The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is the sequel to TechRadar’s best smartwatch since mid-2018, and it improves on the original in a variety of ways. Thereby it also brings a hefty price tag.
The Galaxy Watch 3 comes with a dazzling design, a vivid display, and a bunch of new fitness features to help you track your progress across a wide range of activities, and stay motivated. Samsung has stuck with a traditional-looking circular display shape and a rotatable raised bezel that enables you to physically cycle through on-screen menus. It’s tactile, and that click, click, click as you navigate the round interface feels satisfying—It is also pretty addictive.
The Galaxy Watch 3 is better than its predecessor and is also slimmer and lighter. The battery life is on par with the watch but, you’ll be stuck with slow charging. The new fitness features improve the activity tracking that you expect to get from a smartwatch in 2020. Samsung has also added stress tracking and SPo2 monitoring.
If you’re looking for the best smartwatch to pair with the Android phone, this could be it – and if you own an iPhone, this may even beat the Apple Watch if you’re looking for a circular device rather than Apple’s trademark squared design and you like what you see.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 release date and price
41mm: Rs 29,990 | Rs 34,490 (4G)
45mm: Rs 32,990 | Rs 38,990 (4G)
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 was unveiled alongside the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra at the company’s virtual Unpacked launch for 2020. That took place on August 6, and you’re either able to buy or pre-order the Watch 3 now.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is available in two sizes. The 41mm variant is priced at Rs 29,990 for the Bluetooth version and Rs 34,490 for the 4G one and will be available in Mystic Bronze and Mystic Silver colours. The 45mm variant is priced at Rs 32,990 for the Bluetooth model and Rs 38,990 for the 4G variant and will come in Mystic Black and Mystic Silver.
Design and display
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3’s design is more refined than the original Galaxy Watch: 14% thinner, 15% lighter, and 8% smaller. With all this, Samsung has managed to pack in a bigger screen as well
The engineering team at Samsung have done a fabulous job here. The smartwatch is very comfortable to wear all day long and even during the night. I am actually the kind of person who takes off the watch before hitting the bed. But, with Galaxy Watch 3, I could sleep with it on my wrist as it was very comfortable to wear.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is offered in two sizes – a 41mm being the smaller option, and a 45mm model for those who prefer a larger watch on their wrist. For this review we’ve tested the 45mm variant, so elements of the user experience with the smaller model may differ slightly.
The core features are the same across both models, with just a couple of small differences in the specifications.
You are looking at a 1.2-inch (41mm) or a 1.3-inch (45mm) circular Super AMOLED panel, with a full-colour always-on display. The size watch was perfect for me during my testing time but, you won’t be disappointed with the smaller version either.
The Super AMOLED screen has a resolution of 360 x 360, which is extremely good for a smartwatch and looks at the display and navigating through the menus are pleasing to the eyes. On the front, the device is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass DX and not the DX+ as on the original Watch which offers protection against scratches; and I can vouch for that as the watch had a couple of rough falls and I could not spot a minor scratch.
The display is bright and easy to read in all types of light – be it indoor or outdoor. This is also by far the best display I have come across on any smartwatch. You won’t struggle in the direct sunlight also. So, for all those outdoor enthusiasts this won’t trouble you at all.
Apart from being a cool fidget spinner, the rotating bezel is a very intuitive way of navigating through the menu and screens. It might sound unnecessary, but for a watch with a tiny display that can easily get covered by even a finger, this is definitely the way to go.
Both variants of the watch come in a stainless steel body, with the 45mm weighing 53.8g and the 41mm 48.2g. The strap of the watch is made up of black leather and is extremely comfortable to wear even for a longer duration. The strap material is also top-notch here. The Galaxy Watch 3 was also comfortable to wear casually as well as during workouts. Overall the watch looks and gives a premium look in all aspects.
To the right of the smartwatch, you get two buttons. The bottom one acts as a power button and is also customizable to perform tasks for long press and double click. It also acts as a home button. The button at the top is a back button. For navigating throughout the UI, you will have to use the rotating bezel, button, and touch screen. All of which works flawlessly.
The straps can be interchanged as per your needs as they come in pretty standard sizes. The 45mm is compatible with all 22mm straps, and the 41mm device is designed for use with 20mm straps.
Performance and software
The Galaxy Watch 3 is powered by Exynos 9110 chipset. The same chipset is also featured on the original Galaxy Watch from Samsung, which may disappoint some. Although we didn’t find this to be an issue when using the smartwatch, Samsung could have moved to a newer chipset.
The chipset is loaded with 1GB of RAM as compared to 1.5GB RAM on the LTE version of the original Galaxy Watch which is pretty odd. However, we are happy to report that even with the same chipset and 1GB of RAM, the performance of the Galaxy Watch 3 was top notch and we had no issues or whatsoever. Apps loaded as quickly as expected and moving between multiple apps was also an easy task here. All thanks to the 1GB of RAM included here.
