The Samsung Gear was one of the most derided pieces of wearable tech of 2013. So the Korean tech giant went back to the drawing board with the wristwear and revised it to be pretty much more of the same.
We need to say this up front: we haven’t clapped eyes or even hands on the Gear 2 or the more plastic Gear 2 Neo. It was introduced Sunday in the run-up to Mobile World Congress, which opens Monday; we’re expecting to see the thing then. We’re writing this based on a press release and specs.
The big complaint about the original Gear was that it worked only with only a very limited range of other Samsung phones and tablets. The Neo 2 works with “a wide variety of Samsung devices” and “more than dozens of Samsung Galaxy smartphones.” One can also use the Neo 2 as a remote control — presumably only for Samsung TVs.
The Gear 2 features customizable screens and a 720p camera built into the body of the phone, rather than the strap. (the Gear 2 Neo doesn’t have a camera.) The screen is a 1.63-inch square Super AMOLED at 320×320 pixels. And there’s a heart-rate monitor.
Maybe the most interesting thing about the Gear 2 is that it’s based not on Android but on the Tizen OS, a project of the Linux Foundation. It may not be the first Tizen-based device, but it’s certainly the highest profile. It’s a poke in the eye of Google and a step away from what has become a fragmented Android development experience.
In a world where there are thousands of brands of devices and where ecosystems are built not around single products but best-of-breed applications, it’s puzzling when a major vendor puts out a product that’s so closed. Maybe we’ll change our minds when we see this thing. Frankly, we’re not overly hopeful.
It ships in April. No price listed.