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The Galaxy Gear: a lifestyle device that doesn’t consider your lifestyle

Galaxy Gear

Samsung wants you to start designing your own life and rightfully so. The smartphone maker cares so much it has built devices that suit your lifestyle.

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The way I see it, the Galaxy Gear was developed because: one, Samsung wanted to get out a smartwatch — sorry, “wearable tech” device — before Apple did. Darn that competition. Two, and this probably the real reason, people have busy lives and sometimes you need a remote control for your mobile phone to access things constantly without you actually checking it.

Interestingly, I thought it was the function of the mobile phone to act as a remote control to your life, accessing all parts of it on the go. But what do I know, I just write stuff.

Samsung doesn’t think so. The electronics maker gets the consumer. You have to if you’re going to keep dominating the mobile market. Samsung is sure that this device (the Galaxy Gear) is what people need to manage their lifestyles.

The lifestyles that Samsung describe as examples of people that need this device seem pretty average. People like you and me running around trying to get things done, people who would like better control of their day and people who must stay connected all the time, say maybe journalists.

The Galaxy Gear is a companion device, which means it can’t really stand alone. It does have some very limited independent features but its core purpose is to access your mobile (currently only the Note 3) and pull through mail, calls and notifications. That remote control thing.

If this device is for my lifestyle or the average lifestyle or not-so-average life, something is wrong because there are some lifestyle issues not being addressed:

Battery life is everything in the lifestyle game

The Galaxy Gear has a 315 mAh battery, which pretty much means that the device’s power capacity is not that great really. Think about it in contrast with the Note 3, which has a 3 200 mAh battery. The Gear is constantly connected to the Note as it is a companion device through Bluetooth 4.0, a low energy standard. Samsung, with all this, proudly claims that the Gear will last for a maximum of 25 hours. This means users will have to charge their watches at least once a day or more after the first six months because with more usage comes less battery life.

Bluetooth 4.0 may be low energy but it is still drawing energy and power is still be used by both devices, which means the life span of the Note 3 is also shortened. So if I forget to charge my Galaxy Gear, I am without a watch for the day and with all the power being drained from my mobile I could also be without a phone. Doesn’t quite work that well for a busy lifestyle does it?

Co-dependency is so last season

Co-dependency is a terrible thing. I see the idea behind this device and I get the cool factor and even see one or two useful aspects but aside from telling the time I am not sure why anyone would actually need it. Samsung could argue that if it only built things people needed then we may have never had any innovation and that’s true. However, innovation needs to be useful for it to be truly innovative. Also, sidebar: features do not equal innovation.

If the Gear could function on its own from greater distances that would be interesting to me. If I can still access my mobile device while I am at work wearing the Gear and my mobile is at home because I forgot it, that would be useful. But the Gear doesn’t do that because the assumption is you always have your phone with you. So again, if I always have my mobile, what really is the function of this device? I can’t reply emails on that tiny, tiny screen. Also making a call by pulling my wrist up to my face to speak doesn’t really say progress or lifestyle functionality to me — it says awkward.

Price: Samsung thinks I am made of money

All that aside, my biggest issue with this amazing lifestyle that Samsung is offering is price. At US$300 this lifestyle device, which is merely a fashion accessory without a mobile to talk to, is just too expensive. With the Note 3 around the US$800 mark, to have this lifestyle you will have to dole out about US$1100 (because you have to have both). Who has that kind of money? Miley Cyrus I guess.

Funny enough, aside from battery and basic usefulness issues this lifestyle that Samsung seems to want these devices to fit into is mine (and probably yours) down to the T. However I just can’t afford it. Samsung gave me a product that I could learn to love despite its obvious issues but put it at a price point that only whimsy gets.

All in all the Gear seems to be a lifestyle device that has failed to address one very important thing — people’s lifestyles.

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