Pocketnow Daily: Samsung & Google’s One UI Watch is CONFUSING! iPhone 13 camera updates & more! (video)

On today’s Pocketnow Daily, we talk about the new changes coming to Samsung Watches with One UI Watch, and more.

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Montblanc Summit Lite is a $860 Wear OS smartwatch with a 2-year old chip

German luxury fashion brand Montblanc has brought its latest smartwatch – the Summit Lite – to the US market. And as you might have already guessed by the headline, this one’s not for spec nerds. And also definitely not for those who go after something called value-for-money. But hey, it’s Montblanc, and the true appeal lies in the high fashion quotient – something I definitely lack, because the latest generation Moto 360 and Galaxy Watch Active2 look better and cost less than a third of what Montblanc is asking here.

Now, let’s talk substance. The Montblanc Summit Lite features a round 1.19-inch AMOLED display protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass. The device comes with a 5ATM (50m) water resistance rating and can take 22mm straps. There’s a rotating crown on the side, flanked by a programmable pusher on each side. The case is made out of recycled aluminum and stainless steel, and it is up for grabs in matte black and matte silver-grey trims.

montblanc summit lite dial

The luxurious Wear OS smartwatch does support NFC-based Google Pay payments. Coming to the fitness-centric capabilities, Montblanc says that the Summit Lite offers a Cardio Coach app doles out gives personalized workout recommendations based on current fitness level (VO2 max) as well as live guidance.

The company claims that the app is also capable of measuring mental and physical exhaustion to show the users’ current energy level by combing sleep, activity, and stress data. Disappointingly, the Montblanc Summit Lite smartwatch comes equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 SoC, a chip that was launched all the way back in September of 2018. It is also the same processor that powers the Montblanc Summit 2 smartwatch which made its debut in 2018.

montblanc summit lite fitness

There is 1GB of RAM inside and 8GB of onboard storage to keep your fitness data and songs. You will find a 400mAh battery to keep the lights on, but we highly doubt that the smartwatch can go past two days of usage on a single charge, just like a lot of other Wear OS smartwatches out there. Priced at $860, the Montblanc offering goes on sale in the US starting today, after being available in a host of other markets since January this year.

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Casio unveils its first G-Shock smartwatch with Wear OS, and it costs a pretty penny

The longevity of Casio’s sturdy G-Shock smartwatches is the stuff of legends. They are big, bulky, rugged, and dumb. The latter status changes today, as the company has launched its smartwatch – the G-Shock GSW-H1000 – that is powered by Google’s Wear OS. The impact-proof exterior of the latest Casio offering uses a corrosion-resistant titanium case, inorganic glass, and soft urethane for the band. It comes with 20ATM certification, with the company claiming that its latest smartwatch can survive a trip down 200 meters of water.

Are you willing to pay $700 for a rugged smartwatch with Wear OS?

Color options on the table are black, blue, and red. As for the price, you’ll have to fork out $700 for this rugged Wear OS-powered Casio G-Shock GSW-H1000 smartwatch in the US. Check out the official promotional video below to see what this pricey Casio smartwatch is all about:

The Casio G-Shock GSW-H1000 smartwatch features a dual-display design, much like the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro S. There is a monochrome display on top of a 1.2-inch (360×360 pixels) color LCD panel to save battery when you’re not using its Wear OS ‘smart’ functions. There are a ton of activity and sports training modes such as surfing, kayaking, and cycling, allowing you to measure metrics such as calories burned, heart rate, pace, and more.

casio smartwatch wear OS
Casio has created a wide array of watch faces that pay homage to the classic G-Shock design and given them a digital spin to show more data, while users can interact with it by tracing their fingers alongside the periphery, much like a capacitive bezel. For outdoor activities, the map overlay will show information such as barometric pressure, altitude measurement, and time graphs to name a few.casio smartwatch wear OS black
In total, you get access to 15 types of activities and 24 types of indoor workouts. With the timepiece mode enabled, the Casio G-Shock GSW-H1000 is touted to last around a month. However, if you intend on making full use of the color LCD panel and milking the benefits of Wear OS, the battery mileage will drop to around 1.5 days.

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OnePlus smartwatch won’t run Wear OS, and I’m excited about it!

