Now This Is A Smartwatch

Samsung Galaxy Watch (46mm)

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Samsung Galaxy Watch (46mm)

Samsung’s newest smartwatch is now simply called the Galaxy Watch. It is a culmination of wearable trends over the past two years where watch and fitness devices have been converging. The watch itself is an amalgamation of the Gear S3 and Gear S3 Sport. 

Design-wise, the Galaxy Watch now comes in two sizes, 46mm (reviewed here) and 42mm. The design of the case and buttons come from the Gear S3 Frontier Edition, although its bezel ridges are much smaller for a dressier appeal rather than a rugged look. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s not. The Galaxy Watch carries MIL-STD-810G classification so it can handle shocks and bumps like a G-Shock, its screen is protected by Gorilla Glass, and it’s also fully waterproof to 50m, so you can take it swimming. 

It comes with a standard 22mm tool-less strap, though I found the bundled silicon strap to be quite ill fitting; the watch would always slide up one side of my wrist, forcing me to adjust it periodically. Making the strap tighter made it worse, because the heart rate sensor would then eat uncomfortably into my skin. It didn’t help the watch lugs are more decorative than functional since they don’t curve past the base of the case. After swapping it out with my old, heavier Pebble Steel strap though, all my fitting issues went away. 

My only other gripe is the lack of color options for the 46mm watch, which only comes in a single Silver/Black color. The smaller 42mm version features two colors: Rose Gold and Midnight Black, which I would have preferred instead. 

The Galaxy Watch runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS 4.0. Everything still works similarly to the Gear S3, and the rotating bezel—the best feature on Samsung smartwatches—is still present. While the touch screen is responsive, I find the recessed screen more suited for tapping than swiping. That said, the Super AMOLED screen is incredibly bright and sharp, making whatever watch face you choose convincingly real even under sunlight, and I only have my brightness set to 50%. Samsung’s even added cool ticking sounds when the screen wakes up to mimic an analog watch.

My Reading Room

Quality of life features that have made its way into the Galaxy Watch include NFC for contactless payment services such as Samsung Pay and Bixby Voice, which is still quite terrible to use. Putting aside voice recognition issues, the Bixby experience is slow and clunky on the Galaxy Watch, to the point where It’s probably faster to just bring out your phone. 

The most significant improvement to the Galaxy Watch is battery life. Right out of the box, the Galaxy Watch can last me about 4-5 days, which is really impressive considering this is a premium smartwatch with a full color screen, GPS, Bluetooth and heart rate sensor built in. I’ve got it synced to my messages, emails and calendar, plus I’ve been wearing it 24/7— which I’m happy to report that its bulk didn’t make sleeping uncomfortable at all. Enabling Always On display cut its up time by about a day. 

Samsung Health functions have also been massively upgraded and the watch can now track 39 different activities. However, you can only set a maximum of four as presets. If your gym routine includes more than four exercises, you’ll have to navigate the menus to get a proper tracking of your whole workout, which is a huge hassle. I understand that there’s only so much space on a 1.3-inch screen, but I would have loved to be able to setup custom workouts and using that as my preset instead. There is an auto-tracking function, though that’s limited to a handful of exercises like running, cycling and rowing. 

If you track your day down to a granular level, you can input a lot of items into the Health app too from calorie intake to even cups of water and coffee you drink a day. 

The heart rate sensor on the Galaxy Watch is surprisingly accurate and consistent; it matched the reading from the treadmill every time I checked. If you sweat heavily though, you may have some problem getting a reading on the first try. The watch also uses the heart rate sensor to measure stress levels, and offer breathing exercise similar to Apple’s Breathe app. 

There’s a lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy Watch. Its repertoire of features on a single wearable is as impressive as the battery life you get from it. And for $448, you can even say that it’s affordable.

My Reading Room

If you get really sweaty from a workout, the Galaxy Watch can have a hard time reading your heart rate. 

My Reading Room

With standard 22mm lugs and a tool-less design, you can easily replace the straps. 

My Reading Room
My Reading Room

Finally, a premium smartwatch experience for all occasions.