Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review: one of the best smartwatch experiences out there

The Korean tech giant’s latest wearable works a charm, but could do better in the style department

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review
(Image credit: Samsung)
T3 Verdict

An amazing smartwatch made great thanks to a reliable and nippy interface boasting a host of health, fitness and lifestyle features. Design lacks the air of sophistication we were looking for at this price point, but if you’ve got the cash to spare you’re unlikely to be disappointed. An exceptional smartwatch.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Bursting with features

  • +

    Intuitive rotating bezel

  • +

    Great performance

  • +

    Reliable fitness tracking

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Doesn’t come cheap

  • -

    No Third-party app support

  • -

    Battery not on par with competitors

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Samsung has been cobbling smartwatches for some time now and due to some trial and error (with a lot of hits but many misses over the years), the brand now has a suite of wearables it can be proud of. 

The latest Galaxy Watch 3 is exemplary of this. Boasting some top-end specs that make it one of the most powerful smartwatches out there, alongside some robust and innovative design features, we’d not blame you for thinking this is one of the best smartwatches out there. But is it? That’s what we’re about to find out.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: Price

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 was launched in mid-August this year (2020) and is available to buy now from all major UK and US retailer.

Costs increase depending on the size you go for and extra you want. For example, the smaller 41mm model starts at £399/$399, while the larger 45mm version will set you back upwards of £419/$419. 4G connectivity also raises that price further, up to £439 for the smaller offering and £459/$459 for the 45mm model.

Those who bought or were thinking of buying the Galaxy Watch 3’s predecessor, the Galaxy Watch, when it launched back in 2018 will notice just how much Samsung has hiked up the prices of its flagship smartwatch over the past few years. The annoying thing is, not all that much has changed since the last Galaxy Watch model, so we’re not quite sure it can be justified. 

However, since the Galaxy Watch 3’s initial release, we’ve noticed you can find the watch much cheaper than the RRP if you dig around online. Check out the best prices to buy the watch online, below.

As for colour ways, the smaller 41mm device comes in either a choice of Mystic Silver or Mystic Bronze colours while the larger 45mm model is available in Mystic Black or Mystic Silver. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: Design And Hardware

Okay, so we’re well aware that style is a subjective topic, but one thing we just can’t help but feel the Galaxy Watch 3 misses the mark when it comes to design. 

Yes, it is spectacularly well made. It feels robust and sturdy in all the right places, all while feeling lighter, slimmer and more comfortable to wear than the original Galaxy Watch device. It also has very elegant features. But. (And that’s a big but), we just don’t think it’s as stylish as it could be. It has some great design elements, don’t get us wrong here. But overall it looks a little cheap. That’s definitely not something you want with an expensive smartwatch, especially when it costs upwards of £400. 

The leather strap is probably what lets it down. The contrast stitching feels dated, aging it in a way that’s far from cool. While this can be easily swapped out, Samsung only has a silicone sport strap alternative available - there aren’t an endless array of different style straps available like the Apple Watch. While you are likely to find compatible straps online, this isn’t something you should have to shop for in addition to the £400 asking price. Another annoying thing to make note of is that the different sized watches require different straps, so be careful when you’re shopping around. The 45mm is compatible with all 22mm straps, while the smaller 41mm device is designed for use with 20mm straps.

The display and rotating bezel do make up for the above, however, with the latter being complete design genius. Working in the same way as the Apple Watch’s digital crown, the rotating bezel allows you to swipe through different menus in a breeze by simply spinning to the left or right. It works like a dream, and is actually a very satisfying and quick way of finding the options you need, such as checking the weather, initiating fitness tracking or checking your connected phone’s notifications. 

In terms of weight, the larger 45mm model comes in at 53.8g and the 41mm 48.2g. There’s also a new extra-light titanium model, which is only available in the 45mm size and weighs just 43g. However, it does cost almost double the amount.

When it comes to the display, you’ll find either a 1.2-inch Circular Super AMOLED screen on the 41mm edition or the same but slightly larger 1.3-inch panel on the 45mm model. Our review device was the latter of the two.

From our time with the larger watch, we’ve found this to be the perfect size display, boasting a 360 x 360 resolution, which displays text and images with a good level of detail. It’s not quite on the same level as the Apple Watch 6’s 368 x 448 resolution Retina display, though. Small text will appear a little blurry on close inspection but nothing you’ll notice day-to-day. Generally, everything appears bright and vibrant, even in direct sunlight.

The Galaxy Watch 3’s screen is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass DX meaning it’s super robust against all the elements and any accidents. However, it does attract finger smudges quite easily, which take some wiping off - as you’ll see from some of our on-test photos. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: Features And OS  

Surprisingly, the Galaxy Watch 3 runs on the same chipset that powered the original Galaxy Watch from two years ago. While this might sound disappointing, we actually encountered zero performance issues while using the device. “If it ain’t broke,” etc. 

On that chipset runs Samsung’s latest Tizen OS 5.5 software. This works an absolute charm. It’s fast, it’s responsive and it’s pretty intuitive, too. Navigating through different menus, for instance, is fluid and reliable. Android’s Wear OS doesn’t come close. 

There is a big downside here, though. Tizen has little third party support, meaning it will only run Samsung's built-in apps, such as the companion Samsung Health app. While this can be very frustrating to some - especially for a £400 watch - the Korena firm has ensured there’s enough crammed in so you don’t feel like you’re missing out. 

In true smartwatch style, health is a massive focus for the Galaxy Watch 3. While it isn’t a sequel to the more fitness-centred Galaxy Active 2, there are still a plethora of activity tracking features available, from running and swimming to hiking and yoga, which all work very nicely. 

Our favourite feature has to be the super clever automatic activity detection. Working for running, walking, swimming, cycling, rowing, elliptical workouts, and dynamic workouts such as aerobics, the feature will trigger the activity tracking without you having to scroll through the menus to do it yourself. 

It works a treat, and will even pause the workout tracking if you stop, for instance it did this very accurately when we stopped at a traffic light while on a run. GPS also proved very accurate during our run tracking, detailing our route immediately after hitting the stop button. 

These are great functions if you’re a casual user working out now and again, but don’t expect it to give you the same level of data from activities as, say, a Garmin or Suunto smartwatch. 

When it comes to battery life, the Galaxy Watch 3 will give you a couple of days of use between charges. This could be better, with rivals such as Huawei offering a couple of weeks. However, it still beats the Apple Watch, which should probably be charged every night. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Review: Verdict

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 offers one of the best smartwatch experiences out there. With a reliable and nippy interface boasting a host of health, fitness and lifestyle features, there’s little to complain about here. All this greatness is bundled into a solid design, which - unfortunately - lacks the air of sophistication we were looking for at this price point. 

Nevertheless, if you’ve got the dosh to spare you’re unlikely to be disappointed with this wearable. Unless third-party app support is a deciding factor for you, that is. 

Overall, it’s an exceptional smartwatch letdown only by a few minor things that most people won’t care about. 

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Lee Bell

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist & copywriter specialising in technology, health, grooming and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space. From national newspapers to specialist-interest magazines and digital titles, Lee has written for some of the world’s most respected publications during his 11 years as a journalist.