The smartwatch wars have been very interesting to watch because of just how many different concepts are out there. The first truly popular smartwatch was the Pebble, which usually retails for around $150, but was recently upgraded to a steel version for $250. Still Pebble lacks the touchscreen of something like the Galaxy Gear, but has considerably better battery life and is supported on nearly every phone out there with Bluetooth support unlike the Gear. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about smartwatches though is that you have to tether them to your phone, meaning you can’t take it with you and leave your phone behind. Let’s say you’re going out white water rafting and would rather leave your phone back in your car or a locker for safe keeping, but still want to receive texts and phone calls. You simply can’t do that with most smartwatches available because they are stuck talking with your phone via Bluetooth, which has a 30ft range in most scenarios. What if a watch was able to bypass that requirement by having its own 2G/3G GSM modem inside, allowing it to talk directly to cell towers when you want it to, and saving battery life by being tethered to your phone via Bluetooth the rest of the time? That concept is what drives the Neptune Pine, which is the latest Kickstarter phenomenon with over $800,000 pledged and was fully funded on December 21st 2013.
Now the Neptune Pine is ready to ship at the end of this month to backers, and sometime in March for the rest of the general public. What makes the Neptune Pine so special? Well really, everything. There isn’t much the Neptune Pine can’t do, and that’s because it’s an Android-powered smartphone on your wrist with a 2.4-inch 320 x 240 resolution touchscreen. This isn’t unique, as the Galaxy Gear is also powered by Android, but unlike the Gear the Neptune Pine isn’t restricted to what phones it can pair up with, and it has the power of Google Now since it runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. While the Neptune Pine has a full QWERTY keyboard, voice typing is the method of choice here given that the screen is so small, but if you want to swipe away you still can if it makes you feel better. In addition to the 2G/3G modem inside the Neptune Pine also has WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 for all your communications needs.
Then there’s the dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor inside with 512MB of RAM powering the watch, meaning multi-tasking should be a breeze, and the processor means this’ll handle anything you throw at it. The camera is a step up from what’s provided in the Galaxy Gear too, packing a whopping 5-megapixel rear-facing camera that shoots 720p video, as well as a VGA front-facing camera. Both cameras have flash too, so video chatting in the dark is possible, and VLogging your latest midnight expedition will work too. What really drives the experience here though is going to be the battery life, and the Neptune Pine is promising to fulfill all your dreams here too. It packs in a 810 mAh battery, which is considerably larger than the Galaxy Gear’s 315 mAh battery, promising over 10 hours of music playback, 5 hours of video playback, 7 hours of internet use, 8 hours of talk time and up to 120 hours of standby time. While you’ll still probably need to charge it each night to ensure a full day’s use, this should get you through the day without problems. If you’re interested in everything you’ve heard so far, head on over to the official Neptune Pine website for even more information, as well as a pre-order page so you can buy one yourself. The Neptune Pine will retail for $335 when it launches, and there are a number of accessories to be had with the watch if you so choose them.