We dissect the unpopular ecosystem of Apple’s main competitor on mobile devices.
All major manufacturers of smartphones and mobile equipment already have their own ecosystem. I’m an old fan of the Apple ecosystem, I’ve seen a lot of individual gadgets from the Google ecosystem, studied in detail what the Xiaomi family is, but Samsung has not studied it in detail.
It seems that all the devices Samsung, except for the flagships, are lying on the back of history and nobody needs – they are not even particularly advertised. And if Samsung smartphones are in good demand, then some of their watches, headphones and fitness bracelets in real life are harder to meet than an honest politician – unlike people with Apple Watch and AirPods. And after all, all these devices also form an ecosystem, and Samsung is considered the main competitor to Apple for the production of mobile devices.
I asked Samsung to give several devices from their ecosystem and used them a month to see if they were justly forgotten (according to my feelings). It’s about a bunch of Galaxy S9, Gear Sport watch, Gear Fit bracelet and IconX wireless headphones.
All these devices appeared long ago, before the analogues from Apple, and over the years have undergone certain changes – it remained to find out how good they are in the bundle. And since they can rarely be found even separately, the more interesting it was to use them all at the same time, especially since I had no experience with any of these devices in these categories in the Android world.
But first – separately about each device, with the exception of Galaxy S9: I already wrote about it in detail .
Gear Fit 2 Pro: fitness bracelet for running and swimming, but not only
The most boring at first glance gadget of the trinity after a month of use surprised most of all, so I’m talking about it first. It seemed, well, we do not know about fitness bracelets such that it can surprise?
Firstly, Fit 2 Pro is very functional, although from the previous version (Fit 2) it is distinguished only by the tracking of navigation (integration with Speedo). It’s a clock, an activity tracker, a portable music player with 4 GB of memory, and a pretty nice sports accessory, and even a communicator.
Secondly, thanks to a very strongly curved screen, Samsung engineers achieved a very large display area and at the same time a handy bracelet. Some design elements are specially made huge: large numbers and icons are easier to read on the run, bigger buttons are easier to get tired fingers.
The entire screen is a touchscreen : only from the right end there are two not very convenient physical buttons, which nevertheless have to be used all the time. I always confused what kind of answer, and often did not get on them, because because of the bracelet they are not visible.
Thirdly, it is a passive-active device. The beauty of Fit 2 Pro is that it can be worn and forgotten: in which case he himself recognizes the beginning of the workout and will take the steps and calories burned. On the other hand, you can add drunk glasses of water or cups of coffee yourself and even react to notifications (for example, to respond to messages in Telegram) – that is, it’s not just a tracker that hangs on your hand and writes something to the phone.
In the end, Fit 2 Pro is just a pretty stylish thing. It has aggressive design, nice strap material, convenient buckle (especially important for the pool), the screen has a beautiful glossy screen surface, the device itself is light.
And although the Fit 2 Pro battery is only 200 mAh, it’s enough for two or three days of use and about nine hours of constant tracking (according to official technical specifications) – so much, of course, I did not do, but spent several hours in an active mode , and the device kept well. In general, it does not need to be charged every day – a maximum of three times a week.
Gear Sport: “smart” watches in classic design, but it seems like for sports
It seems like – because outwardly Sport does not create the impression of sports watches. Even for ordinary watches, Gear Sport does not look good: the quality of the dial’s metal leaves a sense of the Chinese copy, and the rubber strap (obviously thought of as a sign of “sportiness”) is too thin and unpleasant to touch – it stretches, squeezes and rubs your wrist .
Moreover, the dial is too heavy and angular: its sharp parts sometimes slightly bite into the hand at the folds. Gear Sport, like the Fit 2 Pro, has two buttons from the right end – but in this case they are covered with corrugated rubber, though, these pads seem to be planted on the glue.
The only feature of Gear Sport, which pleases – the navigation ring: its ribbed surface and a nice click on the scroll add meaning to the clock as a mechanism. Switching with this wheel is quite convenient (more convenient than scrolling the screen Fit 2 Pro finger) – however, for this you need to use two fingers, not one, as with the wheel Apple Watch. Surprisingly, with this scrolling, your fingers do not block the screen , but still are positioned so that you can quickly switch between scrolling and clicking on the touchscreen buttons.
Unfortunately, the wheel is the only spoon of honey: in the rest of the Gear Sport (except that they look like a clock: for some this is a momentous point), there are no significant advantages over Fit 2 Pro. The clock has almost all the same functions: music, weather, fitness tracking, notifications, removable dial design – the exception is the voice assistant S Voice (quite useless).
In use, two things are annoying. The first is how notification is managed: they need to be rewound with the wheel “horizontally” in the opposite direction from applications (applications to the right, notifications to the left of the starting position), but since they sometimes do not fit on the screen entirely, they still need to be swiped with a finger from above Down, where the end of the message is or, say, the answer button. In Apple Watch or even Fit 2 Pro notifications will be scrolled in one direction – vertically. The second thing is that the clock is slowing down: switching between applications and even the screen response takes too long. But it’s a whole thing familiar for wearable electronics.
Gear IconX: both better and worse AirPods
Perhaps, IconX 2018 is the most interesting gadget from all three. The first version of its wireless headphones Samsung began to sell in July 2016 – just two months before Apple first introduced its AirPods. In 2017 the company announced a new model, in which the work time was increased from a shameful one and a half hours to a decent five.
