updated 01:37 am EST, Tue February 25, 2014
New form follows speculative renderings
After unveiling the Gear 2 on Sunday, Samsung made a surprise announcement--the Gear Fit--during Monday's Mobile World Congress event focusing on the Galaxy S5. The Fit departs from the squarish, chunky form of the first- and second-generation Gear watches, opting instead for a narrow display and focusing on fitness applications. Electronista donned the Fit to see if the sleek design equates to an improved experience.
The Gear and Gear 2 integrate 1.6-inch 320x320 displays, while the Gear Fit switches to a 1.84-inch curved screen with 423x128 resolution. Overall pixel count is cut nearly in half, though the difference doesn't seem so extreme during normal use.
The gear has been criticized for offering apps that some users find to be awkward and ill-suited to a tiny display, particularly in contrast to the relatively gigantic screens on Samsung's Galaxy S-series phones. We expected Samsung to scale back the sheer number of apps on the Fit, or continue working on interface optimization for the smaller screen, but we were surprised to find that all of the core apps appear to be mostly unchanged between the devices.
Although many users may find the Fit apps to be cumbersome, we found the new physical form to be a step in the right direction. The Gear and Gear 2 can be eye-catching due to their chunky form that stands out on many wrists, with a form that seems to have been designed around the display and the internal circuitry. The Fit, however, seems to be designed around the wrist, despite potentially taking a slight step backward in overall usability.
To Samsung's credit, most people will never face any need to use most of the apps available on any of the Gear watches. That said, the Fit is marketed as a fitness accessory rather than a miraculous do-it-all device. With an integrated heartbeat sensor and several exercise apps, the Fit does appear to accomplish this goal.
When we first tried out the original Gear, we walked away thinking that it was a great watch--for $200 or less. Unfortunately, its $300 sticker price was a deal breaker for many potential buyers. We walked away from the Fit thinking the same thing, though the company has yet to announce pricing details.