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Samsung’s new smartwatch aims to leapfrog Apple

Samsung's latest hope, the Gear S2Samsung's latest hope, the Gear S2
Samsung's latest hope, the Gear S2Courtesy of Samsung

Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNLF) is looking to leapfrog Apple Inc. (AAPL) with its new smartwatch, according to the latests details it’s released ahead of the Gear S2’s full launch.

The Gear S2 will boast what the Korean company claims is “the first ever e-SIM with voice capability”, meaning that the watch can perform function as a standalone phone–unlike Apple’s or any other smartwatch out there (watch the company’s promotional video here).

Samsung promises users will be able “to perform quick functions without being tethered to their phone.”

It’s a key moment for Samsung’s device businesses, which is struggling with loss of market share in China and elsewhere. The company has said it intends to focus more on its semiconductor division for profits in future but still has way too much capital invested in smartphones and, increasingly, wearables, to allow itself to be pushed out by competitors such as China’s Xiaomi.

As such, it’s the highest-profile launch yet of a Samsung product that runs the company’s in-house operating system Tizen, rather than Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Android. Samsung has struggled to attract app developers to Tizen so far, something that might limit the watch’s functionality until the company can build out the ecosystem to something more resembling Android’s (or iOS’s).

 

The Gear S2, launched nearly two years after Samsung’s first try at smartwatches, comes in two basic versions: a ‘classic’ darker face with black leather strap and a lighter, sportier version “for those who are on-the-go and have an admiration for minimal and modern design.”

Both versions have the same 1.2 inch diameter round face with a 360 x 360 resolution. The company estimates a typical user will only have to recharge the battery every two to three days.

Samsung is still to say when exactly it will launch the Gear S2, and still hasn’t said anything about pricing.