There aren’t many companies with the resources to prove that a smartwatch could work. Samsung is one of those companies that could, but unfortunately, the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch doesn’t deliver, and ultimately deserves that status we’ve given to only a few devices before (like the Nexus Q), dud. Allow us to explain.
First, the weak screen, and weak storage
Let’s start with the underwhelming screen. The gear display is a 1.6 inch AMOLED 350×350 pixel display. That comes out to 191 pixels per inch. To give some perspective, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 has an AMOLED display with 441 pixels per inch. In such a small device, that severely limits its capabilities.
As a watch, the pixel density is fine, but if people are going to be reading messages, viewing pictures, or checking email on this “smart” watch, they’re going to have to do a lot of scrolling. The fact is that a display that small, and with that few pixels simply cannot display that much text. And even if it can display a few lines of such text, they certainly will not look great.
Speaking of display, don’t plan on storing too many photos, videos, or apps (which are limited to 25). The Galaxy Gear has a mere 4 gigabytes of storage. As a point of reference, Apple’s $50 iPod Shuffle (the Gear costs $300) offers the same amount of storage, except the shuffle isn’t made to store photos or video.
Poorly Placed, Pointless Camera
When I first saw the built-in camera, my first thought was “cool! A camera in a watch”, and my second thought was “well that’s pointless”. One of the most mind boggling limitations of the Gear are that it can only shoot ten seconds of video at a time. What’s the point of ten seconds of video? Even my old 2006 camera phone could shoot 30 seconds. Not only is the measly 1.9 megapixel camera pointless, it’s actually a negative.
The Photos and videos from said camera are too large even for display on the screen.
Considering that the camera on the phone that this watch practically requires shoots full 1080p HD video, and 8 or 13 megapixel photos (more than four times the quality), there’s practically no reason to ever use this camera. It’s just dead weight.
What’s worse is that the camera being embedded in the strap means that you’re stuck with the strap or band you buy. Remember that the first real smartwatch, the iPod nano, was so popular because there were hundreds of band options that made it customizable and swappable. Some were leather, some were rubber, and there were even some metal and wooden straps.
The Galaxy Gear eliminates the choice. It is how it is unless you buy a new one. And that’s a perfect segway into our next segment of this absurd device…
The Galaxy Gear Will Not Only Break the Bank, It Will Crumble It To Pieces
The Galaxy Gear is expensive. Even by smartwatch standards. Besides the $300 phone you’re going to need to run the watch (see proprietary), you’re going to need to shell out $300 for the watch itself. $300. The Galaxy Gear’s main competitor, the Pebble, runs only $150, has more apps, and though it’s black and white, also works on any Android Phone and iOS (and even Windows Phone 8 soon).
The price is simply too high, especially with the stats this watch has. It’s a sad offering, and not one I’d even consider.
And It Locks You Up Like A Criminal (proprietary)
Perhaps the worst part of the Galaxy Gear is its’ propriety.
The Galaxy Gear only works with the newest, most expensive Samsung devices. Those would be the Galaxy Note III, and the new Galaxy Note Tablet. Support is eventually expected for Samsung phones purchased this year, but nothing more.
If you have an old Samsung phone, or a phone by any other company (Apple, Google, Motorola, LG, Nokia), this watch is a rock. It has no value because it will not work for your phone.
If You’re Looking For a Smartwatch, Look Elsewhere
There are plenty of good options on the market of wearables and smart watches. Nike’s fuelband is so excellent that Apple CEO Tim Cook wears it, there’s of course the Pebble, and Jawbone’s UP band is something that I wear personally, and that I enjoy. Just don’t buy the galaxy gear. You’ll regret it.