The Galaxy Watch LTE is one of the strongest contenders of the best smartwatch title when we talk about wearables.
It is a known fact that Android users simply do not have a lot of good options when it comes to good smartwatches that are not just glorified, fitness trackers. A few brands stand out, using Google’s Wear OS to enable their wearables to do a lot more than say, smart bands can do. Then there is Samsung, with its Galaxy series of wearable that uses their own Tizen OS on the watch and the result – Some of the best experience you can get on a smartwatch that is compatible with Android
The Galaxy Watch series is one of the better watches offered by the company and today we review the larger 46mm variant of the same. A quick heads up - the Galaxy Watch now comes with 3G/LTE E-SIM support, retains connectivity options for Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, and even NFC. It also has a 1.15GHz processor, 1.5GB RAM, 4GB internal storage, an accelerometer, a barometer, a gyro sensor, an HR sensor, and a Light Sensor. Here are our thoughts on the watch.
The Galaxy Watch sticks to the circular dial used in Samsung watches. The watch features a big bulky design that feels sturdy but may not look great on smaller wrists. A silver dial with a chrome finish is topped with the black bezel. There is a speaker on the left side of the device, and a microphone on the right.
The circular dial also has the moving bezel that you can slide either clock-wise or counter clock-wise to navigate quickly through the menus. There are two buttons on the right side. The one on the top acts as the back button throughout most of the interface, and the one on the bottom acts as the home button. The home button will quickly bring you back to the home screen from any screen deep inside the interface, and pressing it when you’re already on the home screen will open up the app drawer.
Right below the dial in the centre is the heart rate sensor. The watch has removable straps and comes with two strap options – one that is for bigger hands and a smaller size for others. The groovy straps themselves feel great and are comfortable to wear, with the material even offering a bit of stretch to it. While we have the black colour variant, you can also opt for others amongst several strap colours to choose from.
Now we know a 46mm watch is going to be well, big, but even still, the galaxy watch ends up feeling bulky, even to people with big hands. But this compensated for with the bigger battery and the super solid tank-like build. To mention, it does meet MIL-STD-810G US Military Standards. While not a deal-breaker, the watch‘s bulky look may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But then again, you could always go for the smaller 42mm variant instead which features an identical design but has a smaller footprint on your forearms.
The Galaxy Watch 46mm features a 1.3-inch 360 x 360-pixel resolution display that supports 16 million colours. This is also an AMOLED panel so the colours you see are pretty rich and blacks are deep. The AMOLED panel will also help save battery, which is beneficial for a watch like this that offers features like an Always-On display.
The screen also supports a tap-to-wake action and is protected by Gorilla Glass DX+.
The watch runs on Tizen based Wearable OS 4.0. The interface is quite different if you’re coming from other smartwatches that run on other operating systems. While Tizen and Android-based WearOS are both built on Linux, the end products you find are totally different when it comes to elements as simple as navigation.
The interface is simple and easy to understand, though. Tizen 4.0 offers a main screen with your watch face, along with other pages with widgets in one horizontal linear layout. While all the widgets like your music player, calendar, fitness tracker, contacts lay on the right side of the watch face, one screen displaying all your notifications is on the left.
Pulling down from the top brings a notification panel with a 4x2 layout of all your important toggles. Triggering the physical home button brings up a neat circular app drawer that has multiple pages, but has all your watch apps in one place.
The whole interface of the watch can be accessed by using the full touch display. This includes the watch dial, the notifications on the left of it, the widgets on the right, the notification panel up top, and the app drawer. Swiping left, right, up and down gets you through the interface, just like it would on a smartphone or tablet. Going back will require you to press the physical back button, while the physical home button takes you straight to the watch face. The home button can also be assigned a second task for when you double-tap it. We used this for opening recent apps, but you could use the gesture to open any app on the watch.
Alternatively, you could use the rotating bezel to quickly yet accurately fly through all the menus in the interface. The bezel is especially useful when you’re scrolling through a lot of elements and menus within some app. Scrolling with the bezel is also somewhat satisfying since the emits ticking sounds letting you know how much you’re scrolling. We ended up using the rotating bezel so much that it soon became our primary navigation tool and we almost forgot the watch could be navigated using swipes too.
A tap on any element will open the corresponding app or toggle the switch. The learning curve here is relatively small and even newbies should quickly get up to pace on flying through the menus of this watch within a day.
