Samsung Galaxy Gear: Everything you need to know
Samsung has confirmed publicly that it will launch a smartwatch at its pre-IFA event on 4 September. That's as far as the company would go with specifics, other than the name, leaving us to find out the rest from sources and rumours.
To start, the smartwatch will be called the Galaxy Gear. We first learnt of the Gear name thanks to a trademark filing in July. Then a Samsung executive confirmed the Galaxy Gear this week.
“The new device will enhance and enrich the current smart mobile experience in many ways," Lee Young-hee, executive vice-president of Samsung’s mobile business, said on Tuesday. "It will lead a new trend in smart mobile communications. We are confident that the Gear will add meaningful momentum to the mobile industry.”
Its main-focus will be in offering a second screen for Galaxy smartphones, displaying key information on a user's wrist. It's said to give access to information like text messages, emails, incoming calls, the weather and more. Specific Android apps are said to be built for the small watch screen, as well.
Interestingly, no images of the Galaxy Gear's hardware leaked online until the beginning of September. VentureBeat provided the first photos of the device, though it is said to be less boxy when it lands 4 September.
Om Malik of GigaOm from provided us with plenty of details about the smartwatch in August. A display measuring 2.5-inches is said to be found on the Galaxy Gear. This sounds like an ideal size to comfortably perch on top of a wrist, sitting like a normal watch. The screen will sit on top of a watch strap, that is said to have a camera integrated into it, with a speaker also integrated into the clasp of the watch.
A lot of rumours and speculation over the past month have suggested a flexible display for the Galaxy Gear. The flexible display notion was quickly shot down by Samsung's Lee Young-hee, who said: “The [Galaxy] Gear won’t have a flexible display.”
The specific specifications of the camera found on the Galaxy Gear have not been shared, but we assume it won't be higher than 5-megapixels so it doesn't clash with the high-power cameras that are already found on Samsung's devices. Instead, the smartwatch's camera will focus on taking pictures in a quicker manner, and then transferring them to the Galaxy Gear's Android application for sharing and editing.
AmongTech suggests we'll see the Galaxy Gear in two variants: a 6GB model and 8GB model. Furthermore, it is said to be assembled in Texas for a "Made in the USA" theme. One downside the report notes is that the Galaxy Gear will feature only a 10-hour battery life, which seems a bit low.
The Galaxy Gear will connect to Samsung's line of smartphones over Bluetooth 4.0, a technology that has become standard in the phone industry. It offers a low powered way of transferring all kinds of data, including text, photo, video, and voice. NFC will also be feature, to provide bump-to-sync features between Galaxy products.
The Bluetooth integration will come in best for use with the Galaxy Gear software that will be downloaded from Google Play. EvLeaks shared a screenshott of the "Samsung Gear Manager" on Twitter. The software looks to provide a way of controlling the smartwatch. Users will be able to change clocks, settings and apps. A "Find my watch" feature is also present, indicating GPS tracking that is also found on several smartphones.
Samsung first confirmed plans for a smartwatch in March. "We’ve been preparing the watch product for so long,” said Lee Young Hee. "We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them."
They say it's not a smart device without apps, and don't you worry, the Galaxy Gear won't be lacking. According to Om Malik, there's a chance Samsung will use its own Android app store for Gear-focused apps, rather than the widely used Google Play store. The "Samsung Apps" section of the "Gear Manager" app seemingly shows just that. The question is: what apps will be available at launch, and how will they work with a 2.5-inch display?
If you're used to Samsung's Android devices, you'll find your typical TouchWiz experience. The software is said to be made for a watch, based on Android 4.1 (Android 4.2 has also been floating around) to give the normal feel of Android. Twitter and Facebook integration will be found. Additionally, when you find a notification on your Gear that catches your eye, you'll be able to pick up where you left off on your smartphone. A set of images claiming to show the UI for a Samsung smartwatch leaked earlier this year, though it's unclear if they're heading to the Gear given the E Ink like colour scheme.
A big draw for a lot technology products these days is fitness tracking and sensors. According to Malik, we'll see both of those on the Galaxy Gear. There aren't a lot of specifics on their use though. Presumably, Samsung will make fitness tracking apps available on its Galaxy Gear app marketplace or give the ability for the sensors to work with Google Play apps over a set of APIs.
One of the most crucial aspects of the Galaxy Gear is still unknown - and that is pricing. Will Samsung make it affordable enough for customers to justify buying as an accessory for their already expensive smartphone? If not, Samsung may have a flop on its hands.
As for a release date, Samsung-focused blog SamMobile says Samsung plans to launch the Galaxy Gear to the public in early October, specifically 30 September-6 October. Whether it will cost $199, $299, $399, or somewhere in between is still unknown.
It will be interesting to see how Samsung tackles the smartwatch market. From the sounds of it, if Samsung prices the Galaxy Gear right, it may have a real player. Most importantly, if done right, it will have beaten competitor Apple to the market.
The smartwatch has been an area of interest for forward-looking customers for quite sometime. A major technology company other than Sony has yet to join in the fray, leaving smaller companies like Pebble, Hyetis, and other Kickstarter-funded groups to take over. Apple, Microsoft, HTC, Google and other tech giants are rumoured to be coming to the market. Now there's one company that will land in a matter of days.
Mind you, Samsung needs to announce the smartwatch first before the real speculation begins.
Pocket-lint will be live from Samsung's event on 4 September to bring you the latest. Past the Galaxy Gear, Samsung is also expected to announce the Galaxy Note 3.
Note: all images used in this article (except for the screenshot from EvLeaks and VentureBeat) are for mock-up and demonstration purposes. The actual device has not leaked yet.