The smart watch wars continue to heat up as Samsung has introduced its new model, the Gear S. Following up on the Gear 2, the Gear S stands out in its ability to make and receive phone calls. The watch also supports global 3G frequencies and can send and receive text messages without a smartphone.
The Gear S also includes Samsung's S Voice tool, which can be used to control the device via voice commands, and has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios and can get smart notifications when it is connected to a smartphone.
The display of the Gear S also represents an upgrade from former models. The watch features a two-inch curved Super AMOLED display, and its 480x320-pixel resolution is comparable to that of some smartphones.
The smart watch includes 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage, and is powered by a dual-core 1.0-GHz processor. The battery allows for two days of use between charges, according to Samsung.
Is It Better?
With all the features of the Gear S, does it represent a major step up for Samsung's smart watch line? We asked Jan Dawson, chief analyst for Utah-based Jackdaw Research.
"I think this is a good example of Samsung's ongoing strategy of throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks," said Dawson, who covers smart watches extensively. "I don't see this as inherently better or worse than any of their other offerings.
"I suspect there's limited demand for a 3G watch today, since it can't really replace a smartphone, and for the price you might as well get a basic smartphone or buy one of Samsung's other watches."
Samsung chose to run the Gear S on Samsung's Linux-based Tizen platform rather than Android Wear. Samsung says it has more than 1,000 Tizen apps available to its smart devices. Given Tizen's uncertain future, it might be a risky bet to release a phone that relies on it, Dawson told us.
"The fact that it's based on Tizen rather than Android Wear also means it won't benefit from the increasing traction Android Wear is going to get in the next few months as the Moto 360 launches," Dawson told us. "Overall, I suspect this watch will sell less well than some of Samsung's other offerings in the category."
Plenty of Competition
Samsung's smart watch will be going wrist-to-wrist with the Apple wearable device expected to be introduced along with the iPhone 6 in a couple of week, and with LG's G Watch R, coming in October. The round G Watch R will feature a 1.3-inch plastic OLED screen with 320x320 pixels. Powered by a 1.2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, the LG smart watch has 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage.
The news of the Gear S was tempered by allegations from China Labor Watch that a Chinese supplier contracted by Samsung and Lenovo was using child workers and student workers who were refused overtime pay.
Samsung did get some good news this week, though: A federal judge Wednesday denied a request from Apple that would bar Samsung from selling smartphones and tablets in the U.S. that infringe on Apple patents.