The Battle of Giants
Smart Watches have become almost as popular as smart phones have and the amount of manufactures is overwhelming. With offerings of generics from $10, up to the super premium $500 models, picking the one that’s going to be right for you isn’t exactly easy. I’m going to compare two of the biggest names in the industry today to see which one is better to hopefully make your choice a little bit easier.
Before we get into the reviews you can get the Samsung Gear 2 and Apple Watch for the lowest price online by clicking on the following links to apply all discounts on Amazon.com.
Click here for the Samsung Gear S2
Samsung’s S2 comes in three basic models. The S2, The S2 Classic which looks like a normal watch and the S2 3g. The S2 is 50 x 42 x 11.4mm. The slightly smaller classic is 44 x 40 x 11.4mm. Lastly, the 3g is 51.8 x 44 x 13.4 mm. For 3g functionality, the size difference isn’t really that noticeable. If that’s a feature you’re interested in, it’s well worth it for such a small difference.
The Apple Watches come in just two models, both named for their primary size. The 38mm is 33.3 x 38.6 x 10.5m. The 42mm model is 35.9 x 42 x 10.5mm.
Having tried on all of them, I must say that the Apple watches felt rather…small. They didn’t feel bad, but they didn’t feel solid like a watch really should.
Winner: Samsung S2 Classic
The S2 Classic felt the best of all three. It nicely covered up my wrist without feeling like one of the oversized watches that are currently all the rage. It offered a good amount of screen for viewing texts, numbers and photos which were all very clear.
All three S series watches were made of stainless steel. Being that they weren’t mine I had no problem thumping them into a few things as a test, to see how durable it would be in everyday life. I was pleasantly surprised that not even a scuff came up from the rough treatment. It even stood up to a full force whack to the side of watch face without even a stutter to the screen. That test was particularly important to me because with my old (dumb) watch, quite a few times I’d catch it on the side of a desk or door and jam it into my wrist. Knowing that it’s going to happen anyway, it seemed smart to test it on this.
The Apple Watches are made of aluminum, stainless steel and, if you’re rich enough, 18k gold. The one I handled was the aluminum model. While I couldn’t submit this one to the same tests, I didn’t feel very confident that the watch would survive them, to be perfectly honest. The Aluminum was sturdy enough to feel like metal but it lacked the solidity of the stainless steel S2. Imagine a slightly tougher full can of soda and that’s the exact feel I got from the casing on the Apple Watch.
Winner: Samsung S2 Series
The S2s actually took some abuse without me worrying that it would disintegrate on the first impact. After the whole “bendgate” fiasco with the iPhone 6, my trust in the build quality of their materials is admittedly shaken. As someone who owned the first iPhone back in the day (still have it, too!) it makes me sad that they went away from the solid steel to such a lighter and more fragile material, especially on a device that’s guaranteed to see impact just from everyday use.
A Good watch should have a comfortable band. It should also be relatively easy to find a replacement should yours break which is an inevitable part of owning a watch. This category is being scored on price of the bands as well as the builds. Partially because it’s nice to know it won’t cost an arm and a leg to repair if it gets damaged, partially because this watch is a fashion statement. It’d be nice to wear a different band to match different suits or t-shirts, so the price and variation of bands is definitely an important consideration.
The S series I tried on had Plastic and Leather bands. The plastic band felt ok but did leave me with the concern of sweating being a problem. It didn’t feel very breathable which is a problem for something that’s going to be skin tight for a long period of time. The leather band felt better. It was a nice quality band which with a rich black color. It felt just as premium as it was meant to.
The Apple watch comes in 3 bands which are Plastic, leather and steel. Their plastic band had the same issue as the Samsung band. The Leather band was a significant improvement over the plastic, also a high quality leather in a slightly lighter matte black. It felt very comfortable, not to think or thin with just enough breathing to it that it was easy to determine it wouldn’t be a problem to wear it for a day.
The stainless steel band was by far the best of the three. It had a nice, solid feel. There was just enough space between the links to give a good amount of flex and breathability, while still maintaining a solid grip on the wrist.
Both manufactures offer multiple options of swappable bands on their individual websites. Apple does offer quite a bit more variation than Samsung, who has a grand total of 7 different bands to choose from. However, Samsung was built with a standard 20mm band which means you can use almost any band you want with it. Replacing it is very user friendly so it could be done in just a few minutes before you head out the door.
The Apple watch uses a custom band face, but there are adapters available for it to take any standard watch band. The downside to that to me is needing to buy an extra piece. It’s also not clear whether the adapter will stay on your watch or attach to the new band, meaning you may need to buy a new adapter for every new band you buy.
Winner: Samsung S2 Series
While the extra bands are another investment on top of the price of the watch, good quality watchbands can be found on Amazon for as low as $10. So a whole week worth of different bands will cost you less than $100 meaning you’re free to customize it to any outfit if you want to. It’s also possible to put a premium watch band on the S2 more affordably with everything from gold to diamond accents. I did like the build quality of Apple’s band more, but not being able to use generic watch bands is what cost them this point.
The S series has a standard touch screen interface. There’s nothing particularly fancy about it, and it could be a problem if you have bigger fingers using any one of the watches (apple included). The S2 has a 1.2in AMOLED display across the board. The colors were clear and sharp with a nice crisp feeling. The display is 360 x 360 x 302ppi, leading to an overall very clean experience.
Apple included their new pressure sensitive screens in the watch. Different amounts of force, angles and gestures will all result in a different reaction from the watch. With a 1.32 and 1.5in AMOLED display, there’s quite a bit of room to move on the apple watch. The touch features do also come in handy for different apps. Colors were sharp and bright. One thing apple has ALWAYS done well was their displays and the Apple Watch is no different. The Apple watch resolutions are 272 x 340 x 326 for the smaller version and 312 x 390 x 326ppi respectively.
