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Samsung and LG unveil new smartwatches

SEOUL -- South Korea's Samsung and LG unveiled new smartwatches Thursday with upgraded functions and design as they step up their drive to lead an increasingly competitive market for wearable devices.

The “Gear S” is Samsung's first smartwatch able to make stand-alone phonecalls with built-in 3G alongside Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity.

Users can make and receive calls directly from their wrist, or get calls forwarded from their smartphones. Notifications from social networks, calendars and applications can also be received.

“It will let consumers live a truly connected life anywhere, anytime,” said JK Shin, head of Samsung's IT and mobile communications division.

Global handset and software makers have struggled to diversify from the saturated smartphone sector to wearable devices.

Global smartwatch sales are expected to grow this year by more than 500 percent from 1.9 million units in 2013, according to the market researcher Strategic Analytics.

LG's “G Watch R” features a traditional wristwatch design with a 1.3-inch circular plastic OLED display that the company said provided “stunning image clarity even under bright sunlight”.

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