back to article Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch

Samsung's Gear S appears to have pipped Apple's iWatch to the post. The South Korean firm today announced the release of a wearable smartwatch capable of making phone calls... and turning weedy wrists into computing powerhouses. The Samsung Gear S comes complete with 3G, a two inch curved Super AMOLED display and as well as …

  1. 1Rafayal


    1. DrXym Silver badge


      A better question - why should it even matter?

      If the watch communicated with other devices using open protocols then it shouldn't matter a damn what the watch or the other device was running.

      But Google, Apple, Samsung et al all want to smart watches to tether to their phone operating systems and their services. So now the "smart" watch is just a dumb terminal onto a specific brand of phone or phone OS.

      And that's on top of other problems these devices have like displays which have to turn off to conserve power.

  2. Fair Dinkum

    Excited? Not really. Doesn't look too stylish IMHO, and two days on baettery? jeez...

    1. dotdavid

      To be honest I'm not that bothered about battery. As long as it easily lasts a full day (day and a half in case of a very early start and late night), it'd probably get charged overnight each night like my phone does anyway.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Excited? Not really

      I was when I got a Sony Smartwatch freebie.

      The excitement lasted less than a minute, as my other half mocked me relentlessly for wearing such a stupid thing.

      It's sat un-loved in a drawer ever since :(

  3. Ian K

    "a battery life of up to two days"

    If that's the best they can do for battery life then what's also needed is wireless charging plus a family of chargers that are built into everyday items you tend to have your watch hand next to. Mouse mats, steering wheels, that sort of thing.

    Of course, Apple's probably patented that idea already...

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: "a battery life of up to two days"

      Why not charge as you move using Seiko Kinetic or Citizen Eco-Drive?

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: "a battery life of up to two days"

        "Why not charge as you move using Seiko Kinetic or Citizen Eco-Drive?"

        Because a Seiko Kinetic or Citizen Eco-Drive uses much less power than a 'smart' watch. By at least an order of magnitude and maybe even 2 orders. WiFi and colour display are both hogs for battery life.

        1. silent_count

          Re: "a battery life of up to two days"

          I wonder if any of the manufacturers have given serious thought to using an e-ink display for their smart watches.

          A display which uses little power would seem like a natural match for a device which has to have a tiny battery.

        2. BillG

          Re: "a battery life of up to two days"

          These first wearables use off the shelf semiconductors that do more than needed and so draw more power. ***IF*** these devices become popular, custom chips designed specifically for wearables will be made with the proper functionality and longer battery life.

  4. dotdavid

    Not sure why you need a SIM in a smartwatch. Since most of us carry a phone around anyway (wouldn't like to, say, read El Reg on a tiny watch screen), why can't it just use the data connection of that phone like other smartwatches do? And (inspector gadget aside) is anyone really going to talk to their watch through a phone call?

    1. James 100

      From the "3G call" and "Bluetooth call", I'm guessing it can be used to make phone calls using a Bluetooth headset. Combine that with the ability to read email, I might actually find this a useful alternative to carrying a smartphone everywhere ... I could carry a tablet instead, for example.

      A two day battery life for a wrist-mounted smartphone doesn't seem so bad: just charge it each night, like most of us do with regular smartphones now.

      I'll keep an eye on this, anyway: it could well be good for most of the things I use my phone for now, with a tablet better suited for the rest anyway. Yes, writing an email on it would be silly - but really, so's trying to write one on a phone, IMO, the keyboard really isn't big enough in either case.

      1. Joe 48

        I had a gear 2 for a week and although I'd never talk to it walking down the street it worked really well in the car. Easily on par with the built in car system.

        Tizen was limited, and its questionable how long Samsung will keep pushing it, but at the moment its still more feature rich than Google wear imo.

        I don't get everyone harping on about batteries. If it doesn't work for you charging every day they buy a regular watch. Its like certain phone haters complaining about the lack of SD card slots. If thats an issue find another device that has those features!

        Wearable tech is here to stay imo. I'm looking forward to some better designs.

  5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Battery life

    To be honest, the important thing is that it's more than 24 hours - which means that the charger is on the bedside table, next to the smarrtphone charger. When you have a wear-all-day device that runs out in less than a day (Glass?) then you have a major useability problem.

    Still can't really see why most normal people would want one though.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Battery life

      I didn't see wireless charging built in though. Would have made sense for a watch to have wireless charging. Not sure on the range of wireless charging either but if you could get a few inches then a wireless mat at a desk might be good too.

      Seems like you could use a watch for your phone and a tablet for other duties if you so wished.

