If you’re looking at getting a non-Apple smartwatch, there are two main options on the market: the Samsung Gear S2 and the Asus ZenWatch 2. We’ve had both the devices in the office over the past month and compared the two to help you make a decision.
Design and build
The ZenWatch 2 is a rectangular watch with a slightly large 1.69-inch display. The S2, on the other hand, is round with a 1.2-inch screen. Even though in daily use you wouldn’t really notice it, the S2 has a higher resolution of 302ppi on its Super AMOLED display compared to the ZenWatch 2, which is 278ppi on an AMOLED display.
The S2 is quite thick though, at 11.4mm whereas the ZenWatch 2 is 9.4mm. The S2 also has a rotatory dial over the screen, which can be used to scroll menus and such. The S2 comes with two buttons — back and home — and the ZenWatch 2 has one multifunctional button. A heart rate monitor is present on the S2 but not on the ZenWatch 2. Both the watches allow you to customise the strap
Like their bodies, the watches also differ significantly when it comes to software. The Gear S2 runs Tizen whereas the ZenWatch 2 runs Android Wear. The S2 has a revamped face and a pretty smooth interface. App development is obviously required in this case, but Samsung, in addition to its S Health app, has already tied up with companies such as Nike and Flipboard.
This is where the ZenWatch trumps the S2. The Android Wear app base is huge and the companion apps for fitness, health, etc. are much more varied. Both watches are extremely easy to use, but I found the S2 to be just a bit easier.
Now due to hardware and software, both devices offer the same package: a smartwatch that helps you quickly read notifications and access other basic information without having to remove your phone from your pocket. But there is one thing that makes the S2 stand out. The S Health app is preloaded in the watch.
The S Health app syncs with your smart device as always but gets loads of input from the watch itself. For example, you can feed in your water and coffee intake for the day. Or the watch, using the heart rate sensor, will notify you when you’ve been sitting for too long than is healthy and remind you to exercise or take a short walk. Even though you can use other apps to make this happen on the ZenWatch, it isn’t a preloaded feature.
The ZenWatch 2 comes with a 400mAh battery and the Gear S2 with a 250mAh battery. The ZenWatch comfortably gives you more than a day of usage even with more notifications but the S2 varies depending on usage. I did find myself charging the S2 in the evening many times, but those were also days with heavy notifications and heart rate use for the gym.
The Asus ZenWatch 2 and Samsung Gear S2 are very different devices. The Gear S2 is a substantial improvement on the weird Gear S. The screen is impressive, Tizen OS was given a major upgrade and slowly but surely there is enhanced support for Android apps. At present, the smartwatch is particularly useful when reading notifications so you do not have take your smartphone out all the time and keeping track of your physical activity. The question is whether this justifies the high price starting at Dh999. The ZenWatch 2 provides a comparable user experience and looks just as beautiful for Dh799. Moreover, many more apps are available to use, and there is even support, albeit limited, for iOS, which is still to come to the S2.
For me, the S2 wins this contest. For one and only one reason, I saw my phone lasting longer since the number of times I touched my phone was halved because I didn’t necessarily open my phone for every notification or an app to monitor my activity in the gym — the Gear S2 would detect that automatically.