Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch dumps Android for Tizen OS

Korean firm adds a heart-rate monitor to kickstart interest in its wearable.

Samsung has unveiled its second generation smartwatch devices, with the firm opting to ditch Android in favour of fellow Linux-based operating system Tizen.

The Korean firm has released two watches - the Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Neo. Most of the hardware specifications are identical to each other and also the original smartwatch, which was launched six months ago.

The Gear 2/Neo ship with the same 1.63in Super Amoled screen (320 x 320), 4GB of internal storage and 512MB of RAM. Samsung has beefed up the processor to a 1GHz dual-core chip, and improved the camera to 2-megapixels with auto-focus. The Neo does not feature a camera. Both carry a IP67 rating - meaning they are resistant to dust and water. 

Samsung has shrunk the power pack to 300mAh, but is claiming better battery life. Users will be able to get up to three days of typical usage on a single charge, according to Samsung. In comparison, the original Gear struggled to last for 24 hours with its 315mAh battery.

The biggest change comes on the software side. Samsung has invested heavily to get Tizen off the ground along with firms such as Intel - and this could mark the start of its decision to slowly move away from Android.

Samsung is keen on pushing the health-related features of the second generation Gear devices. The smart watches have a built-in a heart rate sensor, to accompany the existing pedometer and there is an app to monitor "sleep and stress".

Other features including the ability to accept calls via Bluetooth, take pictures (Gear 2 only), receive text, email and app notifications, control music, and use Samsung features such as S-Voice and ChatON. 

The Gear 2 and Gear Neo will start shipping worldwide in April, but the firm is yet to disclose pricing. The original retailed at 299 on launch and we expecting pricing to be in the same ballpark. Upon launch the smartwatches will work with "dozens of Samsung Galaxy smartphones", but a list has not yet been released.

Despite Samsung releasing its first smartwatch just six months ago, uptake for these devices has been poor. In November 2013, it was reported that the Korean giant had sold just 50,000 units, despite dominating the smartphone market.

Samsung claimed that it had shipped 800,000 devices to retailers in two months, but keep tight-lipped on actual sell-through to customers.

The Galaxy Gear was met with disappointing reviews across the tech world, with complaints including the fact it only worked with the Note 3 and 10.1 on launch and the poor battery life. It appears that Samsung has improved on these weaknesses, but it remains to be seen whether this will transfer into sales.

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