Samsung today unveiled a smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, and also a new version of its Note smartphone.
The new devices were demonstrated to the media today at tech trade show IFA Berlin by the company's president Gregory Lee.
The Galaxy Gear smartwatch runs its own apps and can take voice calls, but is reliant on Bluetooth connectivity with another Samsung smartphone or tablet running the Android 4.0 operating system or above. This factor may limit the watch's appeal, and some analysts see it as a being merely a stepping stone on the road to a fully autonomous device, its release designed primarily to beat its rivals to market. Apple, Google and Microsoft are all though to be working on smartwatches.
Sony already has a smartwatch on the market that can be paired with any Android 4.0 device. Kickstarter-funded start-up Omate is working on a standalone smartwatch that will not require connection with another device.
The Galaxy Gear will go on sale on 25th September at a price of $299 (£192). It will feature a 1.63-inch (4.1-cm) screen and a 1.9-megapixel camera. It will come with 4GB of storage.
Samsung has released smartphones before without much success, but the firm's co-chief executive J.K. Shin insisted that this time it will be different, according to Reuters:
"We had smartwatch-type products before, but they were mainly for making phone calls. What's different with the Gear is it's got far more useful functions. It's usability has increased significantly and design is not bulky," he said.
At the same time Samsung unveiled a new version of its large smartphone/tablet hybrid (or "phablet"). The 5.7-inch Note 3 is lighter and thinner than its predecessor and features a 13-megapixel camera capable of taking 1080p/60 video, with some models capable of recording in 4K. There is also a 1.9-megapixal front camera and new software. The Note 3 will allow you to run two apps simultaneously using a special digital S-Pen, and is expected to be marketed as an ideal companion device to the Gear. It also goes on sale on 25th September.
A new version of the Note 10.1 tablet will be released later this year.`