LIVE FROM IFA 2016, BERLIN: Samsung tonight unveiled the Gear S3, “inspired by traditional timepieces” with features including water resistance, mobile payments (Samsung Pay), LTE connectivity and built-in GPS. However, there is no word yet on pricing or exactly when it will launch this year.
The Gear S3 is available in two designs: frontier for a “rugged, outdoor” look, and classic which has a “minimalist, elegant style”.
Younghee Lee, executive VP of global marketing, mobile communications business at the South Korean vendor, said “we expand our Gear collection and introduce not only a great smartwatch, but a great watch.” The focus of the event was indeed to showcase why watch lovers will be attracted to the device.
In fact, Samsung said it first worked on creating a great, traditional watch, and then added the tech on top of that.
Taking a swipe at the Apple Watch, Lee said the round dial presented a “circle of endless possibilities, not a square that puts you in a box”.
LTE support means calls can be made and music streamed without the need for a smartphone.
The Gear S3 is compatible with 22mm watch bands so consumers can personalise the device.
For the first time on the Gear series, Corning Gorilla Glass SR+ will be used, to provide a tougher, more scratch resistant display.
The Gear’s rotating bezel has new features: without touching the screen, users can accept or reject a call or snooze an alarm.
The S3 has built-in GPS so users can monitor fitness activities while the alti/barometer and speedometer allow users to track altitude and atmospheric pressure, sudden changes in weather, distance travelled and speed.
In case of an emergency, users can activate the SOS and location tracking capabilities even when their phone isn’t in-hand.
The full-color “always on display” is another new feature – the watch always shows the time rather than automatically fading to black, thereby mimicking the look and feel of an analogue watch.
Select apps and watch faces will be available for download directly from the Gear S3 without the need to first download on a smartphone.
The S3 also has a larger, longer-lasting battery (380mAh), with a typical usage of three to four days.
When the device needs a battery boost, a 15-minute charge in its cradle amounts to around ten hours of wear time. It will also work as a digital watch for up to 10 hours with less than 5 per cent battery life when the Power off Watch is activated.
As with Samsung’s earlier smartwatches, Gear S3 is powered by Samsung’s own Tizen platform (rather than Google’s Android Wear, for example).
Adding to the Tizen ecosystem, Samsung introduced the integration of BMW’s personal mobility companion with the new Gear S3.
With the BMW Connected app, users can check their fuel level and unlock their cars, amongst other features, directly from the device.
And for the first time ever on a smartwatch, the Samsung Knox Tizen Wearable SDK will be available to third-parties, enabling management capabilities and the development of customised applications for Samsung’s wearable ecosystem.
Samsung added that it will continue to roll out software updates and support to provide Gear S2 users with access to select Gear S3 features.
Apple, the current market leader in smartwatches, is expected to introduce its new Apple Watch 2 line-up a week from now, on 7 September, along with new phones and computers.