One of the biggest drawbacks to smartwatches is that they’re really just add-ons for your smartphone. On their own, out of Bluetooth range, they offer very limited functionality. Solutions to this problem bring their own challenges.
Additional functionality requires upgrades to the hardware which in turn requires a larger battery. In the case of 3G connectivity, if you want to be able to send messages and return calls without your phone, you have to be willing to pay for a separate plan because the device will need its own SIM card.
As more devices like the Samsung Galaxy Gear S become available, we look to carriers to see how they’re going to address the above situation. T-Mobile in the United States is hoping that its special wearables pricing will be enough to convince customers to sign up for a separate plan. The company is launching the Galaxy Gear S on November 9th alongside a $5 per month plan. For your money you’ll get unlimited talk, text, and up to 500MB of data.
The biggest stickler is that the device itself will be on a payment plan with T-Mobile. So not only are you paying $5 per month for service, but SlashGear reports customers can either pay $14.58 for 24 months or $349.92 upfront. That isn’t cheap considering the wearables market is going to look vastly different come November 2016.
AT&T is also going to be selling the Galaxy Gear S. Priced at $199, the company will offer service by adding the Gear S to its $10 per month share plan. This will allow users to share their minutes, data, or texting allowance with the Gear S just like the would another smartphone or tablet.
Judging by the T-Mobile’s price and allowances, the company is betting subscribers won’t be doing the majority of their browsing, emailing, IMing, or chatting on their watches and will only use it to make calls and maybe send a few emails. Of course, for longer correspondence, people will always be more comfortable with a larger screen, so perhaps this is a safe bet on T-Mobile’s part.
It’ll be interesting to see how carriers in Canada tackle devices like the Galaxy Gear S and whether consumers see a $5-$10 per month fee as insignificant.
The Galaxy Gear S was announced just ahead of IFA Berlin in early September and packs a 2-inch Super AMOLED display with a 360 x 480 resolution It has 3G connectivity on top of WiFi and Bluetooth, and is powered by a 1.0 GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and a 300mAh battery. The Gear S features 4GB of storage, GPS, heart rate monitor, compass and barometer. It’s IP67 certified and runs on Tizen.