Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom are said to be in discussions to release a new standalone variant of the Samsung Gear 2, which will allow users to make calls without connecting to a smartphone.
Samsung is planning to release the new smart watch equipped with a universal subscriber identity module, or USIM, through SK Telecom, Korea’s biggest telecommunications vendor, according to those close to the matter.
One SK Telecom source said the new model would only be available in Korea for a while, but did not rule out the possibility of a release in other global markets.
A Samsung official declined to comment on the release of the new variant of the Gear 2.
Shin Jong-kyun, chief executive officer of Samsung Electronics, speaks as he launches a new range of Galaxy Gear 2 and Gear Fit wearable devices and the Galaxy S5 smartphone in Barcelona in February. (Bloomberg)
Although the latest news about the smart watch was unexpected, industry officials said it was not a novel idea.
“A smart watch equipped with a USIM card is not implausible,” said an industry source, adding that battery life would be an issue, since a watch equipped with an USIM card would consume more power.
Some handset makers, including LG Electronics, have already unveiled standalone watch phones.
LG Electronics released the Watch Phone, compatible with 3G networks, in 2009.
The LG Watch Phone sported a camera and a 1.43 screen that allowed users to make and take voice and video calls and connect to the Internet, but only built-in applications were available.
As there is also a camera mounted on the new Gear 2, users will likely be able to make video calls using the gadget. The Samsung Galaxy Gear and the initial version of its successor, Samsung Gear 2, must be Bluetooth-tethered to Galaxy smartphones for users to make phone calls.
Samsung has been ratcheting up efforts to expand the wearable gadget market by unveiling a series of wearable gadgets, including Samsung Gear 2 and Samsung Gear Fit in February.
The Korean tech company, which on Monday released the software development kit, or SDK, for its Tizen-based Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, expects application developers to roll out new apps to help build an ecosystem for wearables.
The Samsung Gear 2, the Samsung Gear 2 Neo and Samsung Gear Fit are expected to hit the shelves as early as this month in the global market.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org