I always look forward to testing and reviewing new Galaxy Watches. Samsung's wearable line is famous for its sleek design, which never ceases to amaze me. The South Korean brand's latest cohort of smartwatches includes two exciting options: the sporty Galaxy Watch 6 and the stylish Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. I'll be reviewing the sporty variety here.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is hands-down the best smartwatch for Samsung Galaxy smartphone users, which shouldn't come as a surprise. It's the same as saying the Apple Watch Series 8 is the best Apple Watch for iPhone users and the Google Pixel Watch is the best wearable for Google Pixel smartwatch users.
However, there are some caveats for those trying to use the Galaxy Watch 6 with anything else but a Galaxy phone, as I found out during the testing period. None of the issues were major enough to put me off from using the watch, especially considering the wealth of health features on board.
Should you get the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, or are you better off with a different model? Read my review below to find out.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review: price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 was announced in July 2023 and is available to buy now at Samsung UK, Samsung US, Samsung AU and select third-party retailers with prices from £289/ $299/ AU$ 549. The watch comes in two sizes, 40 mm and 44 mm, and in two versions, Bluetooth-only and LTE. I've been using the smaller 40 mm model for this review.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review: specifications
- 44mm: 42.8 x 44.4 x 9.0 mm
- 40mm: 38.8 x 40.4 x 9.0 mm
- 44mm: 33.3g
- 40mm: 28.7g
- Lens material: Sapphire Crystal
- 44mm: 1.5-inch (37.3mm) 480×480 Super AMOLED, Full Colour Always On Display
- 40mm: 1.3-inch (33.3mm) 432×432 Super AMOLED, Full Colour Always On Display
- Processor: Exynos W930 Dual-Core 1.4GHz
- RAM: 2GB
- On-board storage: 16GB
- Battery life: Up to 40 hours (Always On Display off) / Up to 30 hours (Always On Display on)
- Operating system: Wear OS 4
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 2.4+5GHz, NFC
- GPS: GPS/Glonass/Beidou/Galileo
- Water rating: 5ATM, IP68, MIL-STD-810H
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review: design and build quality
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 feels premium in hand. The materials used are premium through and through, and that Super AMOLED screen looks sharp and bright. The bezel is 30% slimmer, and the display is 20% bigger than before. The display has also been updated and has a higher resolution, as well as a maximum brightness of 2,000 nits, which is the same as the new Apple Watch Series 9.
I love the way the strap connects to the watch case. Although it's hinged, making it easier for people with different wrist sizes to wear the watch correctly, once you wrap the smartwatch around your wrist, the strap becomes the continuation of the arched watch case. It's clever and sexy at the same time.
The watch case itself is also instantly recognisable and just looks stunning. It might be a bit on the thick side, but I forgive the Galaxy Watch 6, as it looks so darn good. Pretty things can get away with everything in life, right? The invisible bezel is just the icing on the cake—an excellent piece of design and engineering.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is also a good example of what I mean when I say that tough watches, such as the Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar, only look rugged for the sake of it. Samsung's sleek, almost dainty wearable has an IP68 rating – the highest, non-commercial ingress protection level against dust and water – and complies with the MIL-STD-810H. No need for that rubber coating, people. It's just for the show.
There is one new hardware update that isn't visible to the naked eye. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is equipped with the Exynos W930 Dual-Core chip, enabling the smartwatch to process queries faster and operate that gorgeous touchscreen display more smoothly.
To put a label on the performance enhancements, Samsung claims the Galaxy Watch 6 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, not a hindrance when it comes to load times and transitions.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review: features
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 brought along some exciting hardware updates, which isn't something that can be said about the software improvements. I appreciate it's hard for Samsung to keep adding new features to an already feature-packed watch, but the latest Galaxy Watch iteration doesn't knock my socks off with its new features.
For the record, I believe that the Samsung Galaxy Watch series is probably the best smartwatch to monitor your health, thanks to its ability to monitor body composition, ECG, sleep, and even blood pressure right on the wrist. That's on top of all the other features most smartwatches are capable of, such as tracking your basic metrics, including heart rate, respiration, steps, etc.
One of the new feature additions Samsung was raving about is Samsung Wallet, combining Samsung Pay with Samsung Pass, which now stores stuff like IDs, event tickets and boarding passes as well as credit cards and membership cards. It's like the Apple Wallet, which has been around for a while, and not something that significantly changes day-to-day user experience.
