Samsung's Gear line of smartwatches has come a long way since 2013's geeky-looking, Android-powered Galaxy Gear. The latest additions to the family, the Gear S3 frontier and Gear S3 classic, were announced over two months ago at IFA, and now, they're finally available - in South Korea.
There are more than a couple Gears to choose from these days, but not that long ago, there was only one. That awkward piece of tech is more affordable now, though it still hasn't dropped down to the price many people would like to pay for it. That makes now a good time to pay some attention to Best Buy. Today the retailer has refurbished versions of the original Galaxy Gear going for just $89.99, a price that's on the better side of $100.
Though Samsung has new models in the field, it hasn't forgotten about the smartwatch that got the ball rolling. The Galaxy Gear received an update that switched it from Android to Tizen starting at the end of May.
We knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it any less weird to me. Samsung is now rolling out an update to the original Galaxy Gear that effectively removes Android, replacing it with the company's self-built mobile OS, Tizen (which is what the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit are all running). This immediately raises one question in my mind: since "Galaxy" is Samsung's branding for Android devices, will it just be called "Gear" moving forward? Something to ponder on your Friday morning.
But I digress, there's a good chance this is a smart move. Android simply isn't ready for wearables (in its current state, anyway).
The Galaxy Gear didn't jumpstart Samsung's wearable ecosystem as it had hoped. In fact, it was such a disappointment that the company released a new version alongside the Galaxy S5 just a few months later. The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo run Tizen instead of Android, but there was rampant speculation that the original Gear would be moved to Tizen eventually. Apparently that's close to happening, and SamMobile got some hands-on time with Tizen on the Galaxy Gear.
The original Galaxy Gear was a tough sell at $299. Heck, even at the $199 price you can find it for these days, it's still a tough sell. Let's be honest, even paying that much for any of the quarter-dozen Gears Samsung replaced the gadget with takes some convincing. But $99? That's a number I can get behind, and it's one I'm sure some of you can as well. Today eBay Daily Deals has the Galaxy Gear, refurbished, available in three colors for precisely that amount.
I mean, sure, you have to actually want a Galaxy Gear to be willing to pay any price for it.
The original Galaxy Gear wasn't for everyone (particularly people who don't own a Samsung phone). It also suffered from limited app compatibility and a quirky interface. Its biggest drawback, though, was the price: $299. That's a lot to ask for a smartwatch that only does a handful of things. But what about $99? That's how much Best Buy is currently selling refurbished models of the device for as part of today's deal of the day.
There's a decent chance that many of these refurbished models are essentially new watches that people returned not long after opening. Despite what the screenshot above says, you won't be able to have one shipped to your doorstep - though it looks like store pickup is available.
The Galaxy S4 Mini and Mega may typically take a backseat to the Galaxy S4, but today is their turn to bask in the limelight. Sprint is now rolling out OTA updates to both devices enabling Galaxy Gear support along with WiFi calling. The former is already available for the Galaxy S4, but the latter functionality is brand spanking new. This update is rolling out right on schedule.
The Galaxy S4 Mini's update is version JDQ39.L520VPUANA7. Galaxy Gear support and WiFi calling are joined by Samsung KNOX and a few bug fixes.
The Galaxy Mega's update, version L600VPUANA7, only comes with the two headlining features.
The Galaxy Gear hasn't been a smash hit, but it's still one of the most full-features smart watches available. It's definitely too expensive at $300, but half that price is pretty good. Best Buy currently has several colors of the Gear on sale for 50% off – just $149.99.
For the last several years Samsung has refreshed its primary Galaxy S line in the spring and the Galaxy Note in the fall, and it looks like the company isn't going to break that streak in 2014. Speaking to Bloomberg, Samsung's Vice President of Mobile Lee Young Hee confirmed that the "S5" would arrive before the end April. "We've been announcing our first flagship model in the first half of each year, around March or April, and we are still targeting for release around that time," she said.
Samsung Executive Vice President of Mobile Lee Young Hee. Photo credit: AllThingsD
So what's new in the Galaxy S5, which Hee seems to have confirmed as the name of the new device?