South Korea's two tech pillars, Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc., showcased their Android Wear-powered devices, starting another battle in the global tech industry where firms are in search of new opportunities amid slowed growth in the smartphone market.
Samsung, the world's top maker of smartphones, debuted the Samsung Gear Live, the first member of this year's wearable lineup that works under U.S.-based Google Inc.'s Android Wear platform, in San Francisco on Wednesday (local time).
The company jumped into the wearable market in September with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch that worked on the Android platform.
This year, it rolled out the Galaxy Gear Fit, which works on its real-time operating system, as well as the Tizen-powered Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Neo.
The dust-and-water resistant Galaxy Gear Live comes with a 1.63-inch active mode organic light emitting diode display along with a built-in heart rate monitor that works with a handful of fitness applications.
The Galaxy Gear Live can be linked with all devices that run on the Android 4.3 platform or higher, including those of rivals. It is equipped with a voice-command feature and comes in two colors, black and red. Users can also change the standard 22mm band to other colors.
"While consumers can make reservations for the latest device, the detailed schedule of the sales has not yet been decided," said Lee Min-jeong, an official from Samsung.
"Samsung has been a pioneer in the quickly-evolving wearable market, and the launch of the Gear Live furthers our efforts to deliver a simple and intuitive wearable experience to consumers,"
Shin Jong-kyun, the head of Samsung's mobile division, said in a release.
"Through our long-term close collaboration with Google, we have successfully incorporated the capabilities of Android Wear into the Gear Live, in a way that only Samsung can do," Shin said, adding that the two firms will together positively impact consumers' lives.
LG Electronics Inc., which has been making significant strides in catching up to its bigger rival in the smartphone market, also announced the LG G Watch that works on the new Android Wear platform.
LG earlier showcased the Lifeband Touch at the U.S. Consumer Electronics Show in January, a wearable device that tracks users'
physical activities and can connect to smartphones through its touch screen. However, as its features were limited only to health care, the LG G Watch will become the firm's first full-fledged wearable device that connects to other smart devices.
The LG G Watch comes with a 1.65-inch in-plane switching display and weighs 63 grams, slightly heavier than the Galaxy Gear Live's 59 grams.
One of the key features of the device is "Always-On," which keeps the display lights activated around the clock so that the users can always check the time and other information. The brightness will adjust depending on users' movements.
"Apparently, LG's latest wearable device can run longer than other rivals with its 400mAh battery," said Kim Kyung-hwan, a communications official from LG. Samsung's latest model is equipped with a 300 mAh battery.
"The LG G Watch will stand by for 3 hours without recharging, and around an hour and half with the 'Always-On' feature activated," Kim added.
Samsung, however, did not provide details on the battery life of its new wearable, saying it "will vary depending on users."
The LG G Watch is also dust-and-water resistant, and will work with all Android 4.3-or-higher smart devices. It will come in two colors, black and white. While the device is currently being sold on a reservation basis, it will be distributed to retail stores in about 27 countries starting next month, although the exact date has not been decided.
"As one of the first to market with Android Wear, LG wanted to develop a product that functions as an essential companion device but most importantly, was simple to use," said Park Jong-seok, who heads LG's mobile division.
"We wanted a device that would be simple to learn and so intuitive that users wouldn't even have to think about how to use its features. That's what the LG G Watch is all about," Park added.
Analysts here have been forecasting a brighter outlook for LG Electronics in the second quarter, citing the successful launch of the G3 smartphone, while Samsung Electronics is likely to record lackluster earnings due to stagnant returns from its mobile division. (Yonhap)