Samsung gearing up wearable family with round-faced smartwatch

The South Korean electronics maker is reportedly working on a circular smartwatch to compete with upcoming devices from Motorola and LG.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
2 min read

A July 29, 2014 Samsung patent rendering for an "ornamental design for an electronic device." US Patent and Trademark Office
Motorola's round-faced Moto 360 won't be the only high-profile circular smartwatch for long. South Korean electronics maker Samsung is developing a round smartwatch as part of its Gear line of wearables, Samsung blog SamMobile reported on Monday.

Samsung is expected to unveil new wearables at its Unpacked event next week ahead of the IFA trade show, which starts September 5 in Berlin. It's unclear if Samsung will drop any details on the circular Gear watch then, but the company is expected to unveil the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone and potentially shed light on a separate Gear smartwatch with cellular connectivity. It is also unclear whether Samsung's new wearables will run the Tizen mobile operating system or Google's own Android Wear.

CNET's roundup of predictions and rumors about the Galaxy Note 4

Motorola has pegged a product announcement for September 4 in Chicago, where the company is expected to unveil two new smartphones and announce shipping and pricing info for the Moto 360. LG is working on a circular watch device as well -- and teased the product in a video over the weekend -- that it plans on revealing at IFA, according to Engadget.

Samsung declined to comment specifically on round-faced smartwatch development. "Samsung is committed to relentless innovation and new products are always in development," a company spokesperson told CNET, "but at this time we don't have any information to share on the speculation on the product you mentioned."

The scramble to crack the code for which smartwatch from factor will catch on with consumers has reached a fever pitch among large device makers. Smaller smartwatch makers like the Kickstarter-backed Pebble have been steadily plugging away on cross-platform devices that are more functional than flashy. In the meantime, Android-powered device makers like Samsung, LG, and Motorola are all racing to keep their watch design efforts up to date ahead of a presumed Apple wearable announcement sometime this fall.

Samsung's current smartwatches, the Gear Live and Gear 2, contain square watch faces, as a four-sided screen more easily replicates the design interface of a handheld smartphone. However, as wearables become more low-cost, powerful, and accessible to mainstream markets, customers are clamoring for a more traditional watch that incorporates attractive aesthetics.

When Google announced at its annual I/O developers conference in June that attendees would be getting a free Moto 360, but would have to wait months for it to arrive, the bittersweet reaction was a stark illustration of where consumer interests lie. Round, not square, is what's exciting consumers. So even though attendees were given a choice between LG's G Watch and Samsung's Gear Live to take home on I/O day two, the constant buzz around Motorola's offering was proof that the Moto 360 had stolen the spotlight.

Samsung may be now trying to do the same to its smartwatch rival just one day ahead of the official Moto 360 launch.