A good fitness wearable RUINED by Poor Battery Life... - Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro Review

Just a forewarning this is a bit of a long one! But before we jump into the meat of this review, check out this gallery of pics below...
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Rating
★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5)

Pros
  • General Usability
    • Quick and responsive
    • Easy to use
    • Notifications are great
    • OS is good
    • Fitness tracking is good
  • Design
    • Slim and lightweight
    • Vibrant screen
    • 5 ATM resistance is nice
  • Customization
    • Tons of watch faces to choose from
    • Widget customization
    • App layout customization
  • Fitness app Integrations
    • Under Armour app suite integration is nice including the app integrations directly on the device
  • Price
    • Paid $149.00 for mine. 
    • Price would become a con if it was higher than $160 I would say.

Cons
  • Battery Life
    • With constant heart rate (24/7) and notifications I'm getting 1.5 days out of this before needing to charge
    • GPS usage drops that down further (Burns about 3% every 5-7 minutes [tested using Endomondo])
  • Apps/Phone Integration
    • iOS (Apple) integration isn't as good as android
    • Limited amount of apps for the device (at least on the iOS front, not sure how it fares on Android)
  • Concerning Reviews
    • Reviews indicate issues with Samsung's claims of 5ATM for water resistance

Other Thoughts
TL;DR
This is truly a great fitness tracker and it reminds me a lot of the Samsung Galaxy Gear S2 I was utilizing prior to this device. I like the notifications, I like the integrations, I like the operating system on the Gear Fit2 Pro and overall I like the fitness tracker as a whole. With that being said, it gets worse battery life than I was getting with the Gear S2. Reading reviews of the device concern me with its actual waterproofing as well. Both of those are large enough cons to cause me to unfortunately return this device which is quite a shame as I really do like it otherwise.


Full Review
STORY TIME…
I recently got a gift card from my work's fitness and health program and I decided I was going to use some of that money to purchase a new fitness focused wearable. I was utilizing a Samsung Galaxy Gear S2 that my Fiancé had purchased for me as a surprise birthday gift about two years ago. It was my first experience with a "true smartwatch" and I liked it. I liked that device because it was customizable, had good integrations with notifications and worked great on Android and fairly well on iPhone/iOS. I say fairly well on iPhone/iOS because the "Find my Phone" feature doesn't work which I used all the time on my Android devices!

So, in typical fashion, I began doing a bunch of research for what the best fitness trackers are that are out on the market right now. I was interested in something that has long battery life, smart notifications, and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. Of course, the usual "Top Two" came up… Fitbit and Garmin during my search but I also read about the Amazfit Bip but it didn't have 24/7 heart rate tracking and I wasn't 100% sold on the design. The battery life on the other hand (Up to 30 days) is insane!

As far as the "Top Two" go, I've used both Fitbit and Garmin devices in the past and I can definitely agree that both of them are solid options. My experience with Fitbit is with their Charge HR  and it was solid, but the build quality left a lot to be desired. On the Garmin side of things, I used the Garmin Vivosmart With HR Monitor Bundle and Garmin Vivosmart HR. I liked the Vivosmart because it gave me "smart notifications" on my wrist from my phone, granted the screen wasn't the greatest in sunny conditions and the HR monitoring required a chest strap. The Vivosmart HR improved on that by having a built in wrist based HR tracker and a better screen. The Garmin devices were the ones that got me hooked on the idea of a smart watch like device.

My Fiancé actually uses a Fitibit Charge 2 right now and is pleased with it but personally, I was looking for something with better smart notifications. There was One Garmin device that had initially grabbed my attention due to its design and novel idea of being more like a watch with subtle fitness tracking built in (See: Garmin Vivomove HR). The only issue I had with the Vivomove HR was that it wasn't very customizable and many people reported that seeing the screen in sunlight is difficult. Otherwise it had smart notifications and every other feature I was looking for. Fitbit has the Versa and the Ionic but after finding other devices with built in GPS for the same price, I found it hard to justify paying $200 for the Versa which used connected GPS and almost $300 for the Ionic which has standalone GPS. So back to comparing with Garmin I went as I took a look at the Vivoactive 3 and Vivoactive 3 music. Those two devices ended up in a similar situation as the Fitbits where the cheaper option (the Vivoactive 3) missed out on the music feature that the more expensive counterpart had. So back to the drawing board I go.

Eventually I ended up coming across an article that mentioned the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro as a viable option and it took me by surprise. I had never considered the Gear Fit line because my largest gripe with the Gear S2 and other Samsung Gear devices was they didn't support 24/7 heart rate monitoring like the top dogs did. Well, with the launch of the Gear Fit2 Pro, Samsung decided to make that a feature and also rolled out an update to the Gear Fit2 to support it. So after some deliberation and price checking with the other options, I had found earlier, I decided to give the Gear Fit2 Pro a go. I had read about the battery life potentially being a problem for "heavy users" but I didn't believe that I was a heavy user since I would only occasionally be using the GPS and would completely understand the battery drain caused by that.

