In conjunction with the launch of the Galaxy Note 20 series, Samsung has also officially brought to the market the new Galaxy Watch 3. A product that collects the legacy of the main alternative to Apple Watch and re-proposes many of the features of its predecessors with the addition, or rather the return of one of the elements that have distinguished the Korean manufacturer's smartwatches for some generations: the rotating bezel.
As we will see shortly, the bezel is one of the reasons why this Watch 3 has returned to convince me as it did not happen from the Gear S3 Frontier, HERE in our review. We are probably facing one of the most complete and best functioning Smart watches, especially if we look at the extra-WatchOS universe.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
DISPLAY AND HARDWARE
Since smartwatches have existed, I have always lived with a conviction regarding their appearance: they must be as similar as possible to a classic watch. This is obviously a subjective opinion but for this reason I much prefer solutions with a round dial over those that offer a somewhat square display.
You will therefore understand why I particularly appreciated the design of the Galaxy Watch 3 which fully incorporates the appearance of a chronograph and improves, compared to the first Watch, some important aspects in terms of ergonomics. I'm talking about the thickness, which is 14% lower than the first generation, and the weight, which stops at 54 grams against the 63 of the model launched in 2018, to be honest even wider than a millimeter.
The case is made of stainless steel while the front glass and the one protecting the sensors on the back are in Gorilla Glass DX. It is not the DX + of the first version but the resistance to shocks and scratches still seems to be very good. In these days of use I accidentally slammed it on the corner of the desk and lightly crawled against a wall without causing any damage.
In the box, Samsung includes a leather strap with a standard 22mm pitch. A strap that isn't exactly super soft, in fact it takes two or three days before it lets go for a moment and fits the shape of your wrist best. If you intend to use the Watch also for tracking physical activity, however, I recommend that you purchase a second silicone strap, which is certainly more suitable. I bought one on Amazon paying for it about ten euros; I leave you the link below because it proved to be a really successful purchase. Of course Samsung could have included one in the package since Watch 3 is not given as a gift anyway, quite the contrary.
There is IP68 certification, which guarantees resistance to dust and water up to a pressure of 5 ATM. In addition to this we also find a military certification aimed at guaranteeing resistance to extreme temperatures and atmospheric conditions.
And here we are talking about the rotating bezel, the element that, as anticipated, makes it possible to make the user experience extremely pleasant and intuitive. In this round, among other things, Samsung has created a truly solid and firm bezel in its seat. It doesn't wobble at all and the rotation produces a sharp and precise click without being too noisy. The sensation is that of a haptic feedback but the click is mechanical.
Thanks to the ring we can then move within the interface by browsing the menus and switching from one screen to another without ever putting our fingers in front of the display except to select the elements, thus always having an eye on all the contents. This is an extremely important plus point but you will only understand it after trying it. Apple Watch uses the rotation of the crown of the side button to achieve the same result, but the larger diameter of the bezel of the Galaxy Watch makes the difference when it comes to precision in the selection.
In short, if you had not understood it, I consider this element one of the added values, together with the software, of the new Samsung smartwatch and also one of the reasons why you should choose it instead of many alternatives on the market.
But the bezel is certainly not the only component that has a certain relevance, indeed, among the elements that I definitely appreciated, I cannot fail to include the display. It is a 1.4-inch diagonal panel and 360×360 pixels of resolution. The density is consequently good and being an AMOLED screen the blacks are very deep and the contrast extremely high.
This last feature is certainly made possible by the depth of the blacks but also by a very high brightness. I believe it is the brightest display I have seen on board a smartwatch and I can assure you that this feature makes all the difference in the world. Also because it will happen many times that you want to read the time even outdoors in direct sunlight. Here, I can assure you that with this Galaxy Watch 3 you will never have any visibility problems.
As on previous generations, here too we have the always on display which I keep deactivated, however, because the switching on of the panel by rotating the wrist is precise and reactive, so much so that I do not feel the need to activate the AOD and consequently allow me to save money. a little bit in terms of autonomy.
The chipset is the same as the first Watch and is accompanied by 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage, 4 of which are available at the first start to install applications and download Spotify playlists locally. Obviously there is no shortage of GPS, Bluetooth – in version 5.0 – and 2.4GHz WiFi. In some countries there is also a version with LTE connectivity, which is currently not provided for Italy. Finally, there is also the NFC for contactless payments via Samsung Pay.
But how does the hardware behave? Well, indeed, I would say very well. This is nothing new and it should not surprise us that this smartwatch always manages to run the interface in a fluid and responsive manner. After all, we are talking about a product designed specifically to simplify our life and therefore it is right that it is so. The connectivity and pairing with the smartphone are also good and the synchronization happens quite quickly.
Did I already mention how intuitive is the interaction system via the ring and how ergonomic is the interface of Tizen OS (here in version 5.5)? Probably yes, but at the cost of sounding repetitive I say it once again. Using this Watch is a pleasure, there is no Wear OS that takes.
The rotating bezel is really the killer feature of an operating system that has been designed to be displayed on a round screen and which for this reason adopts ad hoc stylistic solutions in the dials, as well as in the app widgets that allow you to better adapt the interface to this form. Solutions that at the same time seem to entice you to just turn the ring to browse and select the elements on the screen.
A method of interaction that offers two main advantages. The first is given by the greater precision with which you can select the elements and scroll the texts, the second, however, is the fact of being able in most cases to control the Watch without our hands covering the view of the screen.
The interface is then basically divided into two sections, one to the left of the main watchface, where we find the notifications in chronological order from the most recent, and one to the right with the application widgets.
