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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Samsung Galaxy Watch Review: Hands-on Impressions

Does a subtle redesign and 4G reinvigorate Samsung’s smartwatch business? We went hands-on with the Galaxy Watch to find out

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • From $329.99
The smartwatch industry in 2018 is stalling. While the Apple Watch continues to sell well and Fitbit is dominating the fitness market, other big companies can’t quite seem to work out how to sell smartwatches in large quantities.


Samsung is continuing to have a fair crack at it with the Galaxy Watch, a rebranded sequel to the Gear S3. By adding the Galaxy branding to a smartwatch launched alongside the Galaxy Note 9, the Korean company will be hoping its loyal fans will see the merits of a wrist-based computer.

It’s still betting on its own Tizen software rather than Google Wear OS, which means a much smaller app ecosystem. Is the Galaxy Watch worth it? Here’s our hands-on review from the launch event.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Galaxy Watch comes in two sizes and is available to pre-order in the UK. The 42mm model comes in rose gold or black and costs £279 while the 46mm model is silver and costs £299.

Pre-orders ship with a free Wireless Charger Duo, a new £89 charging station for the Galaxy Watch and a compatible Samsung phone (or any phone with wireless charging).

In the US the 42mm costs $329.99 and the 46mm $349.99. You can pre-order all the models here. Pre-orders get you a free second strap.

The currently US-only 4G versions are $379.99 and $399.99 and work on T-Mobile.

DESIGN AND BUILD
We concentrated on the larger 46mm version for our hands-on review and found it a very well-made smartwatch. Its silver and black colour scheme is undoubtedly masculine and is close to dwarfing many wrist sizes.

It looks a lot like the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier,  a watch that Samsung confusingly still sells for the exact same price of £299.99. We’re not sure if this makes the new Watch a good deal or simply shows that not much has really changed here.

In fact, it even looks pretty similar to the Gear Sport, a similarly designed and priced watch that’s not that old and still sold by Samsung. It means the Galaxy Watch is a confusing new addition to the range.
We still love the circular display and the excellent rotating bezel that Samsung has practically perfected. It’s tactile and intuitive to use to scroll through menus and adjust settings.

The silicone strap is a standard 22mm fit on this model, with the 42mm Watch taking 20mm straps. The rubberised feel of the strap slightly detracts from the high-quality metal body of the Galaxy Watch, but such material combinations are standard for smartwatches. It’s a shame there’s no leather option like with the Gear S3 Classic.

The inner bezel has five-minute integers printed but this section does not turn when you use the outer bezel. A 33mm diameter display protected by Gorilla Glass DX+ is one of the most generous and sits in a casing that measures 46x49x13mm.

This means the Watch is practically the same dimensions as the Gear S3 ans aside from the silver casing we’d be hard pressed to tell them apart.

On the rear of the Galaxy Watch sits a redesigned heart rate sensor at the centre of a comfortable plastic casing that feels good against the skin despite being part of a relatively bulky device. It’s still not as huge as the LG Watch Sport, though.

FEATURES AND SPECS
There are more differences inside that should improve the Galaxy Watch more than the iterative design suggests. But they are quite minor and show that the smartwatch market is pretty stagnant, with a processor bump to the Exynos 9110 from the 7270 of the S3 but the same 768MB RAM.

Samsung promises a 4G version of the Watch to ship in the UK later in the year with 1.5GB RAM and a higher price tag (the US version starts at $379.99). This will let you use it with full phone capabilities without your phone tethered like we saw on the Apple Watch Series 3. 

Even on the Bluetooth version GPS is thankfully standard here, meaning you can track a run and other exercises accurately and see where you’ve been on a map. You can even do this in the pool thanks to the 5ATM water resistance.

The best thing about going for this larger model is the extra battery – 472mAh instead of 270mAh. Samsung claims each version will get at least four days of use between charges but you should see more out of the more expensive model, which is also a tad heavier at 63g compared to 49g (weights without strap). Using the always-on display option will shorten battery life.

It’s also notable that this is the first Samsung smartwatch with fully automatic exercise detection, meaning you don’t have to manually let it know you’re about to start a workout – a feature we feel is integral to a wearable, particularly of this price.

Like older models, it charges via the included wireless charger.

You do get upgrades here compared to older Samsung smartwatches but we’re sceptical about how much difference they’ll make in practice. Our full review will investigate soon.

SOFTWARE
You might actually be put off by Samsung using its own Tizen software here, but it’s actually in many ways better than Wear OS. It has fewer third party apps available though, and even Wear OS is anaemic compared to the Apple Watch.

But Tizen is attractive and well designed – the circular menus and rotating bezel input is still the best way of interacting with a smartwatch. And its Samsung apps are fully featured, with call, text, email and, yes, Bixby all working in tandem with your phone.

On older Gear watches you had to have a Samsung phone to use the text and email apps, so we’ll have to check when we review it fully if this is still a case, as it’s a flaw if you have another make of phone. The Galaxy Watch is compatible with Android phones with Android 5.0 or later and iPhone 5 and later with iOS 9.0 and above.

SPECS
  • 1.2 or 1.3in 360 x 360 Circular Super AMOLED
  • Full Color Always On Display
  • Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX+
  • Dual core 1.15GHz Exynos 9110
  • Tizen Based Wearable OS 4.0
  • 41.9x45.7x12.7mm or 46x49x13mm
  • 49g or 62g (without band)
  • Strap 20mm or 22mm
  • 4GB Internal memory, 768MB RAM, 1.5GB 4g version
  • Bluetooth® 4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n
  • NFC, MST, A-GPS/Glonass
  • Accelerometer, Gyro, Barometer, HRM, Ambient light
  • 270mAh or 472mAh
  • Wireless charging (WPC Inductive)
  • IP68 and 5ATM
View the original article here

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