Samsung has added a new entry to its growing catalog of smartwatches with the debut of its Gear S. Unlike its previous smartwatches, however, this one packs its own 3G data connection, which means it doesn’t have to be tied to your smartphone at all times. That’s a big deal for smartwatches.
Sporting a curved 2-inch display that wraps around your wrist, the Gear S looks more comfortable to wear — and more stylish — than Samsung’s rectangular watches. Still, with a larger display size than its stablemates, the Gear S is fairly bulky. The Gear S is thicker and taller than other Samsung smartwatches, which are already fairly thick and tall.
The big innovation here, though, is that you’ll be able to use the Gear S independently of your smartphone. You can send messages and receive and reply to notifications from their social networks and other apps via the watch’s S Voice controls or its onscreen keyboard, though we’re not sure how easy this will be to use. (Samsung has announced the new watch, but reporters have not yet used it.)
What’s more, you can make and receive calls from the watch. Samsung hasn’t announced which of the Big Four U.S. carriers will support the Gear S’s 3G connection, but we’ll update you when we find out more. If you don’t want to use the watch’s 3G connection, you can pair it with your smartphone via Bluetooth or jump on an available WiFi connection.
It will be interesting to see how long the Gear S’s battery lasts while connected to 3G. Most smartwatches, which do not feature cellular connections, last about a day; adding a 3G connection may drain that further.
The Gear S also includes turn-by-turn pedestrian navigation through HERE, news updates from the Financial Times’ fastFT, a heart-rate monitor, and Nike+ Running app integration. Unlike Samsung’s Gear Live, the Gear S doesn’t run on Google’s Android Wear operating system. Instead it runs on Samsung’s own Tizen-based OS, which means it won’t be able to run the same apps.
The Gear S is part of Samsung’s apparent strategy to blanket the market with smartwatches. The S is the company’s sixth such device to hit the market, behind the Galaxy Gear, Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, Gear Live, and Gear Fit.
Samsung’s announcement coincides with the unveiling of LG’s circular G Watch R that, in press images at least, looks like the most attractive smartwatch yet. In the coming weeks, we expect a slew of other companies to debut their own smartwatches, including Motorola and its Moto 360, ASUS and its ZenWatch, and, of course, Apple’s iWatch.
Samsung hasn’t announced pricing for the Gear S yet, but the company did say it will begin selling the watch in October.