Although the smartwatch doesn't require as much processing power as a smartphone, Wear OS watches often struggle to keep up. Thankfully, we found the Galaxy Watch to be smooth and responsive throughout the testing period. Even the Bluetooth connection was stable and had no issues. The performance was seamless and excellent during the entire time.
All variants of the watch come with 8GB of storage, and we found the OS and pre-loaded apps were already using 3.59GB of this space, so if you want to fill your watch up with apps and music you’ll have around 4GB to use.
As for the software, the Galaxy Watch 3 is running Samsung’s Tizen software, which has been a staple of its smartwatches over the last few years since the company moved away from Google’s Android Wear OS platform. And, for a person coming from a Wear OS watch, the UI and smoothness were refreshing.
The latest Tizen OS 5.5 software based on One UI 2.0 watch version is on offer here, and if you’ve used a Samsung watch in the last few years you'll know what you’re getting – this is accomplished software. The touch response, animations, and overall look of the software skin is slick here and it feels faster than most of the Wear OS watches I’ve used. However, Samsung’s ecosystem doesn’t have as many third-party apps as Apple’s watchOS or Wear OS.
The watch is preloaded with several apps and for downloading the third-party apps, you’ll be using the Galaxy store or the Tizen store. Some big-name apps such as Google Maps are missing here, but Samsung has included a lot of alternatives that mean the overall experience is still satisfying.
As said earlier, the icing on the cake here is the navigation. Navigating around the watch is easy thanks to the rotating bezel. We found scrolling through menus to be a genuine joy. You can tap and swipe on the screen with your finger if you wish, but we think you’ll find yourself using that bezel instead, just like us.
The Galaxy Watch 3 works with both Android devices and iPhones. Certain features are optimized for Samsung handsets, and similarly some elements work better on Android devices than on iPhones, but generally, Samsung watches work as well with iPhones. During my testing time, it was paired with the Galaxy M51 .
You’ll have to install three applications to make the best out of the Watch – Samsung Wearable, Watch 3 plugin, and Samsung Health. All of which allows you to get more insights and customizable options.
The Galaxy Watch 3 interface is pretty simple and straightforward. You can pick from over 80,000 watch faces and over 40 compilations which are basically widgets for your watch. To the left, you will get all the notifications and if there is any notification on your watch, it will notify you with a small orange dot on the side. Once you open the notifications, you can respond to that via smart suggestions or you get the option to draw, type on T9 keypad and every voice typing option is available.
Typing on the T9 keyboard depends on if you’re used to it or not and it is also worth mentioning that it is not as smooth on typing on a touchscreen as you’d type on a keypad phone. I managed to respond to a few messages although it was not very comfortable to me. Swiping to the right will give you multiple widgets and of course, these are customizable.
Just like Android phones, swiping down from the home screen will bring you quick toggle options. The top bar will have your network, battery, and Wi-Fi status followed by six quick settings and swiping left will bring you to the second pane. You get options like Always-on, DND, Power, Settings, Sleep mode, volume, water lock option, Bluetooth, flashlight, find my phone, and brightness.
The watch also comes with a built-in speaker and microphone. When connected to your phone, you will be able to pick and respond to calls via your watch itself. The call quality was excellent but the person on the other end did report that it sounded slightly different and edited, as if the vocals are boosted. In a way, this makes it even better for calls. The loudspeaker is surprisingly good here. Since it has inbuilt storage, you can also store music on this and use it as a standalone music player. The Spotify app is also on board to do so.
If you’re looking for a smartwatch that lets you leave your phone at home, the LTE-ready version will come in handy. The smartwatch comes with e-SIM support. As of now, the Jio and Airtel networks are supported and Samsung said that it will be adding more carriers soon.
Fitness is a key component of the Galaxy Watch 3, and while this isn’t the successor to the Galaxy Watch Active2, it does bring a lot of fitness-focused features from the Watch Active2. There are several workout and tracking modes on the watch.
Seven activities will auto-trigger Galaxy Watch 3 fitness tracking, whether or not you forget to start the tracking. These are – running, walking, swimming, cycling, rowing, elliptical workouts, and dynamic workouts. We’ve tested these for running, walking, and cycling and found that it worked every single time – it’s tack-sharp on kicking in 10 minutes after we started working out, so you’ll have peace of mind knowing your watch is tracking even if you forget to set up a workout.
Just like how it starts, there is also an automatic end detection for workouts – it promptly asks if you’ve finished a workout when it thinks you’re done. It was even smart enough to know that we stopped cycling and transitioned to walking.
In between workouts, if you’re on a run or walk and stop to snap a scenic photo, it’ll auto-pause tracking. In total, there are 40 workouts that can be tracked – everything from yoga to crunches, deadlifts to pilates. You’ll want to set up those that we haven’t listed above, as they don’t automatically track, which you can do within the app or via Bixby’s voice assistant.
