The smartwatch world has had its eyes on Samsung for a while: While the Apple Watch may only be in the first generation, Samsung has had a couple years to work on smartwatch models – and the new Gear S2 watch is the latest iteration, coming with several surprise for long-term smartphone fans.
You can watch the reveal video here, because everyone has a reveal video these days. The most obvious change is the design, which is a sleeker, more minimalistic take on the Gear, more reminiscent of a traditional watch and, frankly, much more comfortable-looking than previous generations (more on this in a bit).
But many of the big changes are on the inside of this watch. The watch itself will not be using an Android OS, so no Android Wear capabilities this time around: Instead, it features a Tizen OS with a circle of icons, more like a real clock face (other Gears have experimented with Tizen before). Tizen may not be as satisfying as Android Wear, but there are also benefits to this setup. The new watch has fully compatibility with all Android phones – previous Gear watches could only work with Samsung phones, but not the watch is unlocked and ready to work on pretty much any Android out there. This raises an important question about app development, because Samsung has to port or create new apps for the updated Tizen. The company is promising around 1,000 apps available…eventually.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the watch face, too. It features an interesting twist-to-control ring around the 1.2-inch AMOLED screen. Twist one way, and it clicks through your notifications. Twist the other way, and it shuffles through your hotkeyed apps. It’s a bit more traditional than what we would have expected from Samsung, but fortunately the screen itself is still a touchscreen.
It will be interesting to see how the two work together for the average user. The Gear S2 will be coming in a couple different varieties. There are a few options for colors and straps, as well as a Classic version that tries even harder to look like a traditional watch. There’s not final word on pricing this early in the game, but stay tuned.