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Samsung readies mid-range wearable as $399 Galaxy Watch FE

Looking for a smart wearable, but can’t stand the price? Samsung has a new one on the way aimed at keeping the cost down in the Galaxy Watch FE. Kinda sorta.

Saving money is always a good thing, and as that becomes ever more possible in the world of phones with the expansion of mid-range mobile options, more people are turning to the “other” devices they can improve their phone experience with.

A new phone might mean new earphones, or it might mean new other accessories, too. Protection is one, but it can also be wearables made to work with that device, as these devices often extend the mobile experience to our wrists, adding features alongside.

For instance, a smartwatch can provide notifications aplenty, mobile payments at arm’s length, and health tracking, all of which talk to a phone.

But wearables can also be expensive, which is why it can be so exciting to see these devices come down in price, too, much like mid-range phones do.

The latest to do exactly that is from Samsung, as the maker of the Galaxy range expands its Galaxy Watch offerings with a new entrant, a “fan edition” of sorts.

Launched this week, Galaxy Watch FE will be similar to other touchscreen-only Galaxy Watch models out there, but with one size — 40mm — and a choice of either black or gold, with various colourful bands.

The Watch FE will rely on Samsung’s “BioActive” sensor from previous models, tracking heart rate, ECG, and bioelectrical impedance analysis, alongside the typical assortment of accelerometer, barometer, and so on. There’s a Samsung-made Exynos W920 chip at the heart, as well as 1.5GB RAM and 16GB storage, plus Google’s WearOS with Samsung’s One UI over the top. It’s all pretty normal for a recent Samsung watch, and comes with NFC for Samsung Pay and GPS for fitness tracking.

There’s even the typical durability, supporting IP68 and military spec MIL-STD-810G, meaning it should survive more than the odd encounter with water in use.

Atop all of this is a 1.2 inch Super AMOLED display, making the Galaxy Watch FE a total touchscreen wearable for Samsung, even if it’s one that lacks support for 5G. As in, you’ll need a phone if you want the Galaxy Watch FE to connect at all.

But that might not bother people interested in this wearable, particularly given the $399 cost in Australia. By comparison, the touchscreen-only 40mm Galaxy Watch 6 starts at $549 in Australia, while the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic with a hardware ring controlled brings the cost to $699, a clear $300 higher in price.

It’s pretty clear what Samsung is going for with the Watch FE, and not just a less expensive Samsung wearable, but the Apple Watch SE, as well.

Apple’s entry-level Watch SE starts at $399, but is only available for iPhone owners. Meanwhile, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch FE takes a similar approach for users of the other dominant platform, working only for Android owners, too.

Price is clearly the point here, and keeping it down, much like its Galaxy FE phones.

“We’re excited to add the new Galaxy Watch FE to our wearables portfolio, offering more people access to personalised health insights that empower them to be motivated and stay healthier day and night,” said Junho Park, Vice President and Head of the Galaxy Ecosystem Product Planning Team at Samsung.

It’s worth pointing out while Samsung’s Watch FE is clearly a new entrant, we’re only a handful of months away from the expected replacement of the current flagship Galaxy Watch, the Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic.

New Samsung wearables typically pop up in August and September, often alongside Samsung’s foldable phones. We already know the Samsung Ring is likely to be made available alongside, and given the launch of the FE, it’s even more likely a Samsung Watch 7 will occur in the next few months.

That’s just something to keep in mind, particularly if you’re after a new wearable to match a recent Android purchase of sorts.

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch FE is expected from July 1.

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