Step aside, Dick Tracy: Samsung is planning to bring a wrist-communicator to the masses later this year. The company is working on a smartwatch similar to the ones it currently offers but this one will work as a phone for voice calls on its own. Samsung’s existing smartwatches can be used for voice calls as Bluetooth handsets and require a connected smartphone for the actual call.
The plans came to light in a Wall Street Journal report on Friday, courtesy of unnamed people familiar with the product. The Journal’s sources suggest the new smartwatch is planned for a launch in either June or July and will run on Samsung’s Tizen software. Samsung’s first smartwatch debuted last year running Google Android(s goog) but newer similar products run on Tizen. Samsung is also reportedly planning to switch software in the original Galaxy Gear smartwatch from Android to Tizen through software update.
In order for Samsung’s new smartwatch to act as a cellular phone, it will require a carrier SIM card for service. That implies the watch will require a paid voice plan, if not also a data plan, for consumers. And that’s going to be a tough sell. Using a watch for voice calls — even on Samsung’s existing smartwatch products over Bluetooth — doesn’t yet offer a great experience. Paying for that poor experience when a perfectly good one is available on a smartphone will hamper any chance of a standalone smartwatch unless Samsung pulls a rabbit out of the hat. Perhaps it needs to enlist Dick Tracy to do some sleuthing and see if consumers even want to take phone calls from their wrist.