It was the third time I tried and failed to get the new Samsung Galaxy Watch to play Spotify music on my home speakers. In the end I gave up and just picked up my phone. This experience summarized my time with Galaxy Watch, Samsung's newest in its long range of smartwatches.
Do not forget me, Galaxy Watch is great to show and provide information about my schedule, weather and my workout. But there is no need to handle my digital and physical well-being. Apps like Bixby are not ready for prime time, and stress and sleep tracking features alert you to problems, but they have no way to properly address.
In many ways, Galaxy Watch is an extension of Galaxy smartphones and Samsung's own ecosystem, instead of a standalone portable. A new smartwatch that pushes the category in the future has been a long-lasting option for Android phone owners. And while the Galaxy Watch is a new laptop, it's just not the the device.
Clear, live OLED display
Battery lasts at least two days
Activity tracking is a little useful
BIxby / S Voice is terrible
] Not comfortable to wear to sleep
One thing that has not changed smartwatches is price: they are still expensive gadgets. The Galaxy Watch I've reviewed is a 42mn Wi-Fi / Bluetooth model that sells for $ 329, but you can go for a larger 46mm version for $ 349, which is topped with a bigger battery and more RAM.
Samsung also sells a LTE version starting at $ 379 for the 42mm model or $ 399 for the larger 46mm LTE variant. In comparison, the entry level of 38mm Apple Watch Series 3 is also due to $ 329, while larger 42mm is $ 359 and LTE versions are $ 399 and $ 429 respectively.
You can use Galaxy Watch to pay for things, track up to 40 different physical activities, and track sleep. You can use it for several days without having to take it off and leave it. Samsung even claims that there are 60,000 printed circuit boards in the Galaxy Apps store, but the clock already contains a handful of interactive clocks, including one that blocks the hours you have encountered so that you can better track your schedule.
Galaxy Watch is a good example of Samsung show-and-tell. It's a decent look with good battery life, a light OLED display, other specific upgrades and tons of software features. But at the end of the day there is still a smartwatch, which means it has all the well-known luggage.
There are two inevitable things about Galaxy Watch: the beautiful OLED screen and bezel. On the 42mm variant, Samsung uses a 1.2-inch display with durable glass Gorilla Glass DX + cover. It's a small screen, but it's sharp, vibrant and adjusts the brightness accurately enough so you can watch in direct sunlight or at night's death. Around it is a metal frame that mimics dive bells – with a nice "click" feedback every time you hit it – and it acts as a navigation tool within the clock software.
Together, the display and bezels do not show the most attractive face, but I have no real complaints about the display's functionality; If it's too small for you, bump up to the 46mm variant with an ever larger 1.3-inch panel.
Durability is an important feature of a durable, so I'm pleased that Samsung enhanced Galaxy Watch with 5ATM waterproof and MIL-STD-810G certification for shrink resistance and shock. I have been trusted to destroy it and do not worry too much about cosmetic damage.
There is even an "Eject Water" option in settings that move water out of the speakers, similar to what you can do on newer Apple Watch models.
If you do not put Galaxy Watch on its side, you can miss two buttons with primary and secondary features. The bottom triggers the home screen when viewing another widget or screen, or shows all available apps if you press it on the home screen. At the back, the top button acts as a back feature, so you do not have to return to the home screen every time. Alternatively, hold it and pick up Samsung Pay. They are simple, but the home screen button can also be mapped to open other apps, thus doubling the functionality.
Galaxy Watch software and interface are largely unchanged from Samsung's previous models, but there are some new features. The big new things involve training tracking, including tracking of 40 different types of physical activity, sleep tracking and tracking of excitement. You can have 20 widgets set for different activities, programs or controls (like music playback).
Galaxy Watch is also cross-compatible with iOS (but limited functionality) and other Android phones. However, if you are using a non-Samsung Android phone, be prepared to install at least four Samsung apps on your phone for the time to work.
Overall, Samsung seems to be proud of apps and plugins that you need to download to get the Galaxy Watch key. An embarrassing example of this was having to pay for groceries, but I realized that I had to download a Samsung Pay plugin so that Galaxy Watch could talk to my phone, a Galaxy Note 9. It makes no sense as I still needed to download additional software when I already had a Galaxy device, let alone the latest model.