Winner: Apple Watch
So far it’d been decidedly one sided. The apple watch ran away with this category though, with the fancier and slightly more spacious screen. The colors were also slightly better which made this an easy choice. Even with a lower resolution screen, Apple just felt like a better display.
Samsung’s S series used an innovative rotating bezel to let you access menus and change settings within the watch itself. While at first it’s strange twisting your watch about to change settings, I can see this easily becoming second nature after long time use.
Apple went for a more classic attempt at input with a simple crown on the side of the device. The crown was easy to use and did have an advantage to keeping your fingers further away from the screen, leaving more room to view the watch itself.
Both watches had good ideas in this category, but neither really stood out. Samsung’s rotating bezel didn’t obscure the screen with your fingers; Apple’s crown was just like every other watch. They were both effective for their task, but neither one really did anything better. Just differently.
Samsung includes S health, their personal fitness app with the Gear models. One great feature is the ability to personalize it by gender and weight. This allows you to receive a more personalized feedback. The app offers 24/7 tracking and allows you to start your day with the tap of the screen. Once done, it will gently remind you during periods of inactivity to get up and move and during periods of intense activity will even encourage you with compliments like “good job” etc. Rotating your bezel allows you to see how much time you’ve spent walking, running and standing still. It can estimate calories burned as well as keep track of how long you’ve been active. Further rotation will give you previous day’s activity logs as well as heart rates.
Apple’s Activity app is very similar in some ways to S health. With a much simpler interface, Apple gives you 3 rings representing Stand, Move and Exercise. This keeps track and closes the rings as you meet the goals for each day.
The second fitness app is Workout for more detailed tracking of actual workouts instead of just day to day activity monitoring. This is pretty cool because the app has built in settings for a variety of different workouts and you simply select one and it activates the appropriate sensors for you. It allows you to set goals for the day (X miles, Minutes etc) which is a very useful feature for riding or jogging. It will even give you progress reports with how far you are through your workout and estimated time of completion at current pace. When finished, it neatly surmises the workout with time, distance and calories burned.
Both devices have access to their respective app markets for extra fitness features and apps, with full support offered to access the sensors of the devices.
Both devices offer similar services. While Samsung’s offering is a little more thorough, Apple’s was a little easier to navigate. Both apps were great for what they offered and neither really stood out as being a clear winner.
Unfortunately, both devices are mostly locked to their specific type of devices. The Apple Watch does not currently offer android support nor is it planned in the future. Samsung DOES intend to roll-out support to IOS devices, but how effective that will be remains to be seen. Apple is very tight gripped on their devices (understandably) and this fact could hurt them in this instance. With an Android device there’s multiple market offerings for a smart watch, for Apple…not so much.
Samsung is at least willing to try to port their device over to the opposition. Even if it ends up being a failure, there was an attempt and that deserves credit.
Both devices feature similar features from Email, text and Calling support, to Bluetooth compatibility and speakers for taking phone calls directly from the handset.
Samsung offers access to Samsung pay with their watch, which is accepted at quite a few retailers across the world. Wireless charging is a nice feature included, if you buy the optional dock. The battery is estimated to last you 2-3 days per charge, with a 250 mAh voltage. It’s powered by 512mb of ram and a 1ghz processor. Storage is a bit limited at 4gbs. All this is protected by IP68 Water Resistance, meaning that you could even theoretically take it into the pool with you as long as you don’t go too far into the deep end. The Samsung has access to a full app store as well as for the more technically inclined, the ability to make your own apps with the SDK.
Apple watch has access to Apple pay (basically the same thing as Samsung pay). There’s no wireless charging here unfortunately. With a 205 mAh battery lasting 24 hours of use, the watch should have no problem getting you through the day. The Watch is powered by Apple’s S1 chip, a very good processor. It’s backed by 512mb of ram and 8gbs of storage space. However, only 2gbs of that is accessible to the user which makes it sound more appealing than it is. The watch is IP7 resistant but apple also doesn’t recommend getting the watch wet which I find somewhat conflicting. Apps are available from the app store, with no current jailbreak available to allow custom or home-brewed applications.
Samsung. While both watches are almost identical in feature set, Samsung’s wireless charging and longer life timer is the thing that edges it past Apple. Being able to take it off and just drop it on the pad, as well as not having to worry about it when washing your hands or during spills is a great feature.
Samsung Gear 2 or Apple Watch – Who Wins?
Samsung took this competition by a landslide. While I wouldn’t recommend going out and buying your new phone to go with your watch, if you end up going with the Android based watch you’ll have more choices in the future as upgrades come. With Apple, you’re going to be stuck using apple products for as long as you want to keep using the watch.
With that said, feature wise I was overall impressed more by the Samsung watch. Both watches are very similar which isn’t particularly surprising. But the sheer customizability of the Samsung, partnered with a better build quality really stole the show for me. Also being able to use apps made by other users was a feature I’m particularly interested in. While the manufactures may make these devices, it’s the user base who really make them come to life. With infinite options for customization for faces as well as the ability to make custom ones, it was really a very easy choice here.
Gear also offers more variations in style as well as functionality. With three different versions available, there’s also more options depending on your needs as a consumer. With the different bands and even 3g functionality for when your phone battery dies, it’s just that much more in favor of Samsung in this battle of the giants.
To make it easy for you we’ve searched online to find the best prices for both smartwatches online. You can click the links below to have the discounts automatically applied to both products on Amazon.com: