Samsung first released a smartwatch in 2013- the Galaxy Gear- as an accompanying feature at the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in 2013. But due to Apple’s profile, smartwatches only began to grow in popularity and profile with the release of the Apple Watch last month. So what is Samsung’s alternative to the Apple Watch?
What is Samsung’s alternative to the Apple Watch: The early releases
The Galaxy Gear was met with mixed critical reception and low sales, but nonetheless pioneered the smartwatch which later prompted competitors from Apple, HTC, Sony and Asus. The device used an Android operating system and connected with a phone via Bluetooth. However, upon the release of the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo in February 2014, not only did Samsung remove the Galaxy label, they also replaced the Android OS with their own Tizen system.
The Neo was the natural upgrade from the Galaxy gear while the more expensive Gear 2 also featured a 2 megapixel camera within the device. Samsung’s other major release was the Gear Fit which was designed for watching health and fitness in addition to the usual features. The device tracked heart rate and activity, as well as connecting to a smartphone to receive alerts. The Fit also used the ‘world’s first curved 1.84 inch Super AMOLED display’.
What is Samsung’s alternative to the Apple Watch: Introduction of Android Wear software
Once Samsung began designing smartwatches they just kept on going, with the Gear Live being released as their fifth smartwatch in just 9 months. It was the first to use Google’s recently released Android Wear software, which at the time of release was still working through a few kinks. The software uses push notifications, voice commands in the form of ‘OK, Google’, and a touchscreen. They can be connected to any device running Android 4.3 or later.
Critics have questioned whether Android Wear has reached its potential, with communication difficulties obstructing efficiency in Google’s voice recognition and the GPS system shows some flaws. In addition, the Gear Live lacks the speaker and camera from previous devices, and despite the attractive design, it remains a similar device to the Gear 2 Neo.
All of Samsung’s smartwatches since the Galaxy Gear have been IP67 water- and dust-resistant, surely an essential feature for a smartwatch. Battery life continues to be a concern, with usefulness limited considerably by the short battery life of all of Samsung’s devices so far. The issue of battery life continues to be one faced by all major competitors, and is certainly not restricted to Samsung products.
What is Samsung’s alternative to the Apple Watch: The future of Samsung smartwatches
In March 2015, Samsung executive vice president Young-hee Lee revealed the company’s intention to halt smartwatch production for a period, saying “We’ve been introducing more devices than anybody else. It’s time for us to pause. We want a more perfect product.”
This proved to be a short-lived promise though, as rumours arose only a few weeks later of Samsung’s newest device, the Gear A. Reports of the device seem to suggest that the software and features will not vary greatly, but that the most obvious change will be in the design. The Gear A is rumoured to be Samsung’s first smartwatch with a round face, and it has been suggested that it will feature a rotating ring like that of the Apple Watch.
But will the Gear A be revealed to be a notable advancement in smartwatch production, or will it simply be a re-release of a similar product with slight variations from previous designs? So far we have little confirmed information. Hopefully Samsung will learn from past mistakes and consider product development carefully before release. We expect the next Samsung alternative to the Apple Watch to be something pretty spectacular.