Before Mobile World Congress even officially started, Samsung announced two new smartwatches with Huawei announcing one smart watch as well as a phablet. We predicted in our trend report earlier this year that fitness would lead the way, and this seems to be the case.
Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo both have heart rate sensors, pedometers and various tools to measure exercise, sleep and stress levels. The biggest improvement otherwise is battery life which is now claimed to be about 2-3 days versus less than a day for the previous version. The Neo version is without the camera and therefore slightly lighter. The other difference vs the original Gear is that they now run the Tizen OS rather than Android. There are apps available from CNN, Ebay, Evernote and Paypal but it’s also possible to allow some Android apps.
Huawei on the other hand launched the TalkBand B1 which is also a smartwatch, fitness tracker and a bluetooth earpiece all in one. This means that not only can you use it to view incoming calls but you can also use the watch to make phone calls. The TalkBand is launching in China first and probably in Europe and North America in Q2.
What do we think?
The Samsung Gear 2 is a major improvement and the focus on fitness will help its appeal to fitness fanatics and geeks with Android devices. It’s still not a mainstream smartwatch and not a fashion accessory as people expect the iWatch to be, but we expect to see some good traction. For brands it could be good PR to launch their apps early but don’t expect much traffic.
The Huawei device is unexpectedly slick with a low price tag (135 USD) so also has a good chance of gaining traction when it launches outside of China.
Finally there was a non-tech encounter this morning. The train to the congress got stopped for 15 min because locals are angry that visitors paying over 1000 euro for a MWC ticket also get a free transportation pass. Smartphones were admittedly used to coordinate the action.