The Apple vs. Samsung rivalry will largely play out in the smartphone market this year. Samsung has just announced its new flagship Galaxy Note 8. Apple is expected to launch the 10th anniversary iPhone 8 and third-generation Apple Watch next month. The competition between two of the world’s largest electronics companies is set to intensify in the wearable market as well with the launch of Samsung Gear Sport next week.
Samsung Gear Sport to be announced on August 30
The rumor mill was expecting Samsung to announce the next-gen Gear smartwatch alongside the Galaxy Note 8 earlier this week. But that didn’t happen. Samsung’s mobile chief DJ Koh has now confirmed to CNBC that the new wearable devices would be unveiled on August 30th at the IFA conference in Berlin. There could be more than one device, the second one being a new Gear Fit 2 Pro.
The refreshed smartwatch will likely be called Samsung Gear Sport rather than Gear S4, suggested multiple images leaked in South Korea. It is said to feature a heart rate monitor as well as GPS. The 2016 Gear S3 was an LTE-connected independent model, so we expect the new Samsung Gear Sport to offer the same independence. Users should be able to fully operate it even when their phone is not around.
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From images, the Samsung Gear Sport looks similar to the Gear S3 with a round display. Its model number is SM-R600. The device runs Samsung’s custom Tizen 3.0 operating system. The Gear Sport has cleared FCC certification, which indicates that its release is imminent. The Korean electronics giant said earlier this month that it was working on a new wearable device that combines the best of Gear S3 and Gear Fit 2. It will be both a smartwatch and a fitness tracker.
Korean media claims the Samsung Gear Sport would offer water resistance up to a depth of 50 meters (about 165 feet). You can go swimming without having to worry about damaging your smartwatch.
Gear Fit 2 Pro to cost $200
Samsung will also launch a new Gear Fit 2 Pro along with the Gear Sport at the IFA trade show. The new Fit 2 Pro would have the same screen size and resolution as its predecessor, which came with a 1.5-inch display and 432 x 216 resolution. Samsung had accidentally put the Fit 2 Pro product page on its Malaysian website, which was first spotted by reliable tipster Evan Blass. The company has since removed the listing, though.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) August 23, 2017
Blass also revealed that the Gear Fit 2 Pro would cost $200 in the United States. Samsung has confirmed that the fitness tracker would be water-resistant up to a depth of 50 meters. It will also come with a new strap design and a Speedo app for swimmers. The Fit 2 Pro is said to have a 200mAh battery that is supposed to last four days on a single charge.
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro pricing at a big box retailer in the U.S… pic.twitter.com/u9xNUKV8Zl
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) August 20, 2017
Can Apple Watch Series 3 weather Samsung’s Gear storm?
Samsung’s new wearable devices are expected to go on sale soon after the announcement. It means the upcoming Apple Watch will not get a free ride. The next-gen Apple Watch will not change much in terms of design, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. It will debut in the same 38mm and 42mm sizes as its predecessors. However, Kuo claims Apple will add LTE connectivity to the Series 3 Apple Watch.
The upcoming Apple Watch is said to be available in LTE and non-LTE variants. Of course, the LTE model will be more expensive than its non-LTE sibling. The LTE connectivity will allow users to unshackle their Watch from the iPhone. They will be able to stream music, send text, and download apps on their wearable device even when the Watch is not attached to an iPhone.
Kuo recently told investors that Apple was in talks with major US carriers including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint to support the LTE Apple Watch. The Cupertino company has already confirmed that the watchOS 4 will be released to the public this fall. Data plans for the Apple Watch 3 are rumored to be similar to plans for the LTE iPads.
Since it will have an electronic LTE SIM, you won’t be able to turn your Watch into a phone. But you should still be able to use VoIP services such as FaceTime Audio. The LTE support will limit the number of countries that will get the LTE Apple Watch. We can expect it to launch only in countries with widespread LTE coverage. Markets that still largely rely on 3G would be out of luck.
Apple wants to sell Apple Watch to Aetna customers
TechCrunch reported earlier this month that Apple was in talks with Aetna to bring its wearable devices to 23 million customers of the health insurance company. If the deal goes through, it would be a major milestone in the journey of Apple Watch, which is increasingly becoming a health and fitness device. Aetna already offers the Watch to its nearly 50,000 employees.
Offering Apple Watch to more than 20 million customers will give Aetna access to tons of health data as well as insights into the activities of its users. It may go against Apple’s promise to protect customer privacy. It will be interesting to see which way the deal goes.