Head start for Samsung in smartwatch race

Samsung has beat both its biggest rivals to produce its first smartwatch.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 07 Oct 2014
Ok, so you don’t see the likes of Chanel or Dior sending much in the way of wearable tech down the runways - but with Google poised to launch its Google Glass device, at the moment, high-tech apparel is about as on-trend as it gets.

So kudos to Samsung, which has beat rivals Google and Apple to the punch to launch its first smartwatch.

The Galaxy Gear, to be launched at the end of this month, allows users to make calls by lifting their hand to their ear (sounds uncomfortable), control it by speaking to it (sounds embarrassing), and even to take photographs using a camera embedded into its strap (sounds faintly creepy). It also features a touchscreen, for those who aren’t comfortable speaking to inanimate objects. And all for the bargain-basement price of $299 (£190).

To be fair, compared with a lot of watches that’s a snip - and it’s also a lot less ugly than your average Rolex. With a 1.2 inch screen, though, the watch will look a bit odd on those with daintier wrists - although it does feature different coloured straps. So that’s a relief.

Apparently, the device will need charging every day - although whose smartphone doesn’t? At least Samsung admits it…

Nevertheless, analysts are cautious about the extent to which it will appeal to consumers. ‘The size and styling of the Samsung watch will severely restrict its appeal,’ said analyst Benedict Evans. That said, it’s more discreet than the Google Glass, which even models can’t style out - so is likely to have even more limited appeal among non-geeks.

The Galaxy Gear isn’t the first smartwatch to be launched: Pebble Technology released its Kickstarter-funded Pebble watch earlier this year, while Sony’s £79 SmartWatch, introduced last year, has just been updated. So we know there’s a market for it.

Whether that’s a mass market, though, remains to be seen.

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