  6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Battery life

    which is pretty measly considering that real watches last months

    Yes, but how many of them have screens and radios? In that case 2 days is pretty damn good assuming the screen is always on. Might be nice to have one that supports motion-based charging (like my Seiko does) but you probably need some serious wrist action for enough charge!

    Down the road I can see solar cells embedded in the screen being used to boost battery life.

    Of all of the watches like this I've seen so far this looks by far the best. Still don't think I'll be getting one, though.

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: Battery life

      "Might be nice to have one that supports motion-based charging (like my Seiko does) but you probably need some serious wrist action for enough charge!"

      With sufficient data bandwidth and the right demographics that may be a self-solving problem...

      1. firu toddo

        Re: Battery life

        If you get enough wrist action the jerky video would really be jerky! Probably too jerky to promote the required wrist action.

        Unless the jerks were synchronised................

  7. Tsung

    Time on my phone, time on clock at work, time on my computer screen. I haven't bothered wearing a watch for many years. Nowadays, watches are mostly novelty fashion item. Couldn't really see a need for this one (or the apple one if it exists).

    Maybe if the watch can monitor for medical conditions and notify emergency services if needed. (eg. the wearer is having a heart attack, or stroke) it might be worthwhile. I certainly wouldn't wear an expensive watch for exercise.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      " I certainly wouldn't wear an expensive watch for exercise."

      Iff it can do standalone navigation (as per OSMand for example) then I would -more convenient than a Garmin or similar. For that matter the BT4 would pick up a cadence sensor and the watch does HR itself. It would be a nice device. I'd get one...

      1. Andy Gates

        Hold your horses on the HRM until it's tested; I'm told by the nice folks at Runkeeper that these devices aren't doing continuous HRM with their optical sensors as it's a battery hog. Might be some trickery needed before they're ready for a lazy parkrun round El Reg Towers.

  8. chr0m4t1c

    That's some serious spin.

    “Samsung is leading this exciting and rapidly developing wearable category through progressive innovation,”

    Or by being one of the few manufacturers making smart watches. Take your pick.

    Having a dig around, it looks like Samsung has a significant lead in the US (78% of the userbase, compared to Pebble's 18%) and a reasonable lead worldwide (where the figures are 34% and 6%). But that's from a total userbase of three million, which isn't a lot of people when you consider the potential market and the fact that the major competitors (lets say Motorola, LG and Apple) haven't entered the market yet. If any one of them ships a product that sells well, Samsung could be quickly overhauled.

    “The Samsung Gear S redefines the idea of the smart wearable and the culture of mobile communication."

    I'm not seeing anything that looks like a redefinition in the specifications. Anyone care to elaborate?

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: That's some serious spin.

      > Anyone care to elaborate?

      Unless I've missed something, all the "smart" watches now are just dumb extentions to a smartphone. This one is an autonomous device. That's a pretty big difference. Both have 2 wheels but a light trailer is not the same thing as a motorbike.

    2. Pristine Audio

      Re: That's some serious spin.

      >I'm not seeing anything that looks like a redefinition in the specifications. Anyone care to elaborate?

      It's a phone. You don't need to carry a mobile.

  9. thomas k.

    ... some serious wrist action

    Charlie, WTF!!!

    What?! I'm just charging my phone!

  10. IHateWearingATie

    Getting there with the looks...

    ... from the pics in the article.

    I don't want a black slab like the LG one recently released. Something that looks like a watch and can show me the time and notifications from my phone (and maybe so some of that new fangled step counting or whatever) is good enough.

    Hopefully the iWatch will show Samsung et al how to really do it, so they pull their finger out. I've an Android phone, so need someone other than Apple to create a watch that i want.

    1. GregC

      Re: Getting there with the looks...

      For me the Moto 360 is by far the best looking of these - maybe a bit on the big side from the pictures I've seen, but it looks properly nice. To me, anyway. If they'd get around to actually selling the damn things I'd consider getting one....

  11. Bob Wheeler

    Getting old..

    /grumpy mode on

    I must be getting old as it was not that long ago when a PC with that kind of spec (apart from the screen) would have seemed to be top end......

    /grumpy mode off

    1. no-one in particular

      Re: Getting old..

      ...and the battery life on said PC was way less than two days.

  12. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

    Battery life

    While I agree that 2 days battery life is p***-poor for a watch, this isn't really a watch - it's a miniature smartphone.

    Thinking of it like that, a 2 day life expectancy for a tiny battery is actually quite impressive - probably longer than I can expect from the (much larger) standard battery in my smartphone in normal use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Battery life

      That's probably two days on standby, I doubt you'd get even two hours out of it on a call.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Battery life

        or hotspotting for your tablet.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This seems to be a complete phone, not just a smartwatch

    Given that this thing has GSM specs it seems to be more than a smartwatch - it's a full phone.

