Even though this has been a rough year worldwide, at least we can enjoy a Samsung Unpacked event to make everything feel normal. Only this time, the event is being held completely digitallyin keeping with social distancing. This means that we got some at-home hands-on time with the newly revealed Galaxy Watch 3, ahead of launch.
Samsung’s Watch line hasn’t been properly updated in a long time. Since the launch of the original Galaxy Watch, Samsung put its fitness eggs into the Galaxy Watch Active range for a few years before cycling back to the base Galaxy Watch line. It’s interesting that it decided to skip the ‘2’ moniker and jump right to ‘3’. But that’s probably to minimise confusion with its Active 2 device.
Not just for fitness
The Watch 3 brings Samsung design to a wearable, with the physical rotating bezel making a comeback. We got our hands on the smaller 41mm variant (there’s also a larger 45mm option), which features a small touch-sensitive OLED display enveloped with the rotating bezel with two physical buttons on the left-hand side. Our review model came in black and chrome silver, with a leather-esque strap.
It’s clear that this Watch is going in a different direction than the Active models, featuring far more grown-up design elements with a leather-like strap and bulky physical bezel. It looks far less like a fitness tracker and more like an analogue watch. Whether you think that’s a good thing is up to you.
The body of the watch is pretty fat in comparison with other smartwatches on the market, so I expected a load of tech packed in there, and longer battery life. The previous Galaxy Watch could last about a day and a half on a charge, which isn’t long by smartwatch standards in 2020.
In the short amount of time we had to test the Watch 3, the battery seemed improved, lasting a good two days on a charge. This means you can easily use it for sleep tracking — something I’ve become used to using other smartwatches. But it’ll need a good charge every two days to keep up.
Just track it
Of course, you’ll invest in a smartwatch for its features and not the pretty strap, so I was keen on testing out the new Samsung tech.
There’s a traditional heart rate tracking, step counter, sleep tracking and activity monitor; the Watch 3 doesn’t necessarily innovate in terms of new features. Tracking all-round is very accurate, while it features a wide range of sport and activity tracking, from bench-counters to sprint timers and yoga-heartrate tracking.
Our review model features 8GB of onboard storage, with the ability to load music directly on the device. Pair this with the new Galaxy Buds Live and you’ll be able to go for a jog in the park without your phone and listen to schweet tunes. That’s the point, right?
This time Samsung has announced an electrocardiogram sensor, which is one of the Galaxy Watch 3’s more interesting features. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work yet, and we’ll have to wait and see if the feature is approved in South Africa before we get to test it. The ECG measures electrical signals in your heart, much like the one you’ll find in the current Apple Watch.
At least you can go for a swim with it. The Galaxy Watch 3 watches offer 5ATM water resistance and have been tested with some strands of the MIL-STD-810G standard. You can go 50m deep for about 10 minutes if you really want to. Otherwise, a quick swim is fine and the Watch 3 will track it. It’s cold out so we didn’t test this feature other than by standing under the showerhead. It survived.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Initial Verdict
If you’re in the Samsung ecosystem, and want a smartwatch that’s sleeker than the Active 2, you’d like the Watch 3. It boasts good battery life (for a Samsung Watch), a brilliant screen and water resistance. We really like the soft natural band that comes standard, as it looks good and fits comfortably, but the size of the watch itself is a bit big, especially on a slender arm.
Although it’s a bit bulky and relatively shiny (soz if you don’t like shiny things), the Galaxy Watch 3 comes in three colour options: Mystic Black and Mystic Sliver for the bigger model with Mystic Bronze and Mystic Silver. We’ll have pricing for the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 later today following the Unpacked event.