This review of the Gear S2 smartwatch focuses on brief descriptions from my tour of the seven (7) major battlefronts in the smartwatch war. It’s not a bloody war, but it is raging nonetheless, as the smartwatch industry grows at a projected 22% compound annual growth rate for the next five (5) years.
In this smartwatch crusade we are reminded of the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, whence the seven hundred year old knight who guards the holy grail advises both friend and Nazi foe alike to “choose wisely.” Likewise today, 7.5 centuries after that knight’s birth, who wants to choose one smartwatch platform only to find out they have chosen unwisely?
These battlefront assessments will be quite useful to both those consumers who are committed to the smartwatch industry already, with product on their wrists, and those who want to take sides in the current war by making an upcoming purchase. In either case, consumers have a keen desire to know which way the smartwatch technology platform winds of war are blowing in the long run.
In any event, the northern, southern, eastern, and western battle lines of war have been drawn in the areas of 1) the user experience (UX), 2) mobile pay, 3) untethered phone calls, 4) apps, 5) battery life, 6) waterproof wearables, and 7) the next generation of the form and function of the smartwatches of tomorrow’s tomorrow. First things first, let’s offer an overall war assessment from the Samsung Gear S2 camp and Battlefront # 1.
Gear S2, The Best All Purpose Smartwatch on Planet Earth. Though the market adoption of the Apple Watch is now many times higher and its app ecosystem is currently many times larger than Samsung’s, and hundreds of millions of Apple’s technology fans around the world would argue in favor of the steamrolling consumer tech machine that is Apple, it is the considered opinion of many industry analysts that Samsung’s Gear S2 is the best all-purpose smartwatch available today. Include me amongst them.
The Gear S2 is quite likely the most Steve Jobs like consumer technology product designed since Jobs passed away. Its elegant simplicity of design, form and function are a posthumous expression by Samsung of the very essence of Steve Jobs’ brilliance as a technology artisan. The Gear S2 is skillful, holistic design and engineering on subtle steroids. And Samsung’s digital crowning achievement to this masterpiece of tech design and engineering is its revolutionary circular UX, otherwise known by this analyst as the smartwatch bezel from industrial design heaven.
Elegant Simplicity in Design is Universal and Timeless – Just Ask Michelangelo or Jobs. The key revelation Steve Jobs had during his college-age journey to the spiritual retreats nestled in the Himalayas was to focus the human mind calmly, quietly, peacefully, and creatively – without distractions — on meditatively stripping away that which does not belong from that which does not yet exist. If that sounds kooky, let’s examine the matter briefly.
There is an oft-repeated rumor concerning Michelangelo in which a roving, nameless scribe of Renaissance Italy asks Michelangelo, “How did you make the David?” Allegedly, Michelangelo deftly replied, “It is easy. I just chip away everything that is not David.”
Whether or not this tale of Renaissance Italy is true or not, and though separated by 48 decades and the continent spreading action of the mid-Atlantic ridge between Italy and America, it epitomizes and resonates with Steve Jobs’ indefatigable mindset of elegant simplicity in design. The fact that both Michelangelo and Jobs both invested the majority of their creative lives in the greatest center of the technical arts and learning of their day, Florence, Italy and Silicon Valley, California should not be lost on any technologist, engineer, or entrepreneur in today’s panoply of global tech consumer industries.
In the case of today’s smartwatches, the torch that lights that Himalayan path to the nirvana of artful technology design and engineering is now held by Samsung.
In the matter of the Gear S2, Samsung brilliantly stripped away everything that is not a smartwatch of today. If Michelangelo and Jobs were alive today, they would both send opera clapping emoji blessed messages of congratulations to Samsung’s executives in Seoul, South Korea who are responsible for the Gear S2.
Make no mistake about it. In an assessment of battlefront # 1 in the smartwatch war, the user experience, Jobs himself — in a cold, humorless, yet enthusiastic way and with laser like focus – would quite likely incisively inform us that Apple was bested at the vanguard of the smartwatch war by a change of battle plan midstream along with a UX howitzer from Samsung’s technology industrial design artistes.