I tried the new Samsung Galaxy Watch6 and here is my honest opinion

Samsung announced the latest cohort of their wearables, and I got to spend some quality time with them ahead of the launch

[DO NOT USE BEFORE 12:00 BST 26 JULY 2023] Samsung Galaxy Watch6 on wrist
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

I was one of the lucky few invited for the Galaxy Unpacked preview in London a week before the big announcement about the new devices, including the launch of two new smartwatches, the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 and the Galaxy Watch6 Classic. And while I appreciate the updates, I can't help but feel a bit disappointed after trying Samsung's finest wearables.

Let me start with features I liked, of which there were many. First and foremost, both the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 and Galaxy Watch6 Classic feel pretty darn premium, as you'd expect from one of the best smartwatch makers today. The materials used are premium through and through, and those Super AMOLED screens looked sharp and bright to me, even under the powerful downlights of the Samsung store (which didn't make it easy to capture photos, I must say).

Each watch comes in two different sizes, with the smallest of the lot, the 40mm Galaxy Watch6, sporting a 1.3-inch touchscreen display with 432 x 432-pixel resolution. There is also a 44mm version with a 1.5-inch screen (480 x 480 pixels). The posh Galaxy Watch6 Classic has slightly larger case sizes, 43mm and 47mm, but with the same screen sizes.

Why the larger case size? To make room for the rotating bezel, everyone's favourite feature of yesteryear's Galaxy Watch4 Classic. The Samsung Galaxy Watch5 (and Watch5 Pro) missed out on this feature, apparently because adding a physical rotating bezel on wearables designed for semi-rugged environments and activities isn't a good idea. I agree.

[DO NOT USE BEFORE 12:00 BST 26 JULY 2023] Samsung Galaxy Watch6 on wrist

The rotating bezel is back!

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

However, I love the bezel and do wonder if there was a way to add a digital version on the Galaxy Watch using a touch-sensitive edge and haptic feedback. Maybe that's something we'll see in future Galaxy Watch iterations; for now, the Classic has the bezel, but the Standard edition doesn't.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch6 has a bigger battery and a 30 per cent slimmer bezel than its predecessor. It also has smoother interactions, thanks to the Exynos W930 Dual-Core chip. And you need all the processing power to ensure Wear OS 4 runs smoothly on the smartwatch! I haven't done a direct comparison between the two, but I feel the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 chip, as featured in the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5, might be slightly more powerful.

Anyhow, the Exynos W930 chip is more than capable enough, and indeed, the Galaxy Watch6 improved its clock speed by 18 per cent (from 1.18GHz to 1.4 GHz) and memory (RAM) by 33 per cent, from 1.5GB to 2BG, which is not a hindrance when it comes to load times and transitions.

[DO NOT USE BEFORE 12:00 BST 26 JULY 2023] Samsung Galaxy Watch6 on wrist

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

Looking at all the enhancements, you might wonder, why am I not super excited about the latest cohort of Galaxy Watches? Although significant improvements have been made in the hardware department, the software updates are what I would characterise as 'meh'. Nothing piqued my interest, and some of the 'new' features were almost carbon copies of stuff found in other wearables.

Take, for example, the sleep animal feature. Samsung smartwatches already did an excellent job tracking sleep, but the new feature is said to take this to a new level by assigning you a 'sleep animal' based on your sleeping habits. Plus, the watch offers guidance on improving sleep based on this, essentially gamifying health.

Sounds familiar? That's because Fitbit has the same setup in the form of – wait for it! – the Fitbit Sleep Animals. That system was introduced last year, and it made me immediately fall back in love with my Fitbit Sense 2. Now, I can't help but feel that Samsung is trying to 'borrow' this feature without adding anything of their own to it (I might be wrong, though).

[DO NOT USE BEFORE 12:00 BST 26 JULY 2023] Samsung Galaxy Watch6 on wrist

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

The new sleep animal setup is one of the prominent new features, so you can imagine why I was a bit upset. Other new features include automatic track run recognition based on GPS data, which is fine on a Garmin watch, but an interesting addition on a Samsung wearable (or an Apple Watch, for that matter). You can also create custom workouts (see also: best multisport watch).

The Samsung Galaxy Watch6 adds fall detection, too, which isn't a new feature, either, but new for Samsung. Truth be told, Samsung's smartwatches have been pretty good at tracking health, probably one of the best on the market. The Galaxy Watch6 inherited all these superb health features and added skin temperature tracking (cycle tracking) and the aforementioned fall tracking. Yayy!

Another new feature is the Samsung Wallet, which replaces Samsung Pay, and turns it into something akin to the Apple Wallet. Here, you can store not only your back cards but also your train tickets, etc. Again, it's not revolutionary, but it's a bonus smart feature Samsung users have to live without up until now.

The end?

To level with you, I'm mainly upset with the Galaxy Watch6 and Galaxy Watch6 Classic because I expect nothing but the best from Samsung. Even though the Google Pixel Watch is here and is taking some of the pressure off the Galaxy Watch range to provide a viable alternative to the Apple Watch for Android users, but still.

Samsung have been in the game for long enough to know they can't get away with only adding so-so features to their wearables. I need the good stuff, Samsung! Show me a real update! Rock my world the same way the Apple Watch Ultra did last year. Give me something to drool over. Neither the Galaxy Watch6 nor the Galaxy Watch6 Classic will keep me up at night.

All that said, I haven't spent nearly enough time to declare either of the new Samsung smartwatches as inadequate. If anything, being able to spend so little time with them only whet my appetite. Have I missed anything? Is the combination of health features amount to something I can't even fathom at the moment? Only time will tell. Find out more about the new Galaxy Watches at Samsung.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt looks after T3's Active vertical, which incorporates all things fitness, outdoors, wearables and transportation – anything that gets you moving and keeps you fit and healthy will go through his hands. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.