    In that context, a battery life of 2 days beats the bejeezes out the smartphones I have - only the old trusty Motorola v3i I still have goes further with one charge..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This seems to be a complete phone, not just a smartwatch

      That battery is only 300 MaH, or about 10% of the size in a S5. During a call, the battery drain would be the same, so it will last about 10% as long as a S5 would on a call - what's that, maybe 10 hours or so? So I'd give it about an hour on a call before the battery runs dry. But I doubt they consider that an issue, because people who are on long calls or call often aren't going to be using a wristphone anyway.

  14. Anonymoist Cowyard

    waiting for the android wear version

    As clearly tizen is almost as dead as windows phone.

    1. yowl00

      Re: waiting for the android wear version

      Last I saw WP share was rising, at least in the UK.

  15. Lamont Cranston

    Kind of looks like a tiny, bent, iPhone.

    Sorry, I mean a tiny, bent, Galaxy S#.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kind of looks like a tiny, bent, iPhone.

      Exactly my thoughts. Looks exactly how I'd expect the iWatch to look, but with a rectangular button instead of a circle... Great timing too if the announcement of the iWatch in 2 weeks is to be believed. Great way to steal their thunder and Samsung probably have a fair idea of what the iWatch will look like

  16. The elephant in the room

    It's got to be a wind-up...

    2 days of power for a watch was once OK, but they could be recharged in less than a minute with a bit of knob-twiddling. These smart watches look big enough to house a fairly substantial spring.

    An LCD matrix or eink would surely extend the battery life. Or maybe a Swiss watchmaker will take some time out from making tasteless footballer bling and go completely steampunk with a micro-mechanical display!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least.....

    It is running Tizen and not googles spyware. Still has no use case though.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is the problem with Samsung, releasing a new model every few months. Put more effort into it, release one a year. Simple.

  19. Mark York 3 Silver badge

    Find My Device

    It's on your wrist.

    I'm not getting my coat, I'm looking for my watch............

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two days is not enough

    You carry your phone with you, so you can charge that nightly. But a smartwatch that is doing health tracking, including maybe sleep cycles, is not something you should be forced to remove every night and put back on in the morning. I think the battery life needs to be a week to really be fit for purpose.

    Adding 3G capability to a watch is stupid. It should have its own GPS antenna so you don't need to bring your phone with while on a run or whatever, but 3G - especially to make calls - is just stupid. Watches only need bluetooth, and can communicate with a nearby phone or computer for everything else they need.

    If they had made this 30 years ago it would have been a wild success, because the generation that grew up with Dick Tracy would still be young enough to think talking into your wrist was cool!

  21. Dave, Portsmouth

    Apple Fan... But I like it!

    So, most of my stuff is Apple. And the previous "smart watches" have all been pointless for me. But this one... we're getting there!

    So they've removed the screws from the front, which is a definite bonus. But mainly I like the fact it's got GPS, wifi and Bouetooth - means I can use it while out running to keep track of where I've been, hopefully via NikePlus show me a current time / pace / maybe even a little map if I get lost. Bluetooth means I could use it with some bluetooth headphones for music. And wifi means it can hopefully synchronise itself online when I get home, without needing to faff syncing it to the phone first or anything like that. Sounds ideal!

    Just needs to be a tually proven to do all of that stuff, for the battery to last long enough to use NikePlus or Bluetooth music for a good few hours each, for it to sync seamlessly with my contacts, music, etc, and for it to be cheap! Problem with my usage is that I'd only wear it for running, cycling and a few other bits - so don't want something too expensive! Oh, and waterproof would be good too!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple Fan... But I like it!

      Sounds like you want a garmin forerunner watch or similar...

      Can understand people using their phones if not wanting to by a gps running watch, but once you decide on getting a gps watch, the usual suspects seem so much better than a generic smartwatch that you could use for running tracking too.

      Can understand the sleep tracking angle of a wearable for the fitness/health angle, but all the other movement trackers etc to me just seem like desperate attempts to pat yourself on the back for having moved somewhat during the day without actually exercising.

      Than you can count some extra calories into your daily requirement, have that extra treat and a few weeks later wonder why you still haven't lost weight and buy the next miracle gadget that will solve that issue for you.

  22. We're all in it together

    My friends already know I'm weird

    But standing with a watch against my ear talking into it will get me sectioned. Mind you if it's cheap enough I'll by three and a half of them to enable a weeks use.

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