Canadian Startup Neptune Unveils Pine, a Smartwatch That Won’t Need a Phone to Work

Smartwatches are still a trend—and perhaps just a fad—but are getting closer to becoming a legitimate product category for the masses.

Pebble, for example, is shipping its smartwatch, which proved demand for the device through a record-setting crowdfunding campaign. And Google is working on one too, sources cited in BI suggest.

Pebble is the product of a Canadian entrepreneur, but it’s not the only smartwatch with Canadian roots to be available this year. Montreal-based Neptune plans to launch the Neptune Pine in the third quarter of 2013. According to the startup, it’s the “only smartwatch you’ll ever want.”

So what’s different about this smartwatch? The Pine, unlike the Pebble, does not require connecting to a smartphone to work. It’s completely independent. You insert a micro SIM card and it becomes your phone instead of merely supplementing it.

Neptune was founded by Simon Tian, who now commands a team of nine others. The team has built arguably the most fully feaured smartwatch to date: it boasts quad-band GSM, 3D, 802.11 WiFi, a USB 2.0 connection, GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0. The Android 4.0-powered device also has a digital compass as well as an FM radio. Checking email, browsing the web, and listenting to music are all possible through the watch.

Heck, it even has a camera, a feature that has become an indispensable smartphone staple. (Although the 3.2 megapixel camera won’t compete with the likes of Apple’s iPhone 5 and Nokia’s Lumia 920.)

If you’re wondering how you might be able to accomplish any meaningful task on a tiny watch screen, fret not—the Neptune Pineoffers a full Qwerty keyboard that has been designed to fit the 2.5-inch display so that individual keys have the same dimensions as those found on the Apple iPhone.

One concern for most potential buyers, however, will be price. It’s lot more expensive than a Pebble though, at $395 plus tax and shipping. We’ll have to wait and see whether the Neptune Pine will sufficiently warrant that pricetag.