Samsung Galaxy Watch vs. Gear S2: Should you upgrade?

Samsung Galaxy watch
Samsung Galaxy watch (Image credit: Android Central)

If you've got an Android phone, one of the dominant forces in the smartwatch market is Samsung. The company's Tizen operating system and unique hardware design have allowed for some truly excellent wearables over the years, and in 2018, Samsung's big smartwatch is the Galaxy Watch.

The Galaxy Watch has a lot going for it, but for owners of the Gear S2 from 2015, is it worth the $329 upgrade?

Let's find out!

What the Galaxy Watch does better

Samsung's Galaxy Watch is its newest wearable gadget, and as such, you'll find all of the latest available tech packed inside of it.

The two biggest upgrades you get with the Galaxy Watch lies with its performance and battery endurance. Samsung's using an "optimized" Exynos 9110 processor to power the Watch, allowing for faster app-loading times, UI navigation, and more compared to the dual-core 1GHz Pega-W CPU of the Gear S2.

The Galaxy Watch has just about everything you could ask for in a modern smartwatch.

That "optimized" processor also means you won't have to charge the Galaxy Watch as frequently. While the Gear S2's 250 mAh battery only lasts for about a day, the Galaxy Watch has a reported 5 days of use before needing to hit the charger.

The Galaxy Watch also ships with Tizen 4.0 out of the box — a new version of Samsung's wearable operating system that likely won't ever make it to the 3-year-old Gear S2. Tizen 4.0 looks a lot like previous versions of the OS but offers a stronger focus on fitness with the ability to record 40 different workouts and auto-detect seven of the most popular ones. Speaking of fitness, the Galaxy Watch even has a built-in GPS chip.

Last but certainly not least, the Galaxy Watch comes in 42mm and 46mm sizes (the Gear S2 is only available in 42mm) and has 5 ATM water resistance with Corning's new Gorilla Glass DX+ display that's built specifically for smartwatch wear and tear.

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What the Gear S2 still does well

The Gear S2 is certainly getting up in its years, but that's not to say it should automatically be thrown to the curb. In fact, it holds up quite well to the Galaxy Watch in some regards.

This past March, Samsung updated the Gear S2 with a completely refreshed UI, more robust fitness-tracking features, Gear VR controller support, and more. I wouldn't hold my breath for Tizen 4.0 to make its way to the Gear S2, but in its current form, it's essentially running the same exact software found on the Gear Sport that was just released last October.

As for hardware features, the Gear S2 has a heart-rate monitor, support for Samsung Pay using NFC, Samsung's excellent rotating bezel, and an optional 3G model that's still sold at some U.S. carriers.

Should you upgrade?

Considering the Gear S2's age, it's kind of remarkable as to just how well it's held up over the years. It still looks great compared to more recent smartwatches, has many of the same hardware features, and Samsung's commitment to sending software updates its way has allowed it to get even better with age — something we seldom see in this field.

If you're still holding onto your Gear S2 and don't feel like throwing down $329 on the Galaxy Watch, you can keep using it without missing out on too much.

On the flip side, if you've got the cash to spend, the Galaxy Watch has everything that makes the Gear S2 great with a faster processor, considerably better battery life, GPS, and will see better software support going down the road.

What do you plan on doing? Are you going to pick up the Galaxy Watch? Let us know in the comments below!

Samsung Galaxy Watch: Everything you need to know

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.