Samsung launched the Samsung Galaxy Watch at Unpacked 2018 in New York last night. The event saw the confirmation of several rumours and leaks we'd previously seen, but also included a few surprises.
The Galaxy Watch has one goal, to make sure you've connected all the time. It features a long-lasting battery life, 4G connectivity (later this year), wellness capabilities and a more sophisticated design.
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Smartwatch fans - specifically, those who don’t want an Apple Watch - have endured a long wait for Samsung’s next wearable. The previous model, the Gear Sport, launched last autumn but was seen as a fitness-focused interim rather than a fully-fledged replacement for the Gear S3, which landed in 2016!
Here's everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Watch:
Samsung Galaxy Watch Release Date
The Samsung Galaxy Watch has been unveiled at Samsung's Unpacked 2018 in New York.
The Galaxy Watch is available in two versions. The Bluetooth-only Samsung Galaxy Watch is available to buy now in the UK.
While the 4G Samsung Galaxy Watch will be available in the UK later this year and EE will be the first UK network to support it.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Price
Samsung’s previous smartwatch efforts have all been aimed at the top end of the market (luxury Swiss offerings notwithstanding), for example, the Gear Sport was priced at £299 and the Gear S3 started at £349 in the UK and $349 in the US (thanks, currency fluctuations), so the new model will likely receive a similar price tag.
The Bluetooth-only version of the Galaxy Watch is priced at £279 in the UK. That's pretty reasonable!
The LTE version of the Galaxy Watch, giving the wearable its own cellular connection, means the price will be slightly higher. For context, Apple prices the Watch Series 3 from £329, but the LTE version starts at £399.
Samsung Galaxy Watch or Gear S4?
Given how Samsung calls its smartphones ‘Galaxy’, you would be forgiven for thinking that Galaxy Watch makes perfect sense for its wearable.
But a walk down memory lane reveals a complicated naming strategy; the original Galaxy Gear arrived in 2013 and ran Google’s Android Wear (now called Wear OS), then was replaced by the Gear 2, also with Android Wear.
But then Samsung shook things up with the next instalment, called the Gear S, a smartwatch which ran the company’s own Tizen operating system instead of Android Wear.
This was followed by the Gear S3 and the Gear Sport, both of which use Tizen.
For 2018, it was expected Samsung would stick to this naming convention and launch the Tizen-running Gear S4. But then rumours of a Galaxy Watch began to circulate, potentially spearheading a shift back to Wear OS and away from Samsung’s own software.
These rumours were backed up by an image published by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which shows a sketch of an upcoming Samsung wearable with the name ‘Samsung Galaxy Watch’ written across the back of its case.
Manufacturers are required to issue such images to the commission, showing where the FCC’s logo will be located.
The name was all-but confirmed in July, when Samsung itself accidentally (or perhaps deliberately...) listed a product called the Galaxy Watch on its US website, before quickly taking it down again.
Samsung has gone with the Galaxy Watch.
All of this makes us wonder what will happen to the Gear VR, Samsung’s virtual reality headset. Will the next iteration be called the Galaxy VR?
Samsung Galaxy Watch Software
The Samsung Galaxy Watch runs Tizen, Samsung's homegrown operating system, but that didn't always look like it would be the case.
The rumour mill (as always) is keen to have its say, and regular leaker Ice Universe said on 6 July that the Samsung watch will be “based on Android Wear”.
This echoed a previous claim made by the often-reliable technology tipster Evan Blass, who tweeted on 23 May that Gear watches running Wear OS, not Tizen, has been spotted on the wrists of Samsung employees.
However, on 7 June Blass replied to his own tweet to say: “Update: turns out these were actually just one-offs made by Google and seeded to some Samsung workers.” Blass’ advice to anyone excited about a Wear OS Samsung watch was: “Keep moving, nothing to see here.”
This was corroborated by a later report from SamMobile, which said the Galaxy Watch will run a new fourth-generation of Tizen. Although the software was announced by Samsung a year ago, nothing is yet known about new features or its design - Samsung will no doubt be saving these for the new watch’s big launch.
As well as Tizen 4.0, the same report claims the Galaxy Watch will come with Bixby, Samsung’s voice-controlled personal assistant and answer to Apple’s Siri.
This will bring Bixby to a wearable for the first time, usurping the S Voice system used by previous Samsung smartwatches.
There is also a big focus on fitness, and is able to automatically track your cycling, swimming, squatting or sleeping.
The smartwatch will also monitor your stress levels, and manage your calendar and appointments.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Specs and Hardware
There are two versions of the Samsung Galaxy Watch, a 42mm model and a 46mm model.
The larger model has a 1.3-inch Circular Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels. The display is full colour and always on.
It's covered in Corning® Gorilla® DX+ glass.
It features a large 472mAh battery, and fits 22mm straps. There are several colour options for the strap, including Onyx Black, Deep Ocean Blue, Basalt Grey
The smaller 42mm model has a 1.2-inch Circular Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels. The display is full colour and always on. Also covered in Corning® Gorilla® DX+ glass.
It has a significantly smaller battery, at 270mAh.
It fits slightly smaller straps, at 20mm. There are more options than the larger model, including Onyx Black, Lunar Grey, Terracotta Red, Lime Yellow, Cosmo Purple, Pink Beige, Cloud Grey, Natural Brown
Both feature Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15GHz processor and 1.5GB RAM + 4GB internal memory.
There's are two model options 4G, and Bluetooth only.
All are water resistant to 5ATM, with an IP rating of 68. That means you'll be able to take the Galaxy Watch swimming.
The Galaxy Watch is compatible with Android 5.0 or later and the iPhone 5 running iOS 9.0 and above.
- Read all about the Apple Watch Series 4, the Galaxy Watch's main rival