The time for a smarter timepiece has come.
Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Gear smartwatch on Wednesday at an event at the IFA technology tradeshow in Berlin. The device has a 1.63-inch screen and works with your phone to give you notifications on your wrist.
Much of the hoopla before the event was about what the smartwatch would look like and what it would be capable of. It was clear that the Galaxy Gear wasn't just an extension of the company's line of smart phones, but that the smartwatch would be its own separate beast.
The watch face itself is a rigid 1.63-inch Super AMOLED panel display embedded in an unobtrusive bezel. This current look of the Galaxy Gear is smaller and sleeker compared to the photos leaked earlier this week. The watch is only 11.1 mm thick and weighs a mere 73.8 grams, or just over 2.6 ounces.
In addition to the display is a 1.9-megapixel camera capable of capturing 720p video. Though the camera itself isn't as high quality as several other Samsung products, the emphasis seems to be the ability to take pictures quickly. Rather than fumble around with a smart phone's menus and camera settings, the Galaxy Gear allows users to snap photos with a quick gesture.
The Gear pairs with a smartphone to show you text messages, e-mail and phone call alerts, but the Gear will also have access to an app store of its own. The app selection will range from some fitness apps that take advantage of the pedometer to some social media apps, like Path and Highlight.
And yes, the watch can turn into a phone. It has a mic and speaker and when paired with a smartphone you can make calls on it. It also will have a number pad and access to your contacts on the small screen itself so you can initiate calls right from the watch. Using Samsung's S Voice, you can also use voice commands and prompts to make calls, set alarms and check the weather.
Galaxy Note 3
The smartwatch wasn't the only device at Samsung's event. The company also showed off its Galaxy Note 3, which will be the first phone to work with the Gear. (Support for the Galaxy S4 and other Galaxy phones will come later, Samsung said.)
Menno van den Berg, the Vice President of IT and Mobile at Samsung, said the Note 3 has a 5.7-inch display, bigger than the Note 2's 5.5-inch screen, but is still dwarfed by the Galaxy Mega, at 6.3 inches. The phone itself is 8.3 mm thick and weighs 168 grams, a little over two Galaxy Gears.
While the technical specs are one of the Galaxy Note's biggest draws, it's clear that design and aesthetics are also important for the large smartphone. The back of the Note 3 appears to have a slightly thickened padding and stitching to mimic an actual notebook. It also comes in a variety colors and finishes, similar to the level of customization available with Moto X.
As for the interface, Samsung has improved upon its S Pen design and how it operates with the note. The Note 3 is able to recognize specific gestures both when the pen is on its surface and when it's hovering slightly above the surface. A quick tap opens up an array of options ready to go for the user.
Both the Galaxy Gear and the Galaxy Note 3 will start rolling out on Sept. 25 across the world. Samsung would not comment on specific U.S. release dates and pricing, though rumors point to the watch being priced at $299.