The 12 pros and cons of a cellular smartwatch

Samsung Gear 2 variant would be a standalone smartwatch, according to reports

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4. Battery life could be a bigger challenge than any other hardware concern. With the cellular radios and antennas in a standalone smartwatch, a bigger battery would be needed. Wearers of conventional wristwatches expect their batteries to last for years, and even a few days with a Bluetooth-connected smartwatch seems too frequent for many. Daily charges on a standalone smartwatch might be the same as with what we've come to expect with a smartphone, but some users will probably balk. The Gear 2 without cellular has a 300 mAh battery, which is tiny compared to many smartphones, which are expected to last three days with requiring a charge, based on average usage.

5. Given the need for a larger battery in a standalone smartwatch, more room for antennas and cellular radio chips, and the need to have a screen that is big enough to support videoconferencing and browsing, it is hard to believe that the Gear 2 would be large enough. The Gear 2 specs for a Bluetooth connection to a Samsung Android smartphone, as released by Samsung, show a 1.6-in. display and a 2.4-ounce overall weight. At that size and weight, it is already too large for the wrists of many people, according to analysts who have surveyed potential users.

6. Size and weight are one thing, and both point to, perhaps, the ultimate question about styling. Since many people compare smartwatches to wristwatches and therefore jewelry, the styling question could be paramount. Most female customers will have to decide, "Can I wear this?" the same way they would evaluate a bracelet, giving more attention to styling than they ever gave to a smartphone, which can be buried in a purse or pocket out of view.

Whether the Gear 2 ever lands in the U.S. as a cellular device is unknown. Samsung isn't talking, officially, at least.

"Some wearable devices will break the cord from phones and tablets, but I think that there are still many hurdles for that to happen, like impact on design and battery life," said Milanesi. "Also, users will need to worry about the cost for yet another connected device."

This article, The 12 pros and cons of a cellular smartwatch, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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