Earlier today, some key details about the upcoming OnePlus smartwatch surfaced online prior to its March 23rd debut. Among them was the mention of up to a week’s worth of battery life with just 20 minutes of charging. With such high battery longevity figures, we were skeptical about the watch running Wear OS, since devices powered by Google’s smartwatch OS barely longer than a couple of days. Well, none other than OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has now confirmed that the company’s first smartwatch won’t run Wear OS. Here’s what Lau wrote on the official OnePlus forum:

“When developing the OnePlus Watch, we tried to understand the pain points for a smart watch wearer.
We chose to go with a smart wear operating system developed based on RTOS because we believe it provides you a smooth and reliable experience while offering a great battery life, covering some of the biggest concerns we’ve been hearing from people looking to buy a smartwatch.”

The OnePlus smartwatch will run custom software based on RTOS

In case you’re wondering, RTOS stands for Real-Time Operating System. Or in simple terms, it is the proprietary software developed by a company to run on wearable devices, while allowing limited interaction with third-party apps. For example, you will see incoming message alerts, but actionable notifications might not be possible. The best example is the smartwatches offered by the likes of Xiaomi, HUAWEI, and Honor among other brands. And now, OnePlus is going to join that list. 

OnePlus’ official teasers have confirmed that the upcoming smartwatch will have a round dial. Lau, on the other hand, has also confirmed that the wearable device will offer seamless connectivity with the company’s entire portfolio of devices (phones, audio wearables, and even its smart TVs). Leaks have predicted features such as automatic workout detection, sleep tracking, continuous heart rate monitoring, stress detection, and blood oxygen level measurement as well.

Ditching Wear OS will play in OnePlus’ favor

In my experience, smartwatches running custom software based on RTOS tend to be less power-hungry, which means they can run on a low-end processor and can last up to a few weeks on a single charge. And oh, they tend to much cheaper than their Wear OS running counterparts. Take for example the Moto 360 and Mobvoi’s TicWatch series smartwatches that barely make it past a couple of days worth of usage. OnePlus apparently wanted to avoid those red flags. 

Even though they offer wider app support and deeper integration with Google’s Android ecosystem, their battery life woes and sluggishness over time have proved to be a major hurdle for the Wear OS smartwatch ecosystem. Interestingly, OnePlus originally shelved plans for its smartwatch years ago due to the experience offered by Wear OS not living up to the company’s desired standards. 

OnePlus Watch leak tips a week’s battery in 20 minutes charge, 4GB storage and more

Ditching Wear OS allows cheaper innards, and overall, a more affordable smartwatch

And by reducing the hardware requirements of WearOS, especially if you’re targeting a fluid experience in the long run, OnePlus has avoided using expensive internals. And this would mean the company can price its smartwatch competitively and might be able to one-up the competition from other Chinese brands by adding some extras and offering a design that stands out from the crowd.

OnePlus smartwatch
OnePlus smartwatch schematics (Image: DPMA)

Lau has promised that the OnePlus smartwatch will offer ‘a best-in-class experience at an affordable price point’ and it is quite likely that the company will achieve that goal by not siding with Wear OS. From a customer’s perspective, I am optimistic about OnePlus’ decision, and eagerly looking forward to what the OnePlus smartwatch brings to the table and seeing how it stands out from the competition.

For now, the leaks have me excited. The OnePlus smartwatch will reportedly arrive in a 46mm model with two color options to choose from – silver and black. The build will be IP68-certified, which means you can take it for a swim too. And oh, the device will reportedly offer a dedicated swim mode too. Regarding the seamless connectivity part mentioned above, you will reportedly be able to control your OnePlus TV with the smartwatch. OnePlus is also bringing the proprietary Warp Charge fast charging tech to the game as well.

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Samsung might soon launch a smartwatch running Wear OS

Samsung is apparently ready to rekindle its bond with Google over a dinner date with smartwatches on the table this time. Don’t get the reference? Well, it appears that Samsung is bringing back Google’s Wear OS (previously known as Android Wear) to its smartwatch portfolio after a long spell of using the in-house Tizen OS software.

Leakster Ice Universe has tweeted that Samsung’s new smartwatch will be run Wear OS instead of Tizen OS. Now, it isn’t clear if the tweet below talks about a flagship Galaxy Watch series wearable, or the next entry in the Galaxy Watch Active family. But going by the company’s recent launch schedule, an update to the Galaxy Watch Active2 is next in line for an official launch.

