First Review of Samsung Galaxy Gear: New 'smartwatch' does just enough to set trend
The Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch does just about enough to set a trend – and just about looks good enough too.
As soon as smartphones arrived in a serious way, I stopped wearing a watch. My phone could tell me the time, or the clock in the bottom right hand corner of the computer screen could do the same. There was little need for a watch. It wasn’t smart enough.
Fast forward to 2013 and Samsung wants to convince every user of a smartphone that they need a matching watch. And they know that smart bands such as Nike+ Fuelband or different bits of wearable technology such as Fitbit and Fitbug are already persuading even those who don’t wear a watch that they can benefit from wearing something – counting steps or calories and even monitoring and improving how you sleep.
The Galaxy Gear is not a revolution – it’s a simple, external screen for showing you what your phone’s doing, with a little camera attached and an option to count steps too. But it’s also arrived at a happy moment – fashion allows larger watches, technology makes what it needs to do just about small enough to fit in a neatly designed package.
And this is a premium product – its high quality design makes it solid and conspicuous but not too embarrassing, especially as you can choose from a range of colours. And it means you do know whether it’s worth getting your phone out of your pocket. It makes it easier to change the track on your phone, and it makes taking a quick photo fairly easy too.
So I picture myself cycling to work, knowing there’s a message because I can hear my phone vibrating in my bag or feel it in my pocket – the watch tells me whether it’s worth pulling over.
Samsung emphasises the voice recognition capabilities of Gear – I can’t see myself using it any more than I use Siri or Google voice recognition. Engineering the speakers so you can simply talk to your wrist is a gesture I doubt will catch on for the mainstream. But something like it may well as technology evolves.
Of course the Gear will tell you the time. And look decent enough doing it, so long as you remember to charge it. It takes pictures, too, but only at a low resolution. All in all, it’s a useful evolution – better than Sony’s smart watch for instance – because it offers features I can see myself using.
And while it’s a major flaw that the Gear works only with the Note 3 for now, that will change with imminent software upgrades. It’s a start not an end. That 1.63” display is enough for a host of tasks – all of a sudden, getting my phone out of my pocket feels like a hassle. And wearing a watch doesn’t.