x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch priced at $299

Featuring a 1.63-inch screen and 1.9-megapixel camera, the Gear, which was unveiled at the IFA show in Berlin, will go on sale on September 25.

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Gear smartwatch at the IFA show in Berlin. Gero Breloer / AP Photo
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Gear smartwatch at the IFA show in Berlin. Gero Breloer / AP Photo

Samsung set the price of its Galaxy Gear at US$299 as the biggest maker of smartphones beat Apple in unveiling a wristwatch device that can make phone calls, surf the Web and take photos.

Featuring a 1.63-inch screen and 1.9-megapixel camera, the Gear will go on sale on September 25, Shin Jong Kyun, the head of Samsung's mobile business, said at the company's headquarters in Suwon, South Korea. The device syncs with tablets and smartphones using Googles Android software to make phone calls.

Samsung showed the Galaxy Gear yesterday at IFA, Europe's largest consumer-electronics show, as it races Apple and Sony to carve a share of the market for wearable technology amid slowing growth in smartphones. The first companies to sell devices that multitask could lock customers into their platform and boost device sales, with researcher Strategy Analytics expecting 500,000 Galaxy Gears to be shipped this year.

"Device makers like smartwatches because they are personal devices that are highly visible to consumers," Neil Mawston, an executive director at Strategy Analytics, said. "If you see your friend wearing a cool smartwatch on their wrist, you will probably want one, too."

The Gear weighs 74 grams, is available in six colours - including orange, gold and lime green - and has an ultra-thin screen using organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, technology. Sales will begin in 140 countries, with the US and Japanese debut in October.

The device has a fitness tracker and works with about 70 applications, according to Samsung. It has a 4-gigabyte internal memory and 512 megabytes of RAM. It links wirelessly to a user's smartphone. Samsung unveiled the Gear at a tented event in central Berlin, away from IFA's giant halls, to thousands of attendees.

A built-in speaker enables hands-free calls from the Gear while voice recognition features allow users to draft messages, set alarms and check the weather.

Samsung rose 1.9 per cent in morning trading in Seoul. The stock has dropped 10 per cent this year compared with a 2.4 per cent decline for the benchmark Kospi index.

Apple has a team of designers working on a watch-like device, two people familiar with the matter said in February. The company sought trademark protection for the "iWatch" name in Japan, according to a June 3 filing.

Sony already has its Smartwatch that syncs with Android handsets. The Smartwatch 2 will reach stores this month, and can be used as a second screen for the Xperia Z1 smartphone, Sony said yesterday at IFA.

"We expect Samsung Galaxy Gear to sell reasonably well, but it is most likely to be Apple that catalyses the smartwatch industry," Mr Mawston said. "Apple should be able to blend the iWatch into its iOS ecosystem in a much tighter way than the fragmented Android community."