T-Mobile is set to start selling the LTE-capable Samsung Galaxy Watch later this week. But T-Mobile won't be alone in offering the device. Both Verizon and AT&T confirmed they too will sell the Samsung Galaxy Watch at some unnamed later date. And Samsung said the gadget would eventually expand to all major U.S. carriers.
The news comes as wireless operators across the industry look to grow their addressable market beyond smartphones. Indeed, wearables have slowly but surely grown into a potentially major opportunity for wireless operators to garner additional revenues from subscribers. Most of the nation's top wireless network operators sell service plans for wearables for an additional $10 per month. And that revenue stream appears set to grow.
For example, BayStreet Research in May found the nation’s wireless network operators collectively are selling tens of thousands of LTE-capable Apple Watch devices every month, and the vast majority of those sales include a new line of wireless service. (Apple offers both cellular and noncellular Apple Watch options, though wireless carriers in their retail channels generally only push the cellular version.)
And those sales may be expanding. Last month executives from both Verizon and T-Mobile specifically mentioned wearables as an element driving their customer net addition figures in the second quarter. “Net phone additions were 199,000 including 398,000 smartphones, postpaid net adds totaled 531,000 including tablet net losses of 37,000 offset by 369,000 other connected devices led by wearables,” said Verizon’s CFO Matt Ellis, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of his remarks during the company's second-quarter earnings conference call.
“We also had strong branded postpaid net additions of 1 million, supported by continued strong growth of wearables, particularly the Apple Watch,” echoed T-Mobile's CEO John Legere in his company’s earnings conference call.
Wireless operators traditionally do not break out the types of devices they are activating as part of their quarterly earnings reports.
The growth of Apple’s smartwatch business may well have drawn Samsung into the game. Although Samsung has built cellular-capable watches in the past, the company's newest Galaxy Watch stands as its new flagship wearable device.
Unveiled in conjunction with the announcement of Samsung's Galaxy Note9, the LTE variants of the 42mm and 46mm Galaxy Watches will begin shipping on Sept. 2 and will cost $380 and $400.
As noted by Android Authority, both watches run Samsung’s Tizen OS 4.0, feature a 1.2-inch or 1.3-inch Super AMOLED display and include a 270mAh or 472mAh battery. Both devices will also be powered by a dual-core 1.15GHz CPU, 1.5GB RAM and 4GB of internal memory.
T-Mobile appears set to be the first to market with the device; the operator said customers who buy a Samsung Galaxy Watch can get half off a second Samsung Galaxy Watch with 24 monthly bill credits when they add a line.
Article updated Aug. 23 with commentary from Samsung.