Samsung Launches $400 Smart Ring And Ultra Watch To Challenge Apple

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Bloomberg

Samsung Electronics Co. is upping its bid to rival Apple Inc. in wearables by launching a smart ring and releasing a new high-end wearable with a similar look and features as the Apple Watch Ultra.

At its Unpacked event in Paris, the company said its long-anticipated Galaxy ring will cost $400 and monitor a wearer's fitness and sleep. The ring will have sensors for skin temperature, track women's menstrual cycle and last up to a week on a single charge, the company said. Adding to the focus on digital health at the event, Samsung's other major new debut was the Galaxy Watch Ultra, a $650 wearable made of titanium with sleep apnea detection and two-day battery life.

Samsung's push into the premium segment of health gadgets shows the world's biggest smartphone maker taking on Apple and smaller boutique outfits like Oura Health Oy, the maker of the eponymous Oura ring. For the Korean firm, whose consumer tech business was a rare bright spot in a tough 2023, it marks the latest step in building out an Apple-like ecosystem of complementary products. It'll also serve as a test of how much people are willing to spend on health and wellness gadgets.

"Smart rings have been a niche market; we're expecting less than two million units to ship this year. That compares to the much larger smartwatch market of 163 million units,” said Bryan Ma, vice president at IDC. "Samsung has the potential to change the market size given its tremendous distribution footprint and marketing reach.”

The Galaxy ring will be available in nine sizes and Samsung will offer fitting kits to help users find the right one. The company also pledged that the device won't require a subscription, distinguishing it from the otherwise cheaper Oura ring and other new wearables. Combined with the lack of a screen or app ecosystem, that could make it difficult for the company to monetize the category - though Samsung will be hoping that it helps the overall experience of its other devices like Galaxy smartphones.

The new Galaxy Watch Ultra looks and functions much like the $799 flagship Apple Watch Ultra, replete with similar construction, night mode interface options, an emergency siren and a so-called Quick Button to launch workouts or other commonly used functions. The Ultra also has improved sensors for heart rate monitoring, dual GPS bands for improved tracking in congested cities and a faster processor.

Samsung also announced the Galaxy Watch 7, which looks like prior models but includes new AI features like an energy score that predicts how ready a person is for each day based on their sleep and activity levels. Google's Fitbit gadgets offer such a metric already.

The new devices come ahead of an August launch of new Pixel Watches from Alphabet Inc.'s Google. Those wearables are expected to come with larger screen size options. For its part, Apple typically reveals its newest watches in September. It's working on a major update to both its Ultra and standard models, including a thinner and larger version of its mid-tier offering.


The Peninsula

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