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September 1, 2015

Samsung answers Apple Watch with Gear S2

Battery life could be a key differentiator.

By Alexander Sword

Samsung is taking on Apple in the smartwatch arena with the launch of the Gear S2.

The Korean electronics manufacturer unveiled the wearable ahead of the IFA 2015 conference in Berlin, where it will showcase the device on 3 September.

Featuring a thin, circular face, the device is available in two styles, the Gear S2 and the Gear S2 Classic. The former is designed to be more minimalist, while the latter aims to appeal to lovers of traditional watch designs.

The display offers 360 x 360 resolution, running the Tizen operating system on a 1 GHz dual-core processor.

Like its main rival, the Apple Watch, the Samsung Gear S2 comes with NFC technology which will enable mobile payments without the need for a wallet.

In terms of battery life, the device slightly outstrips Apple’s offering by offering up to 2-3 days per charge, while Apple claims its device can last 18 hours.

Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst at Quocirca, suggested that the competition between the two devices would be fierce in industry.

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"The main enterprise advantage of the Gear S and now S2 is the untethered use – i.e. It can have its own 3G connection.

"That might not seem so advantageous in an office-oriented world where most knowledge workers will have their smartphone in a nearby pocket, but it would be a strong benefit in applications where hands-free, glance at a smart device makes a great deal of sense, but equipping all workers with a phone to support the hands free device, does not. The longer battery life is also a positive in this regard.

"Unencumbered wearables, with no further IT required will of course be very application-specific, and need the app developing for the device. We’re not talking mass market, but we’re also not talking of hugely sophisticated apps, just something that is easy to use and matches the screen, wrist and users’s eyes to the task ‘in hand’.

"Add to this the health and personal security monitoring that a watch offers and I’m sure wearables like this will have an impact in the ‘blue collar’ activities of those involved in repeated tasks that now need IT support."

"These might be less ‘sexy’ than some of the apps envisaged for smart watches, but functional and laptop/tablet/smartphone independent devices will make sense in many business settings – visual on the wrist, audible on the ear.

Bamforth suggests that Samsung will have to work with developers to gain an advantage over Apple.

"The challenge that Samsung faces is to do what Apple has done so well in recent years (and Microsoft in years before it) – engage with the developers that make a difference and exploit the capabilities of your devices, and don’t forget that despite BYOD and consumerisation, business apps are different to consumer ones."

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