Yesterday, Samsung announced their newest member of the Galaxy Note lineup by unveiling their newest flagship, the Galaxy Note 3. It's a device that offers up plenty of updated specifications, new features, and even a faux leather battery cover. In fact, the front of the device sort of harkens back to old design cues, like the Galaxy S II, which is pretty interesting. Both a mix of old and new, then. All in all, the Galaxy Note 3 doesn't look terrible, even with that battery cover, and it's got plenty of hardware specs to make anyone happy in the long run.
The Galaxy Note 3 is an impressive upgrade over the previous Galaxy Note device. After all, Samsung was replacing a year-old device here. The processor, the display, the thinness, the RAM, memory options -- all of these are bonuses, and necessary updates. Samsung didn't have to revolutionize the Galaxy Note lineup -- not yet. That's probably coming next year, with a new design language.
It shouldn't be a surprise that the Galaxy Note 3 was the star of Samsung's IFA presentation yesterday. A flagship device does indeed require most of the limelight. But, there was another device on stage, too, which Samsung spent plenty of time showing off and talking about.
That'd be the Galaxy Gear "smartwatch." Or, as Samsung rightly puts it, their "wearable device." I think we're stuck calling devices like Galaxy Gear smartwatches simply because we don't have a better term for it. There's nothing else more widely accepted. "Smartwatch" took over just like "phablet" did, and there's no slowing it down.
The problem is that the Galaxy Gear, much like every other device filling the niche market, aren't "smart watches." They're wearable computers. They are miniaturized phones, minus the phone capabilities like a data or network connection. Sure, they can tell you the time, but there are some out there that make you actually hit a button to see it, and that doesn't make any sense.
I love a good watch, and that's why I'm always excited to see what a new smartwatch will bring to the table. It's also why I was so excited to see what Samsung would be bringing to the table with Galaxy Gear. The rumors had suggested quite a bit, and it's actually nice to see that many of those rumors actually panned out. However, I'll admit right now that I would have preferred to have a removable and replaceable wristband, rather than a camera. I would have preferred a display I could see in the sun without issue, or one that I knew was draining battery life every time I activated it.
That's why devices like the Pebble make sense. Their displays are meant to drain the least amount of battery, while always showing you the time. While an AMOLED display does drain less than other types of panels, it's still not the best option.
But, this is Samsung's first attempt. This is the start of something that Samsung will obviously continue with, and grow, and expand in the way that Samsung does. We'll more than likely see different versions of Galaxy Gear land in the market eventually. With different options and specs and price points.
Which is one area that Samsung has to address immediately, if you ask me. The Galaxy Gear's $299 price tag is almost ridiculous. I could already see people yelling that they shouldn't be paying more for their watch than their phone, which is understandable. Of course, there are plenty of high-end watches out there that you would pay quite a bit more for than your phone, but that may be besides the point.
Those are standalone devices. They do exactly what they're supposed to do, and they offer up customization (in the wristbands) so that you can make the watch yours. The Galaxy Gear is exactly what you get out of the box, with no customization, and it's still just an accessory. It's meant to help your phone, and you along with it. It isn't a standalone device, and the battery will only keep you updated for about a day. That's not good enough. It's definitely not good enough for $299.
Which is why I'm going to wait. I'm going to wait to see what Samsung does next to update and improve the Galaxy Gear idea. Because I will admit that the Galaxy Gear is a great idea. I love that we're getting closer to a real Dick Tracy-like watch. That's fantastic. But we're not there quite yet. So, I'll wait for the next version.
What do you think of Galaxy Gear? Is it at the right price point? Does it offer all the features you want? Are you planning on buying one later this month, or year? Let me know!