Samsung co-CEO J.K. Shin unveiled the smartwatch at the IFA consumer tech conference in Berlin on Wednesday, and he said the Gear will begin shipping to 140 countries on Sept. 25. The U.S. and Japan won’t get the Gear until October.
The Galaxy Gear had been highly anticipated since the Samsung is currently the world’s best-selling smartphone maker and has beaten Microsoft, Apple and Google to unveil such a device. However, analysts warned that a decision to limit the watch to working as an accessory to other Galaxy Android devices might limit its appeal.
Smartwatches are the hottest trend in tech, and Samsung is jumping into the market with the new Galaxy Gear. The $299 Gear watch is not a phone. Instead, it links up with Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets to let users know when they receive a call, text message or e-mail.
Gear, which includes a 1.63-inch watch face and runs on Google’s Android operating system, watch strap is available in several colors, from black to “oatmeal beige” to “wild orange.”
Samsung focused on features that would let users keep their phones in their pockets, or avoid having to touch either the phone or the watch altogether. Users can make hands-free calls directly from the Gear, as well as dictate e-mail, set alarms and check the weather solely with their voices. If an e-mail or text message is deemed too long to read on the Gear, users can simply open their phones and a feature called Smart Relay will display on the screen whatever was being viewed on the watch.
Samsung called the Gear a “perfect companion” to the Galaxy Note III smartphone. Samsung also revealed the new Note III on Wednesday, in addition to a new Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.
Like the Gear, both the new tablet and new smartphone will also launch Sept. 25. The Gear will be compatible with only the Note III phone for now. Samsung said after the event that it couldn’t confirm when or if other Galaxy devices will be compatible.