Samsung isn't giving up on the wearables market, following measly sales of its Galaxy Gear smartwatch from 2013. Instead, it's back with two new versions; the Gear 2 and the Neo. We've rounded up the key differences between the three versions, seeing what's changed as Samsung looks to get a leap ahead of Apple's iWatch plans and Google's Android Wear expected later in the year.
Dropping Android and Galaxy
One of the key differences between the Gear 2 (and Neo) and Galaxy Gear is that Samsung has chosen to drop Android and use its own Tizen operating system instead. In turn, Samsung has removed the Galaxy naming convention from its smartwatch line, as Galaxy is a name attached to all of its Android products.
The differences Tizen will have over Android aren't entirely seen on the front-end. It has more to do with the source code and apps made available. You still have a time display but can now add menus for quick access where a world of swiping existed before.
However, it's clear that Samsung is looking for more control over its software, rather than paying licensing fees to Google. Industry pundits have already suggested Samsung will ditch Android for Tizen in its smartphones, and doing so with its smartwatch could be the first step.
Unlike the first version of the Galaxy Gear, Samsung wants to give choice with the Gear 2. Thus, it's released both the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. The Neo name has become more evident across Samsung's line of devicest aimed at budget customers.
The key difference between the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo is that the Gear 2 offers a camera, while the Gear 2 Neo doesn't. How this makes the two vary on pricing hasn't been revealed. The Neo is presumed to be cheaper.
The Gear 2 features its camera built into the top of the actual watch, rather than in the strap like the Galaxy Gear.
The Samsung Gear 2 features a 2-megapixel autofocus camera capable of 720p, 30fps video. The affordable Gear Neo watch has no snapper built-in. The Gear 2's camera is a slight upgrade over the first version's 1.9-megapixel BSI Sensor camera.
Screen, speed and memory
The Galaxy Gear, Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo all feature a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display, with a 320 x 320 resolution for 278ppi.
The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo are a tad faster than the original Galaxy Gear, though. The new versions feature a a 1GHz dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM, compared to the Galaxy Gear's 800MHz processor.
All three feature 4GB of on-board storage.
The Gear 2 wants to match your personality a little better than the first version. Both the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo can swap to any 22mm strap on the market. In the realm of customisability, you can also edit the homescreen with your apps of choice.
The Gear 2 will ship in charcoal black, gold brown and wild orange, while the Gear 2 Neo ships in charcoal black, mocha grey, and wild orange.
Fitness tracking and music player
The original Galaxy Gear didn't feature hardware to track your fitness - only apps that could do so through the connected smartphone. But now, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo feature plenty of sensors to keep track of your life.
Both devices have a heart rate sensor, pedometer, gyroscope and accelerometer. These allow for standalone running and walking tracking, as well as companion cycling and hiking tracking. The watch can also be used to track sleep and, Samsung says, stress levels.
Also great for runners is an on-board, standalone music player that can store up to 4GB of music. It can pair with a Bluetooth headset or speaker - ideal for running without your phone.
Apps and TV
Apps from Banjo, BMW, CNN , Conde Nast, Expedia, eBay, Evernote, Feedly, Garmin, Glympse, GM , iControl, Line, Path, Paypal, Runtastic, Volkswagen, Weather Channel and Under Armour will come to the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. Apps on the original Galaxy Gear will probably be ported over to the new version.
The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo feature a WatchOn Remote application and built-in IrLED Sensor, unlike the original Galaxy Gear, allowing you to control your TV right from the wrist. But conceivably in the future, it could be used to control the entire smart home once the Internet of Things takes off.
The original Galaxy Gear featured a 315mAh battery, with claimed standby time of up to 150 hours and typical usage time of up to 25 hours. The new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo are claimed to have typical usage of two to three days and low usage up to six days, despite a smaller 300mAh battery.
We'll have to save our final judgement for our review, but the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo appear to be Samsung's way of cleaning up its jump into the smartwatch market with the original Galaxy Gear.
The company tightened up the design by moving the camera to the top, rather than within the strap, making it more attractive and customisable. The fitness tracking also makes it a more compelling offer, as wearables have often been associated with a way of tracking workouts. That standalone music players is also a big draw for those wishing to take music on the go without a phone.