Samsung Electronics Co Ltd unveiled a smartwatch on Wednesday that works
as an accessory to its market-leading Galaxy smartphones, with a small
screen offering basic functions like photos, hands-free calls and
The world's top handset maker hopes the Galaxy Gear
will boost the appeal of its range of Android-powered smartphones, as
it battles to maintain its supremacy in the rapidly saturating high-end
mobile market against arch rival Apple Inc.
Its launch, timed to
coincide with the start of the IFA consumer electronics trade show in
Berlin, also signals that the South Korean giant is more than just a
fast follower in innovation behind Apple, which is preparing to release a
new iPhone next week but is yet to go public with any wearable devices.
a companion device that will keep us constantly connected," Samsung
Executive Vice President of Marketing Lee Young-hee told reporters in
Seoul ahead of the smartwatch's launch. Her remarks had been embargoed
"It will increase user experience with the Galaxy
Note 3 and with this, we aim to create a new lifestyle trend, initially
targetting young trend-setters and style icons."
features a 1.63-inch (4.14-cm) screen as well as a basic camera, and
will connect to Samsung's latest Galaxy Note 3 smartphone via wireless
Bluetooth technology. It will make calls, display messages, record
videos and snap photos, all while the user's phone stays in their pocket
The success of Samsung's latest smartwatch - clunky
earlier versions in 1999 and 2009 didn't go down well with consumers -
will be measured as much in how it affects sales of high-end Galaxy
smartphones as in sales of the device itself.
But it is also a
shot across the bows of Apple and Google Inc, which are widely believed
to be working on their own wrist-worn devices in what analysts expect to
be the next phase of the mobile communications boom.
smartwatch-type products before, but they were mainly for making phone
calls. What's different with the Gear is it's got far more useful
functions. It's usability has increased significantly and design is not
bulky," said J.K. Shin, Samsung's co-chief executive and head of mobile
The Gear, which will go on sale
later this month for $299, doesn't have a flexible or curved display
that some industry watchers had hoped to see on Samsung's newest
Instead, its OLED touch screen features half the picture
quality of high-end smartphone displays and the camera nestling in the
strap has only 1.9-megapixels - compared with a 13-megapixel rear camera
on the Galaxy S4.
It has up to 70 dedicated applications
including some basic fitness apps such as a step-counting passometer,
although Samsung hopes this number will grow as developers get on board.
Battery life, a key challenge for most wearable devices, has improved to over 27 hours under Samsung's normal-use tests.
also unveiled the latest version of the Galaxy Note phone-cum-tablet at
its Galaxy unpacked event in Berlin, before the opening of IFA,
Europe's biggest consumer electronics trade fair.
The new phone
features an even bigger 5.7-inch, high-definition screen, improved
stylus functions, a 13-megapixel rear camera and faster data connection
than the conventional 4G network.
(Also see: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with 5.7-inch full-HD display, Android 4.3 launched)
Samsung added enhanced security
solution KNOX to the phone, setting its eyes on corporate users, a niche
long dominated by Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd.
© Thomson Reuters 2013
Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch in pictures