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Samsung beats Apple to the punch, unveils Galaxy Gear smartwatch

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September 4, 2013

Today Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which brings notifications, tight Galax...

Today Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which brings notifications, tight Galaxy Note 3 integration, and voice control to your wrist

Image Gallery (8 images)

We've known for a while now that just about every company under the sun is making a smartwatch. Apple, Microsoft, Google, LG ... you name the manufacturer, and it probably a wrist-based computer in the works. Sometimes there's something to be said for being first, though, and Samsung just beat out the other major mobile manufacturers. Say hello to the well-leaked, but no less intriguing, Samsung Galaxy Gear.

Wearable electronics are all about notifications, and the Galaxy Gear is no exception. Emails, text messages, calls, and other notifications will pop up on the device's 1.63-inch, 320 x 320 display. You can read previews of those notifications right on the tiny screen. You can even use it to make voice calls (while tethered to your Samsung phone) by lifting it up towards your ear.

The Galaxy Gear features a 1.63' 320 x 320 display

The Gear also has Samsung's S Voice (think Siri, only made by Samsung) in tow. So you can do things like draft messages, set reminders, or check the weather just by speaking to your wrist. Dick Tracy would be proud.

Integration with Samsung's Galaxy phones is key, particularly with Samsung's Smart Relay feature. If you receive a notification on your Galaxy Gear, you can pull the Galaxy Note 3 out of your pocket, and the app that gave you the notification will already be open. Lengthy email comes in on Gear, whip out smartphone, and read rest of email. No searching for the app required.

The Gear sports a 1.9 MP camera embedded into its wrist strap

It isn't often that we get excited about a 1.9-megapixel camera, and perhaps we shouldn't here either. But the convenience that you get (and perhaps the intrusiveness that others get) from having a camera on your wrist makes this significant. There is, however, no front-facing camera for video chat, so that's one area where Dick Tracy still has a leg-up on Samsung's engineers.

Battery life needs to be a priority with any mobile device, but perhaps even more so with wearables. After all, it makes more sense to plug in your phone at the office or in the car, than it is your watch or glasses. Samsung is claiming that the Gear's 315 mAh battery will have it lasting 25 hours, but we're going to take that with many grains of salt until we get some extended time with this bad boy.

The Gear will be available in a variety of colors

Samsung is marketing the Gear as less of a standalone device, and more of a companion to the Note 3. It will, however, also work with the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, and Galaxy Note 2 via coming software updates (no iPhones or other Android devices will be supported). The company also mentioned a list of apps that will run on the Galaxy Gear, including Path, Pocket, MyFitnessPal, and RunKeeper.

The Gear will be available in a variety of colors, starting on September 25, and will ring up for US$299.

Specs and features are fine and dandy, but what's it look to actually use the dang thing? Look no further than Gizmag's hands-on first impressions, straight from the event in Berlin.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
10 Comments

It looks hideous. Industrial design circa 1974?

Mahtli69
4th September, 2013 @ 02:51 pm PDT

"one area where Dick Tracy still has a leg-up "

The device he wore was bigger than the smartwatch, and was just a two way radio.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dt2wrr.jpg shows a picture of it from when I was reading it every Sunday.

MikeFromHC
4th September, 2013 @ 04:06 pm PDT

Uuuugly!!! Maybe if it was $19.99.

Absolutely no sense of style. They'll get their act together after Apple shows them how it's done.... Again..

angexpress
4th September, 2013 @ 06:44 pm PDT

OMG this watch is so ugly and huge. I certainly cant see many people taking it up. Their are much more aesthetic smart watches on offer from multiple companies. What were Samsung thinking when they released this monstrosity.

Also $300 is way to pricey for this bit of outdated design. I wouldn't even pay $99 for it. Samsung should be ashamed for releasing a piece of retro looking rubbish

David Adkin
4th September, 2013 @ 07:33 pm PDT

It might be a smart move on their behalf to create a product based on a rumour that Apple is having one in the works, but something tells me Apple's will be a little better thought-out

Τριαντάφυλλος Καραγιάννης
5th September, 2013 @ 01:15 am PDT

This is a joke, right?

Looks big, ugly Dick Tracy, 1 day battery, and you have to buy a Samsung phone to use it. $300 for the lump on your wrist that you have to link to a charger every day then lots more for the phone and a contract.

D Ross Robertson
5th September, 2013 @ 03:49 am PDT

I think such a device is missing the killer application here.

Its all very well creating a SmartWatch that connects to the primary phone, but, it would make more sence of where one can actually leave their mobilephone at home!

Yes, one will need to have full synchronisation with both devices, of which at a distance can be done via the 3G or wi-fi option, or even the Cloud network. One could actually develope a SlingBox unit type, that pings the info to and throw to both devices.

Battery life will need to be better, but, thats where clever software kicks in. Only on request of wishing to retrieve information from the main phone, the softeware then instructs the two devices to communicate with eachother. OK, one could also have induction mats for wireless charging at restuarants, cafe', etc, or even allow two samsung phones to swap power via induction coils in their casing.

Just thinking aloud...hhhmm?

Regards,

Harpal Sahota.

Harpal Sahota
5th September, 2013 @ 04:50 am PDT

So many more problems to overcome - the price quoted above is silly - it should be marketed as a $75 accessory to their phones. Everyone would buy one and they could use a much broader base of customer feedback to hone the product to a true smart phone/watch, and then beat the piss out of the Apple product after it comes-out with any customers eager for freedom from their phones. Still, nice first swing for them. I like my Omega or Rolex though... I think that until we see some more advanced, sic-fi-like stuff instead of repackaged iPod minis, these things will just be 'meh'...

Guy DeWardener
5th September, 2013 @ 10:06 am PDT

Awesome device. Maybe the best design for a watch. I wish it had a bigger screen though.

DaveBG
9th September, 2013 @ 06:40 am PDT

1) I love the "don't forget to mention android" photo, when this watch is completely proprietary (since it only links with Samsung's proprietary overlay). While my feelings on "Android Overlays" are mixed (unlike most, Samsung at least actually includes features with the junk), this device so clearly has nothing to do with Android that I think there is a legitimate claim to false advertising here.

2) This device would have been better without a camera. Sure, a front-facing camera would have been great, but baring that, the last thing I want is something that looks like a wart and is not actually capable of taking pictures at a resolution that would beat a 20 year old digital camera. If it weren't for the camera, I actually would like the design, but I don't particularly want people looking at my wrist and asking if I'm okay.

3) It's all been done before. Bluetooth notifs on a watch form factor are at least 5 years old and I had a watch OLED media player watch 10 years ago. I'm not saying there isn't anything new that a smart watch could do, just that this watch hasn't done them in any compelling way.

4) According to android's power management, having the screen on uses the bulk of the power on my S4, and Bluetooth uses a chunk too. How does a device like this, which should be running with both "always on" plan to make it even an hour with less than 1/5th the power. Sure, 4G is a power hog, and I have a bigger screen, but the difference is not using 50% of my battery in a day, much less 90%. Even if those things were true, a heavy usage day can kill my battery in 8 hours or less, which is even worse in a watch than in a phone.

I'm not ready to hand out an "apple wins" card yet, but Samsung's strategy of throw things at a wall until they stick missed this time.

Phyzzi
10th September, 2013 @ 10:07 am PDT
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