The Galaxy Watch is Samsung’s newest fitness-focused smartwatch and it is stylish and bigger than last year’s Gear S3. It shares a lot of design DNA with the Gear S3.
This time, Samsung has added plenty of features on fitness tracking and diet, and the user interface is simple to use just by rotating the bezel.
What makes the Samsung watches stand out from the crowd is the rotating bezel. Users can quickly scroll through anything on the interface. Rotating to the right will show you the notifications and rotating will show widgets and users can add more widgets.
With the watch, users can swim up to a depth of 50 meters but not suitable for diving or high-pressure water activities.
There are two models – 42mm and 46mm – and the one I got for review is the 46mm two-toned circular silver-and-black smartwatch. I loved the 46mm size as my wrist is broader but for some, the chunky design may be an issue if you have a smaller wrist.
The Galaxy Watch runs on Samsung’s Tizen 4.0 software and not on Google’s Wear OS. Tizen is far better than Wear OS and matches with Apple’s Watch OS.
The major difference, when compared to Gear S3, is that the Galaxy Watch has additional sensors for fitness-focused and the revamped Samsung health app. It has got 39 workout activities to support, including 21 indoor exercises and strength-training exercise, but auto detects only six of them.
The watch automatically detects workouts like running, cycling, swimming and elliptical activity once you’ve been at it for at least 10 minutes.
The watch has a 1.3-inch circular Super AMOLED display with 360 x 360 resolution and is powered by home-grown Exynos 9110 dual-core 1.15GHz processor with 768MB RAM and 4GB of internal storage capacity.
There are plenty of useful options you can download, including Uber, MyFitnessPal and Spotify but third-party useful apps on Galaxy Apps store are very limited and do not have Google Maps, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. Users cannot start a new conversation on the watch but get notifications and respond to it.
The iOS support is very limited for an iPhone user. The watch is best when you are using a Samsung phone. For non-Samsung users, they should have Android 5.0 and above and should have 1.5GB of RAM and above.
It weighs 63 grams without the strap. The Gear S3 is bulky but weighs 57 grams without the strap while the Gear S2 weighs 51 grams.
The Bixby voice assistant is included instead of S Voice assistant but it is still a hit and miss, and supports Samsung Pay. The device has a built-in speaker for taking or making calls, stand-alone GPS and guided workouts. Samsung has been improving its watch features with every new model but there is still room for improvement.
The newly added stress management tracker is just a breathing exercise – 15 seconds to breathe in and 15 seconds to breathe out. It is a manual process.
It tracks your calories intake and it reminds you if your calories are more or less to reach your goal. But the sad part is that it is not accurate even if you manually enter the calorie intake from the phone.
The sleep-tracking is accurate with a three-tier breakdown - motionless, light and restless sleep - of your sleep time in bed. Users can rate their sleep and follow a timeline of your sleep but no data on how to improve your sleep.
There are two buttons on the right side — the top one is the back button and the second one is for the home button. There are plenty of watch face customisations (including UAE flag, Dubai and Abu Dhabi logos), and the widgets approach is good.
The microphone pinhole is slightly below the two buttons and the speaker is on the left side.
With the always-on display, the screen dims down after a timeout period configurable between 15 seconds to 5 minutes. This does have a serious impact on battery life, but it makes the watch feel more like a watch.
The call quality is good on and volume can be bumped up depending on the users’ need. You can listen to music but I would recommend a Bluetooth earbud as a better option.
The app also lets you add how much water and caffeinated drinks you’re consuming. It collects the data and displays them in a clean interface on the smartphone app.
The heart-rate monitor tracks your pulse at relatively frequent intervals. The level of integration is truly impressive. It also packs an altimeter/barometer to track how high you are above sea level and if the weather is about to make a turn for the worse. It’s also used to let you know how many floors you climb in a day.
It gives you a daily briefing in the morning and in the night.
Regarding connectivity, it has WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and A-GPS/Glonass.
The Gear Watch’s 476mAh battery lasts for more than four days with regular use. With the always-on mode and WiFi switched off, it gives close to five days. It hardly loses power in standby mode.
Samsung has packed a wireless magnetic charging cradle with the box but it sports a micro USB and not USB Type-C cable.
The green LED indicates when it is fully charged. It is priced at Dh1,249.
• Bright and beautiful display
• Good fitness-tracking features
• Fast and responsive interface
• Excellent battery life
• Useful rotating bezel
• Plenty of watch faces
• Big and bulky for some
• Tizen OS lacks useful apps
• Limited compatibility with non-Samsung phones
• Bixby needs improvement
• Limited features when connected to iPhone
• Uses micro USB cable for charging
By Naushad K. Cherrayil
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