The first thing I noticed after receiving the device and getting it up and running was just how easy it was for me to transition over from my Gear S2 to this Fit2 Pro. This was kind of a given since they are both in the same ecosystem (Samsung Gear app, S Health app). The only change I had to make was switching from the Galaxy Watch app to the Gear Fit app, connect the device and I was up and running. The second thing I noticed was just how light the device was compared to my Gear S2. The Gear S2 is made out of metal and glass so it's definitely weighty whereas the Fit2 Pro is primarily plastic with the glass over the screen.

Everything about the Gear Fit2 Pro was "familiar" to me which isn't a bad thing at all. The first things I did were find a basic black and white watch face (as seen in the picture gallery), turn off WiFi, Location (GPS) and enable the 24/7 heart rate tracking and that's when the first major issue reared its head. It became immediately clear that the battery life issue claims were 100% true even without being a "heavy user". You're supposed to be able to get about 3 days of "regular usage" out of this device according to Samsung but using the 1 feature that I really wanted (constant heart rate) dropped that down significantly. My guess is that since this is new territory for Samsung, they simply haven't developed a way to make this less of a battery hog. I hadn't even tried the GPS yet at this point and already I was disappointed by the battery life of the device. It was worse than my Gear S2 when I was hoping for something that would at least be comparable.

So to see if this was a fluke, over a 24hr period I have been keeping track of the battery life to get an idea of just how fast it drains with 24/7 HR and notifications on. I didn't receive a ton of notifications over this period of time either as I was sleeping and or had the watch in do not disturb mode. I have ensured that WiFi and location are disabled on the Gear Fit2 Pro. I had to work late that night anyway so I waited for 12 hours to get a rough idea of the battery usage.
  1. 100% at 11:00 AM
  2. After 1 hour the Gear Fit2 Pro drained 2% of the battery
    1. After 2 hours the Gear Fit2 Pro drained 5% of the battery
  3. Averaged to be about 2.5% every hour
    1. After 12 hours the Gear Fit2 Pro drained 30% of the battery
  4. Averaged to be about 2.5% every hour
    1. After 22 hours the Gear Fit2 Pro drained 49% of the battery
  5. Averaged to be about 2.2% every hour
    1. After 24 hours the Gear Fit2 Pro drained 60% of the battery
  6. Averaged to be about 2.5% every hour
So with those numbers above my observation of about 1.5 days of battery life is correct. This is definitely disappointing to me because I was expecting better battery life out of this device. I know the claims that manufacturers make regarding battery life are in "very specific scenarios" but to literally be 1/2 as long using a feature they advertise as a selling point is abysmal. If you do a quick search for battery life in the following reviews, you'll find similar results.https://www.wareable.com/samsung/samsung-gear-fit2-pro-reviewhttps://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Samsung-Gear-Fit-2-Pro-Review_id4426/page/2https://www.techradar.com/reviews/samsung-gear-fit-2-pro/2https://www.trustedreviews.com/reviews/samsung-gear-fit-2-pro

Both Fitbit and Garmin devices have 24/7 heart rate reading and their devices are able to run several days without needing to be charged. On the Garmin device, that even included having notifications too. Hopefully Samsung finds a way to address this with software or they find a way to throw more battery capacity in the same sized package because this was definitely disappointing to say the least. Having to charge every 1.5 days is a bit too often for my tastes granted the Gear Fit2 Pro charges rather quickly (1 hr to fully juice up). That's part of the reason why I've shied away from both Android's Wear OS and Apple's WatchOS devices. Another reason why this is disappointing is because the Gear Fit2 Pro is supposed to a "life tracking" device since it also has functionality built in to monitor sleep. So that means realistically I'd be charging it almost every day. Anyway, enough about the battery life.

Another thing that concerned me was a bunch of consumer reviews complaining that the watch is not as waterproof as they make it seem. Apparently, many people experienced hell, for lack of a better word, with Samsung support because they classified their device as "water damaged" even though on Samsung's own web page they boast about its swimming capabilities. That was kind of the icing on the cake for me to further solidify my decision to return the device. If I'm purchasing something that says it's swim proof, it better be swim proof.

For the rest of the experience with the Gear Fit2 Pro, I walked away rather pleased. I loved the notification system, which is basically the same as the Gear S2's except slightly better because more text is viewable. I love the integrations with the Under Armour suite of apps. It's a pretty solid group of apps for every one of your fitness needs. The GPS functionality seems to work fine and is definitely convenient. An example I tested can be found in the gallery above. Otherwise, I love basically everything else about it and that is the reason why I'm so damned disappointed and let down by the battery life of the Gear Fit2 Pro. If Samsung comes out with a Gear Fit3 and they fix the battery issue I may have to tie myself down to resist jumping to buy it because I genuinely am pleased with their smartwatch devices. For now, I'm going to have to return this device and try something else… maybe I'll try the Fitbit Ionic on for size because Amazon decided to have a Sale on it… Review coming soon?!?! ;)




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