Samsung unveils Gear S2 smartwatch

1 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »


Samsung is juicing up its smartwatch with a circular face and more battery life than the Apple Watch, but it’s unknown how many apps will be available for it.

The new round-faced smartwatch, which the South Korean company will formally unveil at a trade show in Berlin on Thursday, will be called the Gear S2 smartwatch, and come in two styles: a sporty flagship version and a more understated version dubbed the Gear S2 Classic.In a wearable preamble to the gadget onslaught that will flood Berlin this week, Samsung’s just outed its latest attempt to win over your wrist-puter heart.

The new Samsung smartwatches come with a variant equipped with 3G connectivity, which means they can also work as a stand-alone phone—something most current smartwatches can’t do. The watch is unique in that it has a round rotating bezel – the thing on the edge of the crystal – in addition to two buttons on the side for home and back.

Almost nothing is visually similar between the two watches—the Gear S was bulky and horizontal while the new S2 embraces a more circular existence—but both run Samsung’s homemade OS Tizen. With Android Wear’s recent news (seriously, it was announced this morning) that it’ll also support iPhones, Tizen has some work to do, but the S2 does feature a few tricks never seen in a smartwatch before. Every version has the same essential specs: a 1.2-inch diameter touch display with a 360×360-pixel resolution; 4GB of storage to store apps, music and other data (that’s half as much as the Apple Watch); 512MB of RAM, and a 1GHz dual-core processor; wireless charging; NFC, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

According to IDC, Apple was the No. 2 maker of wearable devices in the April-June quarter, with a 20 percent worldwide market share, behind the Fitbit and its fitness trackers at 24 percent. These aren’t Android Wear watches: They’ll all run on Samsung’s fledgling Tizen operating system, which is largely found in TVs and low-end phones.

The new watch includes NFC for payments and other wireless connectivity and it even includes an e-SIM – a method to make calls and perform some tasks without a phone nearby. In the 12 months after the September 2013 launch of its inaugural smartwatch, Samsung cranked out no fewer than six different smartwatch models as it sought to carve out an early lead in the fledgling market for wearable devices.

The only difference being the first looks more modern—like the future on your wrist—whereas the second looks like a watch your grandpappy used to wear. Speeds and feeds are fairly standard – 360 x 360 resolution, a nice dual core 1.0 GHz processor, 4GB internal memory – but the styling is nice and at 11.4mm thin it’s quite svelte. With a 1.2-inch-diameter AMOLED display—one with a befitting resolution of 360×360 pixels—the screen is significantly smaller than that of the Moto 360. The most unique trick on the S2 is a rotating bezel that we heard about back in May, which can do cool things like zoom, switch between menus, and bunches of other Tizen-specific gestures.

After going on sale in late April, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company shipped 3.6 million Apple Watch units in the second quarter of the year, according to research firm IDC, suggesting that the device is off to a better start than Apple’s iPad or iPhone. Market research firm Juniper Research said in a report last year that the smart-wearables market could generate $53 billion in revenue by 2019 compared with $4.5 billion in 2014. Users can stay connected with at-a-glance notifications to check calendars, e-mails, news and can even send important texts directly from their wrist. Samsung’s Gear S2 will also feature a somewhat unusual navigation system that combines a pair of physical buttons (Home and Back) with a rotatable bezel. All S2 versions will also come with NFC for mobile payments, though interestingly missing MST the other half of Samsung’s upcoming mobile payments service.

But the company is light on details for this watch, such as how much interaction it would have with phones, or if it will be at all compatible with phones outside the Samsung family. It doesn’t seem to feature Samsung’s neat-o payment service, it’s reported battery life is 2 to 3 days…not terrible, but not great, and it’s certainly one of the more bulkier options out there.

The 3G version of the watch, which has a 300mAh battery instead of the 250mAh unit in the non-3G watch, purportedly gets up to two days from all that extra tower-pinging. But Samsung is taking the phone-free functionality a step further, including an “e-SIM” so you can make and take calls directly from the watch, whether or not the phone is present. It will also send reminder updates to motivate users to stay on track with their fitness goals. /* */ (function(window){ window.TechCrunch.loader.on(‘tc_ads_wrapper_omniture’, function() { if ( { window.adSetInView(‘1’); window.htmlAdWH(‘93457287’, ‘320’, ‘115’, ‘text’, ‘adsDivb20b68a8ae’); window.adSetInView(‘0’); } }); }(this)); /* */ For the ultimate convenience, the Samsung Gear S2 comes with NFC technology which will enable mobile payments without the need for a wallet. These watches also aren’t part of the Android Wear family: They both run Tizen, which means they’ll likely only play nice with newer Samsung Galaxy phones.

So we’re a little bit closer to the promise of a bonafide Dick Tracy communicator, even if we’ll probably have to pay a couple of phone bills to use it.

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