We investigate all the latest talk and rumours
It’s that time of year again, and Samsung looks set to change its flagship smartwatch, with the Samsung Galaxy Watch set to break step from the Gear S4.
Though Samsung was expected to continue its line of smartwatches with the Gear S4 late last year, it surprised everybody by releasing the Samsung Gear Sport. And now this, along with the Gear S3, forms the front line of Samsung’s wearable army.
But just how will Samsung top things in 2018? Well, the company’s next smartwatch is likely just around the corner, and below we’ve explored just what it could look like and what features users may potentially have on their wrist when it arrives.
Samsung Galaxy Watch: Design
At this stage, as we say, there’s a strong possibility that the next Samsung smartwatch will be called the Galaxy Watch, and not the Gear S4. There’s been a steady stream of filings to suggest so, most notably a trademark granted to Samsung back in May.
Of course, the Galaxy term has been ever-present through the company’s smartphone history, and it would make some sense to tie the smartwatch line under the same banner. This is compounded by the fact that the Galaxy Watch logo was also recently filed with the Korean Intellectual Property Office, which also suggests that a release is very close.
More recently, the charger for the upcoming smartwatch seems to have been certified in South Korea, revealing the model number SM-R805 in the process. The Gear S3 was classified as SM-R760 and the Gear Sport was SM-R600, so that hints that this is the Galaxy Watch we’re looking at.
Time to lose some weight
With the Gear S3 duo still considered by Samsung to be the leader of its smartwatch army, this is likely still the reference point to judge the next design from, and not the sleeker Gear Sport.
With some sensors taken out of the latter in order to get to the final design, we wouldn’t be surprised if the next watch sat somewhere in the middle – all the same functionality under the hood of the Gear S3, but with the slimmer design of the Sport.
Earlier this year, Samsung announced mass production of its Exynos 7 Dual 7270 chipset, which is likely to power its next generation of wearables. It packs a lot of guts, including a 4G LTE modem (which didn’t feature in the Sport), into a smaller package than is currently on offer.
Speaking of specs, FCC certifications have revealed the display sizes we can expect for the Galaxy Watch. It looks like the smaller device will come in at 1.19 inches while the larger device will clock in at 1.3 inches.
Wear OS or Tizen?
Now that the name of the smartwatch is all but set in stone, the biggest question which remains unanswered is whether it will run on Tizen or Wear OS.
And things are still well and truly up in the air here, with multiple reports conflicting over the past few weeks and months. Right now, the most likely scenario appears to be that the Galaxy Watch will run Tizen, though things are complicated by continued talk of a Wear OS smartwatch from Samsung.
Whether this is the Pixel Watch and developed by Samsung, an entirely new Samsung-own watch or a variant of the Galaxy Watch running Google’s OS, we just don’t know. However, what’s becoming more likely is that, if there is another device lying in wait, it will only appear after unveiling of the Galaxy Watch.
Samsung Galaxy Watch: Features
We’ve explored the subject of blood pressure tracking in great depth, with the area presenting a big opportunity for wearable tech companies to make more elaborate methods a thing of the past, and now we know it’s something that sits on Samsung’s radar.
According to a patent filed by the company, it’s created a method that uses light technology to take a blood pressure measurement. The device in the patent refers to a Samsung Gear X, which looks similar to the Korean company’s older smartwatches, though there’s a strong chance this is a placeholder design.
The big challenge for Samsung, as with any wearable company exploring the technology, is receiving FDA approval. If it’s able to do so, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the feature pop up through the next device, though this does feel like something that’s still a couple of generations away from mass market devices.
The reason this is still on the bubble is due to a recent report, which not only indicated that the Galaxy Watch will run on Wear OS, but also that blood pressure monitoring is in store, too. We’ll find out soon enough if either turns out to be the case.
Wherefore art thou Bixby?
Samsung’s Bixby digital voice assistant launched alongside the previous generation of Samsung smartphones last year, and with its omission from the Gear Sport, we expect it to eventually replace S Voice on the Gear S4.
After all, when we asked a Samsung rep if Bixby was coming to the Gear smartwatches in the future, he said: “Definitely, Bixby is the assistant that we’re going to empower many other Samsung devices with – the watch, the TV, the fridge.”
The rep noted that there’s no specific roadmap for when the fully-fledged Bixby will arrive on wrists, but given that the smart assistant sat out of the last smartwatch, it would be a major shock if it didn’t make it onto the next flagship.
And the whispers appear to be aligning, with SamMobile reporting that the Galaxy Watch will feature Bixby. An updated version of the company’s smart assistant is also expected to be unveiled in August, which is likely set to make it onto the wrist.
Sleep tracking on the horizon
A report from SamMobile has also indicated that the Galaxy Watch bears the model number SM-800 and has the codename Galileo. And while that tells us little about the actual features of the watch, even if true, the same report also noted that the device will have a renewed emphasis on the health and fitness offerings by Samsung Health.
That also includes the company’s first dive into serious sleep tracking, which would help it level the playing field with the likes of Fitbit. It would be a long overdue addition, and also potentially points to stronger battery life, if Samsung is planning to pull sleep monitoring off convincingly.
LTE making a return
The hits from SamMobile keep coming, with the publisher also noting that an LTE variant of the Gear S4 is being developed in the United States.
The carriers for the device are rumoured to be Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, while the smartwatch is also said to potentially be coming in two different versions or sizes. This, of course, would bring back LTE after it was absent through the Gear Sport.
Whether it’s a part of the watch from the start, though, is obviously unknown – especially given the fact there could be two models on the horizon. As we saw with the Gear S3, the Frontier launched with an LTE variant, while the Classic model had to wait roughly six months to receive the same feature.
Samsung Galaxy Watch: Release date
With Samsung’s last two smartwatches, an announcement came at the end of August before a launch in November.
And while you might think that means we see the Gear S4 unveiled at IFA 2018 in late August/early September, as we’ve come to expect, everything we know from the reports outlined above suggests that the new watch will arrive alongside the Note 9 smartphone at the company’s 9 August event. A recent report from ZDNet also hints that the watch will go on sale on 24 August after its initial unveiling.
With Apple, Fitbit and Wear competitors consistently releasing their rival options in the run-up to Christmas, it would be a shock to see Samsung deviate from its now-routine launch cycle.