The new Samsung of Android Wear has announced its own Gear S3

Talking with consumers about the Gear S3, I’ve found that a number of consumers find the Gear S3′s rotating bezel to be one of the smartwatch’s most beloved features. The rotating bezel isn’t a new idea of Samsung’s own making (it stems from old diver’s watches), but it is an idea that has never been implemented into a smartwatch before the Gear S2 back in 2015.

There are companies out there that seek to copy and paste the feature without being inspired to be original, but one company in particular, the new Samsung of Android Wear, has released its own “Gear S3″ that takes a different approach to Samsung’s rotating bezel.

The company in question? Fossil, and its very own Gear S3 is called the Misfit Vapor.

The Misfit Vapor is a touchscreen smartwatch with a 1.39-inch, AMOLED touch bezel display with a screen pixel density of 326ppi, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor (designed specifically for wearables), an optical heart rate sensor, 4GB of onboard storage (only 2GB usable), microphone, barometer, altimeter, gyroscope, accelerometer, and GPS, along with WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. The Misfit Vapor has 50-meter water resistance, meaning that you’ll be safe taking the smartwatch in the shower though maybe not for a good swim.

What makes the Misfit Vapor the Gear S3-inspired smartwatch I’ve been waiting on is that it takes the concept of the rotating bezel and heads in the opposite direction: whereas Samsung built a rotating bezel and left the screen free so that you could see your on-screen options, Fossil decided to provide quick shortcut options by way of the screen. A portion of the screen is set aside as a “bezel” of sorts (hence, the “touchscreen bezel display”) that can be accessed by way of circular swipe motions. Instead of adding a bezel outside of the display, Fossil designated that the “rotating bezel” of its “Gear S3″ would be a part of the display.

Now, I think that Samsung’s approach to an external bezel is the best. With a 1.39-inch display, I would expect the display to remain clean so that users can make the most of it. Keep in mind that the Misfit Vapor’s display is wider than that of the Gear S2 (1.2 inches) or Gear S3 (1.3 inches), and adding a touchscreen bezel on the display isn’t necessarily the best way to make the most of the screen real estate.

There are two options to providing quick apps access: either bake it into the display or bake it outside of the display. Samsung chose to add an external bezel, Fossil proceeded with an internal, on-display bezel.

When it comes to the Vapor’s software, though, Fossil is really shaping up to become the new Samsung of Android Wear: the upcoming Misfit Vapor will not run Android Wear, as has been the custom with a number of Fossil smartwatches (not counting its extensive “Q” hybrid lineup, named after its Android Wear smartwatches). Instead, Fossil intends to use the Misfit Vapor to experiment with its own software. One observer compared the Vapor’s software to “Tizen,” though the individual didn’t appear to make the connection between the Vapor’s touchscreen bezel display and the Gear S3′s rotating bezel.

Fossil’s experimentation outside of Android Wear signals the company’s intent to not just remain dependent on Android Wear. This is, indeed, a wise move, and a “Samsung” move at that. Whatever Fossil is doing with Android Wear, it intends to save its best work for its own platform with its own Misfit devices. The company’s acquisition of Misfit over a year ago was intentional.

All in all, Fossil intends to branch out with Misfit, do something starting with the Vapor that is completely different and will take on smartwatch giants like Samsung with unique software that can compete with Samsung’s own Tizen, and I like the idea. I like to see companies that don’t settle for Android Wear and assume that AW’s the best they can do for a smartwatch they hope to sell. The market wants to see variety, for “variety is the spice of life.” That’s the case in innovation, too.

I would like to see Fossil change the name of the “Misfit Vapor” to something else that inspires confidence: “Misfit” implies “outcast,” which can be good or bad (ambiguity in marketing can be a good thing, but I wouldn’t want to take chances with selling a product in this way), and “vapor” indicates that the smartwatch is fleeting, in the same way that the Pebble name implies the company was small and vulnerable. And well, what happened to Pebble was unfortunate.

Yes, the new Samsung of Android Wear has announced its own Gear S3 that, like Samsung’s, has its own bezel, rather clean software, and doesn’t run Android Wear. And with a price tag of $199 and two-day battery life, I have a feeling that the company’s upcoming “Gear S3,” for release later this year, will have a good customer base. It’s nice to see a company draw inspiration from Samsung without heavy imitation. Take note, smartwatch OEMs: Samsung leads and others follow, but inspired companies can follow in respectable fashion.

Well done, Fossil, well done.

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