Samsung’s efforts in the smartwatch world supersede Apple’s own, but like Apple, its watches have generally been a Samsung smartphone-only affair. Not so with the new watch, which looks very interesting.
Announced earlier in the year, Samsung’s next take on what the smartwatch could be has arrived, with local representatives sending word that the first circular smartwatch from the company responsible for the Galaxy smartphones is now here from Samsung Experience stores and its online marketplace, with wider availability arriving from November.
“Samsung has continued to refine and enhance the Samsung smartwatch experience for Australians,” said Prasad Gokhale, Vice President for IT & Mobile at Samsung Electronics Australia.
“As our fourth generation smartwatch, the Gear S2 is testament to Samsung’s commitment to developing technology that helps to meet the evolving needs of our customers. We are incredibly proud to be launching the Gear S2 and know that there will be a strong appetite for the Gear S2 in this country.”
While it may well be the fourth generation smartwatch, the Gear S2 is technically the company’s sixth smartwatch by our count, after the Galaxy Gear, Gear 2, Gear Neo, Gear Live, and Gear S smartwatches.
The latter of these popped up late last year (which we reviewed early this year), the Gear S, and was easily one of the more interesting of the range, bringing with it a curved display and a nanoSIM slot to let you make phone calls from your wrist if need be.
But the catch with almost all of these smartwatches was that you needed a Samsung phone, with Samsung making it a requirement on everything except the Gear Live, which ran on Android Wear which at the time required an Android device (but now works with iOS, too).
A Samsung-only ecosystem isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and if you jumped ship to another manufacturer, you couldn’t bring the smartwatch with you, souring opinion.
Fortunately, with the Gear S2, it seems as though Samsung has seen the light, providing an app for every Android phone and in essence supporting anything provided it runs the same operating system as Samsung’s other devices.
The watch itself will not, mind you, but that doesn’t matter; with an app made for Android to talk to the smartwatch, you won’t need to worry that the watch itself runs Tizen, the operating system Samsung relies on for its TVs, among other things.
Samsung’s screen is also circular on the Gear S2, much like most wristwatches out there, with the company using a 1.2 inch circular Super AMOLED panel running a resolution of 360×360 and providing 302 pixels per inch, which should be good enough for most eyes.
As expected, that screen will be a touchscreen, but complimenting this technology will be a rotating bezel around the display, allowing you to quickly get around menus and work other aspects of the watch rather than flick through things with just a touchscreen alone.
Inside the watch, you’ll find a dual-core 1GHz processor, 4GB memory with just under 2GB available to you for storage of music, Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, and sensors for heart rate tracking and ambient light monitoring.
The last one is a little unusual, especially for circular smartwatches, as usually they go without if they offer the full circle, which is what Samsung appears to be offering here.
App support will also be offered, as expected, with Nike+ found at launch and more apps on the way, though basic support will exist for emails, news, calendar alerts, and notifications, among other things.
Now for the part people usually dread: the price.
For the most part, though, it’s not likely to be as bad as you expect, with the Gear S2 arriving in two versions: one for $499 and the other for $599.
What are the differences? Style, for the most part.
For $499, you’ll find Samsung’s Gear S2, which offers a 42.3mm smartwatch weighing 47 grams and attached to a more sporty looking grey or white band, while the $599 Gear S2 Classic is a slightly smaller 39.9mm circular display with a leather band.
Regardless of which one you end up on, you’ll find different bands available, with these ranging from $59 to $89.
Availability is only at Samsung stores and its online store in the beginning, but come November, you’ll find it in major electronics retailers and mobile telcos, too.