(It's handy, though, if you often use your membership cards.)
Sleep is another area Samsung is trying to improve by introducing an in-depth analysis of Sleep Score Factors, which takes into account total sleep time, sleep cycle, awake time, plus physical and mental recovery. The watch also offers Sleep Consistency showing how consistent your sleep and wake times are, and a designated Sleep Animal Symbol representing your sleep type.
This is all dandy, but nothing groundbreaking. Fitbit had a Sleep Animal feature for years, and advanced sleep tracking isn't a unique feature to Samsung Galaxy Watches, either. Of course, if you put it in perspective, the new and improved sleep features only add to the vast array of health insights already available on the watch, so I guess it's hard to complain.
I tested the watch using a non-Samsung smartphone, and I must say, I'm not impressed with how many apps you need to install to be able to use the Galaxy Watch 6. I had to install three apps, including a driver of some sort, just so I could use all the health features.
I'm sure it won't be a huge issue for most people, but installing Samsung Health also requires a SIM card to be present in the phone, which I find weird. Surely, I can just enter my basic details in an app without having to use a SIM card. Samsung always liked their bloatware, so I'm not too surprised by this process. Yet, I wish I didn't have to spend so much time just setting up the watch.
Fitness tracking works fine on the watch, and there are plenty of workout modes and timers available to enable you to monitor a variety of activities. However, GPS performance isn't quite there compared to the Apple Watch Series 8, which I'd think is the direct competitor of the watch.
Both smartwatches use the same countdown start, which, in my opinion, doesn't allow enough time for the wearable to latch onto a GNSS signal. But while I found the Apple Watch Series 8 pretty accurate, the Galaxy Watch 6 was a bit all over the place when trying to track distance travelled.
Maybe it's the algorithm, maybe the motion sensor not being on top of its game; I don't know. To clarify, it's not super inaccurate, but even on the beach, where I usually run, there was a discrepancy between the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 and the running watch I used as a benchmark.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review: battery performance
The official battery life of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is up to 40 hours with the Always-On display off and up to 30 hours with the Always-On display on. In practice, I found myself putting the watch on its puck-shaped magnetic charger almost every day. Based on those numbers, I expected the Galaxy Watch 6 to be on par with the Apple Watch Ultra, which has a 36-hour battery life, but it felt like I had to charge the Galaxy Watch more often than the Ultra.
This doesn't just apply to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, but I wonder why AMOLED smartwatches don't offer longer battery life. Wearables such as the Huawei Watch GT 4 sport large displays, yet they can function for almost a week on one full charge. I don't understand why other mainstream smartwatch manufacturers can't get their products to last longer.
I'm not an engineer (well, I have a degree in engineering, but that's beside the point), and I don't know what it takes for a watch to last multiple days on a single charge. What I know is that it's clearly not impossible for some watches to achieve this. All I can do is hope that we'll see more AMOLED smartwatches with week-long battery life entering the market in the near future.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review: verdict
There is a lot to love about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. The new chip and the increased RAM help the watch operate buttery smooth and Wear OS 4 to perform at its best. The smartwatch looks stunning and radiates quality, not to mention the IP68 rating that ensures longevity and some durability.
The Galaxy Watch 6 emphasises health tracking more than the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, and I'd recommend the latter if you want a Samsung wearable for fitness tracking. The Galaxy Watch 6 is more of your everyday smartwatch that tries not to cut too many corners and offers enough value for money for most customers.
The feature updates are fine, although not mind-blowing. I appreciate Samsung watches have been pretty capable for years, and it wouldn't be easy to roll out significant updates year after year. Yet, I can't feel but be a bit disappointed looking at the new features we've already seen in other wearables years ago.
All things considered, it's hard not to like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, and it should be the first smartwatch you consider if you have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Other Android users might want to have a look around, although it won't be easy to find another smartwatch with this many health features that look this good at this price point.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review: also consider
The Google Pixel Watch falls short in a few categories to be the best smartwatch right now. It's an excellent Galaxy Watch alternative, with a lovely design and robust health and fitness capabilities, thanks to Fitbit. Read my full Google Pixel Watch review.
If you want something cheaper, check out Mobvoi's TicWatch Pro 5. It's the first smartwatch to use the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 chip – the watch is fast and responsive. It's also a bit dull looking, but hey, you can't win it all, can you? Read my full Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 review.