Samsung walked its own path with its smartwatch programme, using its Tizen platform, rather than hopping onboard with many of its rivals who opted for Google’s Wear OS – or Android Wear as it was previously known.
Having launched the Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 in 2016, an updated take on Samsung’s wearable is expected. Here’s everything we know about it so far.
Samsung’s next smartwatch: What’s it going to be called?
- Samsung Galaxy Watch likely
- Not called Gear S4
There’s been some debate around the actual market name for the new Samsung smartwatch. For a long time it was simply called the Samsung Gear S4, following incrementally along from the previous iteration.
The first Samsung watch in 2013 was called the Galaxy Gear, before the Gear was lifted in the Gear 2 – with Gear Fit branching off – and Galaxy staying with tablets and smartphones. At the time, this was associated with the departure from Android Wear.
Rumours have suggested the new watch will be called the Samsung Galaxy Watch. It’s a great name, says exactly what it is – but it has raised another rumour – does it indicate that Samsung is returning to Wear OS for the watch?
Wear OS or Tizen?
- Weight of opinion sits with Tizen
There’s been some back and forth over this point. Samsung hasn’t suffered with the Tizen experience on the Gear watches so far, because it does its job well – within some constraints. One reason for the switch to Wear OS might be wider app support, meaning developers don’t have to work on another platform – and continued seamless integration with other growing smart home platforms and so on.
Early rumours suggested the switch to Wear OS would happen – perhaps, as we said, because of the returning Galaxy name. (Although that nomenclature doesn’t fully ring true – the Galaxy Book runs Windows – so “Galaxy” isn’t an indicator of Platform.)
Some of the first indications that it would run Wear OS came from Chinese website ITHome. Note that the author is an active Samsung leaker on Twitter, who more recently hammered the Wear OS message home with a Tweet.
Samsung Galaxy Watch design and build
- Three colours, two models
- 1.19-inch display confirmed
We expect that there will be two versions of the Galaxy Watch (SM-R800 and SM-R810), but with Classic and Frontier versions of the S3, that’s no great surprise. The source of those different versions also suggests that there will be three colours: black, silver and gold.
The best indicator of size comes from the FCC filing for the LTE version of the watch, stating that there’s a 1.19-inch display and a body that measures 51.2 x 43.4mm. It’s not a huge change from before, but this is the LTE version and the other variant may well have different dimensions. Phone Arena has used this to create some impressions of what the Galaxy Watch might look like.
The FCC has also certified a larger device, which is reported to be 48mm and have 1.3-inch display.
Samsung Galaxy Watch features
- GPS, HRM, blood pressure
- Bixby 2.0
- Samsung Pay
Smartwatches, increasingly, are aiming to do everything and leave no stone unturned in terms of features. The Gear S3 already offered GPS and heart rate tracking, so it could deliver on sports functions, but there’s reports of a blood pressure monitor joining the party too. The same rumours have been applied to the next Apple Watch, so it’s no surprise.
You can expect Samsung Pay for mobile payment, offline music via Bluetooth headphones, as well as streaming music on the LTE version – and we know that there will be big and small versions of this watch, both with LTE.
We’re also expecting Bixby to make its debut. Bixby launched on the Note 8 and has bumbled along in Samsung’s phones, generally seen as a duplication of Google Assistant. Previous Gear devices had S Voice, so Bixby makes sense, for voice control and hopefully some smarter assistance in areas.
Little else has been said about what the Galaxy Watch might offer, but that’s a fair range of features for any wearable.
Samsung Galaxy Watch release date
While Samsung has been fairly open to the suggestion that it’s the Note 9 launching, nothing has been said about the Galaxy Watch. We wouldn’t be surprised to see it announced at IFA 2018 instead (later in August), but current thinking points to an early-August announcement.