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Samsung breaks from Android with redesigned, Tizen-powered Gear 2 smartwatches

Korean electronics giant Samsung on Saturday unveiled the second generation of its Gear smartwatch line, updating the wrist-worn device's industrial design and moving from Google's Android to the Samsung-backed Tizen operating system.

Samsung made the Gear 2 slightly thinner than its predecessor and relocated its camera from the strap to the watch's main body, giving users the option of changing straps. A second model, the Galaxy Gear Neo, is mostly identical but does not feature a camera.

In addition, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo add built-in heart rate sensors alongside a pedometer, features Apple is rumored to include in its so-called "iWatch." Samsung promises real-time feedback "allowing users to develop a customizable fitness routine and monitor their heart rate in order to improve their overall well-being."

Both Samsung wearables sport 1.63-inch Super AMOLED displays and are powered by 1-gigahertz dual-core processors with 512 megabytes of RAM and 4 gigabytes of internal memory. Battery life from the 300 mAh lithium ion battery is said to be 2 to 3 days.

Gear 2

There is no word on why Samsung chose to eschew Android, though there have been reports that relations between Google and its largest OEM partners are strained. Along with the change to Tizen — the development of which is guided jointly by Samsung and Intel — Samsung has added several first-party applications including a standalone music player and television remote control.

As before, the Gear line will only connect to Samsung's own handsets. The company said they are "compatible with more than dozens of Samsung Galaxy smartphones at launch."

Samsung indicated that the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will be available starting in April, though pricing has not yet been revealed. Consumers will be able to purchase the watches in a variety of colors, including Charcoal Black, Gold Brown and Wild Orange for the Gear 2 and Charcoal Black, Mocha Grey and Wild Orange for Gear 2 Neo.