Samsung Gear Fit Review: A Beautiful Wristable Gone to Waste
Samsung’s Gear Fit had every chance to be by far the best activity tracker you could own. It isn’t. Not by a long shot. And there’s nothing sadder than unrealized potential. The advanced curved Super AMOLED touchscreen display and interchangeable bands of Samsung Gear Fitmake you look cool even during the most strenuous of activities.
What Is It?
It’s a stunning fitness tracker slash smartwatch wristable. It counts steps, tracks sleep, displays notifications from your phone, and even takes your pulse. It only works with Samsung devices.
Why Does It Matter?
Yes, you’re basically not allowed to be a tech company if you don’t make a wearable device these days. But the Gear Fit is by far the best-looking entrant in an increasingly crowded field. It also promises the best of both fitness tracking and smartwatch worlds. What could possibly go wrong?
It’s lovely to ogle. Front and center, the Gear Fit features a 1.84-inch, curved, full-color AMOLED touch display. It’s got the same inky dark blacks and those vibrant colors we love in devices like the Galaxy S5. It’s encircled by a shiny chrome bezel, a familiar Samsung note. There’s a single button that you use to wake up the screen, go back to the home screen, or turn the Gear Fit off. Simple!
On paper, the Gear Fit seems fantastic. It counts your steps, it reliably displays any notification from any app you want (and not from apps you don’t) from your Samsung Android phone, and it can track your exercise in tandem with the S Health app on your phone to give you even more data. It would be the perfect little package, if it actually did all three of those things halfway decently.
The hardware is near-perfect. Really, all it’s missing is an ambient light sensor, and maybe a mic for quick replies to email. But the screen is lovely, the band is comfortable, and the whole thing just looks great. Four days of battery life is totally respectable, as is its water resistance. Also, seeing a brief summary of emails, texts, @replies, and Facebook message as they come in is legitimately convenient and helped me stay on task and out of the attention vortex that is my phone. It’s nice to be able to control your music player from your wrist.
The software is unforgivably bad. Tragically bad. It feels as if the Gear Fit and the S Health teams barely spoke to each other at all. Which is especially bedeviling since Samsung made the conscious choice to sell a wearable product that only works with Samsung products. At least when Apple locks you into an ecosystem, things actually (mostly) work.
Should You Buy It?
No. Absolutely not. This incredibly promising device is utterly ruined by bad software. Also, it’s $200. If Samsung does a major software overhaul—and I mean from the ground up—then it could be a great device. But for now, the fact that it only works with Samsung phones, and it only barely works with Samsung phones at all, makes this a very easy decision: hard pass.