The Gear Fit is Samsung’s first attempt at a combined smart watch and activity tracker. It works with a selection of Samsung’s own smartphones and tablets, rather than Android in general. You can’t use it with an iPhone.
Samsung Gear Fit: design
It’s a good-looking device. The curved OLED display is very bright and the fact that it’s a touchscreen increases the wow factor even more.
The rubber strap is removable and there are four extra colours to choose between. They should fit any size wrist and the clasp is similar to the Fitbit Flex and Garmin Vivofit – it’s easy to do up once you’ve mastered The Knack.
The single button can be used to turn the screen on and off, but raising your arm to look at the screen automatically turns it on as well, but it’s a bit trigger happy, turning on with the slightest of movements. You can also double-tap the button to jump straight to a function of your choosing, such as the pedometer.
Thanks to a firmware update, there’s now a ‘portrait’ option which is more comfortable to read than landscape. Readability isn’t really an issue with other activity trackers since they only display numbers.
That’s not the case with the Gear Fit, and it’s tricky to read email notifications in landscape mode.
Annoyingly there’s an adapter which clips on for charging – just something extra to lose.
Battery life is roughly three days. That’s in line with other smartwatches, but it pales in comparison to most activity trackers which last around a week, if not two.
Samsung Gear Fit: features
As an activity tracker, the Gear Fit tracks your steps from midnight to midnight, estimates calories you’ve burned from exercise and the distance you’ve covered.
Unfortunately, the Gear Fit’s figures didn’t tally with a Fitbit One, which we know is pretty accurate. It seemed to treat any arm movements as steps, resulting in anything up to a third more steps than we’d actually taken.
There’s a separate icon for Exercise. Within this are Running, Walking, Cycling and Hiking. The latter two require your smartphone or tablet to be connected as they use its GPS receiver to track your activity.
If you choose running or walking, you can set a distance, time or calorie goal. Before you set off, the built-in optical heart rate sensor measures your current heart rate, and then attempts to measure it in real-time as you run.
All too often the sensor wouldn’t produce a reading and the real-time readings weren’t necessarily in sync, so we didn’t exactly trust it.
You can take heart rate take measurements on demand. Most functions let you see your activity over the last week but with Heart Rate, you can see only the last measurement.
The Gear Fit also tracks Sleep, but we’re being generous when we say this is rudimentary. You have to tap the Start button when you go to bed, then stop when you wake up. A summary screen tells you the duration, and the percentage of time you were motionless.
There’s a built-in vibration motor which can wake you up in the morning as well alerting you of incoming calls, text messages and other notifications. You can’t actually set an alarm on the band itself, but you can enable alarm notifications from the Gear Fit Manager app.
Smart watch functions
As a smart watch, the Gear Fit is a little lacking. It will display notifications from your phone or tablet, allow you to control media playback (and volume) on the connected device and find your lost smartphone or tablet by activating an alarm.
As well as notifications for emails, calendar appointments and incoming phone calls you can also opt to get notifications from any other apps installed on your phone.
If you reject a phone call, you can set up the Gear Fit Manager app to send a pre-defined message such as “I’ll call you later”. It’s also possible to reply to text messages from a set of pre-defined templates.
You can enable message previews so you can read entire emails, but the narrow screen isn’t really suited to this.
Samsung Gear Fit: verdict
Overall, the Gear fit is a mixed bag. The hardware is impressive, but the software still needs some work, and there’s no getting around the awkwardness of reading in both landscape and portrait modes: each has its drawbacks.
The over-reading pedometer means we can’t recommend it as a tracker if you want any kind of accuracy, and smart watch functions are a bit thin on the ground.
Of course, you need to own one of 17 Samsung devices to even use the Gear Fit at all, which means you can’t upgrade your smartphone unless it’s to another supported device.