Unlike AirPods, which for one trip on the metro in Moscow can be seen in public several times, IconX is still poorly distributed – I met them only once. They are completely unpopular, and no marketing efforts by Samsung to change the current situation is not visible, but in vain.
Like AirPods, IconX is a compact Bluetooth headset that plugs directly into your ears. But if AirPods are kept in their ears by themselves and because of the “one size fits all” philosophy, in fact, some people do not fit, then IconX has replaceable rubber arches that work like a strut in the auricle. If the earphone falls out, you can put the shackle more, and if you sit too tight – a little smaller.
IconX – these are plugs, not liners, as AirPods: from this and sound insulation is better, and the sound quality is higher . True, they do not have the same special processor (like W1 in AirPods), which is responsible for automatic connection to external devices and controls streaming of sound. Because of this, they must also be inconveniently connected to the smartphone, as well as conventional Bluetooth-devices, and they also have a significant delay between pressing the “Play” button on the smartphone and the beginning of playback: first, the main headphone is synchronized with the device, and already with it – second.
IconX has, it would seem, two huge advantages over AirPods. Their outer surface is a touchscreen, with which you can change the volume, control playback and give other commands. But the gestures on the touchscreen of the headphones do not work well: to lower the volume, you have to slide your finger from top to bottom, but since the very surface of the touchscreen is small, sometimes he thinks that there was not a swipe but a push. I wanted to make it quieter, and eventually turned off the song. Or even accidentally you can start the training mode – and then you’ll have to listen to the entire instruction at its beginning. However, you can get used to svaypam, and this is what everyone wants from AirPods, whose control via “tapping” does not allow you to adjust the volume (only through Siri).
The second advantage is that the headphones have 4 GB of internal memory, where you can save music and listen to it without a phone or the Internet (by the way, in this mode, the work time increases from 5 to 7 hours). But music can not just be saved from a service like Play Music or Yandex.Music, it needs to be poured from a computer, and through a special program: I never did it, because the headphones required an update, which for some reason did not load. Download songs from the PC to the device – archaism in the era of streaming services with the ability to offline listening. But AirPods do not give this.
All the “sportiness” of the headphones is the ability to record a jog with the help of just IconX: you do not need to take any smartphone with you, or wear a clock, the main thing is not to forget to synchronize the data after the fact with the S Health application. This is really a good opportunity, but for active runners, and for the mass market – a fairly rare scenario.
The saddest thing that is in IconX is their cover. Like the AirPods, it is also a docking station for charging – but headphones do not stick on magnets, they can fall out if you unsuccessfully open it. It is rather unintuitive: behind there is a button for synchronization, but in order to understand how to use it, it is necessary to read a rather long instruction. The cover of the cover is also not on the magnet, but on the latch, and when you open it, it dangles back and forth, without closing automatically.
But the main problem of the case – it does not turn off the headphones while charging. How to turn them off, you can not figure it out right away, but if you put them in the cover, they will very quickly expend the battery’s charge: you leave them that way for the night-and the headphones and the case battery will sit down in the morning. The only way out: put on the charging and the cover itself. However, there is an advantage over AirPods: there are three indicators on the outside – one shows the charge level of the cover itself, and two – each of the headphones separately.
The ecosystem is indistinct, and this omission: the devices are promising
Not having experience of use, it is very difficult to understand why this or that device from the Samsung ecosystem can be useful. Sports watches in actual fact are not so sporty, but as an accessory they are not pretty enough. Headphones are good overall, but who knows that they can also be a sports companion?
More or less expectations justify the bracelet: it is cute, and functional, and not as expensive as a watch. But the wording “fitness bracelet” has become so worn out that it is difficult to attract attention to it, especially since there are much cheaper and at the same time quality bracelets from Xiaomi and other manufacturers.
But a harmonious ecosystem, unfortunately, almost does not work out of these devices. Yes, fitness data flows from all three devices to the S Health application on your smartphone. Yes, music can be output to the headphones not only from the smartphone, but also, say, the bracelet. Yes, you can react to notifications from applications installed on your smartphone from the clock. But in all this there is no common line, there is no complete interpenetration, there is no simplification of use due to synchronization through a common account of Samsung.
To take a bracelet or watch if they perform approximately the same functions? Probably, it is necessary to be determined by external factors: someone wants a more sporty bracelet, and someone prefers a more classic form factor of the watch. And if there is a bracelet and headphones, what is the best way to start a workout? Probably on a bracelet – he leaves the impression of a more accurate fitness tracker.
Is there a scenario in which all three devices are useful at the same time? Absolutely not.
And yet, individually, they look promising. The curved screen Fit 2 Pro gives more features than the small dial of Apple Watch. Gear Sport can only appear to be non-stylish to me, and some people will rather like their G-Shock-like massive appearance – and they are functional. The headphones turned out to be more compact and more beautiful than the AirPods sticking out of their ears, and with the same battery life they have their advantages. IconX aroused great interest among my friends: they often asked the name of the model, and this shows the lack of advancement of Samsung’s product line.
Unfortunately, the conclusion is disappointing: under the layer of dust that I blew from Samsung’s mobile ecosystem, objective shortcomings have been revealed, but they could be smoothed out with effective positioning. It remains to be seen whether the company will solve this problem – most likely, we will find out closer to the end of summer, when it will be possible to expect the announcement of a new generation of devices.