Samsung has been working with Korea’s largest telecommunications vender, SK Telecom, to release a new standalone version of the Samsung Gear 2. Equipped with a universal subscriber identity module (USIM), the smartwatch would be able to operate, even make phone calls, without the need for a connected smartphone.
The Korean Herald reports that the new Gear 2 USIM model would only be available in Korea, but that future global release is not out of the question. Samsung themselves have not confirmed this new variant.
The Gear 2 was announced at WMC in Barcelona in February, and is the second generation of Samsung’s smartwatch efforts. It is a well equipped watch with a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED 320×320 display, 1 GHz dual core processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory. Instead of running Android, as did their first watch the Galaxy Gear, the Gear 2 runs Samsung’s own Linux based OS called Tizen.
We had a chance to put the Gear 2 through its paces at MWC, take a look at our impressions here. Samsung also put out a great feature video of the Gear 2 and Gear Fit, check that out below.
The current run of Samsung smartwatches, including the unreleased Gear 2 and simultaneously announced Gear Fit, require a connection to a select group of Samsung smartphones to operate. The watches are designed to extend the functionality of the phone, but the phone is still required to do the dirty work, like place phone calls and receive SMS messages.
The reported Gear 2 with USIM allows the watch itself to connect directly to a mobile network, eliminating the need for a connected smartphone. With the mounted camera on the Gear 2, it may even be possible to place video calls, making us once again desire to play the part of Dick Tracy from the movie. Of course, the camera is still mounted facing the wrong direction, so that could be a little awkward to handle. The only significant disadvantage we can see to the USIM equipped smartwatch is the increased battery drain required to operate the extra cell radios.
The Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit are due to hit store shelves as soon as the end of this month. No word when, or even if, the USIM equipped Gear 2 will go on sale.
Do you see the smartwatch as a standalone device, or do you prefer the current usage of extending the functionality of your smartphone?