Samsung’s mobile portfolio is already crowded with wrist-worn wearables, including the Galaxy Gear, Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit. Yet now there’s a rumor afloat that it’s adding another smartwatch to its arsenal: the Gear Solo.
A report from the Korea Herald says that Samsung is developing a smartwatch with its own integrated Universal Subscriber Identity Module, or USIM. This would allow users to make and receive phone calls without having to pair the watch with a smartphone. In essence, the Gear Solo would fully realize the Dick Tracy scenario that Samsung portrays in its TV commercial.
Apparently, Samsung has already filed a patent with the Korean Intellectual Property Office for the Gear Solo name. Of course, Gear Solo may not become the official name of the device in question—assuming the device is ever released. Nonetheless, Samsung’s purported plan to move forward with a standalone phone-watch is particularly interesting considering that most of the world’s smartwatches require phone tethering for features like weather updates and message notifications.
The Gear Solo rumor provokes a couple of questions. For starters: How would carriers handle a separate line for the smartwatch? After all, no smartwatch could obviate the need for a full-fledged smartphone, so consumers would want to have two devices on one single bill somehow. No one is going to pay for two separate wireless plans in this day and age.
Or is the rumor just a calculated ploy to get Google’s Android Wear out of the spotlight as Samsung’s Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo prepare to go on sale? Either way, there’s a lot of competition coming to the wearables space, and it’s likely some company will figure out how to have a standalone smartwatch sooner or later.