Smartwatches, Fitness Trackers, Step trackers; they’re everywhere nowadays. It seems like every company from tech companies like Samsung and Google to fashion brands such as Armani Xchange to luxury watchmakers such as Tag Heuer. But what makes a smartwatch worth your time and why would you be using it?
We’ve seen the Samsung smartwatch gain more functionality and usability over the years. With the Galaxy Smartwatch, it seems like the South Korean conglomerate has fine tuned its smartwatch to be more functional, longer lasting while upping the style factor. How does it fair in the current smartwatch climate? Read on to find out.
The design of the Samsung smartwatch has been through quite the evolution since the first Samsung Smartwatch. What started as a clunky, jarring, garish square has slowly been refined into what we know as the Samsung Galaxy Watch. To be honest, it has one of the best, most refined design that we’ve seen in a smartwatch to date.
Let’s break its design down in two considerations: functionality and aesthetics. When it comes to the aesthetics of the Samsung Galaxy Watch, everyone will tell you that the smartwatch looks good. In fact, you may hear people call it “cool”, “chic” and the like. They aren’t wrong. The watch really is a fine piece of hardware. The overall finish is sleek with little that is aesthetically displeasing.
The 46mm version which we had for review had a really nice silver and black colour scheme. The colour combination gave the Galaxy Watch an understated elegance which allows the smartwatch to blend effortlessly between work and play. This stays true when we’re talking about using it as an accessory for your suit, tuxedo or even a sporty get up for your hiking trip.
The other colours: Black and Gold, provide the same type of aesthetic. The major difference being the colour of the watch itself. You’ll be able to choose one which fits your style.
The Galaxy Watch has a feature that fits both under functionality and aesthetics: its wristband. The Galaxy Watch has an interchangeable wristband which is easily changed. The implementation of the easy swappable lever to pop the wristbands in and out makes it a breeze. This allows users to actually swap between a silicone, leather or metal band to fit the occasion. Also, you’ll be able to swap between a silicone band for sports or a leather band for that fancy dinner.
On the functional side of the design, the Samsung Galaxy Watch comes with the now ubiquitous bezel navigation. The company initially introduced the navigation with the Galaxy Gear S2. This not only changed the standard smartwatch from a garish square to the more fashionable circle. With the Galaxy Watch, the company has refined further the navigation experience when using the bezel. The sensitivity of turning the circle is a lot better with the Galaxy Watch compared to the previous Galaxy Gear Sport. This makes it even smoother and more responsive when turning the bezel to navigate widgets and apps.
That said, Samsung has also upped its game when it comes to interactions with the touch screen as well. The Galaxy Watch is able to better discern between accidental and intentional touches. This was really apparent when using the Galaxy Watch during exercising or even when using the bezel for navigation. One thing that stands out when it comes to design in the Galaxy Watch is Samsung’s choice to hide the ambient sensors in the display. One would think that the integration of the sensors below the display would result in less sensitive ones, but the sensors are pretty accurate and function better than some of the others on the market.
Better Fitness Tracking for the FitFam
The Samsung Galaxy Watch can be considered a refinement of Big Blue’s smartwatch technology. The team behind the smartwatch has thoughtfully stuffed the smartwatch to the brim with features and sensors which make the device a versatile wearable for both the health conscious and the curious. It’s both an excellent entry into biohacking and fitness tracking and a device which can possibly take deeper into the rabbit hole with the amount of data that the watch provides.
Let’s start off with one of the most basic smartwatch sensors: the heart rate sensor. Ever since their first smartwatch from Samsung, the heart rate monitor has been one of the cornerstone features. While it would be nice to say that it has come leaps and bounds since the Gear Sport, that would be a little too over the top. The heart rate sensor in the Galaxy Watch is more accurate and comes with more contextual applications and actionable information for the user.
The heart rate sensor of the Galaxy Watch is pretty accurate. In fact, it’s almost as accurate a digital blood pressure monitor (sphygmomamometer) which is pretty impressive for a sensor so small. But as mentioned before, the benefit of having the heart rate sensor isn’t the raw data but the contextual data which the watch presents to the user. Samsung has used the data from the heart monitor to help monitor sleep quality and also fitness. In fact, the heart rate monitor is used to detect workouts which is one of the most useful features of the smartwatch.
