In our world, there are now dozens upon dozens of smartwatches to choose from. The two major brand names that literally are placed in a league of their own are Apple and Samsung. Now, don’t get me wrong. Others like Fitbit are also great watches at more convenient prices. Yet when money is not an issue and you are looking for the best of the best, Apple and Samsung stand out.
This review is focused on Samsung Galaxy Watch and I’m writing it after having one for a good 18 months.
Starting simple, you first have to decide between the slightly heavier 46mm model and the sleeker 42mm. And this has nothing to do with a male or female version. I am a relatively tall and thin guy, but I have a thing for large watches. So, while some may choose the 42mm for their wrist, I recommend actually checking both to get a good feeling before making your choice.
While the 46mm model is a bit bulkier, I found it quite comfortable on my wrist and the benefits are relatively obvious: A bigger screen and a longer battery life, for me two especially important issues. And the stainless-steel silver finish truly catches my attention, even now and then. Therefore, regardless of your gender or wrist size, you should definitely check out both models before making such an investment. Trust me, this, and any smartwatch for that matter, are not something you should simply purchase after a few clicks online.
The different models are all equipped with Samsung’s 1.15GHz Exynos 9110 dual-core processor and 4GB of storage. The noncellular editions, however, have 748MB of RAM while the LTE editions come with 1.5GB.
The main difference between the Samsung Galaxy Watch and the older Samsung Gear series are found in the inside:
The Galaxy Watch is waterproof up to 50 meters or 5 ATM (atmospheres). This watch is specially designed to be swim-proof, including those who love to swim in salt water and the increasingly chlorinated water pools of the coronavirus period. However, you still need to rinse your Galaxy Watch after swimming in such conditions.
You will get around four days of battery life from 46mm models and three days from 42mm models (on the non-LTE editions, by the way). I will provide more details on battery life further below.
One major improvement is the many more types of exercises tracked by Galaxy watches, 21 indoor exercises and 39 tracked workouts in total, to be exact. The fitness and sleep tracking features are linked to Samsung’s S-Health app, while there are tie-ins to other known fitness apps, including Under Armour, MayMyRun, Speedo and others. As promised, the Galaxy Watch also offers a stress-management app that I have certainly found useful in times when taking a few deep breaths go a long way.
During my experience with this watch, I have seen the sleep-tracking feature improve through periodic updates. I found it more accurate when your heart rate is measured continuously in comparison to the battery-saving once every ten-minute mode. Galaxy Watch performs well overall but do take into notice that Fitbit and Garmin watches deliver more accurate sleep tracking for those who consider this feature a priority.
The same reservation applies when it comes to those exercising gurus who seek perfection in their workout monitoring from their smartwatch for various reasons. All these watches are definitely a motivating factor for one to reach certain exercise, steps, and calories burnt objectives for each and every day. And I also recommend manually logging your water, food, and caffeine intake in to get a better understanding of your calorie intake versus your burns. For those Apple Watch fans, I do have to admit that distance and step tracking in Galaxy Watch need tune-ups to reach those provided by Apple.
All in all, I usually take 3-4 mile runs along with a few simple workouts. All are adequately tracked by Galaxy Watch, especially with its software update improved GPS performance. I am also constantly motivated to both reach my daily goals and improve them with a weekly and monthly agenda. However, I do have to say that the hourly reminders to get up and move around from my desk are far easier than the 250 steps demanded by Fitbit.
To those who like to use voice commands, Bixby is Samsung’s voice assistant at your service in the Galaxy Watch. You can voice various commands such as “Play music” and “Start workout,” and also ask questions such as “What’s the weather?” To the delight of many—especially my neighbor’s kids who like to bug me by answering to text messages on my watch—you can reply to text messages on your Galaxy Watch with your voice. However, do take note that this feature isn’t supported on iPhones. To be honest, Bixby does not match Apple Watch’s Siri, but at least it is an improvement over Samsung’s disastrous S-Voice. (Let’s not go there…)
If you have a Samsung Galaxy phone, you’ll be just fine with a variety of different pairings and apps with your Galaxy Watch. The optimization is also good with other Android phones and to some degree with iPhones. The app used is called Galaxy Wearable on Android and Galaxy Watch on iOS.
You, like me, might get the feeling that Samsung is stepping up its challenge against Apple in launching a series of mobile brand products to encourage customers to purchase their products in sets. Apple has been extraordinarily successful in this field and leads the market in wearable merchandise. Both Apple and Samsung, however, are realizing that the market focus is shifting from basic fitness trackers to smartwatches that provide an all-in-one, variety of everything in a single device package.
Now there are areas where Galaxy Watch surpasses Apple Watch and continues to attract customers to this day. The main feature and difference when comparing Samsung and Apple watches is the round faces provided by Samsung against square ones seen in the Apple series. This is simply a matter of taste and a very heated topic with my friends. There have been many dinner table round-square feuds that have actually led to some of my friends not talking with me for a few days! I’m kidding, but it is a frenzied debate that continues to this day.
Samsung watches are now equipped with a rotating bezel that are quite handy, a good add-on for finger-touch commands, and even considered a protective “guard rail” as explained by some experts. Apple, on the other hand, is left fully exposed and can be scratched far easier than Samsung despite its excellent Gorilla Glass quality that is claimed to be scratch-resistant. And to be fair, it is worth noting that Galaxy Watches come with what is described as “military-grade” Gorilla DX+ glass.
Last but certainly not least is the battery. Apple is known in general for its short battery life in literally all its products, from wearables to smartphones, iPads and even its laptops. Android brand names, and especially Samsung, provide far longer battery life. Samsung Watch, for example, comes with a general four-day lifespan before the next charge. The watch also provides a variety of different battery consumption levels that come in handy when you are low on battery and are for any reason unable to charge your watch at the moment.
There is one glitch that I have experienced with my Samsung Watch that is quite annoying and has been occurring more often after 18 months now. I have noticed that when I am asleep, the battery literally drains from nearly 100 percent battery to near zero. On one occasion I specifically remember that I slept with my battery at 74 percent only to wake up before my morning exercise to see the battery at three percent! To make matters worse my Samsung Watch was telling me it was 9:47 pm while my wall clock was showing 4:53 am.
Why such a glitch I do not know. Has it happened to many Samsung Watch owners? I doubt it. Is it a bug that may have been triggered from a new and poorly programmed update? Possibly, as I have seen a considerable amount of chatter online about it.
Or is the battery of my specific Samsung Watch nearing the end of its lifespan in total? I truly hope not. If you want my advice, constantly check for your watch updates and do not forget to sync your Samsung Health app with your watch on a daily basis. My experience shows this closes all the loopholes.
As a final word, Samsung Galaxy Watch is a great choice if you’re looking for a smartwatch with fitness feedback and plenty of apps to work with. If you are truly considering investing in smartwatches, I recommend looking into these four names: Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin.