Samsung Gear Live release date, news and features

The surprise Android Wear smartwatch at Google IO

The Samsung Gear Live was the surprise smartwatch at Google IO and yet it's already priming to become the one of the first available Android Wear watches.

Sure, Samsung has made Android-compatible smartwatches before. Its Samsung Galaxy Gear even ran Android until it was updated to Tizen, and the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit followed suit.

But this one is different. It's a Google Now-powered wearable that instinctively beams location and context-sensitive messages to your wrist.

This is on top of porting smartphone-linked notifications and, of course, showing the time. Best of all, it works with more than just a few Samsung devices this time around.

Release date

Samsung loves being "the world's first," even when it's often tied with its day-one South Korean rival, LG. That's exactly the case here.

The official Samsung Gear Live release date was announced to be July 7, the same day the LG G Watch is set to ship, or at least that was said at Google IO.

Samsung Gear Live release date

Looks a bit like the Samsung Gear 2 but with Android

Pre-orders through the Google Play Store tell a different tail. In the UK, Gear Live is expected to be "dispatched from the warehouse by July 4."

However, in the US, Samsung's smartwatch won't be ready to leave the warehouse until July 8. This may have to with that US holiday in which Americans celebrate their independence from Great Britain.

Price

Gear Live matches the LG G Watch with the official, albeit inconsistent July 7 release date, but Samsung undercuts the competition with a slightly lower price in the US at $199, not $229.

In the UK, it's actually a bit more money. Samsung Gear Live is going for £169, while LG's watch costs $159.

This reflects the fact that smartwatch pricing is all over the place as the product category is just taking off. This may be one of the many reasons the Moto 360 launch date and price are still veiled in secrecy.

Motorola's smartwatch is said to be $250, which would make it a bit more than its Android Wear-powered competitors.

Specs

The Google Now-influenced Android Wear platform is the major reason to own one of these new watches, but the hardware of course needs powerful enough specs to be wrist-worthy.

Samsung Gear Live lives up to that requirement with a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display and a 320 x 320 resolution that is 278 ppi.

Samsung Gear Live wine red color

Via the Samsung store, it comes in wine, wine red

Its screen size is a hair smaller than the LG G Watch, which is 1.65 inches on its face. But LG's take on Android Wear won't have as sharp of a display. It's resolution is 280 x 280.

Everything else is pretty much the same. There's a 1.2GHz processor, 4GB of internal storage, 512MB of RAM and Bluetooth 4.0 LE on board.

Is Samsung Gear Live waterproof?

Samsung touts that you can "wear Gear Live in all conditions." To that point it's water resistant, though not exactly "waterproof."

Officially, it's another IP67 water and dust resistant device from the South Korean manufacturer, which says you can "keep it on when you wash your hands, take a shower, or do the gardening."

This is the same "International Protection Marking" that the Samsung Galaxy S5 received, so it'll hold up in most cases, but it's not recommended to wear when swimming in the pool or ocean.

Battery life

As small as you want a smartwatch to be, the battery needs to be big enough to hold a full day's charge. Samsung says it pulled that off here.

The Samsung Gear Live contains a 300mAh battery that's said to provide a charge for exactly one day. The LG G Watch adds a few extra milliamps with a 400mAh battery.

Samsung Gear Live smartwatch clasp

The rear of the watch makes room for a pogo charger

Android Wear smartwatches may be a difficult sell if the rechargeable watch battery life is close to running out in the final hours of your day, but that's what you get with first-generation products.

Included in the box is a pogo pin charging dock, so like the G Watch, it can't be recharged with a normal micro USB cable since it lacks that nearly universal port.

The Moto 360 also lacks a micro USB port, but it at least has a Qi-compatible inductive charging feature that matches the sleekness of its circular design.

Compatibility

Thankfully, the Samsung Gear Lives compatibility list breaks free of its Galaxy-only confines that limited the appeal of the Gear line of smartwatches.

It works with all phones running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and above, including the new announced Android L update that Google announced at its IO conference.

That means that, still, not everyone is going to be able to use an Android Wear smartwatch, as carriers love to delay device updates, but it's a step in the right direction.

Just don't expect Samsung to support iPhone 5S, iPar Air or older Apple devices for that matter. So far, none of the Android Wear watches work with iOS 7 or even iOS 8 beta devices.

Samsung Gear Live price

It does have the cheapest price among Android Wear smartwatches

Is it worth it?

Samsung Gear Live puts a lot of sensors on your wrist: accelerometer, digital compass, gyroscope, and heart rate monitor.

Maybe it's not the sensory-overload promised by the Samsung SimBand prototype, but it gets the Google Fit job done and it's the cheapest Android Wear device at the moment.

However, despite its internals, the Gear Live's Android Wear software is what makes it different from all of Samsung's other smartwatch attempts.

Its contextual Google Now-like messages combined with offloading pesky notifications to your wrist may reduce your smartphone usage. That alone may be worth it.

  • See how Android L puts Google's fragmented platform together.