Galaxy Watch 3 review: A stunning smartwatch with a couple missing pieces

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 has so much working in its favor. It is one of many best-looking smartwatches, with a vivid, round AMOLED show. And it has new fitness aids corresponding to a working coach characteristic, the choice to sync exercises out of your TV to your wrist, higher sleep monitoring than earlier fashions and superior well being instruments together with an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) app and measuring blood oxygen ranges. However it nonetheless cannot ship on all of its well being guarantees at launch, and battery life is not as nice as I would anticipated. 

Do not Like

  • Lacking ECG and blood strain options
  • Battery life on the smaller watch is disappointing
  • Uncomfortable to sleep with
  • Bixby takes some time to register voice instructions

Appears to be like go a great distance with this watch 

Pending well being options apart, there’s so much to love about this watch. I used to be already a fan of the unique Galaxy Watch with its spherical face and bodily rotating bezel, and the Watch 3 appears to be like even nicer. It has a vivid, stunning AMOLED display that is simple to learn even in broad daylight. It is also helpful in the event you’re on a run and must shortly verify your stats throughout a exercise. The display can all the time be on in the event you want it, though it’s going to value you within the battery division (extra on that later). I like navigating the interface with the rotating bezel as an alternative of smudging the display with my fingers. 

Gazing on the Watch Three on my wrist, I feel it might nearly go for a standard analog watch due to its basic design. The smaller bezels imply the display is greater than the unique’s despite the fact that the physique of the watch has shrunk. It nonetheless bulges out from underneath the chrome steel body, nevertheless, making it thicker than I would like and never as comfy to put on at evening because the Galaxy Watch Active

I attempted out the bronze 41mm model (the watch additionally is available in a 45mm measurement), with the tan-pink leather-based straps — a welcome step up from the silicone straps on the unique Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Energetic collection. The bronze is so much much less flashy than the gold of the unique Galaxy Watch, and it appears to be like softer and extra flattering on my wrist. If you happen to’re planning on utilizing it for understanding or swimming (or, in my case, bathing young children), you could need to spend money on a sports activities strap as nicely. I can see the leather-based getting worn after some time as a result of frequent contact with water.

A staggered rollout of its well being options

Apart from its appears to be like, what actually made the Galaxy Watch Three stand out for me was its spectacular listing of recent well being options. It has ECG, an SpO2 app that measures oxygen saturation within the blood, a blood-pressure monitor, fall detection, superior sleep monitoring, interval monitoring and an in depth post-run evaluation. However I’ve to confess I used to be a bit skeptical as as to if Samsung might ship on all of those guarantees. The Galaxy Watch Active 2, for instance, additionally launched with an “ECG characteristic” which remains to be pending over a yr later. The blood-pressure characteristic from the unique Energetic was unreliable at finest after we examined it and calibrated it in opposition to a blood-pressure cuff. 

Samsung not too long ago acquired FDA clearance for its ECG characteristic, but it surely will not be energetic on the Galaxy Watch Three at launch both — together with blood strain that is nonetheless pending FDA clearance within the US. (Each are solely out there in South Korea on the time of writing.) 

All the things else might be there out of the field. 

Samsung has had SpO2 monitoring on previous Galaxy units just like the S10, however I used to be excited to check it out on the watch to see the way it had improved. Different smartwatches use blood oxygen ranges for sleep evaluation or to find out VO2 max throughout train, however the Galaxy Watch Three is the one one which may give you a selected quantity on demand. 

Blood oxygen ranges are an necessary metric to trace, notably in the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Individuals with COVID-19 can expertise shortness of breath and critical dips in blood oxygen. 

Docs and hospitals use pulse oximeters positioned on the tip of the index finger to measure blood oxygen ranges, however these have turn out to be a scorching commodity in the course of the pandemic as many sufferers experiencing shortness of breath have turned to those small sensors to find out whether or not or to not head to the emergency room. 

To check accuracy of the SpO2 app on the Galaxy Watch 3, I took a side-by-side studying utilizing a medical-grade pulse oximeter and each gave outcomes inside a couple of factors of one another (98 and 99). It additionally took a couple of minutes extra to get a learn on the Watch Three and it’s important to place it appropriately in your wrist for it to work. 

As a result of my oxygen ranges had been inside the wholesome vary, it is laborious to know whether or not the Watch could be as correct as the heartbeat oximeter within the decrease ranges as nicely. It is also necessary to notice that any watch or client tech gadget ought to solely be used as a place to begin, by no means instead of a doctor and medical care. 

