Look and feel
The Gear 2 body looks much the same as that of the original Galaxy Gear, but Samsung made some smart changes. For one, the microphone is no longer in the clasp but in the watch's body, so the clasp is less bulky. Even better, the camera was moved from the strap to the body of the watch—a definite aesthetic improvement, plus it lets you swap for a different color watchband (black, mocha gray, orange, or bronze). The Power/Home button is now on the bottom of the screen rather than the side, and it's easier to reach and press.
The 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display is impressive: Colors pop, and it's easy to see fine details. On the original Galaxy Gear, the display’s readability in bright sunlight was middling; our lab tests will determine whether the Gear 2 does any better. And as with the Gear Fit, you can customize themes, clock faces, fonts, and wallpaper—with the Gear 2, you can also use photos you've taken as backgrounds.
Samsung claims that the watch will typically get two to three days of usage before needing a charge, and up to six days in light usage. We got a little over three days in our testing, and we used it quite a lot.
To add new apps, go to Samsung Gear Manager on your phone, find the apps you want, and install them on the phone; they then show up on the Gear 2. But you won't have much to choose from, at least for now: The new Samsung smart watches run on the Tizen OS instead of Android, so you can't use the original Galaxy Gear apps. Currently, the app selection is underwhelming, consisting largely of alternate clock faces. If Samsung really wants to forge a new mobile OS path with Tizen, it will need to get app developers interested and bump up the choices.
The Gear 2 does have some great built-in tools, though. The truly unique one is Dialer, which lets you dial and conduct a phone call right on your watch (as long as your watch and phone are connected). You can also accept or reject an incoming call; if you do the latter, you can send a canned message to the caller (these include "I'm driving" or "I'm in class" but sadly, not "I'm pretty sure I don't know you").
The Gear 2 also has WatchOn Remote, which lets you control your TV and set-top box from the watch, and Find My Device, which helps you locate your phone by using its ringer. Also, as with the first-gen Galaxy Gear, S Voice is built in: It lets you use voice commands for various watch functions, like making calls, doing searches, and so on.