Samsung launched a smartwatch, Galaxy Gear that can make calls, receive emails and take photographs on Wednesday. The Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch is synced to a cellphone, allowing users to answer calls and receive text messages from their wrists. The timing of the release could also give Samsung a leg up over Apple, which has yet to unveil a similar device but has long been rumored to be working on one.
At a much-hyped unveiling ceremony ahead of Berlin’s Internationale Funkausstellung, one of the world’s largest trade shows for consumer electronics, Samsung’s head of mobile communications, J.K. Shin, introduced the new device by pretending to receive a text message on stage.
The galaxy gear watch is activated by pressing a button on the outer right side of the display or aiming the wristband lens at an object. A gentle swipe downward quickly turns on the camera, a feature Samsung calls the “Memographer.”
The centerpiece of the Galaxy Gear, as you may have read by now, is a 320 x 320-pixel, 1.63-inch AMOLED touchscreen. There’s a speaker and a pair of mics for recording and playing back video content and communicating with a caller via the built-in dialer, which works with the native phone app in your connected Galaxy device. The Gear includes an 800MHz processor, a 315mAh battery, and — in a somewhat surprising twist — a BSI sensor and autofocus lens mounted in the wrist strap that’s tasked with capturing 1.9-megapixel stills and 10-second video clips at 720p, 640 x 640 or VGA resolution with sound. That camera, designed for on-the-go captures where convenience, not image quality, is a priority, is paired with a pre-installed app called Memographer. That application, and dozens of others that will be available at launch, are key to boosting the Gear’s appeal, and setting it apart from the competition.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is set to be released worldwide next month, although neither Mr. Shin nor Mr. Mistry gave a date. Also under wraps was the cost, something many believe could be a determining factor in whether the next-generation technology hits home with consumers who have historically been reluctant to adopt such “wearables of tomorrow,” as Mr. Mistry called the Gear.
Samsung, which overtook Apple last year as the world’s largest producer of smartphones, got into the watch business in 1999 with a model that consumers shunned.
Samsung Galaxy Gear has 512 megabytes of RAM and an internal memory of four gigabytes. It has an 800-megahertz, single-core central processing unit and weighs 73.8 grams. Available colors include lime green, oatmeal beige, wild orange, mocha gray, jet black and rose gold.