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Thread: Times up! Samsung Galaxy Watch Review

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    Times up! Samsung Galaxy Watch Review

    Times up!



    Our review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch (46mm) bluetooth

    I thought I’d do something different with this review of a Galaxy Watch; I tested it paired to a OnePlus 6 rather than a Galaxy line device. I’ve used a Galaxy device with a Gear in the past so I knew how it performed under those parameters, but with Wear OS and the devices being somewhat at a stagnant point, I thought it important to review the device as it performs outside the “Samsung Experience”. After all there are those looking for another Android smartwatch option who may not be using a Galaxy handset.

    Samsung mentioned that you can also use the Watch with iOS as well but I I didn’t try this. The Galaxy Watch should be considered an alternative to any of the Wear OS watches available as it runs Tizen OS, Samsung’s own in house operating system.

    Appearance/Build Quality:



    Since this a review of a timepiece first and foremost, I think it’s important we deal with appearances first. The Galaxy Watch 46mm Is almost identical to the Gear S3 Frontier with a slight change to the rotating crown used for the UI now being plastic, this in no way detracts from the appearance, in fact it in my opinion it gives it a more conventional watch appearance.

    This is very nice watch to look at. If you were to use this watch with the always on display you could probably trick passerbys into seeing it as a regular everyday watch. The model reviewed has a silver finish. It’s gorgeous and looks right at home on a large wrist.

    It’s well built and, if you’re the type of person who works a physically demanding job at times the Galaxy watch looks like it can handle some punishment. Samsung’s build quality gets a thumbs up.

    Endurance:



    The elephant in the room when it comes to any smartwatch is how long does it go on a charge? Spoiler alert: This is the best (fully functioning) smartwatch I’ve ever tested. It has moved the goal posts as to what I expect from a smartwatch (looking at you Apple Watch).

    Before using the Galaxy Watch, I always felt endurance and features where mutually exclusive when it came to Smartwatches. Prior to this review I had been using the Fitbit Versa. While it can last 4 days on a charge, it’s a bit lacking in functionality outside of fitness, is slow at times and has a TFT display to afford it its longevity

    Despite being vastly more powerful and fully featured, the Galaxy watch comfortably kept up with the Fitbit. Over my entire review period I averaged around 4 whole days per charge and managed to hit 104 hours once.

    While it’s a bit below the claimed 7 day battery life from Samsung it’s still very impressive. I should state that during my use didn’t use the Always on Display option. I’ve never seen the benefit it provides versus the loss endurance it brings.


    Performance/Features:



    The 46mm Watch has an 1.3” AMOLED display with a dpi of 282. It’s gorgeous; colours are vibrant and punchy just as you’d expect from a Samsung display. Brightness is excellent under all conditions I tested it with. When it was sunny I never once found myself struggling to read the display, and in dark environments, the ambient sensor did well to lower the brightness as to not blind you with light.

    All models of the new Watch line are powered by a new Exynos 9110 Dual core SoC. It runs at 1.15Ghz and is built on a 10nm node as opposed to last years Gear S3 which had the Exynos 7270 at 14nm. This new SoC was built specifically for smartwatches and is probably a big part of the endurance the Watch can now claim. The bluetooth model is mated with 768MB of RAM and has 4GB of storage.

    The heart rate sensor on the new Watch now has 4 readers as opposed to 1 to improve accuracy. I can’t verify whether this actually improved as I didn’t have a Gear S3 to test against. Although, more is always better right?

    Also included is an accelerometer, barometer, gyro sensor, altimeter, WiFi and GPS. All the options expected from a premium smartwatch.

    They were some annoyance experienced during my review, which related to not being connected to a Galaxy device.

    If you’ve used both Galaxy and Android devices you’ll be familiar with how Samsung has a tendency to reinvent the wheel. They have their own take on numerous apps, as well as their own app store. It’s here where the annoyances start. Since the device I tested the watch with was not a Galaxy, the Galaxy App Store is not installed so when you pair your watch you have to install some companion software; the optional Samsung Health app, and Galaxy Wearables app.

    This app contains mini versions of the stuff you’d normally find on a Galaxy but are more limited in function. Trying to find apps or Watch faces is challenging - the “recommended” highlights never seemed to load.

