You want a smartwatch but you don’t use an iPhone? Well, then you can forget the Apple Watch and get something even better: the new Samsung Galaxy Watch. And you don’t need a Samsung phone, just about any recent Android will do, and it even works with up to date iPhones.
Samsung used to call their watches “Gear” – as in Gear S3 and Gear Sport last year – but now it’s simply the Samsung Galaxy Watch which is a similar design in that it’s round with a rotating bezel. But there are improvements in the new model, including making it fully waterproof (you can swim with it), longer battery life and Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch comes in two sizes, 46mm and 42mm, and three “colors,” being all-black, black with silver and rose gold. All have Gorilla Glass and the same Tizen operating system and functions, but the larger watches also have a larger and longer-lasting battery and weigh about half-an-ounce more than the smaller ones at just over 2 ounces. There’s also a choice of colors in the straps.
You’ll have to make one other choice, as you would have with earlier models: LTE or only Bluetooth. With 4G LTE you can make phone calls & send texts even when not in Bluetooth range of your smartphone – but of course, there’s an extra monthly fee to pay to supported cell carriers. With the watch paired to your phone, calls & texts on the watch go through the phone’s cell account, which you’re already paying for.
From opening the box to having a working Samsung Galaxy Watch on your wrist takes about 10 to 15 minutes, starting with the need to download to your phone the Samsung Wearable app and at least two other apps. Then you run through some basic setup on both the watch & phone – Bluetooth pairing was first & fast – and you’re ready to go. Any customization will take a bit longer, such as choosing or customizing one of the included watch faces or obtaining one of the thousands of others either from Samsung or third parties.
As with the earlier “Gear” watches, you get a USB power charging stand with each watch.
Besides the rotating bezel, the Samsung Galaxy Watch has two buttons, one is Home as well as on/off and the other is Back. You switch apps, change settings, make calls, etc. through a combination of bezel turns, screen taps or swipes and where possible, Bixby voice commands. I didn’t find it difficult to get the hang of it, although I had to use the app on my phone to change the temperature readings from Celsius to Fahrenheit because I couldn’t figure out a way to do it on the watch itself.
The watch has a heart rate monitor and functions as a fitness watch by counting steps and allowing you to measure up to 39 types of activities – far more than you likely do – and there’s a sleep monitor, calorie counter, plus something billed as stress management. And it links to various health & activity apps as well as to Spotify for streaming music.
Battery life, as I said, is good, with the 46mm model claiming to go 4 days without a recharge and the smaller model good for 3 days. However, and it’s a big however, those claims depend on how much you use the watch, whether your turn on battery saving features, etc. With heavier use, those 4 days might be only 2 days. That said, the Samsung Galaxy Watch has much longer battery life than its latest “square” competitors from Apple, which are rated at a maximum of 18 hours.
Pricing for the Samsung Galaxy Watch depends on size & model – LTE or no LTE – and range from $299 to $399. A smart addition to your wrist.
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