As promised, Samsung unveiled a trio of new devices ahead of IFA 2013. The South Korean giant unveiled the Galaxy Note III, the 2014 edition of the Galaxy Note 10.1, and perhaps its most exciting device of the year so far – the long-awaited Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
The Galaxy Note III is bigger than the Note II, with its AMOLED display measuring 5.7”, 3GB of RAM, 2.3GHz quad-core processor, 13MP and other new features that we’ll be going into more detail in a future piece.
As for the Galaxy Gear, first off, it’s not actually a standalone smartwatch like Apple’s rumoured iWatch might be, but rather it’s been designed as an accessory to Galaxy smartphones running Android 4.3. So we’ll be comparing it with other wearable smartphone accessories like the Pebble Watch, the Sony SmartWatch 2, as well as the newly announced Qualcomm Toq.
Samsung Galaxy Gear: Stainless steel body with rubber straps integrated with camera and the speaker is integrated in the buckle
Qualcomm Toq: Has a revolutionary reflective, low-power display with wrist bands adjustable to fit wrist sizes between 6 inches and 8.7 inches.
Sony SmartWatch 2: aluminium (body) and silicon wristband or metal stainless steel
Pebble Watch: Plastic body with rubber straps
Galaxy Gear: Height 36.8 x Width 56.6 x Depth 11.1 mm, Weight 73.8g
Toq: 43.3mm x 47.6mm x 9.96mm, 90.7g
SW2: 42 x 9 x 41 mm, 122.5 grams
Pebble: 50.3 x 32 x 8.4 (mm)
Galaxy Gear: 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display, 320×320 pixels
Toq: 1.55-inch diagonal Mirasol color display, 288×192 pixels
SW2: 1.6-inch, 220×176 Transflective LCD display, 220×176 pixels
Pebble: 1.26-inch LCD, 144 x 168 pixel display black and white e-paper
Processor and storage:
Galaxy Gear: 800MHz Exynos single-core processor, 4GB of storage and 512MB of RAM
Toq: 200MHz ARM Cortex M3 based (Not Snapdragon)
SW2: No Data
Pebble: ARM Cortex-M3 processor, 2MB, 96kb RAM
Galaxy Gear: Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
Toq: Toq Runs ThreadX, Android 4.0.3 or higher required
SW2: Android 4.0 ICS
Pebble: Pebble OS
Battery and charging:
Galaxy Gear: 315 mAh non-removable cell that lasts up to a day with regular use, USB 3.0 charger
Toq: Wireless charging via the case using Qualcomm WiPower LE technology, wireless headsets also use the case for charging
SW2: 3-4 days of use with normal usage, microUSB for charging
Pebble: 140mAh, last up to 7 days with normal usage, comes with a special USB for charging
Galaxy Gear: Bluetooth 4.0
SW2: NFC and Bluetooth 3.0
Pebble: Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR and 4.0 (Low Energy)
Galaxy Gear: 1.9 Megapixel BSI Sensor, Auto Focus Camera / Sound & Shot with HD(720p) Playback & Recording
Galaxy Gear: No data
Toq: No data
SW2: Water resistant IP57
Pebble: 5 ATM, tested for both fresh and saltwater, scratch and shatter resistant lens with an anti-glare optical coating
Galaxy Gear: Galaxy Gear Manager
Toq: No data
SW2: Google Play
Pebble: My Pebble Places
Galaxy Gear: speaker, 2 noise cancellation mics, accelerometer, gyroscope, S Voice, Find My Device, Smart Relay, S Voice, Memographer, Voice Memo, Auto Lock, Find My Device, Media Controller, Pedometer, Stopwatch, Timer, ChatON, 70 partner programs at launch, including sharing apps like Evernote and Path, fitness companions like RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal, and a handful of other offerings, such as TripIt, Line, Vivino and even eBay. It also features apps such as Atooma which is a contextually aware horizontal intelligence platform that makes your GALAXY Gear smarter; Banjo which gives you the power to see what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world; and Glympse which allows people to easily share their location temporarily and in real-time, letting recipients see their movements on a dynamic map. And it has a Safety assistance feature that you can easily access in case of emergencies by pressing the power button three times continuously which triggers the device to share the user’s location information to the saved contacts with message.
Toq: Qualcomm MEMS Technologies, Inc.’s Qualcomm Mirasol display technology, a revolutionary reflective, low-power display that enables an always on viewing experience, wireless charging by Qualcomm WiPower™ LE technology and a true stereo Bluetooth audio experience, all while offering its wearer long battery life with seamless connectivity to their smartphone. Developers will be able to tap into Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc.’s AllJoyn framework to send program notifications to the smartwatch through the Qualcomm Toq app, which supports the AllJoyn Notification Services Framework.
SW2: SmartWatch 2 Host Application, Call handling (answer, reject, mute, volume handling), Call log, Missed call notification, SMS/MMS, Email, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Music remote extension/music handling, Calendar, Weather, Viewfinder, New events – aggregator, Wide range of apps available at Google Play
Pebble: 3 axis accelerometer with gesture detection; vibrating notifications, messages and alerts and easily dismiss them with a shake of your wrist; notifications include: Incoming Caller ID, Email (Gmail or any IMAP email account), SMS on both Android and iPhones, iMessage (iOS only), Calendar Alerts, Facebook Messages, Twitter, and Weather Alerts
Galaxy Gear: $299, Ships internationally in September 2013, and in October for US and Japan
Toq: About $300
SW2: About $260, Ships late September 2013
Which Smartwatch is the Smartest Buy?
The Toq looks quite stunning compared to the other watches, but it doesn’t have a camera so the $300 price tag seems steep. Though a 1.9M camera won’t do much for photo-holics, it’s nice to have one in instances when you need to snap a quick photo and whipping out your smartphone would otherwise cause you to “miss the moment.” The camera on the Galaxy Gear looks weird and I can imagine how prone to scratches and bumps it would be because of its placement. And the rubbery straps don’t do much for elegance. Some people want metal or leathery straps as it looks more formal.
Aside from lacking a camera, the Toq seems to be the best choice for an accessory device because of its wireless charging ability. When you’re done for the day, remove your watch, like you normally do when you get home or just before you sleep, placing in on its case to be charged. You don’t have to waste time finding the USB charger. The case of the Toq isn’t an eyesore so leaving it on your bedside table won’t be too much of a clutter.