The top physical button is used to return to the previous screen while the bottom one takes us directly to the home from any point of the interface, or to the list of applications if we press it when we are on the clock face. The display still remains touch and it is therefore possible to select the elements and move around the interface by touching the screen as we would with any other product.
There is also a sort of control panel that can be accessed with a swipe down and that allows, a bit like on Android smartphones, to have quick access to some functions. These include do not disturb mode, power saving, volume control, airplane mode and a quick link to settings. In short, it takes a few hours to get used to all this and start moving in the interface with naturalness and ease.
The interaction with the notifications is truly complete: they always arrive on time, we can read them, archive them, delete them or even respond. In this regard, it is possible to operate in different ways: we have preset answers, or we can send emojis, or it is possible to dictate our answer or write it via a T9-style keypad or by drawing the letters on the surface.
Obviously it is still possible to connect your Spotify account to the Watch through the appropriate app and thus use the watch as a support on which to download our playlists locally to be able to listen to them during physical activity without having to bring the smartphone with us. A tool that I think is really interesting since I hate running with my smartphone on my arm!
There are microphone and speaker and therefore we can also answer calls hands-free without taking the smartphone out of the pocket. The audio is good both in and out and it is a tool that I have used more often than I thought, for example in the car or while I cook. Obviously, everything is always within the Bluetooth range of the smartphone because my Watch 3 does not have an eSIM.
As for the connection with the smartphone, however, everything happens through the Galaxy Wearable app, which allows you to activate and configure the smartwatch for the first time, as well as subsequently to intervene on the settings or install applications and new watchface directly from the official store. Samsung. In addition, we can also connect the Samsung Health app to our Galaxy Watch 3, so that all data relating to daily physical activity and, more generally, to our lifestyle are always synchronized with the smartphone.
There are two sore points of this OS. The first is Bixby, Samsung's voice assistant, which has never grown as predictable and is still almost unusable, or at least not very useful. The second lack concerns the applications. The Samsung store is struggling to take off and the situation is not very different from 3-4 years ago. In short, a few more investments in terms of app development would not hurt at all, indeed. Furthermore, the Strava application has also disappeared from the store, which is certainly an important lack for a product that still focuses heavily on tracking activity.
The tracking of physical activity can take place in two ways: automatic or manual. What changes? In the first case, when the smartwatch recognizes a physical activity such as a walk, a run or the like, it automatically starts recording and will show all the necessary information on the screen. A useful function in case you forget to manually start the activity recording.
With the second mode (manual) it is possible to select in advance the activity that we are going to perform to allow the watch to make a more precise tracking. The sports available for registration are plentiful and include a range of bodyweight activities such as squats, weight lifting, lunges and so on and so forth.
I have tried this Watch 3 in different situations: walking, running and MTB. As always happens, I monitored a couple of activities by holding my Garmin Forerunner 935 on the other wrist in order to compare the recorded data and check the reliability of the sensors and GPS of the Galaxy Watch 3. The results obtained are very good.
As you can see from the graphs below, my Mountain Bike ride in the woods was correctly traced, both in distances and in speed. The differences between the detection of the Watch and those of the Garmin are really minimal and absolutely in the tolerance of what could be the physiological deviation of the GPS. The heart rate sensor also seems to work as it should. Obviously this is not a medical device and the wrist sensors are not 100% accurate in any case, but the fact that the two tracks are very similar certainly bodes well in terms of reliability.
In addition to heart rate detection, Samsung has added sensors this year to measure the level of oxygen saturation in the blood or SPO2. The measurement takes place in a few seconds and compared to that of a classic finger oximeter it seems to be quite accurate. Obviously the smartwatch is not a medical device and it is still good to always rely on a specialist to identify any anomalies.
GALAXY WATCH 3
The hatching in the heart rate graph indicates a lack of data due to the glove slipping between the wrist and the sensor (my error).
GARMIN FORERUNNER 935
Technically Galaxy Watch 3 would also be able to measure blood pressure but at the moment this new feature is not yet active outside the Korean market. In fact, in Italy, as in other countries, the necessary certifications for activation have not yet been issued.
And I close by talking about autonomy. Galaxy Watch 3 offers a 340mAh battery which is around 130 less than the original model. Despite this, the duration of the charge is quite good. If you do not use GPS to track physical activity, you can reach 3 days of use 24 hours a day. By inserting the recording of an activity of about an hour with GPS into the routine, you will not go beyond two and a half days. Consider that one hour of GPS consumes about 15% of charge. In the package you will find a small magnetic base with wireless charging: from 0 to 100% it takes about 2 and a half hours.
Let's talk about price. How much does the Galaxy Watch 3 cost? The list price is 459 euros for the 45 mm version and 429 for the 41 mm version. It is certainly not a cheap smartwatch, indeed, the price is important and is very close to that of the Apple Watch, which is considered by many to be a reference in the category.
As I said at the beginning, Watch 3 probably represents, at this moment, the best alternative to the apple watch and therefore, from this point of view, the price could also make sense. The truth is that, however, it is a very high figure for what we must still consider as an accessory, especially without connectivity.
Would I buy it? Although I liked it very much and it remains one of the most complete products within its category, most likely not, not at this price. In fact, just above 200 euros we find the first Watch and the most recent Watch Active, which still have their reasons. Precisely for this reason, in my opinion, Galaxy Watch 3 will only be attractive with a slightly lower street price. If, on the other hand, you have no budget problems, the purchase link is above.
Rotating bezelVery bright displayMaterials and constructionTizen OSPrecise activity tracking Few third-party appsThe strap in the box is uncomfortableImportant price
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