The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 is not a particularly new smartwatch. In fact, it was released sometime last year with the Galaxy Note20 Ultra. Back then, the smartwatch came with electrocardiogram (ECG) support only in select markets. But now that it is available in the UAE, how does it stack up against the competition?
Design and build
One of the first things we noticed about the smartwatch is its updated design. The Galaxy Watch3 is much sleeker than the original Galaxy Watch. On top, you find a rotating bezel with buttons on the side. This pairs well with other features like full IP68 certification and MIL-STD-810G rating ensuring protection in swims or on adventure trails. Showering with the watch on is also no problem although we would not recommend you wear it in saltwater.
Accommodating for different user preferences, the Galaxy Watch3 comes in 41mm and 45mm dial sizes. These show slight variances in weight although a bigger difference comes in both build and display size. The 41mm Galaxy Watch 3 is only available in a stainless steel finish whereas the 45mm comes in both stainless steel and titanium finishes.
The smartwatch we have is the 45mm one with a 1.4-inch circular Super AMOLED display. With the larger panel, we felt navigation was much easier than on watches with smaller dials. And the essence of robust protection is not lost here either with a Gorilla Glass DX layer over its display.
As for its strap, Samsung has opened for a genuine leather one. There is aged leather on the exterior supported by strengthened leather on the inside. We love how comfortable this feels but also the character that is gives to the watch. Paired with the ‘Mystic Black’ colour finish, it goes extremely well.
Setup process and hardware
Having used a Galaxy Watch prior to this, adapting to the Galaxy Watch3 was easy. It pairs with either your Android or iOS smartphone so long as you have the Galaxy Wearable companion application installed. You use Bluetooth 5.0 for the pairing process and after a 10-15 minute initial setup, you are good to go. In terms of other hardware on the smartwatch, you find 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage and a 1.15GHz Samsung Exynos 9110 dual-core processor. LTE support is also available via eSIM functionality.
Software wise, the Galaxy Watch3 comes with Tizen OS 5.5. This is different to Android Wear and being proprietary to Samsung, you get a smooth and tailored experience. Moreover, for any smartphone other than a Galaxy one, you will have to download a host of Samsung applications to get maximum use out of the smartwatch. Firstly, you find a robust suite of watch faces. Some are flashier than others however in our use, we felt the classic and modern faces suited the general aesthetic of the watch. Individual elements on each watch face can also be further customised, either on the watch or from your smartphone. With access to the Galaxy Store for an even larger selection, you never truly run out of customisation options.
While we alluded to Samsung’s rotating bezel earlier, it is a phenomenal experience in practice. The bezel makes navigation a breeze and eliminates the hassle we usually face when operating on a smaller touchscreen. Rotating across gives you access to a number of useful widgets which you can configure based on your preferences. We liked having easy access to our heart rate, the weather and the calendar for the day. Although, its raise to wake function seemed inconsistent.
If we wanted to access a certain application, we used the application drawer. This is also neatly organised which goes hand-in-hand with the navigation features of the Galaxy Watch3. By default, the top-right button serves as the ‘Back’ button whereas the bottom-right one serves as the ‘Home’ button however this can be customised. While this combination is perfect, we wish there was a way to exit an application simply by swiping right instead of resorting to the back button at all times. Furthermore, while the suite of applications on the Galaxy Store is solid, it still does not have support for Google Maps.
Health and ECG
For health tracking in particular, we found the Activity widget on the Galaxy Watch3 to be the most useful. It gave us a glance at our calories burned, work out sessions and movement times. Built into the watch, you find a solid array of pre-configured workout modes too. With fitness being a priority until the summer for myself, having access to these is extremely useful. The watch also does a good job to track features such as heart rate or calories burned.
But one of its big features is ECG support. Having made its way to the UAE lately, it does have a novelty factor. From our experience, ECG only works with more recent Samsung Galaxy flagships, having tested on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. When paired, the Galaxy Watch3 automatically displays the ECG widget. Tapping this prompts you to install another application called Samsung Health Monitor, designed especially for blood pressure and ECG monitoring.
With regards to blood pressure, the smartwatch needs to be calibrated first using a blood pressure monitor. It took us several attempts before we got it to work. The calibration process takes three readings from your blood pressure monitor before the watch can give you these on its own. Readings from the Galaxy Watch3 thereafter showed only a 1-2 per-cent variance compared to the blood monitor which is impressive.
But ECG works without any calibration. You have to stay still for 30 seconds when measuring this with it generating a report on the smartphone’s application instantly. These reports can then be shared with a medical professional for further consulting. It is also nice that the application automatically adds a comment about the reading generated for a basic understanding. The ease of use and convenience the Galaxy Watch3 brings to your wrist is not something that many other smartwatches do. And this is a big selling point for it.
In an otherwise immaculate package, there is one slight negative. We are seeing more smartwatches push the boundaries when it comes to battery capacity with some offering up to two weeks of use without a charge. Unfortunately, this is not the battery backup you will see with Samsung’s smartwatch.
With typical usage, the Galaxy Watch3 should last between 2-3 days. This is not a big deal for people who can habitually charge the device. However, as someone who struggles to do that, adaption involves a big learning curve. It is not an impossible one nor is it asking for too much given the feature set of the smartwatch. But it is something to keep in mind.
Charging is wireless and there is a circular magnetic charger provided out of the box. Oddly, it sports a Type-A USB plug and not a Type-C one. With Samsung making that switch for its smartphone adaptors, it should also look to change the cable too. You can also use Qi certified wireless chargers to recharge the smartwatch. However, with no fast charging support, a typical recharge from 0-100 per-cent should take 2.5 hours.
For actively tracking your lifestyle, the Samsung Galaxy Watch3 is an impressive piece of kit. If you happen to own a Galaxy Watch, it offers an upgraded experience. Changes are mainly focused on feature set including workouts, ECG and blood pressure monitoring. For someone who perhaps wants a middle ground between these features, the Galaxy Watch Active2 is also worth a look given its lower price tag. But if you are in the market for a premium smartwatch that does it all, the Galaxy Watch3 is an ideal choice.