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WiFi-only Gear S model available, in Japan only for now

The recently released Gear S smartwatch boasts a bevy of features, 3G connectivity being one of them. Yet in Japan, there is also a Wi-Fi only variant.

Published onNovember 21, 2014


Riddle me this: when is a Gear S not a Gear S? When it’s being sold in Japan by KDDI’s au brand, one of the big three carriers here in Japan. The recently released smartwatch has garnered a lot of attention as of late, given its curved screen and 3G-enabled data connectivity by way of a SIM card. Indeed, eager Samsung owners living in the USA can attest to this feature, as it’s now available on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. A quick visit to the maker’s portal site actually requires the customer to select a carrier before the watch can be purchased.

So what about those customers who want the watch with only WiFi? They’re currently out of luck, unless any of them plan to move.

In Japan, the Gear S is available on two carriers, either in (carrier) stores, or via the carrier websites. The larger of the two, NTT docomo, is selling the standard SIM-enabled variant. But the aforementioned smaller carrier, au, is selling a WiFi-only model. Things are somewhat noticeable from the product pages themselves, as the docomo variant specifically lists a “SIM Ejector”, whereas the item is missing from the au version. Take a look:

 The missing SIM tray is noticeable on the actual product itself. Note the distinct absence of a SIM card slot on the au version:


It’s not quite clear as to why Japan has received a Wi-Fi only variant. Although au is a CDMA carrier, Verizon Wireless is selling it the USA with mobile network support, thus it’s not a technology issue. The user manual for the Verizon Gear S doesn’t indicate any SIM slot either for that matter, thus the card must be inside.

At the end of the day however, it’s not unreasonable to think that Samsung might eventually release this WiFi-only Gear S elsewhere. Why customers here need to purchase it through a carrier on the other hand, is another mystery entirely.

Thanks to Janpara for the watch image.