Can Samsung's standalone smartwatch be a game changer?

Samsung will reportedly launch a smartwatch that doesn't need a smartphone attached to it via Bluetooth. Such a device would be welcome, assuming the electronics giant can combine all that functionality in a sleek package.

The problem with smartwatches to date has been that the devices have to be tethered via Bluetooth to your smartphone. As a result, the usefulness is limited to folks who need a companion device so they don't have to reach into their pocket.

Can Samsung shed the smartphone tethering with its next smartwatch?

Samsung is reportedly planning to change that condition. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company plans to launch a standalone smartwatch-meets-phone in the "next few months."

According to the Journal, the watch will be able to make and take calls without a smartphone. The watch will also take photos, send email, include GPS and a heart monitor.

Every smartwatch out there today requires a smartphone and which device you choose depends on app variety in many ways.

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What's unclear is whether Samsung will be able to get the smartwatch/phone down in size enough to be palatable. Initially, I can't help but picture a small smartphone with a wristband attached to it.

The device will also use Samsung's Tizen operating system and take a SIM card.

There are a few major questions about this Samsung smartwatch, which is expected to be revealed in June or July. Among them:

  • How exactly will calls be made?
  • What's the battery life?
  • What are the logistics to taking a photo?
  • How will the data plans be sorted with existing contracts?
  • And how big will the watch face have to be to support the new functionality?

In any case, Samsung's smartwatch could be a game changer if it can really work well without a smartphone. A Dick Tracy watch is a geek's dream, but only if it actually converges and allows you to leave another gadget home.