The Samsung Gear S, a Tizen-powered smartwatch with its own 3G connection, will be available through AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, the carriers announced today (Oct 30th). Unlike other smartwatches, which require a smartphone tethered via Bluetooth to receive notifications and the like, the Gear S has its own SIM card slot, so that wearers can make and respond to phone calls, text messages and email even if their phone isn't nearby.
The Samsung Gear S looks a bit different from Samsung's other smartwatch, the Gear 2. For one, it has a larger 2-inch curved Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 480 x 360p. Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8626 processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage.
During our hands-on time with the Gear S, we were impressed with its large display, but its 300 mAh battery--similar to the Gear 2--means that you should only expect about a day's use out of the watch before it needs to be recharged. Also, it remains to be seen how many apps will be ready for Tizen OS, though Samsung said as many as 1,000 would be available at launch.
Currently, the only phones compatible with the Gear S are the Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S 4, Galaxy S 4 mini, Galaxy S 5, Galaxy S5 Sport, and the Galaxy Note II, 3, and 4.
Sprint customers can purchase the Gear S for $0 down, and 24 monthly payments of $16 ($384 total), but will also have to pay an additional $10 per month on its Family Share Pack plan. However, Sprint is waiving the monthly fee through December 2015 if you sign up for a 20GB or higher Family Share Pack plan. However, the Gear S will use Sprint's 3G network, and not its LTE network.
On AT&T, the Gear S will cost $199 with a two-year agreement, plus an additional $10 per month on a Mobile Share Plan.
Though T-Mobile, the Gear S will cost $0 initially, then $14.58 per month (a total retail price of $349). T-Mobile is also offering a special rate plan for $5 a month for unlimited talk, texting, music streaming and up to 500MB of LTE data.
With the waived monthly fee, Sprint's plan will end up costing $504 over two years, compared to $439 for AT&T and $469 for T-Mobile.
It's also expected that Verizon will also offer the Gear S, though its plans have yet to be announced.
So far, sales of smartwatches have been slow, but perhaps the inclusion of an independent 3G connection will boost the popularity of this nascent category, enabling consumers to really leave their phones at home or in their pockets.