Galaxy S5 as well as other plastic fantastic flagships, and it’s a decision we’re a fan of.
The rubberised strap (which can be swapped out for a number of different colours) secures neatly with two fastenings that slot through whichever holes you choose and although it might not seem like the most secure of fittings, running, twisting or flailing didn’t send it flying, which is nice.
The plastic body might not look as premium as last year’s Galaxy Gear or the Gear 2 brothers, but it saves on weight, making this one of the most unobtrusive wearables around, when you’re actually wearing it. Thickness is perhaps its biggest flaw, rising high off your wrist when set alongside other fitness trackers like the Nike FuelBand.
Samsung Gear Fit screen: Curves in all the right places
Curved screens made a few ripples last year when they popped up on the Samsung Galaxy Round and a little closer to home in the LG G Flex. But their curves were more of a gimmick than anything else; with the Gear Fit, it truly makes sense.
Aesthetically, the curved display follows the line of your wrist and emphasises the wake up gesture required to light the screen, even if said gesture is a little hit and miss, with a sharp wrist twist not always hitting the mark.
The 1.84-inch curved Super AMOLED screen is surprisingly sharp with its 432×128 resolution and it’s also colourful too, with fantastic viewing angles, decent sunlight legibility and a responsive touchscreen for swiping across.
Whilst the Gear Fit may look like it sports a similar experience to its launch partner the Gear 2, Samsung decided to swap out Tizen OS for a proprietary experience that was better suited to the lightweight performance of the hardware onboard.
By default there are five screens, including your chosen watch face. Each of the four others follows a theme, a fitness-centric set of apps giving quick access to the watch’s pedometer, exercise trackers and the heart rate sensor, one for media controls and notifications coming from your phone, basic watch functionality like a stopwatch, timer and sleep mode tracker, as well as a ‘Find My Device’ mode for when you misplace your phone.
Navigation is simple, with a back button appearing where necessary. Thankfully there aren’t too many sub-menus or extensive lists, as the simple interaction would prove too tedious for anything too deep. The single hardware button on the Gear Fit’s side can wake or sleep the device, but can also be configured to toggle any one of the smartwatch’s actions.
Samsung Gear Fit functionality: Fit for purpose
It’s Fit by name, but is it fit by nature? Well, technically speaking, all three of the new Gears boast a heart rate sensor, the Fit is more for the purist however, if you can claim to be such a thing. Samsung’s slim line smartwatch forgoes downloadable apps in the pursuit of a cleaner experience, offering everything you’d expect out-the-box but with any excess fat trimmed off.
Its abilities as a fitness tracker are solid, but there are a couple of quirks to come to terms with when you first get to know the Fit. Elements that you’d think were ‘always on’ such as the pedometer, aren’t. We ended up assigning this feature to the hardware button’s customisable double-tap function to keep tabs on it, which felt a little awkward.
The heart rate monitor itself spat out consistent results and matched up with the expected range for the age and fitness of the user (me). You can set up a fitness profile directly from the watch, which takes into account heart rate and then sync it with Samsung’s Fitness with Gear app, but tying into S Health didn’t appear to be an option, which seems like a no-brainer, but something Samsung decided against.
Aside from fitness, the Gear Fit is useful for relaying any notifications from applications installed on your phone and you can pick and choose which apps relay info to the Fit from a tick list in the Gear Fit Manager app.
Samsung Gear Fit battery life: Just enough juice
Samsung quotes around three-to-four days of use on a single charge, depending on which features you lean on the most; in our experience we managed three days, wearing it every day and switching it off at night, which doesn’t make it the smartwatch to beat for battery life, but certainly usable in everyday life.
Just like the Galaxy Gear before it and its Gear 2 brother, the Fit charges somewhat awkwardly via a detachable adapter that connects the gold contacts, usually hidden against your wrist, to a microUSB port. We’d have preferred to see an integrated port, especially considering the Fit’s thickness, along the lines of the Sony SmartWatch 2, but this is a little niggle we could just about live with.
Samsung Gear Fit verdict: Its days are numbered
The Samsung Gear Fit strikes a balance. It misses out on some ‘smart’ functionality like downloadable apps and other features rival smartwatches enjoy, but it boasts broader functionality than your average fitness tracker, even those with mobile app counterparts.
It’s pricey at a snip under £170, particularly when you consider that unlike Sony’s current offering and forthcoming wearables from LG and Motorola, it only works with select Samsung smartphones. If Sammy relaxed its rules a little and gave all Android users access to the Gear family, especially the Gear Fit, they could fast become the most prevalent smartwatches around.
We’re fans of the Gear Fit and fitness fanatics looking for a new way to quantify their workouts might enjoy its skill set, just bear in mind that its days might be numbered, as Samsung’s already a registered Android Wear developer who’s unlikely to miss an opportunity to launch a product in a new market sector.