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Samsung launches smartwatch in Apple fightback

Samsung has taken the wraps off its latest smartwatch – the Gear S2 – as it looks to find a winning product to take on Apple in the rapidly growing wearables market.

The Gear S2 is the South Korean electronics giant's first round-faced smartwatch and will come in two versions – a sporty model for those "on-the-go," and the "Classic" which offers a simpler design with a black leather band.

Samsung's new device also has a rotating bezel (the frame around the watch face) and "home" and "back" buttons to make it easier to use. The Gear S2 will run Tizen – Samsung's own operating system – rather than Google's Android Wear, which is used by many other smartwatches.

One of the big differentiators for Samsung's new product is that users can choose to buy a Gear S2 with 3G connectivity, meaning it can be used as smartwatch without being tethered to a smartphone. The majority of smartwatches on the market – such as the Apple Watch - need to be connected to a handset to carry out a bulk of the functions.

Like most wearables today, the Gear S2 also comes with a number of health features including a heart rate tracker. And Samsung's device is also equipped with near field communication (NFC) technology, which will allow it to be used for contactless pay. The company recently announced it would launch its own contactless payment system – Samsung Pay – in the U.S. and South Korea, but did not give specific timings.

Samsung also says the new smartphone has a two-to-three-day battery life, longer than the one-day that Apple claims its rival watch can last.

Samsung's announcement came just a couple of days ahead of a press conference it has scheduled at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin on Thursday. More details on the watch, including pricing, availability and functionality, are expected at the event.


Samsung threw six smartwatch models onto the market in the 12 months after September 2013, but has been quiet on the wearable front since then. It has instead focused on its flagship smartphones, releasing the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, the S6 and the Note S5 this year.

But in that time, Apple released its first smartwatch. The Gear S2 is Samsung's bid to catch up with its U.S. rival, which is ahead in the fast-growing wearables space—global shipments rose 223.2 percent in the second quarter, albeit off a low base, according to research firm IDC.

Apple is currently the second-biggest player in the wearable space, with a 19.9 percent market share, behind Fitbit's 24.3 percent. Samsung is currently fifth with a 3.3 percent share, IDC said.