Samsung Gear Live vs Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatch Comparison

Samsung’s Samsung Gear Live is their fourth attempt at a smartwatch. They put out one of the earliest models when they released the Samsung Galaxy Gear last year and the Samsung Gear 2 earlier this year.

The Samsung Gear Live looks a lot like the Samsung Gear 2. Many will think of the Gear Live as an upgrade coming just months after the Gear 2 launched. Instead, Samsung forked their product line in a new direction, adopting the Google Now-centered Android Wear for this watch.

We’ll compare these two and help buyers choose which fits their wrist best.

samsung galaxy gear 2 v samsung galaxy gear live

We’ll explain how the two watches fare in this head-to-head Samsung Gear Live vs Samsung Gear 2 comparison.

Compatibility

This category will do more to decide the choice than any other. The Samsung Gear 2 only works with a few Samsung Galaxy phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3. If you own an HTC, LG, Nexus or Motorola phone, then don’t bother with the Gear 2.

gear-compatibility

The Samsung Gear 2 (left) only works with Samsung Phones while the Gear Live (right running Android Wear) runs with any Android 4.3 phone.

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Owners of an iPhone, Windows Phone, Blackberry or Android phone running something older than Android 4.3 Jelly Bean can’t use either watch.

Software

The two watches differ most importantly in the area of software. Gear Live users get Google’s new Android Wear, which interacts with their Android operating system (Android 4.3 and newer) using Google Now. Users will talk to their watch to get things done. See our “hands on” video below.

The Samsung Gear 2 runs Tizen, a new wearable operating system that Samsung just pushed out to replace Samsung’s version of Android that used to run the watch. Tizen looks just like the older OS and functions the same.

The Gear Live uses Google Now for most of the functionality it brings. Speak into the watch and it sends the commands to the phone and displays the results on the watch’s screen. Users can open some apps, search the web and tell their phone to make calls.

using S voice on Gear 2 is simmlar to Google Now on Gear Live

The Gear 2 (left) only uses S Voice for voice control while the Gear Live (right) uses Google Now instead.

The Gear 2 software does more from the watch. We’ll list those later.

Neither watch comes with a long list of apps that work with it. However, it’s very early for Android Wear and we expect the list of compatible apps to grow over the coming weeks and months. Expect Android Wear apps to do a lot more than Samsung Gear 2 apps. It’s likely that app developers will jump on the Gear Live bandwagon thanks to greater potential in the future.

Style and Look

The two watches look alike, but differ enough to make it obvious to careful observers.

Samsung gear 2 colors

The Samsung Gear 2 comes in three colors.

Buyers can get the Samsung Gear 2 (above) in black, gold or orange. The Samsung Gear Live comes in black or wine red (below). While looks and color are a matter of preference, the Gear 2 seems more refined. We get a brushed aluminum bezel around the Gear 2 screen under the glass surface. The included band feels textured and looks nicer than the plain hard plastic band on the Gear Live.

samsung gear live

The Samsung Gear Live comes in two colors.

The Gear Live band opens so it will fit people with larger wrists. The Gear 2 band comes with a snapping clasp that requires the user to slide their hand into the opening. Users can swap out typical bands if they like.

bands on samsung gear live and gear 2

The Gear Live (lef) fits larger wrists thanks to the opening band.

Samsung made both of these watches out of high-quality aluminum, with bright Super AMOLED displays that look beautiful. The bands feel like they’ll hold up to some punishment. Each watch gets an IP67 rating, meaning that wearers can get it wet and it won’t die. Don’t go snorkeling with it, but you can probably shower with one on if you must.

Here are the measurements of the two watches:

  • Samsung Gear Live – 56mm x 38mm x 8.9mm and 2.12oz
  • Samsung Gear 2 – 58mm x 37mm x 10mm and 2.oz

samsun gear watches same size

The watches are close in size and weight so they feel about the same.

There’s minimal difference in size and weight, and they feel the same on the wrist.

The Samsung Gear Live comes with a single button on the right side. Hold it down to bring up settings. Tap it to either pull it out of the low-power state or put it into the low-power state. It also turns on the watch when it’s off.

The Samsung Gear 2 puts the single button on the top of the watch just below the screen. Press it to boot the watch. Press it to wake up the watch and take a picture in the camera mode. It does other things depending on which watch app the person runs. Press  and hold when it’s on and the watch brings up the Power off/Restart menu, which also shows an onscreen button to mute the sounds and turn on the Outdoor mode.

samsung gear charing system

The horrible Samsung charging system uses proprietary connectors.

Samsung uses a terrible charging system with a micro-USB connector plugged into a plastic piece that snaps on the back of the watch. This proprietary system means that the user must keep another charger in their bag or on the nightstand.

Functions

samsung gear 2 has a camera

The Samsung Gear 2 comes with a camera and other features built-in.