    I was also consistently having to search everything only to find out that an app was not available or poorly implemented. Often times I’d find myself saying “it’s just not worth it”. Tizen and apps doesn’t seem to be gaining traction. Luckily pretty much everything you need to get the most out of it, is on the watch out of the box.

    Another issue I encountered related to connectivity. The Watch has an option to connect through WiFi and sync to your watch if you are away from your phone. What was happening was the watch would connect to WiFi and do its own thing but they wouldn’t sync back with my phone later. Alerts wouldn’t come through but once I was close enough to my device to connect via bluetooth they’d come in. It’s worth noting here I did the entire review period on pre-release software. I did receive two updates during the testing but neither remedied the problem.

    Like it or hate it, Bixby is here to stay, Samsung has replaced S voice on the Gear line with Bixby. I tried it briefly, I enabled the always on feature and tested the performance of its ability to understand what I was saying and was pleasantly surprised, only when tested against a lot of heavy background noise did Bixby have trouble with my requests.

    With my device not being of the Galaxy brand, Bixby would often have trouble completing the requests, It was at that point I left Bixby out and disabled the always listening feature.

    One of my favorite parts of any smartwatch is sleep tracking, and I’m happy to report the Galaxy Watch sleep tracking is superb, it gives a record each morning of your nights sleep showing your deep sleep, motionless, and restless periods and can be compared in a history on the Samsung Health app.

    Fitness is in, and the Watch fitness tracking is sound. In particular I enjoyed the Watch’ dynamic fitness tracking. It detects any time your heart rate and motion increase for an extended period and set the watch into a tracking mode. It tracks the calories you are burning and with a quick adjustment can be set to whatever activity you’re doing; running, lifting weights, etc to allow for a more accurate tracking of your calories burned, or you can disable it altogether.

    Often times at work, it would turn on, drawing my attention to the physical demands I was experiencing. I wonder if I can use this data for a salary increase? Jokes aside, the fitness tracking is nice, the Samsung Health App has exercises you can use, and it provides extra motivation to keep you going that extra step. It’s nice to see Samsung improving with each iteration.

    If you’re a TD bank or RBC customer and use an Android other than Samsung then you’ll know the hell that is mobile payments. Neither TD nor RBC support Google Pay and their own options are to put bluntly, junk.

    When I saw that the Watch supports Samsung Pay in Canada, I was excited to try it out with my RBC card. I added my Visa in the Wearables app and was all set. Click and hold the side button and Samsung Pay flashes your card, enter your PIN and boom, the NFC magic happens. It worked flawlessly anywhere I’ve ever used Apple Pay.

    There were no issues or quirks on the payments front. I should mention however that Magnetic swipe has been removed from the Watch this year, so if your payment terminal doesn’t accept tap to pay you’re out of luck. This isn’t such a problem in Canada as it is in the US where NFC payment adoption is happening more slowly.

    Conclusion/Who should buy?



    My time with the Galaxy Watch was a quite pleasant experience overall, small annoyances aside. Performance was adequate, not once did the watch struggle or lag against anything I was putting it through.

    Turning the crown zips through the UI with ease. It’s the benchmark for longevity and even with the lack of apps in the Galaxy App Store, It’s so good I would recommend it over any of the current Wear OS options.

    Whether it’s a testament to the work Samsung has done here or the lack of work Google has done with Wear OS is debatable. But, if you’re the type who just wants to see and reply quickly to notifications, track your fitness, heart health, sleep, and make mobile payments, there is no reason to even look at any of the Wear options. If you’re looking for a smartwatch with the best battery life , performance and functionality this is the watch you want. However, if you want or need thousands of app options than Wear is probably better for you.

    Thumbs up for the Galaxy Watch from me.
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    Last edited by howard; 09-25-2018 at 09:53 AM.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the review, Mr. Mystery! I have a question though. Can you tell me which app you are using for text messaging, and how well this watch works with it? Can you reply to texts using the watch? Can you initiate texts using the watch?

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    Also, is that a wireless charging pad for the watch in your picture? Does the wireless charging pad come with it, or do you have to buy it separately?