It's also Bixby! Well, it's more like a rebranding of Samsung's old S Voice voice control system that was on former Gear smartwatches. It has not been improved either: it does not have a natural audio source, it often disappears my voice (or not at all) and it's usually just not useful. You can rearrange the home button to retrieve Bixby by pressing it twice, or say "Hello, Bixby", but the latter method only worked half the time I tried it.
I sleep horribly so I was curious how the clock was automatically traced my sleep and what it could tell me about my sleep patterns. At first, I thought that Galaxy Watch did a good job of accurately determining how long I was sleeping, how long I was unlimited and how much of that time was actually used in a deep sleep (REM).
But data is only data to be interpreted, and based on how effective my sleep is (I guess it only counts REM), Galaxy Watch will tell me about my sleep's "efficiency", but by no means does it recommend or help with to improve my sleep.
Also sleeping with your watch is uncomfortable, no matter how hard you try to ignore the fact that a battery, monitor and sensor sandwich is attached to your arm. Activating Theater Mode means that the screen will not wake me up in the middle of the night, but I can still get the sensor cluster under my wrist, which shines green and can be seen easily in the dark.
The same can be said for tracking voltage. If I look at the clock on my wrist, I put on the voltage display and click on "Measure". I can get a targeted reading of what my stress level is. It takes these data and compares it with my average stress level for the week, so I recommend taking part in a deep breathing adventure. It's all good, but I actually feel no less stress at these moments. I actually felt more stressed reading the Galaxy Watch report about how bad I slept the night before!
It's also the question of misunderstanding my stress levels, so I encourage myself to breathe right before a presentation, when I really feel relaxed. Takeaway here is that Galaxy Watch mixes the discrete personal data that a training tracking would prioritize and bring it to a more informal clock layout. At its current capacity, sleep and stress tracking features are not the most useful things on Galaxy Watch.
Tracking your physical activity is what Galaxy Watch does best. Running, walking, cycling, hiking, swimming, treadmill, circuit training, deadlifts, push-ups and leg-ups are just a handful of the 40 different traceable exercises. And let me tell you: It's quite accurate to track them and remind you to stay active.
Galaxy Watch alerted me at least once a day when I have not been active (usually when I'm sitting at my desk), so I should do five torso twists. Interestingly, he did not accept tearing his wrist as training; I actually had to get up and do it. Similarly, when I was working on a press group to test the watch's exercise training and yoga functions, it kept up with accurate readings of my representatives and time spent.
Honestly, the exact training session is useful if you are looking for that type of data. If the same attention to detail could be aimed at sleep and stress tracking, Samsung would have a truly convincing wellness device.
Samsung announces four days of battery life of 46mm Galaxy Watch and three days on the smaller 42mm model I've had. In the test it took two days or so for Galaxy Watch to learn user experiences and adjust battery usage accordingly. For example, I opened, but forgot to close the Uber Gear app; 30 minutes later, I received a buzzing alert on my wrist indicating that I close the app by pressing an "Fix Now" button.
Following all these little messages that waved me to take care of my battery usage, I could get a full two-day use (that means sleeping overnight) before I beat the 15 percent mark.
I've tried my best to buy into the "watch as a companion device" lifestyle that Samsung has presented with the new Galaxy Watch. But being so dependent on Samsung apps to work – even on a Galaxy smartphone – gives me the impression that not much has changed with Samsung's smartwatches. They still need to be connected to a phone to be their most useful, and they only achieve semi-functional independence as an LTE model.
Being able to track most of your physical activities (even sleep) is a feature that can be appreciated by both users who want to learn more about their body and technology enthusiasts who want Another way to keep in touch.
Fortunately, Galaxy Watch also does a great job of telling me how my day will be like a morning display with calendar alerts, news, weather and basic training data. If I did not want to look at the alt barometer, I could just turn the movement back to my messages, hit a text, and finally scroll down to a preformatted answer (or optional voice-dictated) answer.
But at the end of the day I'm left and want something more useful, seamless and powerful than Galaxy Watch. And as a whole, smartwatches in their current capacity are not at that time … yet.
Correction: The post was updated to reflect the correct pricing for the 46mm BT model.
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