The Samsung Gear S2 is now officially official, and while it may be small, there's no doubt the watch carries a lot of brand baggage out of the box. The original Samsung Gear was, and this is a fact, bad. The second one wasn't even really that much better. And the Gear Fit, while sort of cool to look at, was basically worthless. And then there was the Gear S but honestly who even bought one of those? (I'm about to find out, aren't I?)

The Gear name is pretty much associated with critical and consumer misses for Samsung in the wearables market at this point, so Gear S2 is perhaps a slightly less predictable name than you might first think. There are two basic models - the Gear S2 and the Gear S2 classic. The "classic" adds a black watch body with ridged bezel accents and exposed lugs, attached to which is a black leather strap. Samsung advertises it with more traditional watchfaces. The standard Gear S2 has either a smooth brushed aluminum-look or black body and comes with silicone bands.


Gear S2 classic

The Gear S2 runs an unspecified version of Samsung's 'Tizen-based wearable platform' (that's the actual name, which, OK) that will presumably have new features. The headline feature likely to star in numerous upcoming commercials is tap-and-pay via NFC on the Gear S2, though it's not clear if this will work only with Samsung Pay via NFC (the watch does not do MST) or if other apps like Android Pay will be supported via the native tap-and-pay function in Android. Regardless, that means that Samsung Gear S2 owners will have to tap their Samsung watch on the Android / Apple Pay logos, and not place it against the side of the card reader as you would with Samsung Pay on your Samsung phone. That just seems odd.

It's not even clear if a Samsung phone is required to use the Gear S2, though I'd have to assume it is (edit: any Android phone is compatible, but Galaxy devices will have exclusive functionality with the Gear S2) - the watch relies on Samsung's own push service and the Galaxy Apps store for content, which are only available on Samsung devices. One Gear S2 model does have a 3G e-SIM with voice services, so presumably it can function as a standalone phone, though it would probably still be syncing via your phone for things like notifications, just over the web instead of Bluetooth.

The watch has a quite-small 1.2" Super AMOLED display at a resolution of 360x360, giving it an exceptional screen density for a wearable at 302PPI. 4GB of storage, 512MB of RAM, and an unnamed dual-core 1GHz processor round out the major specs. The Gear S2 is rated IP68, though Samsung carefully only claims that it is water-resistant (as opposed to waterproof). It has a 250mAh (non-3G) or 300mAh (3G) battery, wireless charging (that's a plus), and features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC.

They also have this kind of nifty rotating bezel for use as a selector dial (I'm guessing), and home and back buttons. How useful the extra controls will prove to be, though, is harder to say. Samsung claims an impressive 2 days on average per charge, and if there's one thing that's been true of the Gear devices to date, it's that Tizen does seem like a power-sipper.

It appears as though all four major US carriers will sell the 3G version of the Gear S2, as well, but no pricing or exact availability beyond "this fall" was provided.

Press Release

SEOUL, Korea – September 1, 2015 – Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. today announced the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch, the company’s latest offering as a result of many years of progressive innovation in the wearables category.

The Samsung Gear S2 comes in a versatile, circular design with an intuitive, custom UX and advanced features that enable users to enhance, personalize and bring more fun to their mobile experience.

The Gear S2’s unique rotating bezel, along with the Home and Back buttons, ensures users will have a quicker, more precise method to comfortably access notifications and applications.

Introduced in two different options – the Gear S2 and the Gear S2 classic – Samsung designed the Gear S2 to appeal to two distinct consumer preferences. The Gear S2 classic is made for users who prefer a more timeless watch design, offering an elegant Black finish with a matching genuine leather band. The Gear S2 is ideal for those who are on-the-go and have an admiration for minimal and modern design.

“For the past several years, Samsung has pioneered and advanced the wearables category, bringing brave new concepts to the smart wearables market,” said JK Shin, CEO and Head of Samsung’s IT & Mobile Business. “The Samsung Gear S2 reflects Samsung’s most progressive innovation. It is the perfect complement for any occasion, easily taking you from day to night, from work to workout—and ensuring that you get more out of every moment in your day, by making it smarter and ultimately more personal and fun.”

A mere 11.4-millimeter thin, the Samsung Gear S2 brings a light and compact design to your wrist. It offers an incredibly vibrant viewing experience for a smartwatch, thanks to its 1.2-inch circular screen and its 360 x 360 resolution (302 ppi). The applications on the Gear S2 can be viewed with amazing clarity so that users don’t miss notification pop-ups. Also, with the latest Tizen OS and an optimized 1-GHz dual core processor, the Samsung Gear S2 can perform tasks easily and efficiently.

Users can stay connected with at-a-glance notifications to check calendars, e-mails, news and can even send important texts directly from their wrist. Users can choose the Gear S2 with 3G connectivity which incorporates the first-ever e-SIM with voice capability, to perform quick functions without being closely tethered to their phone.

New fitness functions on the Samsung Gear S2 will encourage consumers to stay healthy and active. The 24-hour activity log lets users view daily activity progress and patterns at a glance. It will also send reminder updates to motivate users to stay on track with their fitness goals.

For the ultimate convenience, the Samsung Gear S2 comes with NFC technology which will enable mobile payments without the need for a wallet. Samsung is working with a wide selection of partners across different industries to expand the usability of wearables and streamline consumers’ mobile lives in a variety of ways, including smart car keys, residential room keys, and remote controls to manage a connected home.

All of these connected features will be supported by a battery that can last up to 2-3 days, allowing consumers to stay connected without the hassle of constantly having to recharge. To charge, simply place the Samsung Gear S2 on the wireless charging dock right out of the box.

The Samsung Gear S2 reflects Samsung’s commitment to openly collaborate with developers and partners to bring increased customization and applications to its devices. Samsung is working closely with partners to offer a range of watch faces and watch bands so that users can have a variety of ways to express their personal style and mood. Users can easily change the band with one click, and change the watch face for a more personalized and sophisticated Gear experience depending on the time, place or occasion.

A variety of apps optimized for the Gear S2’s circular user interface will be available at launch. Through open collaboration with developers and partners, Samsung is continuing to enrich its wearable ecosystem and provide users with a more optimized and unique smart wearable experience.

The Samsung Gear S2 will be available in a Dark Gray case with a Dark Gray band and Silver case with a White band. The Samsung Gear S2 classic will be available in a Black case with a Leather band.

The Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S2 classic will be showcased for full media hands-on and more applications will be demonstrated with partners at Tempodrum, Berlin on September 3.

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