The Samsung Gear 2 will do more without 3rd-party apps than the Samsung Gear Live. It comes with a built-in camera, voice memo app, remote control for a TV, Bluetooth speakerphone feature and a few others. Both offer pedometers and heart rate monitors.

pedometer on gear watches

The Pedometer on the Gear 2 seemed more correct than the one on the Gear Live.

The pedometer software on the Gear 2 seems to work better, showing what seems like a more correct reading than the Gear Live.

The Gear 2’s 2MP camera won’t win the owner any photo contests, but it’s nice for a quick snapshot. Soon, the Gear Live will control the Google Camera (Free in Google Play Store) with an updated version of the Google Camera that’s rolling out now. People can place their phone where they like and tell it to take a picture through the watch.

photo taken with samsung gear 2

I tried to take a shot of windmills in northern Indiana, but taking shots from a wrist isn’t convenient all the time.

No one will want to make prints or create artistic shots with it. Shooting shots with a wrist camera can prove awkward, as the image above proves. However, the one below came from the Gear 2 when I had time to place it. The lighting doesn’t look great, but I got a quick snapshot to remember my son’s soccer game.

another photo taken with samsung gear 2

The Gear 2 does alright when the photographer has time to position their wrist properly.

The Samsung Gear 2 also works as a Bluetooth speakerphone. When a call comes through the paired phone, slide to either reject or answer the call. If the wearer answers the call they can talk on their wrist. This may feel awkward, but the user gets used to it. Gear 2 users will miss that feature if they switch to the Gear Live.

gear 2 works as bluetooth speakerphone

The Gear 2 works as a Bluetooth speakerphone.

The Gear 2 uses S Voice while the Gear Live works with Google Now for voice control, which we think adds a check in the Gear Live’s column.

Gear 2 also does the following, which the Gear Live won’t do:

  • Play music stored on the watch
  • Control a TV using the a built-in IR blaster
  • Record voice memos
  • Display a timer on the watch
  • Dial phone numbers even without a contact name
  • Toggle phone features like Wi-Fi, hotspot, Bluetooth without 3rd-party apps

Third-party apps might bring the above functions to Gear Live, but as simply as built-in apps.

Ease of Use

gear notifications

The Gear 2 (left) shows notifications but the Gear Live lets users interact more, like archiving email.

The Gear Live offers a simpler set of features, but also fewer of them. Since almost everything works through Google Now, people used to using it will find the Gear Live easier to adapt to using. I didn’t use Google Now that much before getting the Gear Live, but find it easy to learn. The only challenge comes in learning the right voice commands.

Samsung users who already know how to use S Voice will likely find Gear 2 easier to use. The built-in features will also make doing those things quicker.

Price and Value

The Samsung Gear 2 costs $100 more than the Samsung Gear Live. For price-conscious buyers, it’s an easy choice. However, seeing the above list of features that come built into the Gear 2 will make owners of a Samsung Galaxy S4, S5 or Note 3 think twice.

Google announced the Android Wear platform at Google I/O just a couple of weeks ago and the first hardware only became available in the last week. In time, the number of Android Wear apps will probably dwarf Samsung Gear 2 apps. That’s because Samsung’s not the only player in the game. LG makes the other Android Wear phone, and later this year we’ll get the Moto 360 Android Wear smart watch.

the coming moto 360

The Moto 360 will soon offer stiff competition to Samsung and LG in Android Wear.

Smartwatch buyers should definitely consider the Samsung Gear 2 ($299.99 direct from Samsung) or the Samsung Gear Live ($199.99 direct from Samsung). They’re attractive smartwatches with plenty of useful features. But which should people get?

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For those who don’t own a Samsung phone, there’s no choice because only Gear Live works with other brands. Samsung phone owners should pay extra for the Gear 2 if they want features like using the watch to talk during calls, taking snapshots, recording voice memos, controlling their TV and playing music. Everyone else should grab the Gear Live with excellent Google Now integration and the promise of a growing app collection.

Comments

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  2. Keith Santa Ana says

    I would love to buy an android wear smart watch. The only thing holding me back is the appearance of these watches. Let’s remember first and foremost that this is a WATCH and physical appearance certainly plays a big role. Sure I like the idea that I can see my notifications or who’s calling me before I even take my cell phone out of my pocket. I also like that it can function as a pedometer, check my heart rate, and send me turn by turn directions. I also read that sometime in the near future it can read my blood sugar level as well. So many new functions to enjoy but why does it have to look like so “geeky “? The designers could have done a better job in this department. Perhaps if they made the watch look more attractive more consumers would be buying this product. It doesn’t have to look like a Rolex but it should be something that consumers would be happy to wear. In my opinion watches are an extension of one’s personality. I believe one of the reasons why Apple has not set a specific date for their release of the smart watch is because they understand that appearance means a lot and they are collecting all the negative feedback consumers have been posting and making sure they answer all these problems. We all know Apple products carry a high standard and certain classy look which appeals to most consumers. And this is coming from someone who’s never even owned an iPhone.

  3. Miguel Ramirez says

    Gear 2 works with any Android not Samsung only. I use it with LG G3 and by the way i have Gear Live too

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