Samsung unveils its new circular Gear S2 smartwatches

The watches run Samsung's Tizen operating system, but we don't know when they'll be released

Samsung has made its latest foray into the smartwatch market with the new Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic, expanding its ever-evolving lineup of wearables.

The watches, announced Monday, have circular screens 1.2 inches in diameter, making them stand out from Samsung's other wearables, most of which have sported rectangular faces. The interface takes advantage of the round screen, including an app launcher that lets users tap on round targets to switch applications.

The watches have a ring around the face that rotates to control functions, and they have new fitness capabilities, including a 24-hour activity log that users can check to see at a glance how active they've been.

The Gear S2 Classic will have a black stainless steel case and a black leather band, while the Gear S2 will come in a dark gray case with a dark gray band or a silver case with a white band. According to Samsung, the watches will run for 2-3 days depending on how people use them. Unlike their predecessor, both the Gear S2 and S2 Classic will be available without a 3G modem, though they will have reduced functionality when not in range of a paired Samsung smartphone.

The S2 and S2 Classic are both 11.4 millimeters thick, roughly a millimeter thicker than the Apple Watch. Even so, they're svelte compared to the Gear S, which has a 2-inch rectangular display designed to curve around the top of a user's wrist.

Users who spring for a Gear S2 with a 3G modem will find that it's bigger (both in terms of diameter and thickness) and heavier than its non-cellular counterpart. The Gear S2 Classic isn't available with 3G.

The watches run Samsung's Tizen operating system, which Samsung uses to power many of its smartwatches. That means it won't be contributing to or getting apps from Google's Android Wear ecosystem. For now, the company said it will have "a variety" of apps available at launch that are optimized for the S2's circular screen. In addition, Samsung is working with its partners to develop further applications.

There's still a lot we don't know about the new watches: Samsung hasn't announced when they're going to be available for purchase or how much they'll cost.

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Blair Hanley Frank

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