Johnny Sakko cool! You can talk directly on Samsung’s new smartwatch, Gear S2

The coolest feature on this new wearable is the optional 3G/4G telephony, meaning that unlike the Apple Watch, you’ll be able to pipe calls and data directly to your smartwatch. No Bluetooth required for this watch!

Johnny Sakko talks directly into his smartwatch (and without the aid of a Bluetooth device) to deliver commands to his pal, Giant Robot.
Johnny Sakko talks directly into his smartwatch (and without the aid of a Bluetooth device) to deliver commands to his pal, Giant Robot.

Sales of its Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic smartwatches starts Oct. 2 in the US and South Korea. In the United States, the classic version will run you $349.99 while the regular sport version will cost $299.99. In South Korea, it runs for 333,300 won for the regular sport model and 374,000 won for the classic.

I was immediately reminded by the super watch used by characters like Dick Tracy from the 1930s American detective series and of Johnny Sakko’s watch in the 1970s Japanese sci-fi action series “Johnny Sakko And His Flying Robot.”

I mean, the smartwatches available before the Gear S2 could pull that trick off, but only after you hooked up to it a Bluetooth device. Somehow the Gee-whiz factor is lost.

Other specs: Both Samsung models have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC, and the 4G models also pack GPS as well. The Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic are essentially the same device, albeit with different finishes – much like the different editions of the Apple Watch. However, as I said, each comes with or without a 4G telephony capability.

 

Apple vs. Samsung

Apple vs. Samsung: Apple Watch (left) and Gear S2 (right).
Apple vs. Samsung: Apple Watch (left) and Gear S2 (right). [Courtesy of BGR.com for the photo.]

Compared to the Apple Watch, Samsung’s new wearable is cooler just by virtue of this one feature. But there are other differences besides.

Apple Watch is rectangular, the Gear S2 is round. The Apple Watch is curvy. The Gear S2 is a bit more angular and traditionally watch-like in design. The Apple Watch uses a small digital crown dial and touch display to navigate the interface, while the Gear S2 gets around with a spinning bezel and a touch display.

In execution, the larger ring on the Gear S2 offers a bit more travel before you have to pull your finger back and start spinning again than the Apple Watch’s digital crown.

There’s one more notch for the Gear S2: compatibility. Previous Samsung smartwatches have only worked with Samsung smartphones, and even then a selection of the most recent ones. And the Apple Watch obviously only works with the iPhone.

Android compatible

In the same week as Apple announced that selfish little tidbit, and Android Wear smartwatches picked iPhone compatibility, Samsung’s announced that the Gear S2 will work on all Android smartphones running Android 4.4 or higher with more than 1.5GB of RAM.

That’s a huge change for Samsung, which while still the dominant Android manufacturer, has acknowledged there are more than just Samsung smartphones out there. That could serve as a lure for non-Samsung Android phone users into their ecosystem.

There are some features that won’t work with non-Samsung phones (like Samsung Pay, for obvious reasons), just like there are some Android Wear features that don’t work on the iPhone.

Gear S2’s Achilles Heel?

The Gear S2 was first unveiled during the IFA tradeshow in Berlin in September. It runs on Samsung’s own operating system, Tizen. Really? Another Operating System to complicate the lives of consumers.

That to me is perhaps its biggest negative. I wonder how many apps will be made available for the watch in the future. App developers already have to work twice as hard making their products for iPhone and Android systems…why add yet another OS and make their jobs that much harder?

Samsung has faced repeated quarterly profit declines in recent years due to competition from Apple and Chinese vendors in the low-end. It is betting on the Gear S2, the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus to maintain profits for the year. I think they made a savvy decision.

 

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