Samsung Electronics unveils its first smartwatch

28 August 2014

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd today unveiled what it said was the first smartwatch capable of making and receiving calls without a mobile phone nearby.

The world's biggest smartphone maker intends to develop its wearable devices to counter declining earnings in its mobile division, which led to weaker-than-expected second-quarter earnings.

Samsung is, however, not the only company pushing wearables, which are yet to catch on with consumers.

Rival Apple Inc's own device is set to is set to launch this year and LG Electronics Inc today announced its new G Watch R smart watch with a  circular plastic OLED screen, a stainless steel frame and leather strap.

Samsung's new smartwatch, the Gear S, comes with a bigger 2-inch (5 cm) curved display and has features like WiFi connectivity, pedestrian navigation and a built-in GPS. The device would run on Samsung's nascent Tizen operating system.

According to Samsung, the Gear S would start selling from October. The company however offered no details on pricing or where it would be available.

The company said its G Watch R would launch in key markets in the fourth quarter. It offered no indication of a price.

The new smartwatch comes as the company's sixth wearable announced within the last year, a trend started last year with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch introduced alongside the Galaxy Note 3.

The new Gear S however, can be said to be the company's most fashionable device yet, with its large, curved 2-inch Super AMOLED display.

The watch, powered by the company's Tizen operating system and not Google's Android Wear, also comes with a heart rate sensor that works with Samsung's S Health app.

It also provides turn-by-turn directions through Nokia's Here maps service. The Gear S uses Bluetooth to connect to users' phones, but the device also features Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity to allow users to respond to messages or forward calls to their wrist when they are not carrying their phone.

According to the company, the device, which is water and dust resistant, would get about two days of battery life.

According to Samsung, the new smartwatch would be available globally in October, though exact pricing and release dates were not announced.

Rival LG's G Watch R is its second smartwatch after it launched the original G Watch in summer. While the company, along with Samsung, was among the first to release an Android Wear device, the G Watch's blocky design looked rather dull against Android Wear devices like the Moto 360.

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