Rumors, and dreams, do come true. A last minute addition but definitely a welcome one, Samsung Gear Live joined LG and Motorola on stage as the first three official devices for the nascent Android Wear platform. And here at Google I/O, we're getting a first-hand look at what Samsung has to offer.
The leaked specs yesterday was pretty much spot on and the official Samsung announcement reveals the Gear Live's deep roots in the Tizen-powered Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches. The 1.63-inch display may be on par with LG's counterpart, but the higher 320x320 pixel count gives the Gear Live an edge in terms of crispness and clarity. A 1.2 GHz processor runs the whole show, assisted by 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage. As speculated, there is no camera, but Samsung pretty much makes up for that with the heart rate monitor on the underside. And yes, like its Tizen brothers, this watch boasts of IP67 dust and water resistance grade.
Our brief time with the Samsung Gear Live only reinforced the similarities with the camera-less Gear 2 Neo, except for one crucial thing. Gone is the button on the bezel beneath the display, relocated to a more discrete size and position at the side, quite reminiscent of the original Galaxy Gear.
Although it shares the same somewhat rectangular form of the LG G Watch as well as the exact same OS, it is easy to differentiate the Gear Live even from a distance. Like the Galaxy Gear, Gear 2, and Gear 2 Neo, Samsung has installed an aluminum frame around the screen sporting a brushed metal finish. The G Watch, in contrast, is black all around, even with the White Gold strap. As for Samsung's own straps, which are changeable, they have the same rubbery appearance as the other Samsung smartwatches, while the underside sports a rather ribbed look.
The Gear Live definitely left us rather pleased with the mixture of hardware and software. Google's Android Wear paired with a responsive tiny computer, complete with a biometric sensor. And the price is nothing to pan either. Samsung has attached a $199 price tag to the Gear Live, so far the lowest we've seen, with pre-orders starting today and shipping on July 8.
[UPDATE] Google has now revealed the availability of the Samsung Gear Live. This Android Wear smartwatch can be bought from Google Play Store only in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.