Whether smartwatches are going to be a real growth market or something of a damp squib remains to be seen, but that isn’t stopping Samsung from jumping into the arena with both feet. By announcing the Galaxy Gear at today’s IFA briefing in Berlin, Samsung has not just launched a new product, but it’s also managed to pip Apple to market. With the iPhone maker repeatedly tipped to have a smartwatch of its own in the works, getting there first could be a major coup for Samsung.
Of course, if you’re an iPhone user already then you’re not going to be buying a Galaxy Gear, because the new device is only compatible with Samsung’s own Galaxy range of devices, with the Galaxy S4, S3 and Note 2 set to get software updates to add the required software at some point in the next few weeks. If you’re currently in the market for a new high-end smartphone though, and are deciding between the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5S for example, the Galaxy Gear may just have a part to play in that decision. At launch though, Galaxy Gear will be only compatible with the Galaxy Note 3 and the new Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014).
Packing a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 320×320, the watch isn’t small, but it certainly looks svelte enough from what we’ve seen of it. Any smaller and we’d argue that it wouldn’t be big enough to be useful, and any bigger and we’d worry that it would be too obvious, or just get in the way. Until we’ve had one on our own wrists though, we’re just kinda guessing – but the videos of the device floating around the internet certainly give us cause to be optimistic about its proportions.
Built into the Gear’s strap is a 1.9-megapixel camera and a speaker. The device can record 10-seconds of HD video, or take still snaps should you so wish. The speaker is obviously there for making hands-free calls, but we’re not sure we’d be able to do that without feeling like an idiot. Still, they said the same about mobile phones thirty years ago, so we’ll reserve judgment on that.
Galaxy Gear has apps too, up to 10 at the same time. The apps can be installed using your Galaxy Note phablet or tablet. And it comes in a plethora of colors too, in case you’re looking for options.
Wondering about battery? Things aren’t looking that good here. The Galaxy Gear goes one full day on a single charge under regular usage circumstances.
Of course, the biggest question surrounding the whole smartwatch market is whether anyone will actually buy one, and that’s where the price comes into play. Samsung will be asking for a dollar shy of $300 when the device goes on sale in a matter of weeks. We’d like to see what apps are built for this thing before we decide whether that’s too much, but if the email we just received from Pocket is anything to go by, apps will be forthcoming. It’s not cheap, but then neither is that $600 smartphone or $500 tablet you’re using, either.
Galaxy Gear will be available on September 25th in 149 countries. And worldwide in October.