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Samsung is rumored to be working on a Galaxy Watch this year

Samsung is rumored to be working on a Galaxy Watch this year

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Dan Seifert / The Verge

Samsung’s smartwatch line has gone under the Gear brand since 2014, but this year, rumors suggest that Samsung might swap that out for something better known: the Galaxy name. Even more interesting than the name change is what that change could mean for the smartwatch itself.

The strongest sign of the name change comes from a trademark filing in Korea, spotted by SamMobile, on a logo for “Samsung Galaxy Watch” — a product that does not yet exist. An earlier, albeit entirely unsourced, rumor from a leaker on Twitter, also stated that the watch could go under the Galaxy name.

The name suggests a shift to Wear OS, but the situation is still unclear

On its own, the name change may not mean much. The Galaxy brand is better known and could help the line sell better. What’s more important is what the Galaxy brand typically signifies for Samsung: Android. Since 2015, Samsung’s Gear watches have all run a smartwatch OS of Samsung’s own making. The Galaxy branding could suggest that Samsung is going back to Google’s camp with the newly named Wear OS.

Rumors have suggested that, too. The same Twitter user who initially mentioned the Galaxy Watch name, who goes by Ice Universe, also said the watch would run Wear OS. Previously, VentureBeat’s Evan Blass said that Google had seeded Wear OS versions of Gear watches to Samsung employees to try out.

That all said, there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical about whether Samsung’s next smartwatch will run Wear OS, even if its name is changed. For one, Samsung’s own Tizen-based smartwatch OS is actually well-liked, while Wear OS is generally regarded as being harder to use. Also, having its own OS helps Samsung’s watches stand out, rather than essentially making them interchangeable with the dozens of models offered by Fossil.

So it’s very possible some of this is just a mix-up, that multiple options will be offered, or that the name change — again, if it happens — just isn’t indicative of an OS change. But at least at this point, there are clear rumblings in that direction.

Samsung usually introduces new Gear smartwatches at the very end of August, so chances are good there’ll be a lot more rumors on this front over the next month.