Samsung To Unveil Gear S2 Smart Watch, Makes Calls Without Phone
Set to be officially unveiled Thursday at an invitation-only event at the IFA 2015 consumer electronics show in Berlin, Samsung's new Gear S2 smart watch will let users make quick voice calls without having to link to nearby smartphones. The timepiece, which sports a circular face, will be driven by the Tizen operating system.
The 3G Gear S2 will feature a 1.2-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 360 x 360, and support BT4.1, Wi-Fi and NFC (near-field communication) connectivity. Samsung will also release a non-3G Gear S2 classic for users who "prefer a more timeless watch design."
As expected, the design of Samsung's newest smart watch departs considerably from its previous Gear S, an oversize device with a rounded-rectangular shape that came out in the fall. The South Korean electronics giant has not yet disclosed pricing for either of the new Gear S2 watches. Samsung provided a sneak preview of its answer to the Apple Watch via a video posted on its YouTube channel earlier this month.
Working To 'Expand the Usability of Wearables'
"The Samsung Gear S2 reflects Samsung's most progressive innovation," said JK Shin, CEO and head of Samsung's IT and mobile business, in a statement. The new wearable is designed to enable users to "get more out of every moment in your day, by making it smarter and ultimately more personal and fun," he added.
Both the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic will support functions like calendars, e-mail, news and text messaging. They will also provide fitness-tracking capabilities and enable mobile payments through NFC technology.
The smart watch's battery, which can be charged with a wireless charging dock, will keep the device running for two to three days on a single charge, according to Samsung. The company added that it is working with a number of different industry partners to "expand the usability of wearables and streamline consumers’ mobile lives in a variety of ways, including smart keys, residential room keys, and remote controls to manage a connected home."
Smart Watches To Lead Wearables Market
Smart watches are soon expected to be the lead device category in the wearables market, according to a recent white paper from the technology-focused market intelligence firm Tractica. The report, "Wearables: 10 Trends to Watch," predicts the smart watch market will grow by a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 71 percent between 2013 and 2020, and will account for 48 percent of total wearables shipments in 2020. The Apple Watch, which launched in April, will drive growth in North America this year "with growth stabilizing beyond that," the paper added.
The Tractica research noted that the long-term success of the Apple Watch, being positioned largely as a fashion accessory to start, will "depend on its ease of use and its utility as a bodyworn device. Once the early adopters have had their fill of the Apple Watch and the other new wearable devices hitting the shelves today, the mass market will only be convinced if something else is on offer that makes the wearable device valuable."
We reached out to Clint Wheelock, Tractica's managing director, to get his thoughts on the Samsung Gear S2. He told us the Gear S2 is "an impressive device and demonstrates that smart watch innovation will continue to progress along multiple evolutionary paths in the years ahead, as this watch is clearly differentiated from the Apple Watch, Android Wear watches, and others currently in the market."
Phone-Free Calling Not Compelling
However, the ability of the Gear S2 to make calls untethered from a phone will be "far from ubiquitous, as the use cases for replacing the need to carry a smartphone will not be compelling for many consumers. A far more compelling attribute of the Gear S2 will be its two-to-three day battery life, as the need to recharge every day is a major downside for most smart watches on the market today, in the minds of many users," he added.
For Samsung, wearables are a great way to streamline processes so employees can customize client interactions and deliver more personalized experiences. "Wearables can collect information hands-free, bringing the smartphone experience to the wrist, which helps create safer working environments and boosts productivity," Samsung noted this week in its global technology blog.
Samsung said it will provide "a variety of apps optimized for the Gear S2's circular user interface" when the watch is launched, although the company has not yet specified when exactly the device will be available to pre-order or purchase. The Gear S2 will come with either a dark gray case with a dark gray band or a silver case with a white band, while the classic version will be available in black with a leather band.