Samsung unveiled its new smartwatch on Wednesday at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin. The Galaxy Gear smartwatch works as an accessory to its successful Galaxy smartphone. It offers a small screen that performs basic functions, including taking photos, making hands-free calls and instant messaging.
Wearable technology is seen as the next potential ‘big thing’ for electronics makers. Credit Suisse estimates the wearable device market could be in the $50 billion range by 2017.
The Galaxy Gear features a 1.63-inch screen with a basic 1.9 megepixel camera that responds to voice commands. It connects to your Galaxy device via Bluetooth to make phone calls, and send/receive texts and email. All while your smartphone stays in your pocket.
The watch comes with more than 60 applications including some basic fitness apps. Samsung expects developers to quickly add more apps.
Inside the watch there is a single-core 800MHz processor with 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage..
One issue of concern is the battery life of the Galaxy Gear. Samsung reports that the device has 25-27 hours of life in ‘normal-use’ tests. We are skeptical of such numbers, as ‘normal-use’ to a company trying to improve specs is different than the real world.
The design of the Galaxy Gear is simple, if a bit chunky. Also, the screen doesn’t have a flexible or curved display, something many industry analysts had hoped to see. It comes in six colors.
The Galaxy Gear marks what is probably the first big salvo in the smartwatch wars. Expect an iWatch from Apple in the next six months. But Samsung is banking that getting first to market will give them a huge advantage in sales and market penetration.
The cost of the Samsun Galaxy Gear smartwatch will be $299. The release date is September 25.