Like its predecessor, the Watch Three can monitor stress ranges utilizing your heart-rate knowledge. The take a look at takes a couple of seconds and requires you to maintain your arm nonetheless. As soon as it has the data it wants, it’s going to grade ranges on the stress spectrum and provide the choice to undergo a minute of respiratory workouts to assist get your score down.

I took my stress take a look at whereas on deadline penning this evaluation and it detected very low ranges, so I am a bit skeptical about its accuracy. 

It is also added menstrual cycle or interval monitoring: You enter the information in your watch and it syncs with the Samsung Well being app, which may give you details about your subsequent interval and predicted fertility window. The characteristic is not native to Samsung and is powered by the Glow app, which was already a comparatively established identify within the menstrual well being monitoring class and one I would used earlier than. 

The opposite massive well being characteristic unique to the Galaxy Watch Three is the trip-detection characteristic, which I hope I will by no means want. If the watch detects that you simply’re not shifting after a tough fall, it instantly calls your emergency contact and shares your location. It is not on by default, so you may should set it up from the superior settings choice on the Watch Three and designate an emergency contact. I attempted activating it by falling on my mattress a couple of occasions however I used to be unsuccessful. The Apple Watch (Sequence four and later) has the same characteristic referred to as fall detection that’s actually saved lives.  

CNET screenshot/Samsung

New methods to work out with the Galaxy Watch 3 

Regardless of its dressed-up exterior, the Galaxy Watch Three doubles as a health tracker. It tracks 40 completely different exercises, together with swimming (each indoors and open air) and can mechanically detect and observe seven of these exercises. Inside about 10 minutes of my beginning my stroll, I acquired a notification to start out a exercise and it gave me credit score for the 10 minutes prior. 

A heart-shaped dashboard reveals you a breakdown of your energetic minutes, energy burned and stand time in the course of the day in contrast together with your goal. 

I took it on my typical 3-mile run alongside the San Francisco Bay with out my cellphone, and I discovered it to be pretty correct at displaying my distance, tempo and coronary heart fee. 

You may should tweak the settings to show the data you need at a look throughout your run, as a result of the default would not embody coronary heart fee, which I personally wish to have available. However I preferred that it confirmed me a map of my run and a breakdown of my coronary heart fee zones on the finish of the run. It instructed me I had sustained my most coronary heart fee for two minutes in the course of the uphill portion of my run. It’s also possible to entry this knowledge after the very fact on the Samsung Well being app.

It additionally has a couple of bonus options for runners. The primary is a working coach, the identical one which debuted on the Energetic 2, which gives real-time suggestions about tempo and kind throughout a run. As an alternative of beginning a standard run, I chosen the working coach on the watch and plugged in my earbuds. A robotic feminine voice instructed me to start out my warmup. The voice gave me tempo alerts all through the run and generic recommendations on lengthening my stride and touchdown on the entrance of my ft as an alternative of the heel. Be warned that utilizing the working coach will drain the battery so much quicker than in case you are monitoring a daily run.

What’s new to the Galaxy Watch Three is a post-run evaluation, with particulars together with flight and get in touch with time, asymmetry and stiffness to assist establish areas of enchancment. It is not as complete as the information you’d get on a devoted working watch such because the Garmin Forerunner, but it surely might assist in the event you’re coaching for a race or simply trying to get extra out of your typical route. 

Apparently my “stiffness” wanted enchancment. Good to know, but it surely’d be good to get this suggestions stay from the working coach so I might have adjusted throughout my run. It could possibly additionally calculate your VO2 max, or most oxygen consumption throughout train, to present a way of your general health and tells you what your share is inside your age group. This is similar metric you’d get in the event you had been doing a VO2 max take a look at in a lab on a stationary bike or treadmill, sporting a masks that measures oxygen alternate. I am but to match them to find out whether or not or not the studying I acquired on the Galaxy Watch Three was correct. 


Mitchell Chang/CNET

One other first on the Galaxy Watch Three is a characteristic that permits you to sync it with residence exercise movies you may management out of your wrist. I wasn’t actually a house exercise movies sort of individual earlier than March, however I feel the worldwide pandemic has made us all rethink how we exercise and I’ve since been doing plenty of Pilates and yoga lessons on my TV. Having the exercise on my wrist was a giant step up from my typical routine. 

