Samsung ‘watch-phone’ to launch in June or July with smartphone capabilities, Tizen OS

By Alexandra Burlacu | May 24, 2014 06:55 AM EDT

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Samsung is reportedly working on another smartwatch to debut this summer, and this gadget will allegedly be able to replace a smartphone rather than just complement it.

The world's largest smartphone maker is reportedly in talks with unidentified telecom carriers in the U.S., Korea, and Europe, regarding a so-called "watch-phone" that would be able to take calls, capture photos, send emails, and would have built-in GPS, Bluetooth, and a heart-rate monitor.

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The news comes from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which claims that Samsung hopes to unveil this device sometime between June and July, according to people familiar with the company's plans.

While current smartwatches serve as accessories to smartphones, offloading the heavy tasks to the phones, this upcoming "watch-phone" will apparently be much more than an accessory and it could replace a smartphone altogether.

"Samsung's watch-phone will be able to make and receive calls without being tethered to a smartphone, something most smartwatches on the market now can't do, according to people familiar with the company's plans. It will also take photos, send email and come with GPS, Bluetooth and a heart monitor, the people said - a suite of features that would make the gadget-toting James Bond proud. (The fictional British spy used a wrist walkie-talkie in the movie For Your Eyes Only)," the WSJ reports.

The Journal further reveals that this upcoming gadget will not run Google's recently-launched Android Wear operating system (OS). Instead, the watch-phone will run Samsung's own Tizen mobile OS, which it developed in collaboration with Intel. Moreover, this smartwatch/smartphone hybrid will support its own SIM card for independent connectivity.

The watch-phone would launch as Samsung's fifth wearable device, following the first-generation Galaxy Gear and its successors - the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit. The latest Gear 2 smartwatches also run Tizen rather than Google's Android, as opposed to the original Galaxy Gear that came with a customized version of Android. The Gear 2 is higher-end and has a camera that allows users to take photos, while the Gear 2 Neo is nearly identical but lacks the camera. The Gear Fit, meanwhile, is a fitness-focused wearable gadget sporting a 1.84-inch curved Super AMOLED display.

Both the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo allow users to make calls and video chat, but only when connected to a limited number of Galaxy S smartphones. The Gear Fit doesn't offer such functionality, but it does come with an integrated heart rate monitor.

This rumored wearable device to launch this summer may be Samsung's way of stepping up competition as archrival Apple is rumored to launch its own iWatch later this year. It remains to be seen, however, whether this watch-phone will indeed make it to market. It's all in the rumor state for now, so take everything with a grain of salt until an official announcement. 

 

 

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