Thursday, August 16News That Matters

Samsung Galaxy Watch Unveiled: Here's Everything You Need To Know


The Samsung Galaxy Watch has just been revealed, alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note9, the latest smartphone from the world’s biggest phone maker. After so many leaks, both have been announced in a glitzy event at Barclays Center in New York City.

Samsung Galaxy Watch in the smaller, 42mm, size in Rose Gold.Samsung

Nobody, really nobody, puts on a show like Samsung. I’ve seen high-kicking chorus lines in a specially-conceived musical at Radio City Music Hall and eye-popping light shows in specially created auditoria in London, Barcelona and Berlin.

Today’s event stuck to the rules: massive stage, even bigger back wall screen dwarfing whoever was on stage, video effects that covered wall and floor together and a dollop of cheese in the delivery. The floor was a video screen so it could add to the effect. Curiously, it was often used to display the small print (“Bixby services may vary by country”, that kind of thing).

Samsung Galaxy Watch in the larger, 46mm, size.Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Yes, it’s not a Gear, it’s the first smartwatch with the word Galaxy in it since the company’s first timepiece, which for good measure had both words in the name, the Samsung Galaxy Gear Watch.

It’s the new flagship

If you were waiting for the Gear S4, this is what you’re getting instead. So it’s not a fitness tracker, it’s a full-on all-round smartwatch. It looks like an evolution of the Gear S3.

Size is everything

Well, sizes, in fact. It comes in two versions, one with a 42mm case, one a little bigger, 46mm. For comparison, Apple Watch sizes are 38mm and 42mm. The screen measures 1.2 inches or 1.3 inches on the larger model. Weights are 49g and 63g respectively. For comparison, the lightest 38mm Apple Watch Series 3 with an aluminum case is 26.7g and the heaviest 42mm ceramic model is 46.4g.

Samsung Galaxy Watch in Midnight Black.Samsung

Colors

Choose from Midnight Black and Rose Gold, a selection of watch faces and straps.

4G or Bluetooth

The Galaxy Watch will come in two versions, one with Bluetooth, one with 4G LTE connectivity as well. The Bluetooth one is available next week in the US, with pre-orders starting tomorrow The cellular version will come later though no date is confirmed except that it’ll be this year. Networks are being announced, beginning with EE in the UK, for instance, which means it’s the network which got Apple Watch and now Samsung Galaxy Watch first.

Wellness, Including Swimming

We know that fitness and health are important considerations for any smartwatch, so it’s no surprise that these are key elements here. Samsung says that the watch can detect high stress levels automatically and offer breathing exercises to relax the wearer. This sounds very like the brilliant Breathe app on Apple Watch which really does have an effect, though Apple doesn’t yet offer this automatically if it spots high heart rates.

As for fitness, there will be 39 workouts on the new watch including 21 new indoor exercises.

Sleep tracking is important (and my guess is that Apple Watch will have significantly improved sleep monitoring soon) and the sleep tracker claims to be able to measure four levels of sleep including REM sleep, that especially restorative kind we mostly don’t get enough of in a night.

You’ll be able to swim with the watch because it’s water-resistant to 5 ATMs, that’s 164 feet or 50 metres.

Smart Home

The Watch will integrate with SmartThings, Samsung’s smart home platform, so you can turn on lights or the TV, control the heating and more. The new partnership with Spotify may enhance the music service on the Watch, though offline playback is already possible.

Samsung Galaxy Watch in Rose Gold.Samsung

Operating system

I thought this was going to be Samsung’s first Wear OS gadget but it turns out it’s Tizen, the existing OS. This may be the reason Samsung boasted today that the watch will have 60,000 watch faces to choose from. It seems the addition of the word Galaxy is to make it a closer part of the Galaxy world of phones and tablets.

Battery life

In the keynote, Samsung only said that it would last several days between charges, but I now believe it’s up to a full seven days, though doubtless less if you opt to keep the always-on screen, er, always on.

Price

In the States, the Galaxy Watch Bluetooth (42mm) is priced at $329.99, or $349.99 for the 46mm version. It’ll be sold by Amazon, Best Buy and samsung.com. The LTE version will be available through AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and samsung.com later this year and the cost of that will be revealed later.

Release Date

It goes on sale on August 24 in the United States after pre-orders start on August 10, a week later in South Korea and several other countries in September.

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