The Samsung Galaxy Wearable app lets the watch sync to your iOS or Android smartphone. You can use the app to initially pair the watch with your phone and set some basic settings right like configuring the E-SIM and giving the watch notification access. Once the watch is ready to go, nearly all the settings and customisation options offered by the app are already accessible through the watch itself, but yes, they are more convenient on the app. The app can also be used to quickly locate your watch in case it is lost or stolen, but you will mostly return to the app to view a summary of your fitness tracking.
The Galaxy Watch can do a lot of things from showing you your notifications and being able to reply to texts to locating your phone, tracking your physical activities and more. But these are standard smartwatch features so we’ll talk about some of the unique things you can do with the Galaxy Watch.
Call /Text without a phone
The E-SIM capabilities of the new Galaxy Watch allow you to use the watch independently without a smartphone nearby at all times. You will still need the phone to configure everything in the beginning. Once that is done, you could go on runs or to the gym keeping the phone at home, and would still be able to make and take calls, reply to texts and use data. In India, E-SIMs are currently supported by Airtel and Reliance JIO.
Automatic activity detection
You can track your physical activities automatically. Yes, you read that right. The watch doesn’t need you to set it to track your distance and count burnt calories or heart-rate when you’re about to go for a run. The watch automatically detects when you’re doing something. You’ll often see notifications like “That was a nice run!” after a quick run, or “That was a great ride!” after cycling for a bit. This is great because it keeps track of the small activities you do in the middle of the day, giving you a more real and accurate representation of statistics at the end of the day.
The Galaxy Watch features a water-lock mode that blocks the touchscreen from being used when you’re exposed to water to prevent accidental touches. It also features a self-cleaning feature that will force a gush of air through the watch’s speakers to eliminate any water that gets inside.
The Galaxy Watch features an Always-on display that keeps your watch dial lit up at all times. This is useful for some people but does take a hit on the battery. Regardless, it is possible. The setting can be easily toggled On or Off from a switch in the notification panel. It is also notable that the always-on feature can be used with any watch face and is not limited to a basic single analogue or digital face, like some cheaper smartwatches.
All watches of this series also feature Bixby integration. The Samsung voice assistant can be triggered at any time using ‘Hey Bixby’. While the feature is here, it was for the majority of our testing hit-or-miss. Speech detection accuracy isn’t the best and response times are sometimes painfully slow. It could be improved in the future with firmware updates, though.
Altitude and pressure sensor
The watch also features an Alti-Barometer that will tell you how high you are above sea-level and how much the air pressure around you is at any given time.
With all those features it threw at us, we were sceptical about the Galaxy Watch’s battery life at first. But it is rather surprisingly good. The 472mAh battery takes close to two hours to completely charge. Once at 100 per cent, the watch can last you for three to four days on basic light usage. Using the GPS music player and most of the features on the watch, which we would describe as the average use will keep the watch going for two days. High usage with the Always-On display will kill the battery in a single day. But in our opinion, in realistic use-cases, the battery will last most users for 1-3 days based on how you use it. But if you’re someone who is going to charge the watch every day anyway, we suggest using the watch to its fullest without worrying about its battery as there is likely no realistic scenario in which you will kill the battery before Day-1 is over, unless you deliberately try to. Do note that these figures are for the larger 46mm unit and the smaller 42mm unit will have lesser battery life.
If you're in emergencies, there's a power-saving mode that turns everything to greyscale, and a watch-only mode, that turns your smartwatch into a regular watch but keeps the battery going on for much longer.
Charging is simple with the bundled wireless charger. The small charging dock draws power from a micro-USB clot and can be virtually used with anything including a laptop or a smartphone that supports reverse charging. The dock’s design keeps the watch dial upright so you can easily check the time and charging progress.
The Galaxy Watch LTE is one of the strongest contenders of the best smartwatch title when we talk about wearables that support Android devices. It hits all the checkboxes of a good smartwatch and offers some neat features that cannot be found on other smartwatches. The Galaxy Watch will also work with either Android or iOS devices, which is not the case with something like say, the Apple Watch. The only thing that might turn you away from the Galaxy Watch 46mm is the price tag of Rs 30,990.
While the numbers are big, we think the watch is worth it considering the premium over the regular Galaxy Watch that doesn’t support LTE E-SIMs. However, if the E-SIM isn’t that important to you, you could go for the regular Galaxy Watch that offers all the other features and has now seen a big price-drop, selling for just Rs 23,990. That too is a steal for the price we feel.
The Galaxy Watch LTE 42mm, a smaller version of essentially the same watch sells for Rs 28,490. A non-LTE version of the 42mm variant costs Rs 19,990. Be assured of this, whichever Galaxy Watch variant you do end up going for, you will get the full worth of the price you pay.