Samsung Debuts 3G Gear S Smartwatch Ahead of Apple Launch

Samsung Gear S smartwatchIf Apple has a major event scheduled next week (it does), it’s a safe bet that competitors will be out to steal some thunder. Apple is widely expected to announce its long-anticipated smartwatch, and Samsung’s preemptive strike is the new Gear S smartwatch with built-in 3G connectivity.

Yes, you read that right. Samsung’s latest salvo in the smartwatch wars takes a step closer to Dick Tracy’s famous wrist-born radio by ditching the need to be tethered to a separate smart phone. This new smartwatch does not sync with a phone, it is a phone.

That means there’s more hardware to pack inside, which translates to a wearable that may be unbearable for some. You might say it’s one-size-fits-tall. A hands-on reviewer at described the Gear S as “huge and clunky.”

Samsung Gear S smartwatch

The curved, 260×480 AMOLED screen may be large, but the QWERTY keyboard it displays for sending texts may prove challenging to all but typists with diminutive thumbs. The rest of you will be happy to hear that the Gear S includes S Voice, Samsung’s voice transcription software. There’s also a new Circle Bluetooth headset. But then, you’re syncing with another device to make your call.

The Gear S is more than just a wrist-phone. The “watch dial” face communicates information including remaining battery life, how many unread notifications you have, how many steps you’ve taken, and, like a traditional watch, the date. Swipe left to access your favorite apps, right to view notifications, and up for the full menu. Onboard GPS vibrates to signal turn-by-turn directions.

For many, short battery life is a major disincentive to purchase, and the Gear S comes in at about two days.

Samsung appears to be demonstrating that its new 3G smartwatch is at least one generation ahead of the anticipated Apple smartwatch, and though Samsung’s technology is impressive, the package must appeal to consumers before it will sell.

Samsung Gear S smartwatch

We expect that any new Apple smartwatch will be priced above Samsung’s latest offering. Apple’s mantra is premium products with premium prices. Apple happily leaves the lower rungs on the pricing ladder to others.

The Gear S is certainly two steps forward on the technology front, but it’s one step back for wearability. The Gear S is a monster, but probably not a monster hit.


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  1. No matter what the blogs say, Samsung managers to stay five steps ahead of the apple products. It appears that apple is having a hard time try to stay up with technology and with what the consumer wants.

  2. Could be a great device for not having to drag a phone along. This means workouts, biking, in the gym and such. In addition it’s got APT-X which enables CD quality 16 bits/44Khz audio over Bluetooth. Although it’s only possible to bring along 4GB of music on board, streaming WIMPs or Qobus CD quality streaming service means CD quality everywhere. Now it just begs for a pair of fantastic in ear head phones, and I wonder why Samsung didn’t deliver those with the device while they’re at it. The design of the watch faces tell a different story than working out, though. In addition I find that they should have stretched the screen to the border, diminishing the bezel. That way it would look more impressive, or be smaller for the same real estate.

    Questions remaining are: What about apps for working out on Tizen? How long will the battery last when using GPS and streaming music etc?

    • Mike Disher

      Hi Gadgety. Thanks for your questions. The Gear S comes preloaded with Samsung’s S Health app, which tracks fitness goals and health statistics like heart rate, blood pressure, and more. It also has the Nike+ fitness app, which uses the onboard GPS to track your runs. Samsung has not provided specific battery life estimates, but the watch uses the same 300 mAh battery as the Gear 2, which in various tests lasted about two days with moderate use.

  3. I think these will come and go. I still prefer wearing a real watch and an iPhone is no burden to carry for other activities apart from telling time.

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