Earlier this week, at Mobile World Congress, Samsung unveiled three new smartwatches: The Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo, and the Gear Fit. Building off last year’s Galaxy Gear, these devices are fundamentally designed to cover as many use cases as possible. Samsung is obviously angling to gain an early lead in the smartwatch market by ditching Android, but can it really compete against the likes of Google and Apple?
The Gear 2 effectively serves as Samsung’s flagship smartwatch. As the name implies, this is the direct successor to the original Galaxy Gear. Of course, this model has dropped Android in favour of Tizen, and the “Galaxy” moniker is gone as well.
With a redesigned 720p camera, a built-in heart rate sensor, a 1GHz CPU, and a replaceable strap, this is clearly the deluxe model. We don’t know the price quite yet, but the current Galaxy Gear is retailing between £230 and £300, so expect something in that ballpark. This is clearly aimed at the high-end market, and will likely serve as the benchmark against which other smartwatches are judged.
Gear 2 Neo
For the most part, the Gear 2 Neo looks just like the Gear 2, so why does it exist in the first place? Largely, the Neo is a reduced price model: It’s lighter, it lacks a camera, and it will certainly launch at a lower price point come April.
If Samsung can drop the price down below the £200 mark, it could potentially reach a much larger audience. In addition, some industries and public venues frown on wearable tech like Google Glass. The fact that the Gear 2 Neo doesn’t ship with a camera actually defangs some of the worries regarding stealth video recording.
As if we didn’t already have enough fitness gadgets, Samsung’s third smartwatch is all about exercise. It eschews Tizen and Android in favour of Samsung’s own real-time OS, and features a much slimmer form factor. It doesn’t have a camera or a mic, but it does sport a heart rate sensor, gyroscope, and accelerometer for fitness tracking. It connects with your other devices over Bluetooth 4.0, and can display notifications, but it’s strictly designed to aid your workout.
Because it’s smaller and more focused, it’ll probably end up being the cheapest of the three. Other products, like the Nike+ FuelBand and Fitbit Flex, sit around the £100 mark. It’s safe to assume that Samsung will be targeting roughly the same price to remain competitive.
Each model here has its own purpose, but are they distinct enough from each other to really make a difference on Samsung’s bottom line? Will a £200 smartwatch sell substantially more than a £250 smartwatch? Frankly, it’s too early to tell. This market is unproven, Apple’s oft-rumoured iWatch is still a huge variable, and the Galaxy Gear wasn’t a great product by any stretch. If Apple sees fit to launch its device this year, it could completely change how consumers perceive wearable computers, but until then the Pebble is still the best product on the market.
With big players like Apple and Google working in the field of wearable tech, Samsung will be in for some stiff competition. Wearable computers are clearly gathering steam, and everyone wants to stake a claim in this burgeoning industry. If we see a full-scale rollout of Google Glass and Apple’s iWatch in 2014, it’s difficult to tell just how well Samsung could actually compete. We’re definitely in for another major shake-up in the coming months and years.
For more on the Gear range, see: How Samsung could make the Gear Fit the first smartwatch success story.
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