Samsung, in an attempt to upstage chief rival Apple, will introduce an Android-powered smartwatch next month. Sources claim that the wearable device, dubbed the Galaxy Gear, will debut on September 4, two days ahead of the IFA consumer electronics convention in Berlin (with a possible twin press event happening in New York on the same day). The South Korean tech giant hopes to get its smartwatch to market before Apple launches its own competing device, referred to in patent filings as the iWatch.
“[Samsung] is racing against other electronics makers, including Sony, to create a new industry of wearable devices as the market for top-end smartphones nears saturation. The global watch industry will generate more than $60 billion in sales this year, and the first companies to sell devices that multitask could lock customers into their platform, boosting sales of smartphones, tablets and TVs,” reported The Age.
Anonymous sources who are “familiar with Samsung’s plans” claim that multiple versions of the Galaxy Gear have been given to developers for testing. Most of these prototypes feature a square OLED display that measures 2.5 inches diagonally (3.5 inches including the case – and allegedly not utilizing Samsung’s new flexible display technology) with 320 x 320 pixels. The Galaxy Gear is said to be powered by a dual core processor, perhaps Samsung’s own 1.5GHz Exynos 4212.
“We are told the watch has a camera that is integrated into the strap and even has tiny speakers in the clasp of the watch, plus built-in NFC to allow for bump-to-sync and authenticate. The watch uses Bluetooth 4.0 LE to connect with smartphones,” said Gigaom.
To preserve battery life, the Galaxy Gear is rumored to include an accelerometer that will turn the screen on when the watch moves up toward a user’s eyes. While Samsung’s smartwatch will likely support similar touch gestures as a smartphone – touch, swipe, select – it will probably skip on text input due to the tiny screen size.
Also, it will probably come packed with an array of sensors, like the Nike Fuelband, to allow deeper integration with Samsung’s S Health app. Android Authority said that the test units already in developers’ hands are powered by Android 4.1 or 4.2.
While the September 4 release date is only speculation, Samsung has confirmed that a smartwatch is definitely coming soon.
“We've been preparing the watch product for so long,” Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business, told Bloomberg. “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.”
While no pricing details have emerged, Samsung is positioned to offer the Galaxy Gear at a lower price point than the purported iWatch because the company produces its own chips and display panels.
Sony is set to release its own “SmartWatch 2” in September, as well – but the tech world seems to be much more interested in what Samsung and Apple have up their sleeves.