Galaxy Gear Smartwatch the Star of Samsung's Unpacked Event

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2013-09-05 Print this article Print

Samsung made no secret that it had big announcements planned for Sept. 4—it used billboards to invite all of Times Square to its Unpacked Event, Episode 2—or even that it would show off its first smartwatch (as a key executives confirmed this to newspapers in advance) and new Note tablets (as the billboards made clear). On the big day, it streamed live feeds between New York City and Berlin and introduced the Galaxy Gear watch, a new Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) and a Note 3 tablet that confirmed Samsung's prowess in the "phablet" space, shrinking and thinning down the device's footprint while managing to grow its display size and advance the features that make it far more than a media-consumption device. As nice and feature-rich as the new Notes are—and noteworthy is Samsung's abandonment of its "nature focus" in favor of materials that evoke a rich, writing journal experience—it was the Galaxy Gear that all eyes were on. Arguably, this was less because of anything it specifically is—a not especially beautiful accessory to the Note 3—than the fact that it exists. Samsung has beaten rival Apple to the wearables race, but it's how the race is run that matters.

  • Galaxy Gear Smartwatch the Star of Samsung's Unpacked Event

    by Michelle Maisto
    1 - Galaxy Gear Smartwatch the Star of Samsung's Unpacked Event
  • Samsung Prefers Pomp to Secrecy

    Samsung made no secret of its plans to introduce new Note products Sept. 4—it took out giant billboards in Times Square, saying as much—and a top executive confirmed that a smartwatch, called the Galaxy Gear, would also be introduced.
    2 - Samsung Prefers Pomp to Secrecy
  • Icona Pop, 'I Love It'

    Swedish synth duo Icona Pop kicked off the event—their Times Square performance live-streamed to a crowd in Berlin—wearing Galaxy Gear watches and singing, "I love it! I love it!"
    3 - Icona Pop, 'I Love It'
  • Social Commentary Soapbox

    In a culture in which we spend so much time staring into tiny screens and taking in vacation views and art museums through camera lenses, it was sadly fitting to watch a special live performance, yards away, through televisions.
    4 - Social Commentary Soapbox
  • Meet the Galaxy Gear

    But on to the real main attraction: the Galaxy Gear. Pranav Mistry, head of Samsung Research's think tank team, said they "started with a clean slate and explored every option." He added, "Welcome to the future."
    5 - Meet the Galaxy Gear
  • Talk to the Hand

    The Galaxy Gear features a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display and a 1.9-megapixel camera, accessible by swiping downward on the screen. Swiping side to side moves users through the apps and features. S Voice, for hands-free tasks such as placing a call while holding grocery bags, is also included.
    6 - Talk to the Hand
  • Smile for the Wristwatch

    The camera is embedded in the band, and certainly the motion of using it will take a little getting used to. It also has a very obvious shutter sound, intended to assuage concerns over photos being taken on the sly.
    7 - Smile for the Wristwatch
  • Galaxy Gear Logistics

    The Gear's clasp is rather intense—it's not going to fall off—though it's easy to adjust for different size wrists.
    8 - Galaxy Gear Logistics
  • Galaxy Gear Clasp

    A view of the Galaxy Glear's clasp closed, and a detail of the plastic band.
    9 - Galaxy Gear Clasp
  • One Size, and Aesthetic, Fits Most

    While on a woman it can seem rather large (see slide 5), on some men it looks more proportional. The Gear pairs with the Note 3, and eventually other devices, to enable a user to make or accept calls, messages and alerts. A user's phone remains the brain of the operation; the Gear just lets him keep it in his pocket.
    10 - One Size, and Aesthetic, Fits Most
  • Specializing the Wearables Market

    The Galaxy Gear will be available in six colors at launch. Officially: Jet Black, Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold and Lime Green. How long until we see men's and women's versions?
    11 - Specializing the Wearables Market
  • Leather and Stitching

    While the names of Samsung's pen-based tablets are beginning to meld together, the Note 3 and new Note 10.1 feature distinctly different materials. The exposed stitching and leatherlike fabric are meant to evoke the feeling of holding a leather-bound journal. Or, as Samsung said in a statement, "elegance and sophistication."
    12 - Leather and Stitching
  • New Materials for the Note 10.1, Note 3

    The sides of the new Notes are a type of ridged metal.
    13 - New Materials for the Note 10.1, Note 3
  • The Note 3 and Its Companion

    For size context, a view of the Note 3, in a flip cover, and a Galaxy Gear. While the Note 3 will initially ship in black, white or blush pink, flip covers will be available in an array of colors and materials.
    14 - The Note 3 and Its Companion
  • The New S Pen

    Both new Notes come with updated S Pens, which are said to feature improved responsiveness. New software on the tablets makes the S Pens greater assets.
    15 - The New S Pen
  • The New Note-Taking

    With its newest Notes, Samsung has worked to improve the note-taking experience and make notes more helpful, more searchable and easier to organize, hoping more people will make the leap from paper.
    16 - The New Note-Taking

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