The Samsung Galaxy Gear S might be considered as the smartwatch to rule them all, if at least for 2014. Whereas Google's Android Wear smartwatches are designed to absolutely and unequivocally exist in a partnership with an Android smartphone, the Galaxy Gear S has it's own networking radios onboard, so has less of a need for a companion device. And now Samsung's PR blog has published an unofficial review of the product: this isn't written as a proper review of the smartwatch but instead within the Samsung product vacuum, but it contains many interesting snippets of information. And let's face it, Samsung have a habit of looking at what the other guy is doing and bringing their own flavour to the market, with cherries on top. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The Galaxy Gear S is Samsung's sixth (yes, count them, six) wearable piece of technology so they're experienced in making a product work. However, this written the Gear S is their first Tizen-powered product. Perhaps, then, the hardware will be mature but the software less so? Writing of hardware, the Gear S uses a 2.0-inch, curved Samsung Super AMOLED touchscreen, has built-in 2G, 3G, Bluetooth and WiFi radios, and uses a 1.0 GHz dual core processor backed up with 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of ROM. If we are considering this in the context of smartphones, it sits between the Galaxy S and the Galaxy S II smartphones, Samsung's 2010 and 2011 flagship products. Although of course, the specifications of a smartwatch are, I'm sure, even less relevant than they are on a smartwatch. The Gear S has a plethora of sensors, too, including a pedometer, barometer, GPS, heart rate monitor and a UV sensor.
The blog details how the Gear S has a keyboard, or to be more accurate, has a choice of three different kinds of keyboard plus S Voice, for voice control. The Gear S uses a typical touchscreen interface, controlled by a myriad combination of swipes, slides, taps and holds. It looks fairly straightforward and I'm sure that most current smartphone users will pick up the basics in a few minutes. Samsung haven't exactly reinvented a wheel here: tapping the home button takes you home. Sliding from the top of the screen downwards takes you back to the previous screen if you're in an app, or activates the settings menu (as it does in Android) from the home screen. Sliding left to right takes you to the notifications screen from the home page, whereas right to left brings up widgets. And can you guess what swiping from the bottom up does? Yes, you get access to the applications. No great shakes here, no innovation, but that isn't necessarily what we expect.
As to how well the product copes with everyday life and real world usage, I admit that I'm taken by the idea of using a smartwatch for calls, text messages, emails and similar, but I suspect the reality is that I will very quickly miss the comfort my my 5.0-inch smartphone. Squeezing a smartphone down into a 2.0-inch wearable piece of technology is a clever party trick, but it's probably not for me: I prefer a simpler device on my wrist. But! Hit us up in the comments below and let us know what you think.