The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is one of the best smartwatches – the spinning bow on a $399 smartwatch – is as satisfying as it seems. While the fidget-swivel is excellent, the life-saving health features such as an FDA-approved ECG sensor and travel detection are better. Tack on SpO2 and VO2 Max measurements, a massive library of watch faces and slimmed-down design, and Samsung have found a winner in its next-generation portable. And today, we are here with our Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review.
There is no doubt that this is the best Android smartwatch (and best Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra accessory) you can get now. Still, this Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review explains how this new contender is up against the best smartwatches, along with the category-leading Apple Watch Series 5.
1. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: designNext Section
When we tested the mechanism during our original Galaxy Watch review, we found the physical bezel useful and fun. Turning the dial worked well with both knobs on the side and offered a great alternative to swiping or trying to poke our finger at the round display. The ring holds around a second time but feels even better because Samsung slimmed down the Galaxy Watch 3. It is 8% smaller, 14% thinner, and 15% lighter than the first Galaxy Watch.
We are talking about millimeters here, but when it comes to something you wear around your wrist, the difference is noticeable. Still, the 1.7-ounce, 41mm Mystic Bronze color I tested looks rough compared to my Apple Watch 5. The consideration is that it seems more like a traditional watch than a high-tech watch. Where I might drop my Apple watch for a nice dinner or a date night, the Galaxy Watch 3 holds a stylish accessory.
Better yet, the Galaxy Watch 3 comes with genuine leather straps that match the color of the case and have a more elevated aesthetic aspect compared to the fitness-focused Samsung Galaxy Watch 2. But the leather doesn’t do well against sweat or water, so I would trade them for more sporty ones if I would continue to use the Galaxy Watch 3 as my daily driver.
2. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: displayNext Section
The Galaxy Watch 3’s 360 x 360-pixel screen is sharp, bright enough to see in direct sunlight, and always on, but that is not what caught my interest. I have to admit that the complications of the Apple Watch strengthen me. I feel compelled to use a combination of five different faces at the same time to see everything I might need in the day, and even then, I wish there were more options. Go to the Galaxy Watch 3 with 80,000 different faces and 40 complications to choose from.
It took me time to figure out what combination of design and data brought me comfort on the Galaxy Watch, but I’m a sucker for the weather oriented backgrounds. I can’t explain why I never check the forecast before I leave the house, so if seeing rain animations on my watch doesn’t help, nothing will.
3. PerformanceNext Section
Samsung‘s Tizen software still lags behind Apple’s watchOS but is a significant improvement over Google’s fickle Wear OS. Not only are the different menus of the Galaxy Watch 3 highly customizable and full of handy apps, but also the launch and switching between the apps feel sharp. Thanks to the bezel, the navigation is intuitive, and I relied on it along with the double buttons to get where I wanted to go. The motion gestures didn’t do it for me.
When I was able to get them to work, I felt a little foolish in the process. What didn’t feel stupid is the T9 keyboard of the Galaxy Watch 3, which I relied on more often to text than I thought. I know typing on such a small display sounds ridiculous; however, I appreciated the ability to send messages in cases where I couldn’t use talk to text. I wish the Apple Watch Scribble would replace with a custom, miniature keyboard.
4. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: health and fitnessNext Section
The Galaxy Watch 3 can track 40 total activities, and seven can be tracked automatically, which means you don’t always have to select in advance what kind of exercise you do. I needed this when my sparkling 85-pound black lab wouldn’t stop to take a walk on our routine tours of our city.
The Galaxy Watch 3’s onboard GPS has measured my daily course accurately enough (it’s about 1.2 miles, depending on how many times the dog wants to go in circles). I had the same experience when I started cycling and running with the watch, the latest of which was informed by on-demand VO2 Max measurements. I’m far from a regular runner, so I didn’t give any warnings, but I imagine more professional athletes would appreciate this feature during training.
However, they might not appreciate the leather straps. I’m sure I didn’t. It felt strange to get them wet from sweat, and I didn’t even consider taking the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 near a swimming pool, despite its 5ATM rating for water resistance. I would recommend buying silicone straps if you’re planning on using the Galaxy Watch 3 for anything other than a light workout, or to take a look at one of the best fitness tracks.
However, no matter where you are, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 will call the emergency services on your behalf if it detects that you have made a hard and sudden fall. Apple Watch had this feature for a few years, so it is good to see that Samsung is catching up.
5. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: sleep trackingNext Section
In bed, Galaxy Watch 3 benefits from Samsung’s collaboration with the National Sleep Institute to provide carriers with insight into their REM cycle, plus a morning report on sleep quality and tips to improve sleep. On the nights I wore it to bed, I tested the Apple Watch sleep tracking at the same time. Apple’s native sleep tracking gave me some more sleep and knew when I woke up in the middle of the night during monstrous thunderstorms, while Samsung responded with more usable data.
Some of these insights came from the Galaxy Watch 3’s SpO2 sensor or pulse oximeter. A SpO2 sensor can detect respiratory disturbances during sleep, which is a common symptom of sleep apnea. I, for example, don’t have much trouble sleeping, but someone who does can learn how to change their sleep cycle with Watch 3.
6. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: blood pressure monitoringNext Section
The Galaxy Watch 3 has an FDA-approved ECG monitor, which means the new smartwatch can detect signs of atrial fibrillation just like the Apple Watch. While the Apple Watch’s FDA-approved ECG sensor is old news, Samsung has been slow to get its version approved, first obtaining approval for the technology on the Galaxy Watch Active 2 in South Korea.
Samsung also got permission for the blood pressure monitor in South Korea. For the time being, the sensor will remain in The Galaxy Watch 3 until the FDA approves it. If it gets the green light soon, it would be the first smartwatch from a major technology brand with a working blood pressure monitoring system.
7. Apps and StorageNext Section
Tizen OS has a more limited library of third-party selections than the original Apple Watch App Store. Still, there are plenty of large programs such as Uber and Spotify available. And with Galaxy Watch 3’s 8GB of music storage, a Spotify Premium subscription allows you to store songs for offline playback in black. I don’t use an LTE model, so I’m looking forward to having some of my playlists available when I leave my phone at home for bike rides.
I appreciate this feature over my Apple Watch 5, which has a larger storage capacity of 16GB. However, I’ve already used up about half of the storage space of my Galaxy Watch 3 with a few of my favorite playlists, so I need to keep in mind that I don’t need audio anymore.
8. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: battery lifeNext Section
Where the new Galaxy Watch does not seem to conform to the previous model is the battery life. Unlike the 4-day endurance of the original Galaxy Watch, the 340 mAh battery of the Galaxy Watch 3 is suitable for 2 days. That’s fair for smartwatch standards (the Apple Watch 5 only gets 18 hours) and probably contributes to the slimmed-down design. The Galaxy Watch 3 meets Samsung’s battery estimates. Even with one-hour workouts and drag tracking in the first two days I wore it, the watch lasted about 2 days.
However, when I turned on the always-on display setting, the battery life dropped to 24 hours in the second cycle. Still, this is better than my Apple Watch 5. When it needs more juice, the Galaxy Watch 3 can be recharged with its charge or via a wireless power share with a compatible Samsung phone. I’ve tried this charging station from Amazon to keep my nightstand organized as well.
9. Price and configuration optionsNext Section
The Galaxy Watch 3 went on sale on August 6. Those interested in choosing the new smartwatch have a few sizes and variations to choose from. The starting Galaxy Watch 3 price of $399 will give you the 41mm model in Mystic Silver or Mystic Bronze. (The last option is Samsung’s current signature color, which corresponds to the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Galaxy Buds Live).
The larger, 45mm model starts at $429 and comes in Mystic Silver or Mystic Black. It is offered in a titanium variant as well, although that will come at a premium. And if you want your Galaxy Watch 3 with LTE so that it can make calls and reply to messages when your smartphone is out of Bluetooth range, expect to add $50 to the base price.
10. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: ConclusionNext Section
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 is entering an increasingly busy portable market. There are plenty of smartwatches and excellent fitness trackers to choose from these days, and Samsung has tried to find a balance between the two. It brought the health features of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 to a bezeled design that rivals the range of timepiece savant Fossil. However, this convergence came at a cost – the Galaxy Watch 3 is more expensive than the other Galaxy Watches and Wear OS Fossil options for it, and relies more on lifestyle than fitness.
I can’t say I’d switch my Apple watch with an Android watch for the same price. But if you’ve picked up an Android phone – especially a Samsung phone – and you want an extension around your wrist wherever you go, you won’t find anything more polished and powerful than the Galaxy Watch 3. Or something with such a satisfactorily rotating mechanism, in any case.