Samsung refreshes wearable line, including new Galaxy Watch Active

Along with the S10 smartphones and the new Galaxy Fold handset, Samsung officially announced new wearables in its Galaxy family at its Unpacked event today. The information leaked just days ago purportedly by Samsung’s own Galaxy Wearables mobile app has been proven correct as Samsung showed off a new Galaxy Watch Active smartwatch, a Galaxy Fit tracker, and new true wireless earbuds called the Galaxy Buds on stage.

Starting in the audio department, the Galaxy Buds are Samsung’s latest shot at the cord-less earphone market popularized by Apple’s AirPods. Samsung says they get six hours of battery life on their own per charge, with an additional seven hours available through their charging case. That case supports wireless charging, and can be powered by one of those new Galaxy S10 phones.

The company claims the Galaxy Buds’s case is 30 percent smaller than that of its previous Gear IconX earbuds. Samsung’s much-maligned Bixby assistant is built into the earphones by default, letting users perform a modicum of smartphone controls with their voice—send texts, answer calls, change songs, and more—but the earphones can also use Google Assistant if desired. They connect over Bluetooth 5, and Samsung is touting easier connectivity with its own devices. The company says the Galaxy Buds’ audio has been tuned by its AKG subsidiary, though we’ll have to give them a listen before making any judgments there.

Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Fit

The Tizen-toting Galaxy Watch Active has the same round case as previous Galaxy watches, but notably, no rotating bezel surrounding the 1.1-inch, 360×360 touch display. The company’s previous watches (formerly known as Samsung Gear devices) had portion of the case that users could rotate to interact with the UI when they didn’t want to use the touchscreen. Samsung seems to have abandoned that in its newest smartwatches, focusing instead on a minimalistic look. Samsung did include two physical buttons on the smartwatch’s case, though, so that tactile interaction isn’t going away entirely. The device is also has a 5ATM water-resistant design.

As its name implies, the Galaxy Watch Active has designed to track all day activity just like the Gear Sport did. Samsung didn’t get into all the specifics on stage, but if the Galaxy Watch Active replaces the Gear Sport in the company’s lineup, it will likely track dozens of activities in addition to daily steps and sleep. The watch also has an embedded heart rate monitor and GPS, making it on-par with other fitness-capable wearables like the Apple Watch and Fitbit’s Ionic.

As far as other specs go, the Galaxy Watch Active has and Exynos 9110 processor, 4GB of onboard storage, 768MB of RAM, NFC capabilities for contactless payments, and a 230mAh battery that supports wireless charging (yes, you can sit the watch on the back of the S10 smartphone and charge it up using the handset’s reverse wireless charging feature). Samsung also claims the watch monitors blood pressure, but we’re not entirely sure how that works.

Samsung is taking the same approach as Fitbit does to wearables by providing users more than one option. Not everyone wants to wear a smartwatch, so Samsung introduced new Galaxy Fit bands for those users. The module includes a .95-inch AMOLED touch display, a heart rate monitor, and NFC tech—but no mention of an onboard GPS. The design is also water-resistant, and its rubberized bands should make it a good workout companion. Samsung claims the battery inside the Galaxy Fit will help it last up to one week on a single charge.

Both the Galaxy Watch Active and the Galaxy Fit will monitor all-day activity and sleep, and have multiple onboard workout profiles for exercise tracking. They’ll also have a stress management feature that encourages wearers to take a moment to breathe when tensions are running high.

The Galaxy Buds will arrive on March 8 for $129, though they’ll come included with the Galaxy S10 phones the company announced on Wednesday for those who pre-order before that date. The Galaxy Watch Active arrives that same day for $199, with pre-orders opening on February 21. The Galaxy Fit arrives on May 31 for $99.

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