It was easy to insult the Samsung Gear S2 when it came out in early October; the software was buggy, the connections were inconsistent, and — overall — the Gear S2 felt more like a beta version of a watch rather than a consumer version.
Fast forward a little more than two months later: Samsung has not only updated the software, but worked out most of the previous bugs. Most importantly, Samsung is now offering a 3G version of the Gear S2 and I have been testing it out for the past three days. As a former Gear S2 cynic, I am rather impressed by the experience the Gear S2 has offered me the past couple of days.`
The best thing about the 3G Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch is that it can operate separately from your Android (and soon Apple) Smartphone. You get a SIM card with a new phone number. However, if you are away from your smartphone, the Gear S2 takes on the number of your smartphone (if you want). You get all instant messages, phone calls, and even emails. If you want to use the watch as a completely separate phone with its own number, you can do that as well.
The worst thing about the 3G Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch is that when you use the 3G connection (rather than Bluetooth) the battery life is awful. Just using the 3G connection in a Santa Clarita movie studio, the battery life went from 100 percent to nothing in just three hours. However, that is partially due to the fact there was barely a signal, so the smartwatch used extra juice trying to find one. Most will likely get at least 5 hours of use using your 3G Gear S2 as your primary phone.
The battery life is much better when you use the watch in Auto mode, which uses Bluetooth first and then only goes into 3G mode when the Bluetooth signal fades away. When using this mode, the Gear S2 never went below 20 percent, even after 14 hours. I certainly can’t say that about the Apple Watch.
The Gear S2 is a must-have for exercise and calorie trackers. I was impressed with how the Apple Watch “automatically” tracked calories until I realized it really didn’t. If I walked for three minutes, the Watch said I burned 12 calories. If I ran fast for three minutes, the Watch also said I burned 12 calories. The Gear S2 differentiates between light and heavy exercise. I can’t believe I lived without it!
The Gear S2 interface is still a little clunky and confusing. The screen doesn’t rotate for people who prefer the main buttons on the other side of the S2. The watch has its own GPS, but the Maps program can’t use it to give you door-to-door directions — something I expect to change soon. Still, the Gear S2 proves itself as the best smartwatch available. All it took was a few updates to make that happen.