After a slip-up a month ago, we already knew to expect a new smartwatch from Samsung, but the details were slim. Last night the Galaxy Watch was unveiled at Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 unpacked event and it will officially be available in South Africa in September. There’s also an LTE-enabled version coming, and Samsung says the device will last “several days” on a charge… which could get rivals sweating a little.
What makes this Samsung wearable different? For starters, it’s lost the signature ‘Gear’ name that all previous Samsung wearables had, and is now simply dubbed the Galaxy Watch.
The Galaxy Watch could pose a real threat to the likes of Fitbit and Garmin, with several days of battery life thanks to a bigger battery (472mAh on the 46mm model) and an optimised processor for better low-power performance. The Apple Watch gets at most a day and a half between charges if you don’t take it exercising, and Google’s Wear OS watches tend to average about a day, too, which isn’t ideal if users want to use the sleep tracking feature… which many Fitbit and Garmin owners do.
The Gear range already offered users the option to stream Spotify from their wrists or download tracks, and that feature returns. This isn’t new, but it remains a strong differentiating feature of Samsung’s smartwatches… and the company used last night’s Unpacked event to announce it’s strengthened its ties to the Swedish streaming music giant. Samsung’s already solid health features will also gain more exercise modes, and a new stress-managing app that claims to use heart rate to determine stress levels and encourage breathing exercises if you seem like you need them.
We’ll see both versions run on Samsung’s own Tizen 4.0, which will be compatible with all Android phones, and even iPhones — if you’re into mixing your poisons. Samsung also announced a new Wireless Charger Duo, which can charge the watch and the new Note 9 simultaneously.
The Galaxy Watch will be available in two sizes, a 42mm and a 46mm (which will have the larger battery cell), with both featuring the rotating bezel that — when combined with Tizen — makes for one of our favourite wrist-worn interfaces.
Colour-wise, you’ll have the choice of rose gold, silver or midnight black, and Samsung says there are around 60,000 faces to choose from in the Samsung App Store. The Galaxy Watch will be available locally in September, and you can expect to pay R5,500 for the smaller version and R6,500 for the bigger one. There’s also a version with LTE connectivity, like the Gear S3 LTE, but we’re unlikely to see it in South Africa until local operators start offering the eSIMs connected wristables demand.