On February 20, 2019, Samsung announced a group of new device launches at Samsung Unpacked 2019, held in San Francisco. The wearable releases included the Galaxy Watch Active ($199 fitness-focused smartwatch), Galaxy Fit ($99 activity tracker), and Galaxy Buds ($130 wireless earbuds). The devices were the latest offerings in Samsung's recently rebranded Galaxy line of wearable devices (previously called Samsung Gear).
Samsung's Galaxy Buds won't need to perform as well as Apple's AirPods to sell
The Galaxy Buds, available March 8 and priced at $130, replace 2018's Samsung Gear IconX and were necessary to round out Samsung's Galaxy device ecosystem. The Galaxy Buds will have five hours of talk time or six hours of music playback compared with two hours and five hours, respectively, from the AirPods. Samsung leveraged its acquired AKG sound technology into the Galaxy Buds to try and rival the sound and microphone quality of AirPods. It won't be a key issue, however, if quality levels aren't as good as Apple's offering. Most Samsung customers will just be happy to have a Galaxy-branded device that can seamlessly integrate with their phones, and the majority of Samsung customers will not have experienced the AirPods to make a quality comparison. Furthermore, the Samsung S10 phone can turn into a device-to-device wireless charger. The Galaxy Buds will be the most suitable of the wearable devices to utilize the charging feature given the smaller battery form factor and frequent use with the phone.
Similar to 2018's Galaxy Watch, the Galaxy Watch Active ($199 with a March 8 release) has heart-rate tracking, GPS, and NFC as well as new fitness-focused features including activity detection and blood pressure monitoring via an app (to be released March 15). If accurate, the blood-pressure-monitoring feature will be a key differentiating feature from the industry-leading, fitness-focused Apple Watch ($399). The Galaxy Watch Active doesn't have an LTE offering like the Apple Watch or 2018 Galaxy Watch but instead focuses on providing users with a sleeker design for fitness-focused use cases (e.g., removing the weighty navigation bezel on the Galaxy Watch). The Galaxy Watch Active provides a good alternative to the Apple Watch, but as with Samsung's other wearables, the company will need to ensure the integrability with the rest of its Galaxy device ecosystem is seamless.
The last wearable announced, the Galaxy Fit ($99 for a May 21 release), essentially serves as the Galaxy-branded version of Samsung's Gear Fit activity tracker offering.
Wearable Devices Tracker: 3Q18, CES004-000059 (November 2018)
Rishi Kaul, Research Analyst, Consumer Technology