The launch of the Samsung Galaxy Watch may seem like a very recent memory – it was only in August, after all – but as 2018 draws to a close it’s already time to start thinking about its successor.
Expected to be called the Galaxy Watch 2, the new Samsung smartwatch will enter a market likely still led by the Apple Watch, followed by Samsung’s own Galaxy Watch, and a wide range of smart timepieces running Google’s Wear OS. And who knows, but 2019 might finally be the year we see Google release a smartwatch of its very own, likely called the Pixel Watch.
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For now though, we’re focusing on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 – which means it’s time to check out the rumours, speculate on what the company might have up its sleeve (yup, that joke again), and discuss what we’d like to see.
With T3 declaring the Galaxy Watch as the best smartwatch for Android users, and Samsung’s best-ever, its replacement has a lot to live up to.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 release date
Given Samsung launched the Gear Sport in August 2017 and the Galaxy Watch in August 2018, there’s a strong chance that its next wearable – likely called the Galaxy Watch 2 – will land in August 2019.
More specifically, the wearable could well arrive alongside the next Galaxy Note smartphone – just like the Galaxy Watch did in 2018. If Samsung sticks to a similar timeline in 2019, we can expect the watch to launch in early-August, then going on sale towards the end of the month.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 price
When Samsung revealed the Galaxy Watch it was priced from £279 for the 42mm version and £299 for the larger 46mm model. Although there have been no rumours or leaks about price just yet, we expect the prices of the Galaxy Watch 2 to be similar. That way, Samsung gets to comfortably undercut the Apple Watch Series 4, which starts at £399.
Pricing itself that far below the market leader is a smart move and one we hope to see Samsung replicate in 2019, although it shouldn’t be too afraid of stretching the Galaxy Watch 2 range by adding a feature-laden cherry atop its cake.
Given Android users can’t even use the Apple Watch, there’s surely a gap in the market for Samsung to offer a £399 flagship to take on Apple directly.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 design and hardware
It’s fair to say we weren’t entirely blown away by the design of the original Galaxy Watch. Which is a shame, because the rotating bezel works well with Samsung’s Tizen operating system – it’s just the case itself looked a little too bulky, and wasn’t as comfortable on the wrist as Apple’s alternative.
This is a subjective view, of course, and if you prefer your smartwatch to look like an actual watch, then Samsung’s offering will be more up your street than Apple’s, thanks to its round face, rotating bezel, buttons at two and four o’clock, and the ability to fit any regular strap.
No leaks have broken cover just yet, but we suspect Samsung will stick to a similar design brief with the next Galaxy Watch. There is likely to be a round face and a rotating bezel for navigating Tizen, but a slimmer and more premium-looking case would be greatly appreciated.
That said, we think Samsung will stray away from LG’s approach with the Watch Timepiece, where mechanical hands sweep over a digital display. Given how the Tizen operating system shows icons around the edges of the display, we think physicals hands would obscure too often to be a useful addition.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 software and features
This is where Samsung could make a big change, in switching from its own Tizen software to Google’s Wear OS. Such a move was widely rumoured through 2018, but in the end Samsung stuck with Tizen for the Galaxy Watch. If this changes for the second edition, then perhaps the rotating bezel will also be shown the door.
There’s no evidence to confirm this move just yet, but if it did make the switch then Samsung smartwatch buyers would be treated to an operating system with more third-party applications than is offered by Tizen.
Whichever OS Samsung goes for, we can be sure that the Galaxy Watch 2 will pack a wide range of health and fitness tracking features - either through its own Samsung Health app, or with Google Fit. This will see the watch identify and track a broad catalogue of sports, exercises, and other activities like walking and yoga.
Features like a heart rate monitor and NFC for contactless payments will surely make a return. Plus, given the life-saving claims Apple is making about the ECG feature of the Watch Series 4, we can expect to see Samsung counter with some advanced health tech of its own.
But whether this will be medically-certified (as the Apple Watch is in the US at the time of writing) remains to be seen. Either way, you can bet your bottom dollar Samsung wants in on the burgeoning med-tech party.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 2: What we want to see
Samsung got plenty right with the original Galaxy Watch, but we still think there is much it can improve upon for the next model.
Offering a better Bixby is an obvious suggestion, since the voice assistant was useless on the first Galaxy Watch.
We’re tempted to suggest Samsung ditches the idea of a watch-based assistant entirely, but since Siri on the Apple Watch and the Google Assistant on Wear OS devices will doubtless improve in 2019, Samsung’s going to have to up its game. Bixby needs to understand us much better, and actually display its answers to our questions on the screen, instead of endlessly telling us to check our phone instead.
Digital wellbeing is going to be a hot topic in 2019, with Apple, Google, Facebook and others all making headway in curbing our smartphone addictions in the last 12 months, with features like iOS’ Screen Time.
For next year we can see this extending to smartwatches, which will use their heart rate monitors and other sensors to track our stress levels, then suggest we take a few deep breaths when things start getting hectic. Smartwatches in 2019 are going to be more than fitness coaches - they’re going to be our lifestyle coaches too. To that end, more advanced sleep tracking would be welcome.
Also on our wishlist is - as we mentioned earlier - a slimmer and more attractive design which makes the Galaxy Watch 2 look and feel more luxurious. We want it to feel more like a piece of fashion than the prop from a dated sci-fi movie, yet still pack all the tech for when we need it. It’s a tall order, but Apple has struck this sweetspot, so Samsung needs to follow suit.
Another area where Samsung could benefit from a glance at Apple’s homework is in competitive fitness tracking, where you can set up friendly rivalries with your contacts to see who can walk or exercise the most each day.
As always, T3 will have plenty more to share on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 as leaks and rumours swirl through 2019 and up until its expected launch sometime next summer.