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Sights Set on Apple, Samsung Unveils Gear S2 Smartwatch

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

Move over Apple, Samsung has a new smartwatch on the way, and it’s downright beautiful.

Announced today ahead of Samsung’s press event on Sept. 3 in Berlin, Samsung’s Gear S2 features a circular watch face (rather than a square face like the Apple Watch’s) with an attractive metal frame.

That rounded shape isn’t just about good looks, though: Samsung has designed the Gear S2’s bezel to move and act as a kind of pointer for selecting and opening apps and settings menus. It’s a reworking of the traditional wristwatch shape to accommodate the functionality of a new kind of gadget — much as Apple repurposed the crown of its watch as a button for interacting with apps.

Read more: The Apple Watch: Half Computer, Half Jewelry, Mostly Magical

The Gear S2 will be available in two sizes: the standard Gear S2 and the slimmer and lighter Gear S2 Classic. The Gear S2 matches up with Apple’s larger 42mm Apple Watch, while the Gear S2 Classic’s parallel is the 38mm Apple Watch. Interestingly, though, both versions of the Gear S2 are larger than their Apple Watch counterparts.

Unlike Samsung’s Gear Live and smartwatches from Motorola, Sony, and LG, which run Google’s Android Wear software, the Gear S2 is powered by Samsung’s Tizen operating system. Unfortunately, that means the Gear S2 will only work with Samsung’s own smartphones.

If you do have a Samsung phone, though, the Gear S2 will provide you with notifications for things like email, news, text messages, and calendar updates. Samsung is also releasing a version of the Gear S2 with its own cellular antenna, so you can use the watch without needing your phone right there.

Like the Apple Watch, the Gear S2 will also support mobile payments via near-field communication (NFC), so you’ll be able to put your watch up to a NFC reader at a participating retailer’s register, and quickly pay for your items.

Unfortunately, retailers that support NFC technology are few and far between, so you won’t be able to use Samsung’s payment service in at too many retailers.

Samsung claims the Gear S2 will eclipse the Apple Watch in battery life. The Apple Watch usually lasts about a day before you need to recharge it. The Gear S2, though, is said to last between two and three days on a single charge. If that claim is true, the Gear S2 could be a real breakthrough for smartwatches. Like the Apple Watch, the Gear S2 comes with a wireless charger.

Samsung says it is working with app developers to ensure that there are a number of apps available for the Gear S2 at launch.

We’ll have much more on the Gear S2 when we get our hands on it in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley or on Google+.