Following months of mounting tension and fierce speculation, Samsung has finally unveiled its Galaxy Gear smartwatch and revealed a ‘slimmer, lighter, faster’ Galaxy Note 3 phablet.
Speaking at the IFA conference in Berlin, Samsung’s CEO JK Shin said: ‘For the first time we have given Galaxy Note 3 a warm texture-touch cover. It’s slimmer, lighter, and more powerful and all in a beautiful design.’
He then told the crowd he was getting a call and unveiled the smartwatch, adding that the Galaxy Note is powered by the Galaxy Gear and he hopes the watch will become ‘a fashion statement.’
The surprisingly sleek wrist-mounted device has a solid touchscreen, runs Android apps and can sync with a smartphone to make phone calls and access the web.
The Korean firm has become among the first major companies to launch what’s been dubbed a ‘true’ smartwatch and has pipped main rival Apple to the accolade.
Other smartwatches, including the Pebble, can receive notifications and information from a connected smartphone but can’t run apps or be used as a web-enabled device in their own right.
Sony unveiled its own wrist-worn device, the Smartwatch 2, earlier this year and revealed it at a conference earlier today that it will go on sale at the end of September for £149.99.
The Galaxy Note 3 is part-phone, part-tablet, called a phablet, and is the successor to last year’s Galaxy Note II.
It comes in nine colours including jet black, classic white, blush pink, mustard yellow, mint blue and oatmeal beige.
Although few details were released before both events, Lee Young-hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, confirmed to The Korea Times last week that the company would launch the Galaxy Note 3 along with a Galaxy Gear smartwatch at the Samsung Unpacked event in Berlin.
A leaked document from mobile network Three UK, discovered by Engadget last week, suggested that the Note 3 would go on sale in the UK on September 16, followed by Sony’s Xperia Z1 on 24 September.
Although Samsung has been rumoured to be switching to other materials for its phones, including carbon fibre or aluminum, the Note 3 has predominantly the same plastic casing used on the Samsung S3 and Samsung S4 smartphones.
Rumours about a Samsung smartwatch began towards the end of last year and in August a patent filing for the Samsung gadget was uncovered.
According to the filing Samsung’s Galaxy Gear range will be ‘wearable digital electronic devices in the form of a wristwatch, wrist band or bangle capable of providing access to the Internet and for sending and receiving phone calls.’
It continued that the wristband will also be used for ‘storage and/or transmission of data and messages and for keeping track of or managing personal information; smart phones; tablet computers; portable computers.’
Then images leaked by technology site VentureBeat last week claimed to show a prototype Galaxy Gear, pictured with a solid 3-inch touchscreen.
The site also predicted it would come with a camera in the strap, voice commands, preloaded Android apps for tracking fitness, health and connecting with social networks as well as call logs when synced with an Android phone.
Before the smartwatch launched experts were already predicting poor sales and slow take-up.
Annette Zimmermann, an analyst at research firm Gartner, told CNBC: ‘In Gartner’s device forecast we have an assumption built into our model that says that less than 3 percent of consumers replacing their smartphone will replace it with a smartwatch in 2017.’
While fellow Gartner colleague Roberta Cozza told MailOnline: ‘If well executed, it is an good opportunity for Samsung to engage users more with their brand and build more loyalty to the Samsung and Galaxy brand.
‘Much of the success of Samsung product will be down to price but more importantly also the ability of the product to be truly convenient and deliver benefits to users everyday lives.
‘So far consumer demand for products like smartwatches has been limited, Samsung and Galaxy are two strong brands and Samsung will evolve this category, but we expect in general that the new smart watches entering the market will still likely appeal to early adopters of technology first.’