The obvious big distinction between Galaxy Gear and the rest of the smartphone market is the inclusion of a camera module with auto focus in the wrist band. Initially I thought this would be something terrible and a novelty at best, but the Gear actually produces surprisingly decent photos considering its size and resolution (just 1392x1392 square). The module does stick out of the wrist band a notable amount, and I’d be concerned about longevity over the course of the Gear, as I normally hit my wrist on things during the course of a normal day, but it does work.

The camera interface on Gear is very simple, just tap to focus and capture anywhere, and the capture routine runs. I've included a number of photos of the interface in the hardware gallery starting here. At the top left is a switcher between stills and video, and top right gives you shortcuts to imaging settings, including between a 1:1 and 4:3 mode for the still camera (1:1 gives you the full sensor area it seems), and focus mode (auto or macro). In video mode you can select between 1:1 and 16:9 video resolution settings, which work out to 640x640 or 720p respectively. I’ve made copies of the video samples I took at the bench location available both on YouTube as shown below and on our own servers zipped up, both 720p and 640 square.

You can record a maximum of 15 seconds of video at a time, and store a maximum of 50 images and videos on the Gear at one time. There’s also no ability to disable the camera shutter sounds, which is probably a good thing considering its potential for creepshots, but the speaker at the bottom is easily silenced with a finger.

It’s kind of amazing to be able to get anything out of a camera that fits into the strap of a watch, so I won’t complain about imaging quality a whole lot. Again I’m impressed at what comes out of a camera that fits into this form factor. Also shooting from the wrist often means shooting from waist level, which means different perspective that forces you into taking some shots you wouldn't take otherwise. I'm a fan of wearables with camera if nothing else because they force me to take photos that aren't eye level, and those different heights and positions are where some of the most interesting or out of the ordinary photos are photographed from. I guess the Gear could also be perfect for corporate espionage, at least until more people start recognizing the fact that there's a camera on your watch, but I digress.

My only concerns with the Gear are really just interface related – I took a lot of photos on accident since the swipe down gesture used for back also will get you to the camera and take a photo, literally every road leads to taking a photo in the Gear interface with that back swipe. The other issue is that getting the images off of Gear is cumbersome, you have to transfer them through the gallery to the attached phone, and then delete them all to get around that 50 photo or video maximum each time.

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  • name99 - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    You mean M7 as the low power chip, not A7.

    (And yes, to stop the screaming rom the peanut gallery, the CURRENT M7 is not really a custom Apple SOC, in the same way that the A4 was not really a custom Apple SOC.
    It is, however, a placeholder for Apple's intentions, and I expect over time we will see more and more of the low performance low power always-on stuff move to that chip. The finger print sensor for example, the MEMS sensors --- if it's possible to fab them on the same chip as logic --- and perhaps some sniffers for BT and WiFi which give control to the real WiFi and BT chip when they detect what looks like a signal.)
  • tech4tac - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    No, I do mean the Cortex-A7. It's an ARM design for low power to run as a companion with or without the Cortex-A15.
  • name99 - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    Ah, OK. Fair enough.
    (It is rather awful the naming conventions in this space, isn't it? Couldn't Apple have called their series of chips the I4, I5, I6, I7?)
  • phoenix_rizzen - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link

    It's only awful when people try to shorten things and drop off important information.

    Apple A7 vs Cortex-A7 vs A7.

    Just saying "A7" is meaningless, especially when the name of the ARM chip is Cortex-A7 (note the hyphen).
  • Kepe - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    I paused for the first picture of the article for a while and thought just what the hell are those slot screws doing on the front of the thing, pointing in all directions like that. They look absolutely horrible and would be a deal-breaker if I was in the market for one these things. Also, the idea of sticking Android in to a watch is ridiculous, at least with currently available tech. No matter how "smart" a watch is, it's supposed to have good battery life, show the time 24/7 and resist the wear of daily usage including bumping your hand into something, washing your hands or taking a shower.
  • Spaz888 - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link

    You carry your smartphone with you and now you want to wear an ugly watch connected wireless as well? Does any one wear watches any more except girls as fashion statements? Besides, with all these EMF radiation is it really a good thing to have all these devices around with you on? And what about charging? Sounds like a lot of hassle. Men will be forced to wear man purses just to carry all these things around.
  • UNHchabo - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link

    I wear a watch daily, but I tend to prefer mine to be relatively lightweight and low-profile.

    I like a watch because it means I can tell time quickly; it usually takes less than 2 seconds, and I can do it while sitting down, or while my hands are busy with other things like washing my hands. Meanwhile, I can't imagine most people being able to take their phone out, check the time, and put it away, in less than 10 seconds, especially as smartphones have trended larger and pants have trended slimmer.

    One of my coworkers noted that the divide seems to be about age 25 right now; you hardly see anyone younger than that wearing a watch, whereas many people older than that do.

    If I could add a small monochrome LCD screen to my watch to give me the same information as my phone's lockscreen, that would be perfect -- it could tell me if I had new voicemail, or the phone number of the person calling me, so that I would know whether to bother taking my phone out of my pocket. A vibration motor would also be useful, especially since most women carry their phone in their purse, so in circumstances where you don't want your ringtone on, you can still tell if your phone is going off.
  • Gorgenapper - Friday, October 4, 2013 - link

    I can check the time on my Galaxy S4 Active in around 4 - 5 seconds, using casual movements and not being in a hurry. 2 seconds if I try hard. But then I don't wear skinny jeans.
  • gnx - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link

    I dream of the day when there will no longer be any fanboy wars. When isheep and androidbots can graze together in the pastures of comments.

    Beyond that, this rather surprisingly positive review got me thinking, I) to the reviewer must have pretty thick wrists to not find the size uncomfortable and ii) he is a real hardware geek who appreciates the engineering of smartphone internals into a watch.
  • meacupla - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link


    but I ditched my wrist watch because my phone kept time better and I don't like wearing bulky wrist watches to start with.

    Why doesn't samsung use their flexible OLED screen in something thinner and more, flexible?

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