A close friend of mine bought the Galaxy S6 smartphone last year. He had sold his iPhone 6 to procure one.
Here's how things went once...
On a windy October evening, my friend Nishank and I were sipping a few single malts at a club near my house. After downing a few drinks, we decided to take close up shots of the whiskey glass which contained the glittery gold of whiskey and soda.
Suddenly, Nishank sprang to life and started staring at his new Galaxy S6 smartphone. “You know, they’ve ripped off the speaker grill design from the iPhone,” he said. For me, it was nothing new. I have been hearing the same sentiment about Apple’s products since the very day I started my career as a technology reporter.
In six years, things have rapidly progressed. And as I review the new Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch for the "Gadgets and Gizmos" show on India Today TV, I strongly feel that the days of calling Samsung a copycat are long gone. Yes, the Galaxy S6 had shades of an iPhone-like design, but largely it was unique and made out of exquisite materials. I feel the Gear S2 could teach Apple a thing or two about smartwatch design.
Outlandish as it may sound, to me, it is the complete truth. Don’t take this with a pinch of salt because I’ve been called an "Apple fanboy" over the years. That too with good reason, as I type this on my spanking new MacBook Pro and I am surrounded by two iPhones and also an Android review unit, which I am using just for the sake of testing the new Samsung Gear S2 - a smartwatch which I am sure you’ve seen all over the television.
But here’s the rub. The Gear S2 is as well designed and sporty smartwatch as you’ll ever find in the market. That includes the Apple Watch too, which was launched last year to pomp and grandeur. It starts with the ingenious user interface, which is something one expects Apple to nail. The fact is that Apple has been beaten by Samsung, and this will hurt the company at its core.
Apple likes to boast that it has been at the forefront of user interface design since its inception. It claims that it brought the mouse to the world with the Macintosh, the click wheel with the iPod, multi-touch with the iPhone and now it will have you believe that the digital crown is the holy grail of smartwatch design. Well to be honest, in some cases, Apple isn’t telling the truth; the mouse came from Xerox Parc, and multi-touch existed before the iPhone and now the new digital crown in its current state is imperfect.
Samsung’s radial rotating bezel on the Gear S2, on the other hand, is close to perfect. Samsung could seriously teach Apple chief design officer, Sir Jonathan Paul Ive, and company a thing or two about smartwatch design.
Likewise, the Gear S2 firstly has a circular screen. Not a square one as in the Apple Watch. And radial of the Gear S2 rotates smoothly and offers a satisfying clicking sound. It is almost reminiscent of the satisfaction the original iPod brought its users with the click wheel. The same cannot be said about the digital crowd on the Apple Watch, which feels like an uncomfortable chore to use in comparison.
Unlike most smartwatches in the market, it is also rather compact and lightweight like a top class Casio sports watch. The interface is fast and fluid and seamless to understand. It is a different smartwatch from the deluge of Android-based products and indeed Apple’s take in the category, and for the better.
At Rs 24,990, it makes no pretensions of being an exquisite timepiece like the Apple Watch, but it sure does show that Samsung’s Tizen operating system is great for smartwatches and its radial interface is the future for wearables. It is high time Apple learns a thing or two from Samsung, and if it does, then Apple’s scale could be the inflection point for smartwatches as a category.