Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch: What to expect this week


Samsung is introducting its new wearable tech on Wednesday with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. (Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)
September 3, 2013

Samsung has stirred a lot of excitement for its upcoming smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, which its expected to make its debut Wednesday.

Analysts and consumers alike are watching Samsung’s launch with interest, as the firm becomes one of the first major technology companies to dip its toe into the market for wearable devices. Fitness trackers, headsets, connected watches and even Internet-enabled clothing are expected to become big business for firms looking to add devices to their smartphone ecosystems over the next few years. The most optimistic projections for the wearable market estimate that consumers could buy as many as 9.4 million devices by 2016.

Samsung’s rumored watch, much like Google’s much-touted Glass headset, is said to be deeply integrated with users’s smartphones, providing a second screen for notifications and quick compositions so that users don’t have to reach for their pockets or purses. The argument is that by making the smartphone screen more accessible to users, it’s easier to dismiss unimportant notifications quickly and spend more time engaging with actual, real-world life.

The concept is intriguing, but the question remains as to whether Samsung, or any tech firm, can pull off the promise of wearable tech with designs that offer good battery life, compelling features and — perhaps above all — an attractive design.

According to a report from VentureBeat, which cites anonymous sources and an allegedly leaked promotional video, Samsung may not meet that high bar with its first Galaxy Gear watch.

The report, from VentureBeat’s Christine Farr, is based on information from a third-party company that claims to have made an internal promotional video for the watch, as well as sketches Farr made of an actual smartwatch. Farr, who cautioned that the version she saw may change before the device is released, said that the Galaxy Gear measures 3 inches on the diagonal and sports a 4MP camera. The device, Farr said, also has WiFi capability, so users will be able to compose some e-mail when not connected to the phone — though she was not able to test that particular feature.

The watch also reportedly offers many of the health-related features that Samsung put into its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S4. In that way, the Galaxy Gear could tap in to the already growing interest for fitness wristbands, such as the Jawbone UP, the Nike Fuelband or the Fitbit. Though we’ll have to see whether a bulkier device — bulky, that is, for the wrist — will catch on among the active consumers who already use data from wristbands to track their daily lives.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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