For Android smartphone users, the hunt for a decent smartwatch can be frustrating. While iPhone users take great pride in the Apple Watch, Google doesn’t offer a Pixel-branded smartwatch yet. The closest to the perfect Android smartwatch is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, but it doesn’t even run Android WearOS. But it is still cheaper than Apple Watch and packs quite a punch.
Here’s a closer look at what it’s been like to use the Galaxy Watch 3.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Design and build
The Galaxy Watch 3 comes in two sizes (41mm or 45mm). I used a larger 45mm mystic black, stainless steel model. The Watch 3 has a classic appeal to it. It’s one of those watches that just look great with a business casual or a formal suit. Every Galaxy Watch 3 comes with a leather strap rather than a regular silicone one. Thankfully, you can use any third-party straps with the Watch 3.
The Watch 3 is a traditional-looking circular watch with the rotating bezel around the screen. You can use the bezel to navigate the interface. It instantly felt intuitive and so satisfying, I want other smartwatches to have a similar rotating bezel. The rotating bezel basically lets you switch between different menus from the home screen and access apps, control music and check heart rate.
On the right side, the Watch 3 has two physical buttons, the top button acts as the start/stop and the bottom button is the back/home, along with a microphone. On the left side, you will find a small speaker. Around the back, Watch 3 has an optical heart rate monitor. The watch charges using a puck-style charging cradle, which comes in the box. The 45mm version has a 340mAh cell.
I found the Galaxy Watch 3 comfortable to wear for everyday use, though I found it heavier and thicker than my Apple Watch Series 4. I prefer going with the 41mm version, but that’s my personal choice. Choosing the right version matters (41mm vs 45mm) after all, you will be wearing the watch all day long. It’s water-resistant till depths of 50m, meaning it can be worn when swimming, too.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Always-on display and battery
The Watch 3 has a 1.4-inch 360 x 360 Super AMOLED screen. Although my Apple Watch Series 4’s display is super bright, the Watch 3 also handles colours well. Even when you step outside, one could easily read texts and WhatsApp messages. I also liked the always-on display feature. It’s disabled by default, but it drains battery life quickly.
I have been testing the Galaxy Watch 3 for over a week now. Samsung says the battery life on the 45mm version (the one I am using) will last two days. I couldn’t get two days of battery life – but I roughly got one and a half days of juice. This was when I got hundreds of WhatsApp notifications. My Apple Watch Series 4 gets around 18 hours of battery life. Watch 3 takes close to 3 hours to fully charge the battery.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Specs and software
For testing purposes, I paired the Watch 3 with my Pixel 3 XL, which is an Android phone. The Watch can also be paired to iPhones, but I advise you not to use the Watch 3 with an iOS device.
Samsung sent me the Galaxy Watch 3 review unit with LTE but I chose not to activate the service on it. The LTE, even though it costs more than a regular GPS model, gives you the freedom to make calls from the watch without having a phone nearby.
Watch 3 runs Samsung’s own TizenOS. The user interface is easy to understand and there is no learning curve to it. You need to use the scroll bezel or use the touchscreen to navigate and use the different widgets and apps. Tizen takes advantage of that rotating bezel and circular screen, which in my opinion is the best part of Watch 3. It’s so much more convenient to rotate the screen rather than swiping on the screen.
What also works in the favour of the Watch 3 is the fluid navigation, thanks to the capable hardware. Under the hood, the Watch 3 is powered by an Exynos 9110 dual-core processor, has 1GB RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. It also has an accelerometer, a barometer, a gyroscope, an ambient light sensor and NFC.
That’s not to say everything is perfect. Samsung has done a great job with the user interface, but the same cannot be said about apps. You may or may not agree, but the Watch 3’s app selection is not comparable to what you get with the Apple Watch. There are no navigation apps or leading publications available on the Watch 3, but you do get Spotify. Using Spotify is so much fun, as you can download playlists directly to the watch. If Samsung can work on more such partnerships, it would bring more users to the Watch 3 or future versions of Galaxy Watch.
Interacting with and replying to notifications and seamless integration with your Android phone makes the Watch 3 so much better than many rival smartwatches, including Fitbit Versa 2.
Did I mention that Samsung offers more than 80,000 watch faces in the Galaxy Store? Samsung has done a good job with third-party watch faces for the Watch 3. There are some great digital and analogue options to choose from.
Samsung Pay on your wrist is a great feature. Bixby, the voice assistant on the Watch 3, is a hit and miss.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Fitness and health
I am sure many of you want to know how good or bad is Watch 3 in tracking your fitness activities, especially at the time of Covid-19. Look, the watch does a fairly decent job in tracking basic activities, which we all are interested in, like count steps, floors climbed, stress, menstrual cycle and heart rate tracking. But you can go beyond the usual monitoring options and track a number of activities like running, walking, treadmill, circuit training, elliptical training, hiking, cycling and swimming. If you are into running, you will appreciate an advanced running coach.
The Watch 3 can track sleep, too. I found the Watch 3 accurately recorded and analysed my sleep, but doesn’t really go into the detail.
Speaking of heart rate monitoring, the Watch 3 does a good job checking in on your heart rate. You can also take an electrocardiogram (ECG), but that feature is currently live only in South Korea. One big new feature is to measure blood oxygen levels through the SpO2 sensor. I tested it a few times and the results were fairly accurate. My biggest issue with blood oxygen sensor on Watch 3 is that it’s hard to get a reading in the first place. Keep in mind that you have to position it correctly on your wrist for it to work.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review: Should you buy one?
Its classic design, sleep tracking capabilities, the rotating bezel, blood oxygen monitoring, and the upcoming ECG feature might actually convince you to buy the Watch 3. At Rs 29,990 and up, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is in no way cheap – but hey, this is the price you have to pay for the best smartwatch for Android smartphone users.
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