Samsung's new smartwatch hands-on, pricing detailed

  • Aims to attract a larger crowd with round watch face and rotating bezel
  • Cellular network version with embedded SIM in the works
Samsung's new smartwatch hands-on, pricing detailed

ONE of the biggest product announcements which emerged from last week’s IFA 2015 technology expo was Samsung Electronics’ new smartwatch, the Gear S2.

While the product itself garnered quite a fair amount of positive press, the big question at the time was around the pricing.

Would it be cost as much as the Apple Watch (starting from S$518 all the way to $22,500) or would it be priced along the lines of Sony’s Android Wear-based Smartwatch 3 (from S$298 to $388)?

Samsung's new smartwatch hands-on, pricing detailed

Samsung's new smartwatch hands-on, pricing detailed

Well, Samsung Electronics Singapore has announced today the local launch pricing and availability for the Gear S2 and the Gear S2 classic smartwatches and the answer is, somewhere in between.

Samsung's new smartwatch hands-on, pricing detailed

The Gear S2 will be available in a two colours (pic, above) – a dark grey case with a dark grey elastomer band, and a silver case with a white band.  They are priced at S$448 each.

Meanwhile, the Gear S2 classic which comes in a black case with a leather band (pic, below), will be sold for S$548.

Samsung's new smartwatch hands-on, pricing detailed

Both models will be available from 2 October 2015.

This is Samsung’s first round-faced watch and runs on the company’s own Tizen software platform.  But unlike its predecessor, this new model is compatible with all smartphones running Android 4.4 KitKat with 1.5GB of RAM, regardless of the brand.  

The previous Gear S model only played nice with a few Samsung Galaxy smartphones, which limited its appeal.  Naturally then, Samsung Singapore is expecting better sales of this timepiece, compared to the previous version, which has now been discontinued.

Speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) at the launch event, Samsung Electronics Singapore’s head of product marketing Chua Khim Guan said, “I definitely see the Gear S2 doing better than the rest of the smartwatches we’ve launched previously.”

Analysts whom DNA contacted have also commented that in order for Samsung to succeed in this space, it needs to open up the platform and be operating system agnostic.

When asked whether the pricing was too high, considering the cheaper Android Wear alternatives, Chua replied, “We are competitively priced.  Of course we have our differentiators, for example the first in the market to have a rotating bezel interaction.  I’m very confident this simple thing will actually change the market”.

Rotating bezels aren’t new to traditional wrist-watches, but Samsung’s Gear S2 uses this physical movement and two buttons on the right side, to let users control the interface without needing to touch the screen.  

Samsung's new smartwatch hands-on, pricing detailed

The bezel can be rotated clockwise or anti-clockwise for app selection, zoom functions or adjusting the volume of music playback, among others.

During DNA’s hands-on time with the watch, the rotating bezel felt smooth and intuitive and worked well with the icons which are placed in a circular fashion along the edge of the screen.

The other highlight is the 1.2 inch circular Super AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display with a 360 x 360 resolution.  Clock-faces and apps look sharp and bright on the screen.

By default the screen is turned off to conserve battery life, but the built-in motion sensor can tell  when the watch is raised up, lighting up the display.

Samsung claims the Gear S2 can last for up to 3 days and a wireless charging dock makes it convenient to juice up the time-piece.

Samsung's new smartwatch hands-on, pricing detailed

Under the hood lies a 1 GHz dual-core processor along with 512 MB of memory and 4 GB of storage.

Samsung's new smartwatch hands-on, pricing detailed

Other features include a heart-rate monitor (pic, above), a microphone for taking voice memos, an IP68 (Ingress Protection) water and dust resistance rating, and sensors that provide data to a host of health and fitness-related apps.

This Bluetooth and Wi-Fi version of the Gear S2 requires a compatible Android smartphone (pic, below) to install new apps and watch-faces, receive notifications and see turn-by-turn navigation instructions.

Samsung's new smartwatch hands-on, pricing detailed

However, a third Gear S2 model, which includes cellular network support is in the works, allowing users to make and receive phone calls, as well as connect to the mobile web without being tethered to a smartphone.

“There’s actually a 3G version of Gear S2 but when is it coming to Singapore?  We hope soon, because that runs on embedded SIM so we need to work closely with telco operators to see how can we get it up and running,” Chua told DNA.

The embedded SIM feature means consumers themselves cannot insert or remove the SIM card from the smartwatch and it would be locked to a specific carrier.

For now, Chua believes these watches will be able to attract a larger crowd, especially women and design-conscious users, since they are slim and light, and includes two separate sizes for the straps.

The Gear S2 classic meanwhile, comes with a standard sized 20mm band, which can easily be replaced with after-market options.

Related Stories:

Google launches Android Wear … for the iPhone!

IFA 2015: Smartwatches need apps to succeed

Sony’s Smartwatch 3 moves from sports zero to stylish hero

Apple Watch: Analysts predict 10mil units to be sold in 2015
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