Sitting on the desk in front of me is a Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 smartwatch. In the five days I’ve had it, the smartwatch spent, perhaps, two hours on my wrist.
There’s nothing wrong with the device, I just don’t find wearing it makes my life any better. And that is the problem with smartwatches: they just aren’t useful enough. I prefer my old-school analogue-face dumb watch.
Don’t take my word for it. At the Guardian Charles Arthur reports Wearables: one-third of consumers abandoning devices. I’m not surprised.
This is a review smartwatch, it goes back to Samsung soon. If I had bought it from a shop I’d be wondering if I could get my money back.
That observation is strengthened by research from Endeavour Partners in the US, which found that one-third of American consumers who have owned a wearable product stopped using it within six months.
Before looking at what is wrong with these devices in general, let’s look at what Samsung got right with the Gear 2.
- It looks better than any other smartwatch including other Samsung models and Sony’s ugly effort. That’s important, only the geekiest geek from geekville would be comfortable being seen in public with most smartwatches.
- The display is a nice-looking 320 x 320 Super-Amoled touch screen. It measures around 40mm diagonally or 1.63 inches.
- Samsung boosted the processor from the earlier Gear watch. The Gear 2’s dual core power plant runs at 1GHz. In itself this is meaningless, what’s important is the watch functions smoothly. You never feel you’re waiting for the processor.
- There’s 512MB of Ram and 4GB of storage.
- Samsung claims the battery will run for two to three days, longer with low use.
- A 2 megapixel camera with autofocus.
- The Gear 2 has IP67 certification which means it is dust and water-resistant.
- Samsung has swapped the software from a low-end version of Android to its own Tizen operating system.
As smartwatches go, the Galaxy Gear 2 is the gold standard. In New Zealand the Galaxy Gear 2 sell for the thick end of $300. I’ve seen it on sale at $290.
It only works with Samsung phones. That’s a strategy which suggests the company thinks it is a draw card, dragging customers into the Samsung world. I’d suggest limiting its market in this way means it can’t succeed.
At the Guardian Arthur says smartwatches have failed to ignite because the technology isn’t ready yet. He also says we’ve yet to see a killer app.
For me there’s a bigger problem. All the experience in recent years has shown there is an optimum size for a smartphone screen – that size is between 4.7 and five-inches. Smaller displays like the four-inch iPhone screen are useful, but bigger screens do a better job. In my book the 40mm screen on the Galaxy Gear 2 simply isn’t big enough to do much more than just deliver a few basics.