Wearable Tech

Samsung Gear S2 Scores Points for Looking Like a Watch

Samsung last week announced the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic smartwatches at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

The product specs of the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic are the same. The main difference between the two is in the design of their faces — the Gear S2 Classic looks more like a regular watch, while it’s obvious the Gear S2 is a smartwatch with apps.

They run Samsung’s Tizen operating system and can sync with any device having 1.5 GB of RAM or more, running Android 4.4 or later.

Designed by Italian post-modernist designer and architect Alessandro Mendini, both watches are round and customizable, have various sensors, and come preloaded with apps.

Optional 3G connectivity includes an e-SIM card with voice capability, allowing greater functionality without a smartphone nearby.

Things of Beauty

“I like the approach,” enthused Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC. “First and foremost, they look like watches.”

Earlier Samsung Gear smartwatches “look like miniaturized computers. The aesthetics weren’t really there, and the navigation was pitiful,” he told TechNewsWorld. “These new watches are elegant and look like high-end watches.”

The circular look “is a smart choice for a smartwatch design, because the most popular traditional watch designs are round,” remarked Angela McIntyre, a research director at Gartner.

What It’s Got and What It Does

The Gear S2 (and Gear S2 Classic) has a 1.2-inch circular Super AMOLED screen with 360 x 360 resolution at 302 ppi. It has a 1-GHz dual-core processor.

The watch is always on, and it has a battery life of two to three days, Samsung said. It can be charged wirelessly.

The Gear S2 has 4 GB of internal memory and 512 MB of RAM. Users can access contacts, notifications, messages and email.

It supports voice input, emoticons and keypads, and comes loaded with preset text responses.

Other features include voice memo, Find My Device, power-saving mode, safety assistance and a privacy lock.

The Gear S2 comes preloaded with health and fitness apps and can display news, maps, navigation, weather information and the user’s schedule. It also has a music player and a gallery.

It isIP 68 certified, effectively making it dustproof and waterproof.

It supports WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 and near-field communication.

Packed inside the 11.4-mm thick Gear S2 are an accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate and ambient light monitors, and a barometer.

Smartphones Are So Yesterday

A rotating bezel lets Gear S2 users navigate the interface. Side buttons access various preset apps and functions.

The apps on the Gear S2 show Samsung “can utilize the whole watch face, which is still a challenge for the Moto 360,” Gartner’s McIntyre told TechNewsWorld.

NFC technology enables mobile payments on the S2 and the inclusion ofFidMe allows users to store digital loyalty cards.

FidMe is one of Samsung’s five global partners for the Gear smartwatch, the others being Yelp, Baidu, Apposter and CNN. Samsung is working with partners across various industries to broaden the applicability of its smartwatches.

The S2 can be used to control smart locks powered by UniKey and Yale Real Living locks.

“Samsung likes to be out on the leading edge, and their vision is an NFC wearable hooking up with an IoT ecosystem,” IDC’s Llamas remarked.

Calling all Devs!

Developing Tizen apps will be critical for the success of Samsung’s Gear line, said Al Hilwa, a program director at IDC.

The Galaxy S2 can connect to Android phones from other makers, which “is key, because most of the buyers of this watch will likely have Android phones,” he told TechNewsWorld. However, Samsung “has to work hard with specific publishers to bring them to the platform.”

Samsung “will have to fight for the attention of app developers,” observed McIntyre, “who are busy coding for Apple Watch OS2, Android Wear watches and Pebble watches.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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