Friday, October 10, 2014

Samsung S5 and Gear Fit : Quick Review

Surprise today as I received a test unit from Samsung for their S5 and Gear Fit band to be used for the next couple of weeks. First thing I did when I got it was to switch them both on but unfortunately the battery were on low level. With one charger and one cable, I can only charge one device at a time. Not an issue as I was in no hurry to use it as phone (with sim card) immediately. 
Samsung S5 Smartphone Quick Review
I never owned a Samsung phone as they are on the premium end of the market to what I used to own and currently have. So my review will be non-technical and very consumer centric; as how would an uncle buying a high-tech phone and starting to use them the first time. If you are interested in a more technie review, TechRadar has a 13-pages review written here: Techradar on Samsung S5 Review
First Touch
Damn, the phone is light. The curves at the edges is typical of Samsung (from what I can see in their product line up) and the feel of the back cover (vinyl like with rubbery feel) is nice. It also stops the phone from sliding too far if it were to be pushed on the table (for whatever reason you do it for).
Rubber like back panel
Front Gorilla glass 
Starting up
Reminder to close the back cover properly
One of the biggest draw to this phone is the claimed IP67 protection. This simply meant that this phone is protected to a certain (engineering benchmark) degree. To understand the IP67 protection, head over to this communication from Samsung here. It has to be taken literally. The dos and don'ts are clearly spelt out and you may get your warranty void if you sort of abuse this. What intrigue me is how they managed to get it to be IP67 with removable parts like the back cover, buttons and charging port? The solution is basic - seal them tight using rubber-like washer (or is it silicon?)
The white line on the inner back cover sits nicely against the battery compartment
Having seen the above, I can conclude that the speaker, camera, front "home" button, both power and volume button are selaed against water and dust intrusion as a built-in feature. This leaves the battery, sim card, SD card and charging port to rely fully on this white silicon/rubber like material.
The seal
The charging port silicon/rubber seal
Charging port closure
This also meant that if you are the type that love to remove your battery back cover and have an abusive relationship with your phone where the charging port cover is, you WILL lose the IP67 seal and your phone could be subjected to water damage. All it takes is a strand of hair to be between those seal and the phone may potentially be damaged by water intrusion. So, make sure no strands of hair, thread or even sand, if you ever bring it out and bury this phone in the sand (for whatever reason to show your friends), to NOT to be between these seals. 
OK, that is my thoughts on that. Now, back to the phone other features. 
Battery is removable. Rated at 2800mAH, should suffice for a day use depending on your surfing/gaming/music habit
Integrated Sim and MicroSD slot. SD card on top, SIM below.
Smooth edges
The rest of the phone functions is typical Android. Highly customisable and doesn't take a lot of learning curve if you are shifting from other system. The typical Google functions are there and it is a seamless integration if you have other Android devices or Google account. Setting up is simple and like I mentioned, this S5 and Gear Fit will be used together as a fitness unit - no doubt the combined pricing will cost more than the most advanced GPS-enable watch available in the market, so the choice is really yours to make. 
The Gear Fit
This review, however, will very much be based on using the S5 and Gear Fit as an alternative to workout/exercise tracking.
First touch - from my instagram
The next thing that happened were a complete firmware upgrade on both S5 and Gear Fit.
3 updates, I've counted
Firmware update for Gear Fit
Took me a about an hour on fast internet to flash new ROM into the S5 and another 30mins for the Gear Fit as the battery needed to be at least 30% for the firmware to be flashed.
Linking Up Samsung S5 and Gear Fit
I skipped all manual (there were none) and relied fully on instinct to link these two items up. On the scale of 1 to 10 (10 being no brainer and 1 being impossible), it scored an 8. What slowed me down was to wait for the items all to be charged appropriately.
OK....More software
Yay!
The interface of the Gear Fit is pretty straight forward. The small device is a full on touch screen interface with power button at the top.
Sync! Now to start walking
Here are some to be expected interface shots you may encounter, to demonstrate how easy it was to link it all up.
download software/app
Pair them up
Say yes to both ends
OK?
Wait and done!
Here is a pretty straight forward video guide by Dialandroid on Youtube to do so rather easily. In fact, I got around this without the video as the instructions were pretty straight forward.


Once I got everything working, It was time to have some fun using it.
Review : Usage of Gear Fit
I will concentrate more on usage of this than the S5 as we all know it is the top of the scale for Samsung. Technically, the S5 is what it is - a smartphone and one should not expect it to be any less. 
I setup the Gear Fit on the unit itself under the "Setting". 
All there, go explore
It sort of has all you may need to update and customise including the wallpaper of the (small) device and even screen orientation.
Let's Go!
Oh, before I go on. I know some of my friends buy these lifestyle monitor to keep track where their phones are. Think of it as a reminder if you inevitably left your mobile in a restaurant. As you know, the Bluetooth functions cease after 10m and you will be disconnected. So, it will give a gentle buzz and notification. 
The Gear Fit unit also allow you to find via audio and vibration should you left it around your home and you can't find it (aka temporary misplaced). The limitation I found out, is still the Bluetooth range (less than 10m). Here is a short video of it in action.

Back to the Gear Fit. This unit allows you to monitor all your stats from walking, stress, heart rate, sleep and act as a time keeping device (Watch, timer and stop watch). So essentially, it can replace your typical watch. 
For more info on this, go over to Samsung Website for the Gear Fit. They described it better there without missing out any points I may. Here is the link
For Gear Fit to be used for tracking of exercise purposes, there are the Running, Walking, Cycling and Hiking option. Each of this (target) can be manipulated via Samsung phone (in this case, S5)
Setting up for this weekend SCKLM 42km

The distance, is limited by your imagination (and body fitness)
The workout target is then synced to your Gear Fit via Bluetooth and wait for execution. 
Choices...Too bad no swim
To be tested during SCKLM 2014
Wait up for another follow up write up on how Gear Fit help tracks the Marathon I be walking or running. I hope it will last 7hours on single charge.
Comparison to other Wrist fitness devices
I have no other devices to compare and this is my first exposure to a wrist device. I would love to be able to make comparison to this with the Garmin Vivofit, the JawBone and any other fitness devices there are out there. So, for the moment, I am a bit impressed with what Gear Fit can do and will do this coming Sunday.

Note: This two unit of Samsung S5 and Gear Fit is loaned to me for approximately 2-weeks. The recommended retail pricing for the S5 is RM1999 (16GB LTE model) and the Gear Fit is RM599. Thank you Samsung Malaysia for the usage. Opinion in this quick review is my own personal view and not influenced by any parties.

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