After the lackluster performance of the original Galaxy Gear, Samsung has to be thrilled with the response that their Tizen-powered wearables are getting. Most of the praise, however, is lavished on the Gear Fit rather than the more traditional looking smartwatches in their lineup. The GSMA (the organization responsible for Mobile World Congress) came away so impressed that they named the Gear Fit the “Best Mobile Device” of MWC this year.
I’ll withhold judgment until I have a chance to use the Gear Fit myself. But based on the first hand impressions that I have read thus far, I think Samsung has made the right moves with the Gear Fit to hit with a broader audience than true smartwatches. The Gear Fit is exactly the kind of blending of the smartwatch and fitness band that I anticipated in the what’s next in wearable tech piece last month (although I’m not entirely sure whether it is a dumbed down smartwatch or just smarter than the average fitness band).
Regardless of where in the smartwatch/fitness band Venn diagram the Gear Fit falls, the further blending of the two is welcome. I have found myself slightly shifting on my feeling that retrofitting that functionality into a smartwatch should be a relatively simple matter, as Qualcomm recently enabled activity tracking on the Toq and it cut the battery life of the device by more than half. Granted the feature is still in beta, but going from a consistent 7 days to less than 3 on a charge doesn’t fill me with confidence that they’ll get the battery life back. Samsung doesn’t have that battery life to give with their more robustly featured smartwatches; even the new Tizen powered Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo only offer 2-3 days out of the gate.
Speaking of those other smartwatches, Samsung has dealt itself an interesting hand in announcing these three wearables all at once. The Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo are the more impressive devices in terms of capabilities, so it’s entirely possible that is where the marketing dollars will go. There is also a risk that consumers will be leery of Samsung’s dedication to their wearables since seeing the Galaxy Gear swept under the rug after just 6 months (and in truth, only about a month or two of full functionality). While the Galaxy Gear clearly was never a huge seller it is a safe bet that those who bought in were the real Samsung faithful, and they have just come away pretty badly burned.
When we polled all of you on your favorite announcements from MWC, the entire Samsung wearable lineup only managed a 4th place finish–barely edging out the Nokia X line and the Huawei MediaPad X1. That poll lumped the three devices together. I’d be interested to hear whether your feelings on the three devices differ greatly. Is the lesser functionality of the Gear Fit a turn off from the device, or does that seem like a simpler tool to integrate into your routine?