Skip to main content

Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch is real, and it's not a phone

Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch is real, and it's not a phone

Share this story

Samsung is widely expected to reveal a smartwatch coined Galaxy Gear in the coming months, possibly as soon as Germany's IFA trade show in early September. A Bloomberg report last week ambiguously identified the Gear as being able to "make phone calls," but The Verge has learned today that the Galaxy Gear will definitely not be a phone unto itself. "It works with phones," one source tells us, suggesting that it will be a smartphone companion just as most other recent smartwatch efforts have been. "The watch is not a phone."

Samsung has made actual 'watchphones' in the past

A true "watchphone" is a self-contained unit with its own SIM card, cellular radio, and data connection, rather than pairing to a smartphone over Bluetooth as rivals like Pebble do. That might sound far-fetched, but it's not: in fact, Samsung has made smartwatches with built-in phones in the past, though they were never widely distributed on a global scale. The rise of data sharing plans makes the idea of sticking a dedicated SIM in a watch slightly more reasonable, but there are more practical concerns that previous watchphone efforts have failed to fully solve: how do you talk without using a Bluetooth headset? How do you conserve the tiny battery? How do you make it small enough to look like a regular watch?

Barring a surprise event from Apple, Google, or Google's Motorola unit in the next few days — all of which are widely reported to be working on wearables of their own — Samsung is poised to become the first major manufacturer to announce a smartwatch since Motorola's MOTOACTV in 2011 and Sony's Smartwatch series.