As expected, Samsung yesterday unveiled its Galaxy Gear smartwatch at the IFA consumer technology trade show in Berlin.
There has been much anticipation surrounding the latest contender in the battle to make smartwatches an indispensible accessory of the future. And while the Galaxy Gear isn’t quite that, it’s an impressive piece of tech nonetheless.
Contrary to all the supposedly leaked images which depicted a variety of bizarre and bulky designs, the Samsung Galaxy Gear is a relatively sleek looking device with a 1.63 inch Super AMOLED screen, stainless steel face and buckle, and plastic strap, which comes in an array of six different colours. It is definitely still quite bulky, but not so much so as to make it unwearable.
As with other smartwatches, the Galaxy Gear is intended to work in conjunction with your smartphone or tablet, allowing you to perform certain functions without having to remove the primary device from your bag or pocket. However, while Sony’s watches are compatible with most Android handsets, the Galaxy Gear is only compatible with Samsung’s own Galaxy devices.
The Galaxy Gear’s built-in speaker and two microphones allows the wearer to make calls directly from the smartwatch, although the speaker is pretty quiet, so you can only really do this in quiet areas. It also has a 1.9 megapixel camera, which means you can shoot photos and video from your wrist. The device also picks up notifications and controls music playback on your smartphone or tablet.
There are 10 different watch displays and over 70 apps to choose from, including Run Keeper, Path, Pocket and Evernote. The only snag here is that you can only have 10 apps loaded onto the device at a time.
There are also a few other issues that prevent the Galaxy Gear from being as good as it could be. It’s not as responsive as you would expect and there is a noticeable delay with everything you do on it. The swipe gestures that are used to operate it are also not all that intuitive, which can make it a little clumsy to use. Battery life is also not all that great and while Samsung claim that its 315mAh battery lasts for a whole day, early tests of the device have called that into question.
Another factor that may impede Samsung’s quest to take hold of and expand the smartwatch market, is price. $299 (equivalent of £190, although a UK price is yet to be announced) is a pretty high price to pay for the luxury of not having to take your, already expensive, Galaxy handset out of your pocket.
It’s definitely a cool gadget though and Samsung have certainly thrown down the gauntlet to Apple and Microsoft, who will undoubtedly be looking to improve upon some of the Galaxy Gear’s shortcomings when they launch their rival products.
Over to you…
Does the Galaxy Gear smartwatch appeal to you? Will you be buying one?