The long awaited “smart watch” a.k.a. Samsung Galaxy Gear was finally unveiled today. I have to admit that I was impressed by the quality of the industrial design and the friendly user experience, although I am not sure if I would really use such a device on a daily basis. First of all the six color versions are gorgeous and the packaging of their respective boxes are amazing (check the photo gallery). Although the size of the watch module is pretty big and would better suit a man’s wrist, the adjustable band makes it wearable by a woman with a small wrist as well (like mine).
Powered by an 800 MHz processor and featuring a 1.63-inch 320 x 320 Super AMOLED tactile display, the Samsung Galaxy Gear allows users to snap photos and short videos, record memos, access date/time/weather info, use various third-party applications including Evernote, Path, MyFitnessPal, get pedometer data, place a phone call, and more.
I had the opportunity to briefly try the Samsung Galaxy Gear and I am sharing my first impressions in this article. Check the video demo to get a good idea of how the device works.
The Samsung GALAXY Gear will be launched in more than 140 countries around the world starting from September 25.
Galaxy Gear Specifications highlights
- Processor: 800 MHz processor
- Internal Storage: 4GB Internal memory
- Memory: 512 MB (RAM)
- Display: 1.63 inch (41.4mm) Super AMOLED (320 x 320)
- Camera: 1.9 Megapixel BSI Sensor, Auto Focus Camera / Sound & Shot
- Video: HD 720p Video Playback & Recording – limited to 5 minutes video recording
- Audio: 2 Microphones (Noise Cancellation), 1 Speaker
- Connectivity: Bluetooth® v 4.0 + BLE
- Sensor Accelerometer, Gyroscope
- Dimension: 36.8 x 56.6 x 11.1 mm,
- Weight: 73.8g
- Battery: Standard battery, Li-ion 315mAh
The stylish industrial design is amazing, and the quality of the finishes is impressive. The six color models are elegant and subtle enough to be worn with any outfit. The device comes with 10 different clock options that can be selected from the settings menu.
At launch consumers will be able to choose form the following colors: Jet Black, Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold, and Lime Green. I performed the video demo with the Rose Gold version.
The 1.63 inch Super AMOLED (320 x 320) offers great contrast and excellent image quality that delivers a great viewing experience on a small surface. The touch interface is quite responsive as you can perform many of the same inputs you would on many touchscreen devices. Since there’s no physical button, users will need to swipe down from the edge of the display in a downward motion.
NFC pairing with the Galaxy Note 3
When the device is placed inside its charger module (see photo), it can be paired via NFC to the Galaxy Note 3, from which users can manage the watch’s settings and applications. Photos and videos shot with the Galaxy Gear are automatically uploaded simultaneously to the Galaxy Note 3 when both devices are in proximity.
Auto Lock automatically secures the companion smartphone screen any time that GALAXY Gear is more than 1.5 meters away from the smartphone and then unlock it when the devices are in range.
Find My Device allows to find the Galaxy Gear using the Note 3 and vice versa by making them beep, illuminate and vibrate, similar to what Apple offers with their “Find My iPhone” application.
Remote Music control
We’re sure many of you have had a moment in your life when you’re walking around, listening to music on your device and want to manipulate your phone’s music controls in order to change the track. The Galaxy Gear makes it easy to remotely control music played on your Galaxy Note 3 as all you’ll have to do is navigate your way to the “Music” application, and there, you’ll be presented with controls, information on what’s playing and volume controls. If you have a headset in, most of them have a small remote control located at its microphone, but we can see this feature getting the most use if you have your Galaxy Note 3 connected to a bluetooth speaker.
User interface principles
The main gestures used to operate the Galaxy Gear are swipe and tap, just like a smartphone. To go back swipe from the upper edge to the bottom of the screen. From the home screen, the camera application is accessible with a swipe up and the phone with a swipe down. Swipe left to see your contact list and left again to access the logs. A right swipe from the clock (home screen) will display the notifications, another right swipe and you get your Favorite apps and then the rest of the applications. During our short time with the Gear, we didn’t notice any lag in its overall UI and was very responsive.
The camera placed on the band is fun to use from this unusual shooting device. By simply swiping use you access the application, where you switch from still image to video capture from the icon placed at the upper left corner. You trigger this shutter by tapping the screen once. The gallery is accessible by swiping on the right, there a double tap allows to zoom in the picture. The menu icon located at the upper right corner gives access to the camera settings. As we mentioned earlier, if the Galaxy Gear is in close proximity with the Galaxy Note 3 and they’re connected via NFC, photos and videos will automatically be transferred over.
Voice Command and phone calls
Thanks to its built-in speaker and microphone, users can place hands free calls and using S Voice, they can speak to the Galaxy Gear to draft messages, create new calendar entries, set alarms, and check the weather. As fun as it is to swipe through the Gear, this is definitely one of the cooler aspects of the device that we feel will be used often, that is, as long as people are aware it’s able to perform all of these functions by simply using their voice.
One of the primarily function of wearable technology is the ability to “quantify yourself.” Equipped with an accelerometer and gyroscope, the Galaxy Gear is able to track physical activity and collect personal data such as calories burned, steps taken, and distance covered.
There will be 70 applications at launch, and a few third-party applications are already featured in the devices we tried: MyFitnessPal tracks nutrition and exercise; Path, the personal social network; Pocket, for saving web content to view later with text-to-speech article playback; RunKeeper, the personal trainer app; Tripit, for organizing travel plans and Vivino Wine Scanner for accessing wine information using photos of the labels.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear delivers a great user experience packaged in a stylish wearable device that may change the way people use their smartphone. Although I am very enthusiastic about this new and beautiful piece of technology, I am not sure that I would use it myself, mainly because I was always reluctant to wear watches.