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    Quote Originally Posted by swarmer View Post
    Thanks for the review, Mr. Mystery! I have a question though. Can you tell me which app you are using for text messaging, and how well this watch works with it? Can you reply to texts using the watch? Can you initiate texts using the watch?
    Hi swarmer, I used the Android Messages app for the review. The Galaxy Watch doesn’t have the app available on Tizen but you can however read, and reply to SMS’s received.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swarmer View Post
    Also, is that a wireless charging pad for the watch in your picture? Does the wireless charging pad come with it, or do you have to buy it separately?
    The wireless stand you see in the pic is included. Takes about 2 to 2.5 hours to charge.

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    What are the differences between the newest Galaxy vs. the Gear S3 ? Is it significantly different ?
    Don't make me turn this car around.....

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    Thanks, Mr. Mystery!

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    Quote Originally Posted by veriztd View Post
    What are the differences between the newest Galaxy vs. the Gear S3 ? Is it significantly different ?
    The size of the Soc has been reduced from 14nm to 10nm, the MST (Magnetic Stripe) for Samsung Pay has been removed, and the battery is I believe slightly larger

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    Toronto

    Quote Originally Posted by swarmer View Post
    Thanks, Mr. Mystery!
    +1 - Thanks for the great review!
    My mobile memoirs — free ebook available here.
    My HoFo feedback... is that still a thing?

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    Thanks for detailed review! I will look at this watch in one of the nearest stores.

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    You may not know the answer to this question since it sounds like you broke off your engagement to Bixby, but...

    Have you noticed when you ask her the weather that she reports temps in Celsius or Fahrenheit?

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    What I have noticed after reading and viewing dozens of Galaxy watch reviews, and another dozen comparisons with other smart watches, notably TicWatch, Apple, Huawei and the earlier versions Samsung, is that every reviewer seems to have subjective preferences about one feature or another. Some reviewers have opposite takes on the same feature.

    For example: While most Galaxy reviewers love the rotating bezel on the Galaxy, there was one who said he much prefers the "pure Android" swiping interface on an Android watch. Some say the Galaxy is too heavy. Some say it feels just right. Of course the hardcore fitness fans will pan the less than precise characteristics of the fitness-related apps on the Galaxy in favor of Fitbit, while the average guy who likes to eat more than workout couldn't care less if such readings are inconsistent or 20% off. (I picture a Galaxy watch hooked up to a gerbil running on his exercise wheel. I prefer to "work out" doing something more productive, so those features of the watch are not that important to me.)

    Some complain about the lack of Samsung apps and incompatibility with Android apps while others question why anyone would want a bunch of apps on a small watch if its tied to a $300 to $1,000 smart phone.

    Reading Amazon and Best Buy reviews, some complain about the battery life, while battery life on the Galaxy is significantly better than most.

    Most of the positive reviews seem to come from those who have previous experience with an earlier model or different brand of smart watch.

    BTW: I answered my own question about Bixby concerning the Fahrenheit versus Celsius readout. On the US version of the Galaxy S9+, the out of the box default is Fahrenheit. On the Chinese/Latin American version, the reading is fixed on Celsius and there is nothing that can be done about it - at least not easily.

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    Awesome watch thanks for sharing review its worth traying it

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    Just received and set up this watch last night.

    First impressions:

    The 46mm version was not as large as I thought it might be, which is a good thing. But I'm coming from a Casio Twin Sensor which was a good size watch and this is about the same size. This Galaxy is very comfortable.

    It was fun and glitchless to set up. Setup went flawlessly. Even a couple of Samsung pay accounts.

    Variety of watch faces is humungous. Loaded two freebies (Christmas theme) and one for $0.84 (Bond).

    Always-on feature, half of first day gone, battery is at 87%.

    This is one of the most fun, utilitarian non-essentials I've purchased in several years.
    Last edited by gfmucci; 12-20-2018 at 05:24 PM.

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    I've had my Galaxy watch for about a month now. First smartwatch. I actually find the sleep tracker to be terribly inaccurate. It thinks I'm sleeping when I'm watching TV in my basement. Or when I'm laying in bed watching TV. My cheap $50 fitness tracker would know when I'm in bed watching TV versus sleeping; the Galaxy watch can't seem to tell the difference.

    Overall I love this watch. I have the smaller 42mm version, and I charge it every other night. I wasn't aware of the Wi-Fi feature you mentioned; I thought it was bluetooth only. I'll have to give that a try.

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