Samsung may have shot first with the Galaxy Gear, but its smartwatch is far from game-changing. Aside from being slow, clunky and limited in features, the Gear's biggest flaw is that it's a companion device, which requires a Bluetooth connection to a compatible smartphone. The Neptune Pine that recently smashed its Kickstarter goal is an actual Dick Tracy dream smartphone.
In development for over a year, the water-resistant Pine works without a smartphone. You can make and take calls, tap out text messages, listen to music and take pictures, just like you would on a smartphone. It works exactly like a smartphone, too: just pop in a micro SIM card and you're good to go — a smartphone now on your wrist.
At its core, the Pine is an Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean device (Android 4.4 KitKat will be supported after launch). It has a 2.4-inch (320 x 240 resolution) touchscreen, 1.2GHz Qualcomm Cortex-A5 dual-core processor, 3G HSPA+ connectivity (no 4G LTE here), 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, gyroscope and accelerometer, and two cameras (a 5-megapixel rear camera on the back and a VGA-resolution front camera; both with LED flash).
You're probably wondering what the battery life is like if this thing is essentially a mini smartphone. According to the company, the 810mAh battery can get up to eight hours on 2G/six hours on 3G, up to 10 hours for music playback/ five hours for video, up to seven hours for Wi-Fi use and up to 120 hours of standby time.
When the Pine launches in January, it will come in black and white and support 48 languages. And if you want, the Pine can be set up as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. The smartwatch can also serve as a tethered device (to relay notifications from a smartphone or tablet). A headmount attachment could also be used to turn the Pine into a GoPro-like camera.
"Over the last year, there have been so many new smartwatches appearing on the market, bit none of them seem to really be living up to the hype,"pitches Simon Tian, CEO of Neptune in his Kickstarter video. "We believe that a smartwatch should be a truly standalone device."
The early bird special $199 price for the Pine is already sold out, but there are still a bunch of other offers for $229 (16GB/black), $249 (16GB/black/white) and more available. The Pine will sell for $335 when it launches next year.
It all sounds promising, but man, does this thing look huge on your wrist.