LG, Samsung unveil dueling wearables with G Watch R, 3G-powered Gear S

Rivals LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics announced new wearable devices ahead of the IFA trade show next week in Berlin, intensifying competition as smartphone companies vie for consumer attention--and their wallets--in what some see as the next frontier of computing.

LG unveiled the G Watch R, which it had teased earlier this week, and said it will formally roll out the smart watch powered by Android Wear at IFA. LG did not announce a price for the G Watch R but said it will be "available in key markets" early in the fourth quarter. LG's current Android Wear smart watch, the G Watch, retails for $229.

Unlike the G watch, the G Watch R sports a round face and a 1.3-inch full circle Plastic OLED display; the device has the look of a traditional watch. The G Watch R is powered by a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 400 processor, and has 4 GB of storage, 512 MB of RAM and a 410mAh battery. The watch runs all compatible Android Wear apps available in the Google Play store and delivers notifications and messages, including for calendar appointments and local weather forecasts.

lg g watch r
LG G Watch R

Meanwhile, Samsung announced the Gear S smart watch, which notably includes a built-in 3G cellular connection. The device supports 3G connections in the 900/2100 MHz or 850/1900 MHz bands. The wearable will let consumers make and receive calls directly from their wrist, or get calls forwarded from their smartphones. Most smart watches to date have Bluetooth connectivity that pairs them to compatible smartphones. Samsung said users can switch easily between 3G and Bluetooth connections, and the watch will automatically synchronize information when paired to a smartphone.

samsung gear s smart watch
Samsung Gear S

The Gear S also has Wi-Fi support and features a 2-inch curved Super AMOLED display and a dual-core 1 GHz processor. Interestingly, the watch runs on the Tizen platform, not Android. Further, the device features turn-by-turn pedestrian navigation provided by Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) HERE platform, a 24-hour news and views service from The Financial Times' combined with advanced-reading technology from Spritz, and the ability to see and respond to Facebook notifications. The Gear S also has built-in GPS, Samsung's S Health features and integration with apps such as Nike+ Running.

​Samsung also announced another wearable, the Gear Circle, which is more of a necklace than a watch. When paired with a smartphone, users can receive calls, listen to music and make voice commands via Bluetooth. The devices features a magnetic lock which clasps around the user's neck when not in use, as well as a vibrate function to signal incoming calls and notifications.

Samsung said the Gear S and the Gear Circle will be available in "global markets in phases" through Samsung's retail channels, online stores and via carriers beginning October. The company did not disclose pricing.

For more:
- see this LG release
- see this Samsung release
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this The Verge article 
- see this separate The Verge article

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