Samsung has been in the smartwatch game a long time. Things started in a very different place to where they are now but based on the latest addition, the journey appears to have been worth it.
The company's newest smartwatch member comes in the form of the Galaxy Watch. The device drops the Gear S branding to fall more in line with the Galaxy family and it is all about battery life. Here our first impressions.
Samsung Galaxy Watch design
- 46mm: 46 x 49 x 13mm, 63g, 22mm strap
- 42mm: 41.9 x 45.7 x 12.7mm, 49g, 20mm strap
- Stainless steel build
- IP68 water and dust proof / MIL-STD-810G
Samsung did a fabulous job with the Gear S3 in 2016. The two models, Classic and Frontier, were without a doubt the best-looking and best-made wearables Samsung had made to date and the Samsung Galaxy Watch continues this legacy.
Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Watch looks like a real watch. It has an excellent, solid build quality with some lovely design details that place this smartwatch in the same category as the likes of Fossil and Michael Kors.
A rotating bezel fits seamlessly on top of the AMOLED display and it turns incredibly smoothly. It's an absolute pleasure to use, while the laser marked index on the inside of the bezel adds an element of class and tradition to the device.
A heart rate monitor is positioned underneath the watch face, while on the side of the Galaxy Watch there are two buttons. They take a slightly different design path than they did on the Gear S3, moving away from a crown appearance to a flatter finish, though still keeping in line with a normal watch appearance.
There are two size options in the Galaxy Watch: 42mm and 46mm. The 46mm model has a silver casing with a 22mm interchangeable strap, while the 42mm comes with a black casing or a rose gold casing and a 20mm interchangeable strap.
Both models come with a rubberised, ribbed strap. The silver 46mm model and the black 42mm model both come with a black strap, while the rose gold comes with a light pink strap as standard and all are fastened with a body-coloured buckle. The rubberised strap makes the device look a little sportier than some may like but they are surprisingly comfortable and they are interchangeable if you're after something smarter.
The Galaxy Watch is a chunky smartwatch, perhaps too chunky for some, but we like it. It's not elegant, nor overly smart in the traditional sense of the word, but there's something great about its bulkiness that really works. Couple that with its premium quality finish, IP68 water and dust resistance and its military-grade drop resistance and you have yourself a pretty exciting smartwatch that is worlds apart from the original Gear smartwatches we first saw in 2013.
Samsung Galaxy Watch display
- 46mm: 1.3-inch, AMOLED
- 42mm: 1.2-inch, AMOLED
- Both 360 x 360 pixels
- Corning Gorilla DX+
The Galaxy Watch features a Super AMOLED display on both models, which will come as no surprise to many. The 46mm model has a 1.3-inch screen, while the 42mm model has a 1.2-inch display, both of which offer a 360 x 360 pixel resolution, as the Gear S3 did.
The displays on both models are full circular displays with no "flat-tyre" strips at the bottom, something we criticised on past smartwatches like the Motorola Moto 360 and the original Michael Kors Access. It's also possible to set the device to an Always On Watch, allowing you to always see the time without having to press a button or turn the bezel, something the Gear S3 offered too making it feel like a "proper watch".
Based on our first impressions, the displays on both devices are lovely. Colours are punchy and vibrant, blacks nice and deep and images and icons sharp and crisp. We'll have to wait until we review the Galaxy Watch in full to make our final verdict here, but we didn't notice any cause for concern.
Samsung Galaxy Watch hardware and performance
- 46mm: 472mAh battery, up to 7-days
- 42mm: 270mAh, up to 4-days
- Bluetooth model: 768MB RAM/ 4GB storage
- LTE model: 1.5GB RAM/4GB storage
Great design is one thing, but a smartwatch needs to perform too and the Samsung Galaxy Watch has made plenty of promises, especially when it comes to battery life, which we will test when we come to review it in full.
Both models come with an Exynos 9110 1.15GHz dual-core processor and both come with 4GB of internal storage. There is a Bluetooth model and an LTE model, with the Bluetooth model offering 768MB of RAM on both the 42mm and 46mm models, and the LTE model offering 1.5GB.
The 42mm and 46mm models differ when it comes to battery life though. The smaller model naturally has a smaller battery, with a 270mAh capacity that is said to offer up to four days life, which is roughly what we managed to get from the Gear S3. The 46mm model meanwhile, has a 472mAh capacity and it is said to deliver up to seven days between charges, which if true, is pretty impressive.
Samsung Galaxy Watch fitness and features
- Built-in GPS
- HR monitor
- Auto exercise tracking
- Samsung Pay
The Galaxy Watch features built-in GPS, as well as a heart rate monitor as we mentioned previously, just like the Gear S3 did. We were told with GPS running, the 46mm model would still offer a full day of battery life however, and the 42mm model would deliver 17.5 hours.
In terms of fitness, the Galaxy Watch will recognise six activities automatically comprising walking, running, cycling, elliptical, rowing and dynamic workout, but there are around 40 other exercises that can be started manually too. As you might expect, all the data goes into Samsung Health.
The Galaxy Watch will also track your sleep, creating a log including four stages of sleep and it can monitor stress levels and provide guided breathing as well, all of which fitness trackers like the Fitbit Charge 2 are able to do.
In terms of other features, the Galaxy Watch is compatible with various apps including Spotify and Uber, allowing you to listen to your favourite playlists with wireless headphones and order an Uber from your wrist using the GPS. Samsung Pay is also on board, as you would expect, allowing you to pay for items up to £30 with your watch even if you don't have your wallet with you.
Samsung Galaxy Watch software
- Tizen-based Wearable OS 4.0
The Samsung Galaxy Watch runs on the company's Tizen platform, just like previous Gear watches, so no Android Wear to be found here. It's a very smooth and intuitive platform though, which is well-designed and very much suited to a circular display.
Tizen doesn't just make use of the side buttons and touchscreen on the Galaxy Watch either, which is part of its beauty. It uses the rotating bezel around the lovely display too and as we mentioned above, that rotating bezel is a real pleasure to use.
Essentially the experience is very much similar to the Gear S3, but with a few improvements, like fitness tracking. We will dive deeper into the software in our final review, but overall the experience is a good one. The Galaxy Watch is compatible with Android 5.0 or later and iPhone 5 and later running iOS 9 and above.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch features a lovely, premium build quality with some great design details, including a rotating bezel on top of the display which really is a delight to use.
It's chunky, some may even say bulky, but the Galaxy Watch is a solid device that packs in a lot of punch. You get a vibrant, punchy display, IP68 water and dust resistance, built-in GPS, a smooth and intuitive software experience and let's not forget the promise of a week-long battery life in the larger model.
We'll be testing the performance of the Galaxy Watch when we come to review it in full, but based on what we've seen so far, we can see us liking it as much as we did the Gear S3, if not more.