Samsung's best shot at a wearable device yet

There was a gentle tingling sensation on my wrist. Finally, I woke up. The culprit was the Samsung Gear S2 watch I had worn to bed. And the tingles were WhatsApp notifications from a group we cousins have (the group never sleeps as my cousins are spread all over the world).

Groggy-eyed, I switched on the light, silenced the notifications, and went back to sleep. But I needn't have. Turns out, I could have lowered the intensity of the vibration.

Therein lies the beauty of the S2 - the little touches which make it user-friendly. Such as the rotating bezel. If you, like me, have stubby fingers, you'll marvel at this. A simple incremental twist, accompanied with clicks, let's one navigate this Tizen-powered watch. See a notification alert? Just twist it anti-clockwise. Want to access the rest of the stuff? Twist clockwise. Of course one needs to tap on the app to open it, but that's a minor hassle. The S2 sports two buttons - the home button at 2 o' clock and the back button at 4.

If you've used a watch running Android Wear, you'll feel quite at home. In fact, it's better - as there are no ugly strips of black at the top and bottom of the screen - present in all Android Wear watches. Tizen uses the full round interface and together with the ring, the apps etc. is built to work on the circular interface.

One can of course receive and read notifications on the S2; like Android Wear, one can respond with emojis or preset messages. One can also receive a call and speak into the watch, but you need to put the phone to your ear to hear the other party. Also, it has the usual health apps, heart rate monitor etc.

The 1.2-inch Super AMOLED screen is another winner. It comes with a number of watch faces pre-installed. I ended up using the Nike Running one on my morning jogs and the CNN app for the rest of the day. One can also type on it, but that involves finger gymnastics.

The S2, unlike previous smartwatches from Samsung, needn't be tethered to a Galaxy phone. While I used it with a Galaxy Note 5 Dual SIM, I was also able to connect it to the Obi Worldphone SF1.

The Tizen-powered S2 can pick apps only from the Gear store, which is miles behind the Apple or Google stores. Yet, in one aspect it comes out trumps: Battery life. With Bluetooth turned on and Wi-Fi while indoors, and notifications turned on, I was able to get through around a day and a half on a full charge (I had to switch on power saving mode to last through the second day).

The Samsung Gear S2, at Rs 24,300, is possibly the best smartwatch Android users can buy in India (it doesn't pair with iOS yet) provided one can live with the limited app ecosystem. The bezel interface and the battery life is a step in the right direction.