When it comes to smartwatches, Samsung has persisted with its Tizen OS, even though the company has not really managed to challenge Apple’s domination in the segment. With its 2018 lineup, Samsung is ditching the Gear branding for Galaxy, even in the smartwatch segment.
The Samsung Gear Sport made its debut in India last November, squarely aimed at sports enthusiasts. This year, we have the Galaxy Watch, which again runs the Tizen OS and comes with a familiar rotatable bezel, a design now exclusive to Samsung smartwatches.
Though the watch has an LTE variant as well, it is yet to be announced for India. Samsung Galaxy Watch is available in two sizes – 42mm and 46mm – priced at Rs 24,990 and Rs 29,990, respectively. We used the 46mm non-LTE Galaxy Watch model for close to two weeks and here is our full review.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Specifications: 1.3-inch Circular Super AMOLED display (360 x 360), Always On Display |Corning Gorilla Glass DX+ | Dual core 1.15 GHz processor | 4GB storage, 768MB RAM | Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n, NFC, A-GPS/Glonass | Tizen Based Wearable OS 4.0| Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyro, Barometer, HRM, Ambient light | Battery 472mAh | Wireless charging (WPC Inductive) | IP68 water & dust resistance | Size: 46 x 49 x 13 mm, 63g (without band)
Samsung Galaxy Watch Price: Rs 24,990 for 42mm and Rs 29,990 for 46mm
Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Design and Display
Samsung Galaxy Watch is fairly bulky, especially the 46mm variant with a black plastic strap, meant ideally for males. The stainless steel case in silver colour variant looks very classy and the rotatable bezel makes it simple to use the smartwatch. The watch has a round display and two buttons on the right side, one to go back and the other for power.
For me, the bulky design of Galaxy Watch has been one of the constant pain points during the review period. A lot of times, I was not comfortable typing with the watch strapped on as it would feel heavy. This was the case while running on a treadmill as well. I had no complaints with the strap material as it did not give me rashes or redness on my skin even with long hours usage, as is the case with so many watch straps out there. So make sure you pick the right size.
Samsung Galaxy Watch (46mm) has a 1.3-inch circular Super AMOLED display, arguably one of the best on any smartwatch. The display is a delight to look at as it is vibrant and colours really pop out. It works well in varied light conditions. The Always-On Display touchscreen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass DX+ and is resistant to scratches, which is great. However, at times I did struggle to wake the display to glance at the time or notification, despite raising my wrist several times.
Samsung Galaxy Watch has over 60,000 watch faces to choose from, accessible using rotatable bezel. As a first time Samsung smartwatch user, I enjoyed a watch face called Peaks where the landscape would change depending on what time of the day it is. More watch faces like Classic, Tomcat, Analog Utilities etc that can also be personalised are available.
Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Software and Battery
Samsung Galaxy Watch Tizen version 4.0 OS. The smartwatch supports Bluetooth 4.2 and I used it with my OnePlus 5T. The app shows notifications from almost all popular messaging and social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Gmail. Though you have the option to type a reply or dictate Bixby, I preferred my phone for it. Music playback can also be controlled on the Watch.
A big positive for me was WhatsApp group notifications from work that I couldn’t mute, but also did not need to reply to always, especially during my work out sessions at the gym. So I could just glance through notifications on my Watch, mark as read or choose a quick reply or emoji option like “Ok”, “Talk to you later”, etc. You simply swipe right from the home screen to access notifications or rotate the bezel anticlockwise.
Another feature is a quick glance at weather and location information for those who are interested. You can also pick up or reject an incoming call when your phone is connected to Bluetooth and in range, something I found quite useful, mostly for rejecting calls. You can also make calls directly from the Watch once your contacts are synced.
I found this mostly buggy during my review period due to a delay in displaying the call was initiated, connected or even disconnected for that matter. Plus, I am not a big fan of talking on a loudspeaker. Still, the call and voice quality is fairly decent.
The battery easily lasts for about four days on a full charge, which is incredible. Samsung Galaxy Watch comes with its own wireless charger and takes close to two and a half hours to charge to a 100 per cent from around 18 per cent. The battery was never a bother for me as I could just charge and forget.
Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Health-related features
Samsung Galaxy Watch lets you track health with support for more than 39 activities, though chances are you will end up using just four to six. It automatically detects a spike in the heart rate to detect an exercise. Then there’s heart rate tracking and sleep tracking, which I found to be pretty accurate. The Watch could accurately tell me when I slept for only two hours after partying or six hours on a regular day.
Samsung Galaxy Watch also has a feature that can measure stress levels and suggest breathing exercise. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this feature as it always showed my stress levels as “neutral”, which I can say with certainty could not have been the case in certain situations.
The “Torso Twist” feature that sends notifications when you are sitting for a period longer than an hour or so is a good reminder to get up and take a walk, especially for people who have desk jobs.
Samsung Health app comes into the picture when you have to look at calories burned, step count etc. So you can view daily step count on a graph, active time in a day, calories count etc to manage your health better.
For fitness enthusiasts who have a fixed workout regime, the data will definitely mean much. I was happy with my step and calories count on most days. Samsung Galaxy Watch is 5TAM water resistance, which means you can take it out for swimming. Unfortunately, I could not test this feature. More features include GPS for navigation, as well as built-in altimeter and barometer for those who like to hike.
Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Verdict
Samsung Galaxy Watch is a premium smartwatch that competes with the likes of Apple Watch in India. The new Apple Watch Series 4 starts at around Rs 40,000 for the GPS only variant. With Samsung Galaxy Watch, the biggest strength I would say is its battery life. The fitness features are also top notch and cover a variety of use cases. The watch will appeal to Android users, given the number of functions it can support. Though I did not get a chance to test more apps, what the watch offers is sufficient to make an average user’s life more convenient.