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.