Samsung's Round Smartwatch May Come in 3G, Bluetooth Models: Report

Samsung already sells several rectangular smartwatches, but its next model will reportedly have a round face and come in versions that offer 3G or Bluetooth connectivity.

smartwatches, Samsung Gear A, wearables, Apple Watch

Samsung is working on its first round-faced smartwatch that is rumored to offer two different versions—one with 3G calling and other enhanced capabilities, as well as a less-expensive Bluetooth model with fewer advanced features.

The smartwatch, which has been known as Project Orbis internally but may be called the Gear A by Samsung, would join other Samsung models that have rectangular watch faces, according to an April 7 report by SamMobile. The site said it had obtained proposed model numbers for the new devices that indicate specific models for mobile carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

The smartwatch marketplace is growing as more vendors, including LG, Sony and Huawei, are continuing to release new models, styles and innovations in the timepieces. Apple's long-awaited Apple Watch will be available for preorder on April 10, with sales starting on April 24, so the market is only going to get more volatile and crowded.

Pricing and availability dates for the rumored upcoming Samsung round-faced smartwatches have not yet been announced.

Competitors have certainly been busy with their own evolving smartwatch offerings in early 2015. In March, LG announced its upcoming standard LG Watch Urbane and its LTE-equipped sibling, the LG Watch Urbane LTE, which both include beautifully designed and styled stainless steel bodies, leather wristbands and round watch faces that look like traditional luxury wristwatches, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Each model includes a 1.3-inch plastic OLED display, a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and three side-mounted buttons to allow users to control a host of functions without having to swipe through multiple menu screens. The standard Urbane runs on Android Wear, while the Urbane LTE, which allows users to make cellular calls without a smartphone, runs on the new LG Wearable Platform operating system. Pricing for the new smartwatches has not yet been announced.

Last November, Samsung's curved Gear S smartwatch debuted in the marketplace with a two-inch curved Super AMOLED display, a 1GHz dual-core processor, 4GB of memory and built-in 3G connectivity.

The Gear S, which works in conjunction with a compatible Samsung smartphone for some features, allows users to make calls, get information and notifications, and perform a wide range of other tasks. Cellular calls and texts can be sent or received by the smartwatch without being connected to a smartphone. The dust- and water-resistant smartwatch also includes a QWERTY keyboard, the S Health fitness app and a 300mAh battery that provides up to about five hours of talk time. The health and fitness features on the Gear S include management of four basic life factors, including heart rate, food, exercise and sleep.

Samsung continues to battle its way back from several tough financial quarters as its latest first-quarter estimates show lower operating income and lower sales compared with the same quarter last year. Samsung's operating income for the quarter fell 31 percent to about $5.4 billion (5.9 trillion South Korean won) in the first quarter ending March 31, which was higher than the 5.5 trillion won that was expected by 36 financial analysts, while Samsung's sales are expected to fall some 12 percent in the quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Its full financial results are expected later in April.

Samsung has been hard hit the last several quarters by lower sales of its mobile phones, which have been giving way to cheaper phones from Chinese handset makers and from stiffer competition from Apple and its latest iPhone 6 smartphones and from other competitors, according to earlier eWEEK reports. Much of the sales slump likely was due to consumers who were waiting to see the then-new iPhones and Samsung's own replacement for its then-flagship Galaxy S5 phone.

The company is now hoping for a big financial turnaround in the near future as its all-new, redesigned and flashier flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, go on sale to consumers in 20 countries, including the United States, on April 10 after almost two months of intense build-up in the marketplace. The new Galaxy S6 smartphones are quite impressive, giving some credence to Samsung's hopes that they will hit the mark when it comes to taking on the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus around the world.