Sleep tracking is one of the hallmarks of the Galaxy Watch. The reliability and consistency of the data collected and presented by the smartwatch put it above the competition. While we can’t vouch for the accuracy of the data, the consistency is key for monitoring your health even if it may not be as accurate. That said, while reviewing the Galaxy Watch, I found myself more aware of my sleep patterns and also consciously taking steps to get better quality sleep and more consistent sleep hours.
In addition to this, the ability of the watch to actually detect workouts helps keep track of workout routines. It also helps with monitoring fitness and keeping track of how effective the workouts have been. However, when it came to accuracy, there were instances when I found myself puzzled as there were workouts detected which I never did – particularly cycling. I later found out that these workouts were triggered during my drive to and from work. While it may seem a bit weird or misleading, it’s a simple task to remove the workout. But it is a point for Samsung to look at when it comes to the next update or upgrade to the watch.
Dual Core 1.15GHz
1.5GB (LTE Version)
|Operating System||TizenOS Wearable OS 4.0|
Super AMOLED 360×360 pixels (~278ppi)
Corning Gorilla Glass DX+
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 4.2, Low Energy (LE)|
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Near Field Communication (NFC)
Heart Rate Sensor
|Battery||472mAh Lithium Ion|
Claimed 72 hours mixed usage
Not All About Fitness
While it may seem like the Galaxy Watch is a fitness based wearable, that is only half the truth. The functions and features of the wearable are not merely meant for people who are looking to get fit. There are more features which will change the way you interact with your smartphone and also technology.
The first thing that I found changed the way I interact with my tech is the ability to answer calls on the smartwatch. More often than naught, I found myself answering calls on the watch while driving. This actually allowed me to stay focused on the road. Plus, the simple interaction of twisting the bezel to answer or reject calls made it even less of an issue and I could keep my eye on the road.
This feature was actually made more useful when you connect a Bluetooth earpiece. Yes, the smartwatch itself can connect to Bluetooth audio devices. This feature also made having music on-the-go a little less hassle. With the Spotify app on the Samsung Galaxy Watch, you also have the option of downloading a few songs into the 4GB of internal memory. That said, don’t put too much into the storage as it can slow down the system if you overload it.
Aside from the speakers and Bluetooth connectivity of the Galaxy Watch, Bixby also makes her way into the watch. While the assistant isn’t perfect, it helps automate a lot of things like kicking on your Spotify and navigation when you ask it to or even make a call or text. That said, Bixby isn’t as advanced as Google Assistant and still needs some work on recognising voices with accents and even being more accurate with the information it presents. While it would seem redundant using Bixby on the Watch, it closer proximity made it loads easier to interact with the assistant.
Samsung pay also makes an appearance on the Galaxy Watch. However, unlike the version on the Gear S3, the Galaxy Watch doesn’t support MST technology; instead it uses NFC (Near Field Communication) technology which limits your ability to pay to only terminals which support NFC. Aside from that, Samsung Pay requires authentication via PIN which can be a hassle on the 1.3-inch screen especially with my chubby fingers. But, aside from the minor drawback, using Samsung Pay actually is really convenient with the Galaxy Watch. I found myself rarely reaching for my phone or wallet in places where NFC was supported. Instead, I entered my PIN and just tapped the Watch.
Battery Life that Makes Sense
The Galaxy Watch has a built-in 473mAh battery which Samsung claims will be able to give you about 3 days. In my experience with the Galaxy Watch, I got about 4 days of battery life with the active display on without topping off the charge. This also meant that I could monitor my sleep and activity without interruption. Without the active display, the battery life went up to about a week without much problem. However, I much preferred using the Watch with the active/ambient display and topping the battery off for a little bit when I take it off.
The Galaxy Watch is, so far, the most refined version of a Samsung Wearable to date. The best part is that Samsung has put some of the most compelling features into a wearable which is not only technologically advanced but also stylish. While some may prefer larger, louder designs, Samsung has made a wearable that is chic and comes with functions which actually make sense. This rings true not only for the health conscious, but also those who prefer the style and want to make a fashion statement.
Also published on Medium.