You may not be able to pick up the Apple Watch in time for holiday giving this year, but rival Samsung has a high-end smartwatch that could lure techies astray this fall. The Tizen-based Gear S wearable device will be available shortly, but it won’t come cheap.
In a short announcement this week, Samsung revealed that the smartwatch will be sold by U.S. wireless carriers in the near future: “The Gear S will come to the U.S. this fall and will be available through AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. More information to come soon!”
Two of the carriers are providing a little more detailed info, like how soon they will offer the smartwatch. Potential buyers can get their first peek at the device when the Gear S hits AT&T retail stores on Friday, September 26. Unfortunately, you don’t actually get to plop down your plastic and take one home with you, just check it out. T-Mobile will make the Gear S available through the carrier’s EIP (Equipment Installment Plan) and release more details in October.
So is the Gear S worth waiting for—and should savvy buyers choose it over the Apple Watch? Samsung’s brand of wrist candy does have one outstanding feature that sets it apart from the competition—the ability to make calls and display notifications without being connected to a smartphone. It remains to be seen how much of an advantage this will be, since you can bet that anyone who’s planning to purchase a smartwatch already has a smartphone, and many of them have phones running Android.
The Gear S does come supplied with a dazzling array of goodies like a curved 2-inch AMOLED display, 1GHz dual-core processor, 512 MB RAM and 4GB storage. The smartwatch, which runs Samsung’s Tizen OS with its supply of over 1,000 apps, supports 2G, 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. A microphone and speaker are included for voice commands.
Also on board are features that coordinate with Samsung’s S Health app, like an integrated heart monitor and pedometer. Users can keep up with their running with the Nike+ app and avoid getting lost with HERE Maps. The 300mAh battery offers up to two days of power.
How much will buyers pay for all this? According to the pricing of the device in Australia, about $443 USD, but we’ll have to wait for an official figure from Samsung. Since the device is being offered through wireless carriers, will there be subsidized prices for those who sign contracts?
The big question is whether the tech-savvy consumer who absolutely must have the latest, most advanced and priciest device currently on the market will spring $400+ for the Samsung Gear S or wait for the Apple Watch to hit stores after the first of the year. Samsung has already made a substantial dent in Apple’s iPhone sales and seems poised to offer heavy competition in the smartphone field, too.