Samsung yesterday demoed and announced its Galaxy Gear smart watch. This $300 device has a 1.63 inch, 320×320 touchscreen display, and a a 1.9MP camera in its strap. It’s got 4GB storage, and a pedometer.
On the other hand, it only works with one Samsung phone, the Galaxy Note 3, and one tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition tablet. It has ten hours of battery life.
It’s been interesting watching the smart watch product evolve in recent months. The $150 Pebble syncs with iPhones and Android phones, has seven days of battery life, and offers many of the same features as Samsung’s product. Since it’s not made by a phone manufacturer, it has to be versatile; Samsung, on the other hand, sees their device as an extension of a phone, just one phone (and one tablet). This will be an expensive combo.
But will smart watches take off? As the product started gaining traction, there were a number of rumors that Apple was working on one; that was probably all it took to get Samsung started. Who knows; maybe Apple is working on a smart watch. Maybe the rumors were just planned to get other manufacturers to spend time and money on smart watches. Or maybe Apple is just waiting to see what the others get wrong, and to come out with a smart watch that people would want to use.
Samsung’s smart watch is doomed to fail. It’s too expensive ($300 is what many people pay for phones), and it’s another device that has to be charged every day. With only ten hours battery life, it’ll certainly run out of juice when you need it.
I haven’t worn a watch in years. So I’m not the ideal customer for a smart watch. However, if I think about it, there are some things that might tempt me.
- A pedometer. I use a Fitbit One to keep track of my steps and motivate me to be more active. It’s unobtrusive, and it runs about a week on a charge.
- A device to control music playback. When I walk, I like to listen to music or podcasts. Sometimes, when I have music on shuffle, I like to skip around to find the right song for the moment. I can do this by taking my iPhone out of my pocket, but not doing that would eliminate many chances of dropping it. (I’ve actually never dropped my iPhone when walking; and it wears a case.) I can skip songs by pressing a poorly-positioned button on my Philips SHB9100/28 Bluetooth headphones, but it’s easier to see what’s coming up, rather than wait for a song to start and skip again if it’s not the right one.
- Viewing texts. If I get a text when I’m outside, and my phone is in my pocket, I generally take the phone out to read the text. With a smart watch, I could read a text more easily.
- Maps. When I’m in a new city, or looking for a store or other location, I often use Google Maps on my iPhone. It might be easier to do this with a watch, but the display might be too small for it to be practical.
- Checking the time. I do that occasionally. I haven’t needed a watch to do so in years.
The thing is, I can do all of the above with my phone (I could replace the Fitbit with an app), and a watch would just be another gadget, and one that I would notice and feel on my wrist.
I’m probably not the best candidate for a smart watch. If I did buy one, it would have to be cheap ($150 would probably be the upper limit), light, compact (and not looking like an iPod nano on a strap), and not need to be charged every day. The Galaxy Gear doesn’t fit those conditions, and above all, it requires one specific phone. In my book, that’s a fail.