At a grand event in Berlin today, streaming simultaneously to New York City, Samsung unveiled three new complementary devices. Welcome the Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Gear, and the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 edition).
Kicking off the event, JK Shin, head of Samsung’s IT and mobile communication division, reminded us how Samsung created a whole new smart device category with the launch of the first Galaxy Note in 2011. Today, we have large-screen smartphone devices from rival manufacturers like Sony and the word ‘phablet’ has been added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online.
And with that evidence of Samsung’s innovation still lingering in the room, Shin breezed through the key announcements of the day in just 15 minutes.
First, he revealed the new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with colourful leather coverings and a more powerful stylus. As he went on to list more of the new phablet’s specifications, Shin received an alert on his Galaxy Gear smartwatch, thus revealing the brand new gadget with a smile and wink.
Samsung Mobile head JK Shin receives a notification from his Galaxy Gear smartwatch during the Samsung Unpacked event in Berlin
Gear is here
The rumours were true and Samsung have beaten Apple to the punch in unveiling a smartwatch. Where the Galaxy Gear differs from similar smartwatch products is that you can make and receive calls directly from the device once it’s paired with a compatible Samsung smartphone. This is thanks to two in-built microphones (for noise cancellation) and one speaker.
Samsung Mobile head JK Shin introducing the Galaxy Gear smartwatch during the Samsung Unpacked event in Berlin
Galaxy Gear also has a 1.9MP camera built in to the watch strap for a feature called Memographer that will let users quickly capture visual memos and memories. Just quickly swipe down and tap and the photo is preserved.
A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, and the Galaxy Gear can interpret these images to offer more information on a product or translate a sign written in a foreign language, for example.
Samsung Galaxy Gear specifications:
- 1.63-inch Super AMOLED 320 x 320 display
- Custom 800 MHz single-core CPU
- 1.9MP camera with BSI Sensor
- 720p HD video recording
- 4GB internal memory
- 512MB RAM
- Android 4.3
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Gyroscope, accelerometer, pedometer
Useful as it may be (particularly in weeding out those that insist on whipping their cameraphone out at every opportunity) this level of subtlety in taking photographs is stepping into James Bond-style spy gadget territory and could have implications for peoples’ privacy.
Galaxy Gear will be available in a range of six colours at launch, and the wearer’s choice can really affect how the device looks. Shin’s orange option looked like a child’s toy watch from the stage tonight, whereas head of Samsung’s research think tank Pranav Mistry’s chocolatey grey colour choice looked slick and sophisticated.
The watch is set in stainless steel but doesn’t feel heavy for it. Having tried one on for size myself tonight, I wasn’t entirely happy with how it fit my dainty wrist. Though the model appeared to have notches for adjustment, I just couldn’t make the strap budge. Hopefully this was just a display issue, though, and the strap on the real deal is in fact adjustable.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear sizing up next to a traditional wristwatch
Billed as the perfect companion to the new Note 3 – and, indeed, Samsung’s entire Galaxy range – the Galaxy Gear is not a stand-alone product, but certainly a groundbreaking accessory.
With Smart Relay, users that receive a notification on Galaxy Gear and pick up their paired device will automatically see the full text displayed there. When a call comes in, all Gear-wearers have to do is raise their hand to their ear and it’s answered. They don’t have to talk to the hand, either, as apparently the mics located on the inside wrist are strong enough that you can keep going about what you were doing while on the call. These mics also pic up voice commands through S Voice, which can be used to call friends, check weather or set an alarm.
Gear will also come with own slew of Android apps, with the likes of Evernote, eBay, Path, Pocket and RunKeeper already on board as well as Samsung’s own apps like ChatON.
At the end of the day, though, the Gear needs to serve its purpose as a timekeeper and, to ensure it will get you through the day, Samsung has equipped their smartwatch to endure over 25 hours of use on a single charge.
Samsung Galaxy Gear
New Galaxy Note 10.1
Finally, tonight, we saw the 2014 edition of the Galaxy Note 10.1. The updated 10.1-inch tablet features a WQXGA display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 and incorporates the advances to the Note 3, such as the new Multi-Window feature and Air Command.
Running on Android 4.3, inside will either be a 1.9GHz octa-core processor for 3G users or a 2.3GHz quad-core processor for LTE users.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 edition)
The new Note 10.1 follows the same design style as Note 3 with leather backing, stitching and a cerrated edge. It also comes in six colour options.
It measures just 7.9mm thick, weighs 535g or 545g depending on the model, and is equipped with an 8,220mAh battery.
Both the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear will be available in 149 countries from 25 September, reaching worldwide availability by October, while the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 edition) will arrive in plenty of time for the new year in Q3 2013.