Samsung Electronics is experimenting with different shapes and sizes on its smartwatches, but with the Tizen-based Gear S it has gone overboard. I got a chance to spend some hands-on time with one at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin and found that unless you're built like Dwayne Johnson, it's just too big.
The Gear S doesn't need a smartphone to function, thanks to its integrated 3G SIM card and network connection. It's powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor and has a curved 2-inch Super AMOLED screen with a 480 by 360 pixel resolution.
The screen size makes it bigger than previous smartwatches from Samsung and its competitors. For example, the Gear Live has a 1.63-inch screen and LG's new G Watch R has a 1.3-inch screen.
Bigger isn't necessarily better
Going with a bigger screen lets the company show more information in one go and, for a company that has based its fortunes on smartphones with large screens, its an easy route to take.
But in reality the design becomes huge and overwhelming on the wrist. The fact that the armband is as wide as the screen to begin with makes it look even bigger. It feels more like you have a phone than a watch on your wrist.
Looking at the devices Samsung showed at its IFA launch event, it seems the company has some work to do before the Gear S can go on sale next month. On one of the units I tested the screen became unresponsive and on the device next to it one of the apps crashed.
How much will the Samsung Gear S cost?
Samsung hasn't put a price on the Gear S yet, but the integrated 3G modem will likely make it more expensive than other smartwatches, which will make it a tougher sell, even with the expanded functionality afforded by the integrated 3G connection.
In just 12 months, Samsung has announced the Gear, Gear 2, Gear Fit, Gear 2 Neo, Gear Live and now the Gear S. This is classic Samsung tactics: Put out a number of different product and see what sticks -- and at the same time try to squeeze out the competition.
The drawback is that it risks confusing customers, especially since Samsung uses both Tizen and Android Wear operating systems on its smartwatches. Maybe, just maybe, it would be better for Samsung to pool its resources and just try to put out one truly great product, because what it has put out so far won't be enough to set the smartwatch market alight.