I chosen an abs program on the Well being app, which consisted of three 15-minute exercises in the course of the week, and was in a position to forged the primary of the collection on my Samsung TV and and observe together with my watch. The watch vibrated to let me know when it was time to maneuver on to the following train and let me pause with a press of the button after I needed to readjust my place. Plus it gave me the suitable calorie credit score on the finish of it (or no less than what I feel is suitable based mostly on comparable earlier exercises). 

This isn’t the primary watch to supply coaching prompts out of your wrist: Fitbit’s Premium account offers exercise movies that sync with the Versa, and there are third-party exercise apps for the Apple Watch. However it’s good that Samsung gives it natively and at no cost. My one criticism is that the exercise I selected had the identical robotic lady’s voice because the working coach guiding me by means of the exercises — and let’s simply say she’s not precisely motivating if you’re attempting to carry a plank for 60 seconds. 

Sleep monitoring lastly is smart on the Galaxy Watch 3

One in all my greatest complaints concerning the sleep monitoring characteristic on the unique Galaxy Watch was that it supplied little context about your sleep habits, particularly for if you do not know a lot about sleep to start with. 

The Watch Three has discovered so much from the errors of its predecessors, and now offers a extra complete have a look at your evening. It offers you a full breakdown of the phases of sleep (gentle, REM, deep), and compares yours with a standard vary. It additionally offers you a rating based mostly on these elements. 

I’ve by no means discovered the rating to be useful, however having the context of seeing my knowledge in contrast with a standard vary helped me determine find out how to get probably the most out of my sleep. Whereas my complete sleep time was good, I discovered I wasn’t spending a lot time in “deep” sleep in contrast with what’s typical. I attempted going to mattress an hour earlier, and although my complete sleep time did not change, I used to be in a position to lengthen my deep sleep time and felt extra rested within the morning. 


The essential smartwatch options, however no MST for Samsung Pay

I examined the Galaxy Watch Three with an iPhone 11 Professional and a Galaxy S20 Ultra and, whereas it labored nicely on each, a few of its options, which embody textual content responses and cell funds, are solely out there for Android customers. The Watch runs on Samsung’s personal Tizen working system, which is simple to navigate and gives much more customization than a few of its opponents. You possibly can set widgets and rearrange apps proper from the watch display.

You possibly can kind, scribble, dictate or doodle a response and take calls out of your wrist. It would not have an enormous choice of third-party apps (Spotify and Strava are among the many few), but it surely does obtain notifications from most of them together with Fb, WhatsApp and even CNET information alerts.

With Spotify you get full music management, offline listening for Premium subscribers and streaming over LTE (you may pay about $50 extra for the mobile model of the Galaxy Watch 3). 

The Galaxy Watch Three has Samsung Pay, however sadly it is NFC-only and the characteristic will solely work at NFC-enabled terminals. The Galaxy phones and Gear S3 have MST know-how so you should use them for contactless payment at nearly all credit card terminals with a magnetic strip. 

Battery life is disappointing  

Samsung says the battery on the Galaxy Watch Three will final for as much as two days, which it might probably, however there are a couple of caveats. For starters, this declare solely applies to the bigger 45mm model of the watch. I examined the smaller, 41mm model and Samsung says this measurement will final nearer to a day and a half with “regular use.” As all the time, mileage could differ relying on how you propose to make use of it. 

With the all the time on show set to auto brightness, monitoring a full evening of sleep and taking it on a 30-minute jog (with out my cellphone) I solely simply made it to the 24-hour mark. 

The watch gives some battery-saving suggestions together with turning off the always-on characteristic, limiting the display timeout and turning off location knowledge. I made these adjustments and the watch lasted a day and a half after I did not have time for a run and had the always-on display off, however I really feel like these options must be factored into Samsung’s declare.  

I used to be additionally disillusioned to seek out that the watch would not include its personal USB wall adapter, only a cable with the magnetic charging puck, however the upside is that you could cost it on any Qi appropriate wi-fi charger, or get a fast increase on the go utilizing the Energy Share characteristic on Samsung’s Galaxy telephones (S10 or above). 

A very good-looking smartwatch with nice potential

The Galaxy Watch Three has come a great distance when it comes to its options and consumer expertise. Beginning at $400 for the bottom 41mm mannequin, you are getting a premium-looking smartwatch that may lastly sustain as a health tracker. However the Watch Three will not really feel absolutely completed till it might probably ship on all of its well being options.

If you happen to’re not too hooked up to the design, or the bodily bezel, you may also contemplate the Galaxy Watch Active 2, which shares plenty of the identical options for about $200 much less.

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Vanessa Hand Orellana