Announced alongside Samsung Galaxy Note3 at today's Unpacked event at IFA 2013 in Berlin, Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch - according to the Korean company - is a perfect companion device that further integrates the Samsung Galaxy experience into everyday life. The digital watch combines smart device connectivity, tailored technological features, and stylish design into a single premium accessory.
"Samsung's ongoing smart device innovation leadership reflects our commitment to listen to our consumers, who want their daily lives to be easier and more enjoyable. Samsung Galaxy Gear benefits consumers by integrating smart device technology even deeper into their everyday lives, and bridges the gap between the mobile device and fashion worlds to create truly wearable technology," said JK Shin, CEO and President of IT and Mobile Division at Samsung Electronics.
"Samsung Galaxy Gear frees users from the need to constantly check their smart devices while maintaining connections. It provides what we call 'smart freedom,' by allowing users to choose how, why, when and where they are connected."
Available in six colors, namely, Jet Black, Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold, and Lime Green, Samsung Galaxy Gear notifies users of incoming calls, texts, emails and alerts, delivers a preview of messages and lets users accept or discreetly ignore those notes. When an incoming message requires more than a quick glance, users can simply pick up their Samsung Galaxy Note3 or Note 10.1 (the only two Galaxy models that Gear is compatible with currently) and the Smart Relay feature will instantly reveal the full content on the screen.
Design and construction wise, Samsung Galaxy Gear departs from what we usually see on current plastic-clad releases by the Korean company. The most noticeable improvement is that its body comes with 'real' brushed metal shell. The 1.63-inch Super AMOLED panel 320×320 resolution display is framed by steel, kept in place and connected to the straps by four exposed metal screws. The watch's 1.9 MegaPixel camera, 720p video recorder, and loud speaker are nicely integrated into its flexible plastic straps.
The smartwatch runs its Android Jelly Bean operating system sans the keyboard with a dual core 800 MHz processor and handles multitasking with 512 MB of RAM. According to Samsung, the device will come with a number of pre-installed apps upon launch, including Evernote, Runkeeper, and eBay.
Off hand, Samsung Galaxy Gear, which gives you around 10 hours of regular use with its 315 mAh battery pack, is only compatible with two other Samsung releases; the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. But how does the watch connect and work with those devices exactly?
Well, the built-in speaker allows users to conduct hands-free calls directly from the Gear, maintaining connections to their mobile communications without disrupting their daily routines. For example, a user leaving the grocery store, whose hands are full with shopping bags, could still make a call by speaking into the smartwatch without touching the screen. Users can also draft messages, create new calendar entries, set alarms, and check the weather on the SGGear with S Voice.
In addition to enabling smart device controls, Samsung Galaxy Gear introduces several features that help users easily capture life’s meaningful moments which otherwise might be missed. With the Memographer feature, a 1.9 Megapixel camera, users who are on the move or participating in physical activities can record both photos and video to create quick, visual records of important information or events from their daily lives, as well as share them on their social networks. Extending the quick-record concept, Voice Memo lets users capture important thoughts or conversations from their wrists and save those voice recordings into texts on their Galaxy devices.
With the Samsung Galaxy Gear, users gain a wide range of favorite features that further increase the benefits of this new accessory. New security enhancement Auto Lock automatically secures the companion smartphone screen any time that Gear is more than 1.5 meters away from the smartphone, and then unlocks the smartphone when the companion devices are near each other again. Find My Device helps users find the location of their smart devices when they have been misplaced by making them beep, illuminate and vibrate. With SGGear, users can also control the music played on compatible devices. As with traditional music players, it helps users browse, play and pause songs even when their smart device is not within reach. Finally, Samsung's new smartwatch also works like a Pedometer to track physical activity via enhanced, built-in sensor technology. This feature systematically and automatically monitors users so they can track key personal data such as calories burned, steps taken and distance covered.
So how much will it cost? Samsung Galaxy Gear will don a suggested retail price of $299.99 or around Php 13,200 upon launch on September 25, 2013 in key markets (Hopefully, including the Philippines). At that price, the smartwatch will cost almost as much as Samsung's current midrange offerings Samsung Galaxy Grand and Samsung Galaxy Win.
Earlier today, I asked TP Friends on our TechPinas Facebook Community Page if they'd be willing to purchase the device at that amount. Here are some of their responses:
"Sony's LiveView, SmartWatch, and SmartWatch 2 will always be the pioneering tech and will always be the best, add to that their very affordable price tag. You can get a stylish SmartWatch nowadays at around PhP 4,500 to Php 5,500." - Francis Michael Velasco Depalco
"I will definitely get the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 but without this watch." - Carlo Acetre
"If I had the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and, of course, the money then I would." - Glenn Marvin Calingasan
"Music control functionality without the actual playback? One whole day of 'regular' usage? Dependency on both hands? Price as expensive as our local flagship phones? Pass." - Ayann Payos
"It's a waste of everything. Why create something so limited at this? Samsung's getting weird." - Orville Magalzo Guimong
TP Thoughts: Personally, I think that, at $300, Samsung Galaxy Gear is just way too overpriced for a device that has yet to prove its value in today's mobile landscape. It looks nice and attractive and it's cool that it can connect with a couple of flagship devices -- but come on, it doesn't really offer any unique feature or at least one that you can't do on the actual Samsung smartphone or tablet that it pairs with. At $100, maybe a lot of users would consider getting it (even as a standalone accessory) but $300 is just too much, I believe.