Samsung has helpfully equipped Watch 3 with stress tracking, taking into account peak heart rates and suggesting breathing exercises too. In my testing, it never raised an alarm. Not sure if that was due to my temperament or inaccurate tracking. Additionally, you also get breathing exercises to overcome stress. The watch also comes with sleep tracking to track your night sleep. Samsung has partnered with the National Sleep foundation and after each sleep, it will give you a sleep score out of 100. The speed reports were pretty accurate here when compared against my other tracker.
In the latest update, the watch also gained the SPo2 monitoring which allows you to monitor the blood oxygen levels. To test this, you’ll have to be extremely stable and have a very stiff hand as even a slight shake will result in aborting the test. Samsung suggests it is always good to take a five-minute rest before taking the test. Also, Samsung says a healthy range is around 95% to 100%. During my testing, I got 94% both the times.
We’re yet to test the Galaxy Watch 3 in a swimming pool owing to coronavirus restrictions, but we have gotten it wet in a sink and it survived. With a design that’s IP68 water-resistant, you should be able to swim with the device in your average pool – but it’s not built for saltwater, so keep it out of the ocean. It has a woman's health section too for monitoring menstrual cycles, and its effects on your fitness.
This is where the Galaxy Watch 3 takes a step backwards. The smartwatch is loaded with battery capacity which is smaller than the original device. This might be the primary reason how the Galaxy Watch 3 was made slimmer, lighter, and smaller than the original watch.
On the inside, you get a 340mAh battery. For context, the Galaxy Watch packed in a 472mAh battery. Despite the battery being pushed down, the battery life was on par with the watch during my testing. On a single charge, the Galaxy Watch 3 could last me about a day and a half easily. And, with the battery saver turned on in the last 15%, I could push the battery life to two days.
Although turning on the battery saver takes off most of the smart features and gives you only a phone and SMS app to play with. In my case, I found this to be a fair trade-off considering the Watch will last half more days longer than keeping it in charge in the middle of the day.
My usage of the watch included a lot of push notifications from apps like Slack, WhatsApp, SMS, calls, and much more social media apps. To add to those, the watch was always in Bluetooth mode with Wi-Fi, GPS, and heart rate turned on all the time. And, workouts here and there. To be fair, all of these are too much to handle for a tiny battery on a smartwatch and the battery life I got is way better than what I used to get on my WearOS smartwatch with similar usage.
You can manually check and select the apps that you want to send push notifications thereby you can avoid some of the notifications on the watch and get more juice out of it.
Now, let’s talk about the biggest let down of the Galaxy Watch 3: the charging. The watch can be charged via a proprietary magnetic cradle that comes in the box. On average the smartwatch takes around two and a half hours to fully charge the device, thanks to the 5W charger. For a premium watch which costs as much as a smartphone, I’d have liked to see Samsung include some sort of quick charge technology; but, that’s not the case here. Charging the watch in the daytime can be pretty painful.
The Oppo Watch which costs half the price of Galaxy Watch 3 offers fast charge and for some reason, Samsung felt that was not needed in 2020 and wants people to wait for over two hours until the device is fully charged.
The watch is also compatible with Qi wireless charging standards. You can use any Qi-certified charger to fuel up the device. You can also charge the device from certain Samsung phones with Wireless PowerShare feature. Just stick your smartwatch on the back of a compatible phone and it'll slowly juice up. We used this on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and we found it charged the Galaxy Watch 3, but it was nowhere near as fast as a Qi charger.
Buy it if…
You want a good all-round smartwatch
The Galaxy Watch 3 is an excellent choice for a smartwatch with well-engineered design, crisp display, and overall smooth experience. If you’re buying a smartwatch for its looks, consider the Galaxy Watch 3.
You want a fitness and health companion
In addition to using the Galaxy Watch as a general watch and to manage notifications, the smartwatch also offers a bunch of health features like heart rate monitor, automatic workouts, sleep tracking, stress monitor and even SPo2 monitor.
You want an iconic feature that no other watches have
The rotating bezel is a unique feature that no other manufacturer has been able to pull off as Samsung did. It is a fantastic way to navigate around the interface and the experience is lovely.
Don’t buy it if…
You need fast charging
The battery life on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is acceptable but, when it comes to the charging speeds, you are with a slow charger. It takes more than two hours to completely charge them which can be painful often.
You’re looking for an affordable smartwatch
This isn’t the cheapest smartwatch on the market, and it’s nowhere near the most affordable. In fact, if you want a similar device at a lower price you’re still able to purchase the original Galaxy Watch.
You’re looking for an affordable smartwatch
This isn’t the cheapest smartwatch on the market, and it’s nowhere near the most affordable. In fact, if you want a great smartwatch, you can check out the Oppo Watch, which is priced half of the Galaxy Watch 3.