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Smartwatch of the Year: Samsung Gear S2


The Apple Watch was easily the most anticipated gadget of 2015. And after years of rumors, leaks, and denial, the watch finally hit the market in April.

But just because it was the most anticipated smartwatch of the year, doesn’t mean the Apple Watch was the best. That honor, much to our surprise, instead goes to Samsung and its Gear S2 smartwatch.

Crazy, right? After making one awful smartwatch after another, Samsung made the best one around.

How did Samsung steal the top spot from Apple when the iPhone maker seemed to have the category all but wrapped up with its Apple Watch? By providing a product that is simply easier to use.

The Gear S2 comes with a touch screen that you can swipe across and tap to select on screen items, back and select buttons on its side, and a bezel that you can rotate to navigate between apps and settings. The bezel is the key here, though, as it feels like a natural way to navigate a device with a rounded display.

The Apple Watch, on the other hand, has a steeper learning curve, as you have to know when you can use its Digital Crown and when you should press down to access the watch’s Force Touch feature.

To top it all off, the Gear S2 is compatible with all Android smartphones running Android 4.4 and higher, whereas the Apple Watch only works with — you guessed it — Apple’s iPhone.

The runner up


Yes, the Gear S2 beat the Apple Watch for best smartwatch of 2015, but that doesn’t mean Apple’s offering isn’t one of the best. In fact, it might be the only other watch that debuted this year that’s actually worth buying.

Not only is the Apple Watch a beautiful accessory, it’s also pretty useful thanks the army of apps that run on it. And while Force Touch can be confusing at first, it is a genuinely inventive way of interacting with the watch. It’s no surprise that the technology also made its way to the iPhone and MacBook touchpad.

The thing that hurts the Apple Watch the most is its relatively short battery life. While the Gear S2 lasts two days on a charge, the Apple Watch lasts just a day.

What’s coming in 2016?

The smartwatch segment is still very much in its infancy, which means we haven’t even begun to see the best of what companies like Samsung and Apple have to offer. The most obvious change we’re likely to see in 2016 is an improvement to overall smartwatch battery life. A day or two just doesn’t cut it for most people.

We’ll also likely see improvements to Google’s Android Wear, which will hopefully make it a more compelling option than what it is today.

Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley or on Google+.