News & Current Affairs
Galaxy Gear is GO! Samsung unveils its 'fashion statement' smartwatch that is voice activated, answers calls with a flick of the wrist and comes in SIX colours
Following months of mounting tension and fierce speculation, Samsung has finally unveiled its Galaxy Gear smartwatch and revealed a 'slimmer, lighter, faster' Galaxy Note 3 phablet.
Speaking at the IFA conference in Berlin, Samsung's CEO JK Shin said: 'For the first time we have given Galaxy Note 3 a warm texture-touch cover. It's slimmer, lighter, and more powerful and all in a beautiful design.'
He then told the crowd he was getting a call and unveiled the smartwatch, adding that the Galaxy Note is powered by the Galaxy Gear and he hopes the watch will become 'a fashion statement.'
The surprisingly sleek wrist-mounted device has a solid touchscreen, runs Android apps and can sync with a smartphone to make phone calls and access the web.
When an email is received on the watch, for example, it is automatically opened on the Galaxy Note 3.
The Galaxy Gear comes in six colours and will be available from 25 September. It will cost $299 in the U.S but UK pricing has not been announced.
Galaxy Gear has a 1.6-inch SuperAMOLED display and Samsung claims the battery life is 25 hours on a single charge.
Samsung said the watch was designed to be a companion for the Note 3, but there will be software upgrades that make it compatible with the Galaxy S4 and S3 from October.
It responds to voice commands and when a wearer wants to answer a call, they can raise the watch to their ear.
The speaker and microphone are positioned so it can be used like a regular phone.
Pranav Mistry, head of the think tank team, Samsung Research America said this made the watch more natural to use unlike 'speaking into the air like with Google Glass.'
The camera is positioned on the outside of the strap and Mistry said photos can be taken by pointing and shooting after a simple swipe of the screen.
Pre-installed apps for the Galaxy Gear include Evernote, which makes it easy to remember things by quickly capturing images and memories and bringing important reminders right to Gear.
Glympse allows wearer's to easily share their location temporarily and in real-time, letting friends see their movements on a map.
The eBay app allows users to complete all your transactions on eBay with ease and in real-time while the MyFitnessPal app tracks nutrition and exercise.
The speaker and microphone are positioned on the Galaxy Gear, pictured, so it can be used like a regular phone
The Korean firm has become among the first major companies to launch what's been dubbed a 'true' smartwatch and has pipped main rival Apple to the accolade.
Other smartwatches, including the Pebble, can receive notifications and information from a connected smartphone but can't run apps or be used as a web-enabled device in their own right.
Sony unveiled its own wrist-worn device, the Smartwatch 2, earlier this year and revealed it at a conference earlier today that it will go on sale at the end of September for £149.99.
The Galaxy Note 3 is part-phone, part-tablet, called a phablet, and is the successor to last year's Galaxy Note II.
It has a 5.7-inch HD SuperAMOLED screen, compared to the Note II which is 5.5-inch.
It comes in nine colours including jet black, classic white, blush pink, mustard yellow, mint blue and oatmeal beige.
The Galaxy Note 3 comes with a enhanced stylus, called the S Pen, that is 'more than just for writing and drawing, it has actions attached to it.'
For example, a user can write a person's phone number, and using the phone's handwriting recognition, it is automatically added to the phone book, or if it is already a contact, will ring them.
To access these extra features, the S Pen has a button that can be pressed to scroll through the options.
The pen can also be used to help organise notes, for example, and categorise apps simply by drawing a circle around them.
A Pen Window feature lets the user draw a box on the screen and the phone will highlight useful application relevant to the task they are doing.
Once an application is selected, it then opens to the size of the window and this also allows for the multiple windows.
For example, if a user was working out their expenses they could draw a window, select calculator and run both applications together.
Although Samsung has been rumoured to be switching to other materials for its phones, including carbon fibre or aluminum, the Note 3 has predominantly the same plastic casing used on the Samsung S3 and Samsung S4 smartphones.
Rumours about a Samsung smartwatch began towards the end of last year and in August a patent filing for the Samsung gadget was uncovered.
Before the smartwatch launched experts were already predicting poor sales and slow take-up. Annette Zimmermann, an analyst at research firm Gartner, told CNBC: 'In Gartner's device forecast we have an assumption built into our model that says that less than 3 percent of consumers replacing their smartphone will replace it with a smartwatch in 2017.'
While fellow Gartner colleague Roberta Cozza told MailOnline: 'If well executed, it is a good opportunity for Samsung to engage users more with their brand and build more loyalty to the Samsung and Galaxy brand.
'Much of the success of Samsung product will be down to price but more importantly also the ability of the product to be truly convenient and deliver benefits to users everyday lives.
'So far consumer demand for products like smartwatches has been limited, Samsung and Galaxy are two strong brands and Samsung will evolve this category, but we expect in general that the new smart watches entering the market will still likely appeal to early adopters of technology first.'
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