Sam­sung Gal­axy Watch


TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ MATT SWIDER ]

THE SAM­SUNG GAL­AXY Watch is one of the most re­fined smartwatches you can buy, with an aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing de­sign, co­he­sive user in­ter­face and, im­por­tantly, four-day bat­tery life.

The Gal­axy Watch looks and feels like a high-end wrist watch, with a cir­cu­lar stain­less steel case and dec­o­ra­tive bezel. It’s both stylish and func­tional be­cause, like the pre­vi­ous Gear S3, the bezel ro­tates to cy­cle through its var­i­ous on-screen menus. This is the most sat­is­fy­ing way to nav­i­gate a smart­watch. Your fin­gers won’t cover up the watch’s small, hard-to-ac­cu­rately-tar­get touch­screen (an is­sue with any smart­watch), and it’s an idea ex­clu­sive to Sam­sung’s newer watches, which runs Tizen soft­ware rather than Google’s Wear OS.

Bat­tery life is ex­cep­tional. The larger 46mm Gal­axy Watch lasted a solid four days with nor­mal use, dur­ing which we checked mes­sages, fetched con­stant no­ti­fi­ca­tions, tracked work­outs, played Spo­tify, and talked to Bixby, Sam­sung’s mostly ter­ri­ble AI. Sam­sung says the smaller 42mm Gal­axy Watch lasts three days.

The big dif­fer­ence be­tween the Gal­axy Watch and the Gear S3, be­sides an ex­tra day of bat­tery, is that it’s more fit­ness-fo­cused, thanks to ad­di­tional sen­sors and a re­vamped Sam­sung Health app. It au­tode­tects six of (an ex­panded) 39 ex­er­cises – and still help­fully nudges you when you’re too seden­tary, and it has a fairly ac­cu­rate sleep tracker. It’s also now wa­ter­proof down to 50 me­ters, match­ing the Gear S3 Sport 5ATM rat­ing in a more adult de­sign.

The Gal­axy Watch does in­herit prob­lems from pre­vi­ous Gear watches, how­ever – and what’s bad is al­most all soft­ware-re­lated. Sam­sung’s core apps are pol­ished, sure, but the Gal­axy Apps store lacks crit­i­cal third-party apps, no­tably Google Maps, Face­book Mes­sen­ger, and What­sApp. The Bixby voice as­sis­tant is here, but it’s no bet­ter than S Voice at un­der­stand­ing us, and Sam­sung Pay doesn’t use Mag­netic Se­cure Trans­mis­sion (MST) de­spite the fact the Gear S3 did.


The Sam­sung Gal­axy Watch is very much the Sam­sung Gear S4 that never was. It’s an it­er­a­tive up­date, one that adds fit­ness soft­ware, new sen­sors, and ex­tra wa­ter­proof­ing to ev­ery­thing we liked in the Gear S3 Clas­sic and Gear S3 Fron­tier a year and a half ago.

It’s a big, but so­phis­ti­cated-look­ing smart­watch in two sizes that ends up be­ing great to wear for no­ti­fi­ca­tions and ex­er­cise. We’d opt for the 46mm watch over the 42mm for the bet­ter bat­tery life and big­ger screen.

The 1.3-inch Su­per AMOLED screen (1.2-inch on the 42mm watch) is bright and colour-rich. It’s easy to see ev­ery­thing, even dur­ing an out­door run, thanks to adap­tive bright­ness set­tings. And its smart use of blacks, es­pe­cially in the back­ground, burns fewer pix­els on the 320 x 320 res­o­lu­tion. The one down­side is that the screen is slow to up­date when it’s wo­ken – the time and steps show old fig­ures for half a sec­ond.

The or­nate and func­tional ro­tat­ing bezel has a third char­ac­ter­is­tic: it makes the Sam­sung Gal­axy Watch durable. There’s pro­tec­tion here for

the screen, with mil­i­tary-grade dura­bil­ity and Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass DX+ that pre­vents the dis­play from get­ting scratched, ac­cord­ing to Sam­sung.

Two phys­i­cal but­tons adorn the Gal­axy Watch, and while they’re on the right side of the case, Sam­sung has wisely off­set them from the usual cen­ter lo­ca­tion, which means they’re not prone to ac­ci­den­tal presses against your bent wrist as on other smartwatches.


The Sam­sung Gal­axy Watch puts more em­pha­sis on fit­ness, with new auto-tracked work­outs. Cy­cling, el­lip­ti­cal trainer, and row­ing join re­turn­ing auto-tracked ex­er­cises walk­ing, run­ning, and dynamic work­out for a to­tal of six ex­er­cises that you don’t need to worry about ac­ti­vat­ing ahead of time.

That doesn’t mean you should rely on the watch to trig­ger every ex­er­cise, or their close vari­ants. We took the Gal­axy Watch down­hill moun­tain-bik­ing and, to our dis­may (but not to­tal shock), it didn’t auto-track that ex­er­cise un­der cy­cling or any­thing else.

The Sam­sung Gal­axy Watch has pol­ished soft­ware – it just doesn’t have enough to it. And that’s our big­gest com­plaint about this smart­watch. Shift through the menus with the ro­tat­ing bezel, the colour­ful, cre­ative-look­ing wid­gets stand out as be­ing easy to read, yet in­for­ma­tive.

If there’s one thing Sam­sung gets right, it’s cre­at­ing a well-laid-out op­er­at­ing sys­tem; if there’s one thing the com­pany gets wrong, it’s con­sis­tently fail­ing to lure app de­vel­op­ers to its plat­form. It’s also an ex­tra step to down­load ‘Gear’ apps (yes, they’re still named this in the phone app and the Gal­axy Apps store). Apps on your phone don’t au­to­mat­i­cally show up on your watch.

Bixby, Sam­sung’s un­lik­able voice as­sis­tant on its phones is no bet­ter than S Voice on the Gear S3, to the point where we missed Google As­sis­tant.

The Sam­sung Gal­axy Watch works best with Sam­sung phones, which come with the Gear app al­ready loaded up. But it works with other new and old An­droid phones, too – they just need to run An­droid 5.0 or later. We also tested our Gal­axy Watch out with a third de­vice – an iPhone X. The iPhone 5 and above are com­pat­i­ble with the smart­watch (run­ning iOS 9 or newer), but with more ‘read’ than ‘write’ func­tion­al­ity. You can read iMes­sage no­ti­fi­ca­tions, but you can’t re­ply to them and you can’t ini­ti­ate any com­mu­ni­ca­tions – there’s no email, phone call, or mes­sag­ing app. We also had to open the Sam­sung Gear app every once in a while on the iPhone to keep the con­nec­tion ac­tive, oth­er­wise the watch would go into Stand­alone mode.

The Sam­sung Gal­axy Watch feels like the smart­watch of right now in­stead of to­mor­row. Its on­board soft­ware is im­pres­sive, and shows up nicely on its big cir­cu­lar dis­play. It’s im­pres­sive for quickly glanc­ing at no­ti­fi­ca­tions and track­ing your fit­ness goals, all on what could be mis­taken for a con­ven­tional wrist watch. While it works well on other An­droids and sat­is­fac­to­rily on the iPhone, we got the best ex­pe­ri­ence with this watch when it was paired with our Note 9.

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