Samsung On A Winner With Gear S2
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Over the past two years, Samsung has released six different wearables, five different smartwatches (Galaxy Gear, Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, Gear Live, Gear S) and one activity tracker (Gear Fit). None has been particularly successful.

But Samsung’s latest watch, the Gear S2, is quite different

from its predecessors. Where Samsung’s other watches failed, the Gear S2 could

succeed. If it does, it could pose a challenge to both Google and Apple.

A Gear for any Android

With the exception of the Android Wear-powered Gear Live (a

cheap, odd-looking rectangular watch that received poor reviews), all of

Samsung’s wearables have required the use of its own Galaxy phones (and in

particular, its higher-end Galaxy phones) to function.

Samsung remains the largest vendor of smartphones in the

world, but this is a significant limitation, one that may have prevented many

would-be buyers from purchasing them. Even if potential customers currently

have a Samsung flagship, they may wish to switch to a different Android vendor in

the future. To do so, however, would render their expensive Gear useless, so

they may have chosen a different smartwatch platform (like Google’s Android

Wear) or forgone the purchase altogether.


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The Gear S2, however, is device-agnostic. Admittedly, not every

Android phone will do, but if it runs Android KitKat (or better) and sports

more than 1.5GB of RAM, it should be compatible. On its website, Samsung lists

more than a dozen different Android handsets confirmed to work with the Gear

S2, including the more popular phones from Xiaomi, Motorola, LG, and HTC (among

many others).

Samsung is even exploring the possibility of bringing the

Gear S2 to the iPhone (via Digital Spy). Nothing has been confirmed or

announced, but with Google’s Android Wear now supporting Apple’s smartphones,

it’s not inconceivable that Samsung’s Gear S2 could eventually make its way to

iOS in some capacity.


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A challenge to Android Wear and the Apple Watch

The Gear S2 has been formally unveiled but won’t go on sale

until October. 

Still, early impressions of the device have been generally

positive. The Verge’s Vlad Savov praised the look of Samsung’s Gear S2, noting

that it was more beautiful than most Android Wear devices, and more watch-like

than the Apple Watch. Dan Seifert said the Gear S2’s rotating bezel was a

“joy to use” and superior to the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown.

 

The Gear S2 runs Samsung’s proprietary Tizen operating

system. That may ultimately limit the appeal of the device, as developers could

stick to more familiar platforms from Apple and Google. Samsung says the Gear

S2 will offer more than 1,000 apps at launch, but it remains to be seen how

much support it will receive long term.

 

If the Gear S2 is a success, it could pose quite a challenge

to rival smartwatch platforms. Given its inter-Android compatibility, it could

be a particularly devastating rival to Google’s Android Wear. Unless it makes

its way to iOS, its affect on the Apple Watch could be limited — but if it

proves compelling enough, it might entice some iPhone buyers to consider

switching ecosystems.

 

For Samsung, it appears that the seventh time is the charm.

 

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