Samsung Galaxy Watch, the latest and greatest Samsung smartwatch that was announced last year, finally came to us, so let’s take a look at how the updated Gear S3 performed.
The new generation of the watch received updates exactly where the previous version had its problems – we now have a bigger battery, smaller strap, improvements can be seen in the rotating frame, chipset and virtual assistant areas as well, although most users won’t find Bixby assistant to be an improvement at all. The Galaxy Watch comes in two versions, as a 46mm or, in our case, a 42mm watch which we wouldn’t recommend at all since the battery is significantly smaller. There are no color choices for the bigger version, it comes in gray color, whereas you can get the smaller one in Midnight Black and Rose Gold versions as well. There is an option to choose colors for the straps, so for the bigger version you can get Onyx Black, Deep Ocean Blue and Basalt Grey, and for the smaller version there are a few more options – Onyx Black, Lunar Grey, Terracotta Red, Lime Yellow, Cosmo Purple, Pink Beige, Cloud Grey i Natural Brown.
Design of the factory box is completely changed. Previous watches came in cilinder boxes, but this time the box is a cube. Contents of the box have, however, stayed the same, so we have the watch, charging cable, an inductive wireless charger, user manuals and a smaller silicon band.
Strap size depends on the version of the watch, so the bigger one uses 22mm straps while the smaller one has them 2mm thinner. Watches are IP68 certified and, as Samsung states, they are capable of surviving submerging up to 50m in depth, and there is also the MIL-STD-810G certificate.
The older Gear S3 uses a 1.3” Super AMOLED display, and basically nothing has changed other than screen protection. We have the new Corning Gorilla Glass DX+ protection which is very resistant to micro scratches.
When it comes to the 42mm version, the display is 0.1” smaller, and once again, that’s all that’s changed. These two watches share the same 360 x 360 pixel resolution. Pixelization isn’t visible at all, and the panel makes colors look very vivid, vibrant and pleasant to look at.
Brightness is, as usual, excellent, you won’t have legibility issues neither inside nor outside, and the Always-On functionality is still available.
Another difference can be seen in the rotating navigation bezel. In this case it has many more cutouts which make it much more fluid. We must say that we really loved this unique way of navigation, because if we were to use only our fingers for navigation, the fingers would cover most of the display. This way it’d be impossible to see what you’re doing because of the fingers, and we find this a common issue in smartwatches. Samsung has solved this issue in a genius way, however, some users might find the rotating bezels the watch’s main problems since because of it it doesn’t support Google’s Wear OS.
Hardware and OS
As we’ve said at the beginning, this watch has received the new Exynos 9110 chipset that has 2 cores clocked at 1.15 GHz. This chip can be considered a major improvement since it’s been built on a 10nm process, compared to the 14nm chipset in the Gear S3. Smaller manufacturing process is significant in terms of battery consumption which automatically means that the autonomy is much larger, but more on that a bit later.
Using the watch is a very fluent experience, we didn’t notice any sort of stuttering or lag whatsoever. This watch was introduced with the latest version of the Samsung’s Tizen OS, version 4.0. The new OS is, we’d say, more focused on monitoring your daily activities with a total of 39 exercises, 6 of which the watch tracks throughout the day. Exercising system is pretty interactive and well optimized. When you start as exercise, the app will show you how to do it properly, and at the end you’ll have information about how many calories you’ve spent. As before, the watch tracks your daily water and caffeine intake, calorie consumption, how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed, your heart-rate, time and quality of sleep etc. The heart-rate monitor should work even better because now there are two more diodes that monitor the blood flow through your veins.
Bixby virtual assistant has reached smartwatches this year, however, we’re not sure whether you can be impressed by it – we’re looking forward to the option to disable the dedicated button on Samsung phones as well. There’s the option to turn on the listening mode on the “Hey Bixby” command that launces the assistant. You can start your exercises, show time, add reminders, surf the web etc.
In general, everything has stayed the same as before. Watch faces are now available on the Galaxy Wearable application, you can download additional apps and games through the Galaxy store, but most of them you’ll have to buy.
In the connectivity segment, nothing has changed compared to the Gear S3, expect for the fact that now A-GPS is available, as well as GLONASS. The watch still connects to the phone through Bluetooth, and when the phone is connected to a wireless network, the watch jumps to wireless as well. NFC wireless payments through Samsung Pay are also available, however, this is limited only to areas where this app is supported.
As in previous years, the LTE version with eSIM chip is also available. This allows your watch to work independently of the phone, however, this option is once again region limited.
Probably the biggest improvement compared to the Gear S3 can be seen in the battery capacity section. While the older version had 380 mAh battery, the Galaxy Watch received a 472 mAh battery. We could see in practice exactly how much this improvement means. As opposed to the Gear, the new Samsung Galaxy Watch has double, or even more than double the autonomy, again depending on how you use it. With brightness set to 50% and regular use of the watch for notifications, music control and such, we managed to get around 4 days of autonomy, which can be even further extended by turning off the HR sensor, GPS etc.
The 42mm version has taken a step back in this area, because it comes with a 270 mAh battery. It provides only 2 days of autonomy, but will on the other hand reduce charging time.
The watch charges through an inductive wireless charger, and it takes around 2 and a half hours for a full charge.
There’s nothing really bad to say about this watch. It’s designed in a premium way, and if you get tired of it, you can always change the watch face or buy a new band which are really cheap in online stores, and there you can even find metal versions. The only downside to this watch is the price, but not necessarily because we think that one this nice, functional and high quality piece of technology that everybody would like to wear of the wrist is definitely worth its price.
The official price stands at 290 euros, but you can get one for as little as 250 euros. We can expect this watch to be even cheaper in time, so if you’re thinking about buying one, think carefully when to get it. Until then, it’s our warm recommendation for you.
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