In a market dominated by Apple and Fitbit, Samsung is trying to make its wearables cool again with a two-pronged strategy: having a single smartwatch that ticks every box instead of the multiple options available under the Gear line-up; and switching to the more popular Galaxy brand name for its smartwatches.

Sporty looks

The Galaxy Watch is designed like a sports watch without being flashy. The stainless steel body makes it reassuring to use, the circular design gives it the look and feel of a real watch, and the wide rotating bezel around the screen lends it protection against accidental scratches or abrasions. The watch is also waterproof up to 5ATMs, so users don’t need to take it off while swimming or washing hands. Even though it looks bigger than the Apple Watch 4, the Galaxy Watch doesn’t feel hefty.

Easy to navigate

The rotating bezel makes navigation simple, even though one can get things done with swipe gestures on the touch screen. The watch body includes a couple of physical buttons which double up as the return and power button on a single press. You can use them as short cuts too—pressing the power button twice, for instance, activates Samsung’s voice assistant Bixby. There’s a 1.3-inch AMOLED display on the 46mm variant and a 1.2-inch display on the 42mm one. The screen brightness can be adjusted and holds well even under bright sunlight. While there’s ample space to track all the activities and apps, it is still smaller compared to the Apple Watch series 4’s 1.78-inch screen.

Keeps you busy

Powered by an improved version of the TizenOS, the Galaxy Watch is fast and works with both Android and iOS devices, unlike the Apple Watch, which is only compatible with iPhones. Samsung has tried to make the watch less dependent on the Galaxy Wear app so that users can execute many functions on the watch itself. For instance, one can get the heart rate reading from the previous day to the entire week, see the entire calendar with all the days and months on the watch interface, change the watch face and even set an alarm or a reminder for work. The watch also allows users to type and send messages. With a built-in GPS, the Galaxy Watch can track all user activities like running, cycling and exercising. Many smartwatches like the Fitbit Versa still use connected GPS, which makes them dependent on smartphones.

This feature makes the Galaxy Watch ideal for fitness enthusiasts. In addition to heart rate monitoring, the watch can also track sleep quality, steps, calories lost, stress level and give alerts to prod the user to get up and move regularly.

Performance-wise

Driven by Samsung’s Exynos 9110 dual-core chipset with 768 MB RAM (Wi-Fi variant), the Galaxy Watch is quite smooth while performing most tasks, except for a few elements like Bixby. While Bixby allows users to use voice commands—you can use it to make calls, send messages, check weather, or play music—it still needs a fair bit of work. While audio calls on the watch were crisp and clear, the built-in speaker does not sound too clear during music playback.

Battery backup has always been an issue with flagship smartwatches. While the Apple Watch Series 4 can last almost an entire day on a full charge, most Google Wear OS (earlier known as Android Wear) watches often need to be charged twice in a day. However, the 46mm variant of the Galaxy Watch can last up to four days on a single charge with the always-on display feature switched off.

Verdict

The Apple Watch series 4 offers ECG functionality and useful features such as fall detection. Its WatchOS and App Store also have a lot more to offer than Samsung’s TizenOS. But what makes the Galaxy Watch an impressive smartwatch is its rugged design, a convenient rotating bezel, multiple watch faces, good battery backup and a lower price tag. While the Apple Watch Series 4 starts at 39,990, the Galaxy Watch starts from 24,990.

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