Today we tried out the Galaxy S5 with the Gear Fit from Samsung, which is a hybrid between a fitness armband and a smartwatch. I used the Gear Fit for an entire day and even went jogging with it. At the end, I was quite happy, but I still wouldn’t buy it. Why not? Read on to find out.
In comparison to the Galaxy Gear 2, the Gear Fit is significantly smaller and lighter, but I still wouldn’t describe it as jewelry by any means. The design is subtle and modern, and would please both men and women, as it is black (ours was, but you can get other colored band) and intended as a sport accessory.
Mostly it worked the way I would have imagined. The connection between smartphone (in our case the Galaxy S5) and the Gear Fit worked smoothly, notifications were displayed without any lags, and when you read them on the Gear Fit and swipe them away, they return to the S5. The distance up to which the Bluetooth connection works is around 20 meters, which also functioned without a drop in connection.
Even operating the music player via Gear Fit worked well and was actually quite practical. For example, if you are jogging along and want to change a song or adjust the volume, you can do this easily on the small display on your wrist. There is also a search option in case you have forgotten the smartphone somewhere, that I found wasn’t very helpful. A search mode for the Gear Fit would be more practical.
While connected to the Samsung Fitness app, S Health, data is transferred to the Gear Fit, however the steps aren’t synced with the numbers on the S5, so you will always have two different values.
What didn’t work
So far so good I thought, but unfortunately things went downhill from there. This starts off with the fact that you can only really use it when it is connected to the smartphone. The step counter works with without the S5 as well as the heart-rate sensor, but otherwise the Gear Fit isn’t more than a watch without a smartphone. To measure distance for example, you’ll need the smartphone’s GPS function. All of these facts make it therefore impractical when it comes to actually doing sports. Why would one wear a fitness watch if you need to schlep a smartphone anyways?
One of the features that should theoretically be quite useful turned out to be really unreliable during the test: the display should automatically turn on and show the time when you lift your wrist. In practice this worked every one out of three times. The same happened with the heart rate monitor as well: when doing sports and sweating as one normally would, the area of skin under the band will start getting moist, which sadly messes up the sensor data. These two functions that would actually make life a lot easier do the opposite: they really get on the nerves!
I like the concept behind the fitness armband: I’m no number or stats freak, but I like to be able to monitor my workout performance. The maximum and average speeds, the number of steps I’ve taken and the amount of burned calories as well as the distance I’ve run are things I've calculated using RunKeeper and with Gear Fit, switching to Samsung S Health ecosystem was an easy step. On the other hand though, the fact that most of its functions require to have the smartphone with you proved to be a bit annoying. For a gadget that costs 199.99 USD, I would expect more.
Apparently you don't even need a Samsung phone to be able to use it, even non-Samsung phones can use the Gear Fit.