Samsung is rumored to be on the cusp of releasing a new smartwatch, but instead of another companion device for its Galaxy range of smartphones, this could be a standalone gadget which replaces your phone entirely. It’s being referred to as the Samsung Gear Solo, and it could the company’s first modern venture into the world of watchphones.
Updated on 08-08-2014 by Andy Boxall: Added a new rumor the Gear Solo will launch at the IFA 2014 tech show in September, with the Galaxy Note 4, plus some speculation on its specs.
We first heard about the Gear Solo in April 2014, when a report originating from Korea, detailed a patent filing for the device. It was speculated, based on the contents of the patent, that the Solo would be fitted with a SIM card slot, and be able to make and receive calls independently from a smartphone. Samsung’s first smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, could be used for a similar purpose, but only when synced with a phone.
In August, Korean news source Yonhap News claimed the Gear Solo would be announced alongside the Galaxy Note 4 at the IFA tech show in September. While details on its specification are slim, the report does say the Gear Solo will only connect to 3G networks, and not 4G LTE. It goes on to reiterate the Gear Solo will work on its own, and will let owners leave their phones at home, yet still be contactable. It may not be essential to use a SIM for the Gear Solo to work though, so it may operate as a more standard smartwatch connected to your phone too.
If the Gear Solo is going to be released soon, it’ll be the fourth smart wearable to come from the firm this year. After the Galaxy Gear’s lukewarm reception, Samsung launched the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo, and the Gear Fit at Mobile World Congress. It shunned Android in favor of its own Tizen operating system for the Gear 2 models, and while the Gear 2 Neo is cheaper than the original Galaxy Gear, the Gear 2 is the same price. If the Gear Solo is Samsung’s next smartwatch release, then we should expect the price to be bumped up again.
A smartwatch with complete phone functionality isn’t a new concept, but none which have come before have been very successful. It’s difficult to balance the high level of functionality we need from a smartphone, with a small screen and the compact dimensions required for a device worn on the wrist. If Samsung’s smartwatch efforts so far tell us anything, it’s that the company is still searching for the sweet spot. Talk of the Gear Solo comes soon after Timex announced a standalone smartwatch with a data connection of its own. The Ironman One GPS+ is aimed at runners, and doesn’t have the ability to make calls.
The IFA show begins on September 5, but Samsung will reveal new products at an Unpacked event on September 3. According to the early Korean report, the Gear Solo could have ended up as an exclusive to the SK Telecom network in Korea, but this seems less likely if the announcement is made in Europe.