Today’s fitness tracker market feels oversaturated with devices of various shapes, sizes, and feature sets to the point where simply choosing which one you want to get becomes an exercise much tougher than the ones you’ll be doing once you actually buy it.
But despite this, last year Samsung still managed to position its Gear Fit 2 as one of the best options on the market, thanks to its inclusion of almost every major feature you can think of — and then some. So it’s not exactly surprising that, rather than release an all-new entry in its Gear Fit series this year, Samsung instead chose to simply give the Fit 2 a better water resistance rating, slap a “Pro” at the end of its name, and call it a day.
But as it turns out, not many other fitness trackers possess the ability to be used while swimming; so while this addition may at a first glance appear superficial, it could actually prove to be a game-changing feature for an otherwise quite iterative product.
Being a near-clone of its predecessor, the Fit 2 Pro takes no significant liberties with the already established design: it’s a tiny bit wider, but otherwise has the same lightweight and unobtrusive ergonomics of last year’s model.
But when it comes to the straps, there are a couple of changes. Firstly, they now come in two new color options: a black and a red one, which are both arguably better-looking than last year’s options.
But secondly, they also offer a significant functional advantage: better clasps. Where last year’s model was prone to accidentally unclasping and falling to the ground, the Pro circumvents such problems by using the same traditional clasping mechanism you’ll find on your everyday wristwatch.
Interface and apps
The Fit 2 Pro’s interface doesn’t shed the extreme minimalism of its predecessor, with almost every app, menu, and watch face making liberal use of bland black backgrounds — no doubt a decision made in order to reduce the AMOLED screen’s battery consumption. The screen appears to be identical to the one used on last year’s model, judging by its specs sheet.
But aesthetics aside, using the Fit 2 Pro is mostly a breeze, thanks to a familiar combination of touch input and the two physical buttons on the side. Powered by Samsung’s in-house Tizen OS, the interface is composed of a variety of apps, each one dedicated to a single piece of the device’s functionality, as well as the central home screen containing the main watch face and a few user-configurable app widgets.
While there is the occasional stutter when opening or closing apps, most of the time the interface is fast and responsive. The only exception to this is the “cover screen to turn it off” gesture, which failed to trigger on occasions during our testing.
The device also offers some rudimentary controls for your smartphone: there’s the obligatory notification center, which also lets you respond to texts with a predefined set of responses, as well as built-in music controls. Curiously, you can also answer calls right from your wrist, but the use case for this is quite slim, considering the Fit 2 Pro has neither a microphone nor a speaker built into its body. You can reject the call if you need to.
The Gear Fit 2 Pro never claims to be a smartwatch, and its grand total of available apps on the Galaxy Apps webstore prove this. Their number is above 3000, Samsung claims, but the great majority of those are watchfaces. Thankfully, one of the apps that aren’t is Spotify, which brings a welcome new feature to the Gear Fit series: you can now download playlists right onto the device’s memory and listen to up to 500 songs offline though you Bluetooth headset. And this actually works much faster since streaming music – through your phone or over Wi-Fi – is accompanied by slow music loading times.
But the most important part of any fitness tracker is, well, fitness tracking. And the Gear Fit 2 Pro does mostly fine at this, with modes for walking, running, cycling, elliptical trainer, yoga and a whole bunch of other activities too numerous to list.
All of these workouts can either be started manually, or left to the device’s automatic workout detection, which works surprisingly great but can be a little annoying when it decides to interrupt a casual stroll with its cheerful encouragement.
But the key new feature, the swim tracking, is only available inside the built-in Speedo On app, which means you can’t just jump in the water and expect the Fit 2 Pro to know that you’re swimming. But this is mostly nitpicking on our part, and we’re sure all the swimming enthusiasts out there will be happy to have the ability to track their stroke type and lap time right from their wrist.
Usability and battery life
While the Fit 2 Pro’s inclusion of Wi-Fi means the device doesn’t technically need to be tethered to a smartphone at all times, diving deeper into the data does require using your smartphone. The Samsung Health app does a fine job with this, but isn’t actually available on iOS, so users of Apple devices will have to settle for a somewhat inferior experience.
When it comes to battery life, Samsung’s official 3-5 days estimate is… quite optimistic. In real-life usage three days are the absolute maximum, which means potential users will have to recharge their units disappointingly often (though this was also the case for last year’s model).
And since the Fit 2 Pro will often be used outside, a discussion about its display visibility is in order. And as it happens, you’ll be mostly fine when using it in brightly-lit environments, albeit the curved, reflective glass is bound to become a problem in certain situations.
And lastly, the ability to dive underwater comes with a new feature, letting users turn off touch input entirely. And while it doesn’t actually detect when you go underwater, starting a swimming workout turns it on automatically.
One thing seems pretty clear: “Pro” in the name of the Gear Fit 2 Pro only applies if you’re a pro swimmer. For everyone else, the benefits of the new model over last year’s Fit 2 come in the form of a slightly cooler design and Spotify integration.
But that’s not to say the Pro is bad by any means: in fact, it’s still one of the best fitness trackers out there. But if you don’t care for swimming, the wearables market is full of alternatives that do everything else the Fit 2 Pro does, and they often cost considerably less than the Pro’s $200 asking price.
But if what you’re looking for is a device that can do it all, while looking good at the same time, the Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro is certainly one of your safest bets.