Samsung Gear Fit Hands-On: An Activity Tracker Worth Wearing

We love fitness trackers. I wear a couple myself both in my iPhone and Android devices, as well as devices from Jawbone and Fitbit on my wrist. But they don't do anything. I'm still an overweight, sedentary guy who doesn't work out enough, and I'm finding that between my Pebble and my Jawbone and my Fitbit, I have run out of wrist real estate. I would trade all of them, however, for the Samsung Gear Fit: this weirdly beautiful curved screen floats above your wrist.

The Gear Fit is the newest wearable device from Samsung. Announced at Mobile World Congress, we should see it land in Australia on 11 April: around the same time as the Galaxy S5.

It's a wristband with a 1.84-inch SuperAMOLED screen which curves around your wrist. It supports interchangeable straps if you get tired of the black one it comes with, and supports a whole bunch of standalone fitness software. The screen it boasts doesn't sound like much, until you see it in real life.

It's a revelation.

It takes the concept of curved OLED and sticks it into a device that genuinely looks futuristic. The only concern is that the bezel is sizeable, but it's nothing that the bright, colour-rich OLED won't distract you from.


The bundled strap is incredibly comfortable, but more importantly it's thin. The worst kind of fitness tracker is one that awkwardly props up your wrist on a flat surface. The Gear Fit's bundled strap is reminiscent of the strap on the Fitbit Force, to the point that you think it could have come from the same manufacturer.

There are a few customisable watch faces and wallpapers for the Gear Fit, but not one that allows you to view it vertically. When you look at a watch, you hold your wrist horizontally against your body rather than straight away from you, so it'll take a bit of getting used to for a lot of people. A vertical watch face and menu design wouldn't go astray in future, to be honest.

The integrated Fitness Manager software promises "real-time" coaching on your wrist, by telling you your steps, your distance travelled as well as real-time instructions beamed onto the screen like "speed up" when you work out.


Underneath the band is an optical heart-rate tracker for measuring your pulse and recording it in the device, both when you're resting and when you're working out.

What's interesting is that the fitness coach can also give you contextual information relevant to your health as you work out. Say you're going a bit too hard for example, the Gear Fit will know that based on your heart rate and encourage you to slow down. It actually feels like a fitness tracker that can finally give you contextual orders about how you should be not just walking, but working out.

The Gear Fit has a media controller app for switching songs on your phone, but it would be nice if it packed in some internal storage like the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo so it could be used as a standalone fitness tracker, however.

The only thing we didn't really hear about at Mobile World Congress was the ability of the Fit to track sleep. That's one thing that Jawbone and Fitbit especially still have over this shiny new kid on the block.

On top of being able to be used as a fitness tracker, it can also be used as a remote for your smartphone; receiving notifications projected at it from your pocket over Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy.

Speaking of Bluetooth, Samsung promised that the Gear Fit would work with 17 different Galaxy devices that support the communications standard, rather than the scenario with the original Gear where it only supported the Note 3. It's great that we're getting more support, but wouldn't it be nice if we had support for all Android devices, or even better, any device with Bluetooth 4.0? We only can dream of an ecosystem-free world...

The Gear Fit makes me want to cast other devices from my wrist and wear it full time. I can't wait until we get to review it.

Luke Hopewell travelled to Mobile World Congress as a guest of Samsung.


Comments

    After playing with the first generation watch, I was ho hum about the aesthetics and interface. I initially got excited about this evolution in the smart watch from Samsung as it looked way cooler, then the thought dawned on me seeing most of the press photos are always displayed in landscape. Typically a watch is bought close to the face in portrait, do we now have to learn to turn our head or view the screen from an outstretched arm?

    Dammit, was hoping it would work with my HTC One.

    Ugh. Maybe XDA will come out with a solution to compatibility.

    I wear a couple myself both in my iPhone and Android devices, as well as devices from Jawbone and Fitbit on my wrist.

    hmm........

    I’m finding that between my Pebble and my Jawbone and my Fitbit, I have run out of wrist real estate.

    huh????

    You are seriously telling us that you have multiple devices on your wrist all day every day! If you were road testing said devices then that is acceptable, outside of that.....

    My question is.... The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo... they both have heart rate monitors on them... From what I read the fit is cheaper than those two, even though no pricing has been listed... but I can't figure out if the Neo's can do the same thing as a fit plus more? Just with a bulkier watch like screen and a few other added features?

    I find it frustrating that many of the new fitness devices still don't actually have the feature set of the Basis B1 hardware. They have other features which are desirable, but they don't have the same coverage of actual physiological monitoring.
    The Basis B1 has:
    *Optical heart rate
    *Galvanic Skin Response
    *Three-axis accelerometer
    *Skin temperature and environmental temperature
    *Logging to the device.

    There are downsides to the B1, though, and some of the alternative devices address this.
    * B1 HR recording is not accurate enough for second-by-second recording, and they only provide minute-by-minute.
    * No direct access to the data - it is all transferred to the Basis servers and accessible only via their apps or the non-public web interface.
    * No more general smartwatch features
    * No bluetooth for real-time monitoring on external apps

    There are lots of fitness monitors coming out with some really cool features, but they uniformly don't record the breadth of physiological inputs as the B1. I find that really bizarre.
    Some of them are aiming for specificity - e.g. tracking only accelerometers in order to detect activity level - but for devices covering multiple inputs you'd think they would try to match what is already out there.

      wow your expectations are super high.. it's not a hospital equipment and definitely don't need one whilst you're going for a jog or walk. You must be from the future

        That's one of the funniest calls I ever heard

    If only it was compatible with other devices.
    I would, without a doubt, buy this for use with my nexus 5.

    I love the design and look of it, and if the pre-reviews hold true for the release, it looks like an awesome device.
    But I'm not going to be getting a new phone for at least 2 years.

    Samsung, you will make so much more money if you open it up to all android.
    Please hear the voice of the people

    Big shame about lacking compatability with other devices... :(
    Although, I have a couple of Samsung devices where they say that they are only compatable with Samsung phones/tables, but still work fine on my other devices via the app. Any chance this will be a similar case or a hack to help? I only have a HTC and Motorola

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