The folks over at GalaxyClub are reporting that two Samsung smartwatches carrying the model numbers SM-R86x and SM-R87x are currently in development. Again, it is unclear if they will debut as the next entrant in the Galaxy Watch series (tentatively called the Galaxy Watch 4) or if they’ll join the more sporty Galaxy Watch Active series, debuting as the Bluetooth and LTE-ready models of an updated version called Galaxy Watch Active3.

Wear OS: A win-win proposition for Samsung and Google, eh?

However, using Wear OS will likely bode well for Samsung as well as Google. In Google’s case, its Android-based wearable operating system struggles to find mainstream takers, save for the likes of the Fossil Group and Mobvoi. Samsung, on the other hand, will get access to an operating system with a better app ecosystem, and more importantly, Google’s backing with handling the software development part.

Exciting things ahead for Samsung smartwatch fans!

And now that we’re talking about upcoming Samsung smartwatches, a report from ETNews suggests that Samsung’s next smartwatch will employ non-invasive technology for taking blood sugar (or glucose) level measurements. Lately, Samsung has updated its latest smartwatches with the ability to measure blood oxygen saturation, ECG, and blood pressure, making them even more capable fitness wearables.

Just in case you’re wondering, the Gear Live launched in 2014 was the last Samsung smartwatch to run an Android-based software. You can watch Pocketnow’s review of the wearable below:

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Fossil Gen 5E offers Snapdragon 3100 and Wear OS smarts at a more affordable price point

Fossil has today launched its latest Wear OS smartwatch – the Fossil Gen 5E (‘E’ for ‘Economical’, eh?). As the name suggests, it is a slightly toned-down version of the vanilla Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch. The Fossil Gen 5E omits the two physical shortcut buttons flanking the crown on the Fossil Gen 5, and it also lacks in-built GPS as it relies on a tether system that shows data obtained from your smartphone. The onboard storage has been reduced to 4GB on the new Fossil smartwatch compared to 8GB on the Fossil Gen 5. Lastly, the new Fossil offering also lacks a compass, ambient light sensor, and altimeter as well.

It is priced at $249 for all sizes and is now up for pre-order from the official Fossil website. The Fossil Gen 5E comes in two sizes – 44mm for men and a new 42mm model for women. The 44mm variant comes in three styles and uses a 22mm strap, while the 42mm model is up for grabs in four design choices and takes 18mm straps. Both the 44mm and 42mm models feature an identical 1.19-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 390 x 390 pixels that translates to a pixel density of 328ppi. 

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 3100 keeps the device running in tandem with 1GB of RAM, while Wear OS handles the software side of things. The Fossil Gen 5E smartwatch packs a 300mAh battery that is claimed to last a full day, while fast charging ensures that it can be charged from 0-80% in just 50 minutes. The watch is claimed to be splash-proof, thanks to 3ATM water resistance rating. However, Fossil claims that its latest smartwatch is swim-proof as well.

Talking about features, the onboard speaker will let you attend calls, interact with Google Assistant and get audible notification alerts. Plus, it can also be used to control connected smart home device via the Google Assistant. Coming to fitness-centric features, the Fossil Gen 5E is capable monitoring of heart-rate, activity tracking, sleep tracking as well as cardio health tracking. It also supports contactless payments via NFC and offers multiple battery modes such as daily mode, extended mode (runs only essential features), clock mode (shows only the time but extends the battery life to over a week), and a custom mode as well. 

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Android 11-based Wear OS announced with new features and support for Qualcomm’s latest SoCs

Google has announced that a new OTA update for Wear OS will arrive in the fall season, and it will introduce a host of new features and performance improvements. The folks over at XDA-Developers have received confirmation that the upcoming build of Wear OS is based on Android 11, a much-needed upgrade from its current iteration which is still stuck on Android 9 Pie.

Notably, the smartwatch platform is adding support for Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Wear 4100 and 4100+ chips that were announced back in June, and are claimed to offer an 85% performance boost, as well as connectivity and power efficiency improvements. Google says the Wear OS update will bring the following changes:

  • Improved performance by making it faster to access information and start apps.
  • Simplified pairing process to make onboarding easier.
  • More intuitive controls for managing different watch modes and workouts.
  • Up to a 20% speed improvement in startup time for apps.
  • New weather experience that includes an hourly breakdown of the weather forecast and local weather alerts.

Source: Android Developers Blog

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