Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), the largest maker of devices using Google Inc.’s Android software, unveiled wristwatches based on its Tizen operating system for the first time.
Samsung introduced the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo devices at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, the Suwon-based company said in an e-mailed statement. The 1.63-inch wristwatches will go on sale from April and are compatible with more than dozens of Samsung’s Android-based Galaxy smartphones, it said.
The South Korean maker last year released an initial version of the Gear watch running on Android. While Samsung has risen to the top of the smartphone market using the Google operating system, it has been working with other companies including Intel Corp. to develop the Tizen open-source platform, cutting its dependence on Google’s technology.
The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will let users make calls, take photos and monitor heartrates. Slimmer and lighter than the first version, they will be available in colors including black, orange, gray and brown, according to today’s statement.
Separately, the world’s biggest maker of smartphones is expected to release its new Galaxy smartphone with a 5.2 inch display, larger and sharper than the current S4’s screen, at the Mobile World Congress next week. The S5, with an improved battery and camera, will be released about the same time as the upgraded Gear smartwatch, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.
The new devices come as Samsung faces slowing profit growth amid concern the high-end smartphone market is nearing saturation on top of rising competition from Chinese makers bringing out smartphones costing as little as $100.
The company last month said fourth-quarter net income rose 5.4 percent from a year earlier to 7.22 trillion won ($6.7 billion), its slowest profit growth since 2011 as Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s new iPhones lured high-end customers.
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