Well, the Galaxy Gear is finally official, as Samsung took the stage in NYC to take the wraps off its third-generation Note (which is awesome) and its first smartwatch, and at least on paper and in Samsung’s demo, the Gear is looking to be quite a good product. Initially, it will only pair with the Galaxy Note 3, with updates at a later date adding support for the Galaxy S3, S4, and a few other devices.
The point of entry into the Gear is the 1.63″ Super AMOLED display, which sports a 320 x 320 pixels resolution as expected and complements the nice design of the watch. On the strap you’ll find a 1.9-megapixel autofocus camera capable of full HD recording and macro mode, twin microphones with noise cancellation, and a speaker.
When it comes to the internals, the Gear is powered by a single-core 800MHz Exynos processor (yes, folks, no quad-core), 512MB of RAM, 4GB storage, and a 315mAh battery that comes with a dedicated charger cradle and is supposedly give all day battery life. There’s Bluetooth 4.3 LE, a gyroscope and accelerometer, though no cellular, Wi-Fi, or GPS radios.
The software is the most interesting part of the Gear, and Samsung has managed to cram in a lot of functionality. In idle mode, it will show off either an analog or digital clock (with 10 pre-loaded options), after you wake it up by tapping the power button or bringing it up towards your face. A swipe down will take you to the camera, a swipe up will open the dialer, and sideways swipes will take you through all the apps. Reading a message or notification on the watch? Pick up your phone and that message will automatically show up.
Speaking of apps, the Gear has a pedometer app that tracks movement and reports it back to the Note 3’s S Health app, and other third-party apps like RunKeeper will also support the watch. S Voice is inbuilt, and will initially offer support for creating alarms, dictating messages, loading apps, and a few other features, though you’ll need to have your phone connected to a data connection. There are contacts and call log apps as well, and a two-finger tap on the screen will show Bluetooth, time, battery and other status, and you can also control the media playing on your phone through the watch.
To manage the Gear, the Gear Manager app will be installed on the Note 3, something we’d seen earlier in a leaked screenshot. It will allow users to install mini apps on the watch, connect to it via NFC, and let you find the watch using the “Find my Galaxy Gear” option, which will ring it as long as it’s within Bluetooth range.
The Galaxy Gear will go on sale from September 25 for $299 alongside the Galaxy Note 3 in over 140 countries. It will be available in some rather attractive colors, including Jet Black, Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold, and Lime Green, though the strap isn’t exchangeable so you will have to give some consideration to the color you want before placing an order.
The Galaxy Gear had a lot of naysayers during the time of leaks, rumors, and speculation, but Samsung has created a much better product than anyone was expecting, with a great looking design. As a companion to your smartphone, it seems to have all the right ingredients, even though final verdict will only be possible once we get to live a few days with the Gear on our wrists.
What do you guys think? Did the Galaxy Gear impress, or were you expecting something more?