Galaxy Gear: Samsung unveils new smartwatch

The company believes its new invention will set a new trend in wearable tech

Smartphones, with their big screens and accurate clocks, have been blamed for the failing sales of wristwatches. But on Wednesday in Berlin, Samsung announced a gadget that, it hopes, will soon be decking those currently empty wrists - a smart watch.

Modern, appealing wearable tech took a step closer to reality when Samsung announced the Galaxy Gear. And the Korean manufacturer will hope it is paving the way for a whole new category of gadget with this invention.

Nobody puts on a show quite like Samsung. A hidden orchestra played highly effective background music, giant screens showed images of new products and, suddenly, black cloths fell away to double the screen size. JK Shin, Samsung's president and CEO, revealed this highly secret product in the most sideways of fashions: when talking about another phone, the screen showed an image of the smart watch as if by accident, proving it can put text message alerts and reminders on your wrist.

So far, the buzzphrase of wearable tech has been mostly limited to gadgets that are not on widespread sale, like the Google Glass headset that is turning out to be the most Marmitey of gizmos, inspiring strong reactions even from people who have never even seen one. Or the Apple iWatch which remains nothing more than rumour at present.

Smart watches could be a more palatable bit of kit than a glasses headset. There are already smart wrist bands like the Nike+ FuelBand which monitors your every step to encourage you to get fitter, but the new breed of smart watch will do much more and will work in conjunction with your smartphone or tablet.

Since big-screen phones like the Sony Xperia Z Ultra with its gigantic 6.4 inch display can be unwieldy, a smart watch will let you see who is calling without retrieving the glass slab from your bag. In fact, Sony is already working on this and releases its second smart watch this month after the first one failed to take off. Samsung will hope for better sales with its model.

The Galaxy Gear is a watch with a 1.63-inch bright touchscreen display and slick stainless steel frame. It allows you to make and receive calls (think Dick Tracy but with a brighter watch strap – actually there are six straps to choose from). Other smart watches do not do this and Samsung sees it as a real game changer. Whether anyone really wants to make a phone call by shouting into their wrist without donning a trenchcoat and trilby is uncertain.

With the Gear, the speaker and microphone are embedded in the strap so you hold your hand to your ear to make calls – though Samsung says you can move your hand wherever you like during a call.

The Gear cannot do any of this unless you have a Samsung smartphone that links it to the mobile phone network. When it is connected it can show incoming texts and messages, or remind you of upcoming appointments. It also uses S Voice – Samsung’s voice-control app similar to Apple’s Siri – so you can set an alarm, check the weather and more using voice commands.

A camera in the strap will take a photo when you swipe the screen. And the Gear has apps which add extra functionality to make sharing photos and messages easier still. A motion sensor means you can use it as a pedometer to monitor your activity. Samsung says it will change how we interact with each other.

There is no doubt that Samsung is now one of the most innovative and influential companies in the world, in any field, showing that it can execute advanced products faster than rivals and at lower prices.

Samsung has done what Apple likes to do: taken a barely established product category and made it approachable, attractive and even desirable. But how many people really want the innovations it so effortlessly delivers remains to be seen.

Hands-on verdict

For all the gimmickry of the presentation announcement, when you get your hands on the Gear, it’s pretty persuasive. Light, sleek and highly tactile, the touchscreen is super-responsive. The camera is nimble and effective. When you’re wearing it, it suddenly makes sense: it is alluring, comfortable and enjoyable. Will it storm the barricades? Maybe. And if it does not, it is clear that wearable tech is about to become mainstream. 

The Gear will be launched on 25 September, no price has been confirmed.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Data Insight Manager - Marketing

    £32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...

    Data Insight Manager

    £40000 - £43000 Per Annum plus company bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Computer Futures has been est...

    C# Software Engineer (ASP.NET, C#, CSS, Java Script, JQuery)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits, Training & Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# S...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf