Samsung is taking to IFA 2017 in Berlin to refresh its fitness wearable lineup, with an improved version of the Gear Fit 2, refreshed Gear IconX earbuds and an all-new Gear Sport smartwatch. The naming is not subtle: Gear Fit 2 Pro, Gear Sport, and Gear IconX 2018.
The new set of wearables is all about building on what Samsung has already done in this market, with each product effectively just improving on a previous one rather than creating a whole new segment. Here's what you can expect from the three of them when they hit stores later this year.
Improvements in all of the right places.
The Gear Fit 2 Pro, as was initially leaked, is a general update to the current Gear Fit 2 that was released back in mid-2016. It offers the same basic size and shape, walking the line between a smartwatch and a fitness-only wearable. The bands have been updated to be a bit more durable, with a proper watch-style clasp to keep it tight on your wrist. That's important because the Fit 2 Pro is water-resistant up to 5 atmospheres — or about 50 meters — including salt water, and is now designed to track swimming as well as any other activity.
The software experience remains effectively unchanged, aside from some new partnerships with Under Armour and Speedo to use the Gear Fit 2 Pro with all of those partner services. The Fit 2 Pro can also now track heart rate constantly throughout the day, including when a workout starts automatically from detected movement.
The Gear S2 refresh we all wanted to see.
On to smartwatches. The Gear Sport is an altogether new product that effectively takes the place of the Gear S2 line while leaving the top-end of Samsung's wearables to the Gear S3. The new Gear Sport takes on many of the Gear S3 Frontier's styling cues, but puts them in the same basic shape and size of the Gear S2 — with the same-sized 1.2-inch circular display.
The Gear S2 offers the same automatic fitness tracking, GPS, and 5 ATM water-resistance as the Gear Fit 2 Pro, but with a full-featured smartwatch operating system that's identical in capabilities to the Gear S3. There's no cellular data option, and the battery is of course smaller, but then again it's also much lighter and actually suited to use during fitness in ways the Gear S3 wasn't. It also offers Samsung Pay, but only via NFC and not MST like the Gear S3 (and Galaxy S6 through Galaxy S8).
The one thing we needed in the IconX: more battery life.
Last but not least, Samsung has also updated its all-wireless Gear IconX headphones, which haven't changed much in terms of form factor but have improved significantly in practicality. Samsung focused on battery life with this update — simply called "Gear IconX 2018" — and now quotes a full 7 hours of standalone music playback, or 5 hours of playback over bluetooth; those are numbers that easily triple the battery life of the original version. The earbuds still nestle into a case to receive a full charge without going to a wall socket, and the charger now has faster charging tech as well — Samsung quotes being able to get 1 hour of usage out of the new IconX buds with just 10 minutes of charging.
As for availability and pricing, Samsung is unfortunately only announcing details for the Gear Fit 2 Pro. The refreshed fitness-focused band will hit stores for $199 (or regional equivalent) and be up for pre-order right away on Aug. 31, with a full retail launch on Sept. 15. As for the Gear Sport watch and Gear IconX 2018, we'll have to wait for the holiday season before Samsung drops any more info on us.