The Samsung Galaxy Gear is getting new digital guts, as Samsung is replacing its Galaxy wearable less than six months after launching the smartwatch, and ditching Android as well as the “Galaxy” branding in process.
Instead of running scaled-back version of Google’s mobile OS, the new smartwatch will sport Tizen, another open-source operating system similar to Ubuntu and Firefox OS. However the new Samsung Gear 2 is like its predecessor in other ways, and will feature a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED Touchscreen (320 x 320) and a 1GHz dual-core processor, along with 512GB of RAM and 4GB of on-board storage. The Gear 2 will also have a heart-rate sensor, pedometer, S-Voice support, 2-megapixel camera with 720p video, and Bluetooth 4.0 LE. Samsung claims the 300mAh battery will be good for two to three days of juice with typical usage, which is a significant upgrade from the single day users could expect from the Galaxy Gear. The Gear 2 will measure 36.9 x 58.4 x 10.0mm, weigh 68g, and will be dust and water resistant (IP67 certified).
Reviewers chided the original Galaxy Gear for its poor battery life and awkward design features, which Samsung seemingly addressed, at least on paper. The camera no longer resides on the watch strap, and the clasp seems much thinner than the original’s, suggesting that it no longer houses the on-board microphone.
Still, it will be interesting to see how the user experience changes with the move from Android to Tizen. Samsung claims the new Gear 2 is compatible with dozens of Galaxy smartphones at launch, and it supports Samsung’s “robust application ecosystem,” according to CEO JK Shin, so it’s possible the changes will be minimal.
Samsung will also be releasing a companion smartwatch dubbed the Gear 2 Neo. Both devices share the same spec sheet, but the Neo lacks a camera and weighs a scant 55g. Both the Gear 2 and Neo will be available in what Samsung calls charcoal black and wild orange, while the Neo will feature a mocha grey option, and the Gear 2 gold brown.
The two devices are expected to ship in April, with no word on pricing. Both will be on display at Mobile World Congress 2014. Please check back for a full hands-on report from the show.