Samsung kicked off the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona this weekend by announcing the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches.
The two devices are similar to the original Galaxy Gear, which was released just six months ago, but Samsung has made a few key changes, some of which may entice more users to purchase one of the two smartwatches.
1. Heart-rate sensor
Not many users have wearable devices, but those who do tend to use their gadgets for fitness tracking. Samsung recognizes this and is accommodating users by adding a heart-rate sensor to the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo.
Along with a pedometer and numerous exercise modes, the heart-rate sensor make Samsung’s new smartwatches better fitness trackers than their predecessor.
2. Changeable straps
When the original Galaxy Gear was announced, Samsung made the device available in numerous color options. However, the company did not make it possible for users to switch the strap of their smartwatch. That’s because the Galaxy Gear’s camera was built into the strap.
Samsung fixes that in the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo by moving the camera onto the watch on the Gear 2 and removing it altogether from the Geart 2 Neo. When these devices are released globally in April, users will be able to interchange their straps whenever they want.
3. Longer-lasting battery
The Galaxy Gear was impressive because of all the features it included, but having so much took a toll on the device’s battery life -- it could last for only a single day.
With the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, Samsung has improved battery life so that users two to three days from a single charge. This still isn’t as good as what users of the Pebble Steel can get from their smartwatch, but it’s an improvement.
4. Lighter weight
Samsung’s new devices are lighter than their predecessor. Whereas the Galaxy Gear weighed 0.16 pounds, the Gear 2 weighs 0.15 pounds while the Gear 2 Neo comes in at 0.12 pounds.
The difference are fractions of a pound, but Samsung’s Gear smartwatches are designed to be used as phones when users hold up their wrists to their faces. In that scenario, shaving off even just little bit of weight can make a big difference.
5. No more Android
The biggest difference and one consumers will likely not even notice is the operating system used to power the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. The Galaxy Gear ran on Google Android, but Samsung’s new smartwatches use an operating system called Tizen.
Over the last few years, Samsung has supported Tizen and helped with the development of the platform. It’s unclear why Samsung is switching the software, but surely, Google isn’t a fan of the switch.
The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will roll out globally in April. Samsung has not said when exactly the devices will arrive in the U.S. or how much they will cost. It’s also unclear which smartphones and tablets will work with the smartwatches, but as with the Galaxy Gear, expect the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo to work only with Samsung devices.