The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 has slimmed down, gained some more muscle (features) and takes the almost perfect Galaxy Watch 2018 to the next level.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is the successor to the Galaxy Watch 2018 (review here 4.7/5). We are not sure why this one is #3 when the Galaxy Watch predecessor was the Gear S3. Oh well, its numbering may have something to do with Galaxy Active 2018 and Active 2 2019 (review here 4.7/5) in between.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 comes in two sizes and Wi-Fi/BT or LTE/Wi-Fi/BT versions.
LTE $849 eSIM BT/Wi-Fi $699 Both stainless steel Mystic Silver Mystic Black
41mm AMOLED 360×360 Corning Gorilla DX AOD
45mm AMOLED same
41×42.5×11.3mm x 49.2g
45×46.2×11.1 53.8g Stainless 43g Titanium (coming in LTE only)
247mAh WPC wireless charge pad (not Qi) We expect at last 48 hours on a charge subject to GPS and LTE use
Exynos 9110 1.15Ghz dual-core 1/8GB (4GB free) Should hold at least 300 songs – also supports MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB LTE Bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 20
Wi-Fi 4 N single band BT 5.0 NFC (Samsung Pay and Google Pay – PayWave) GPS Single Band 10-meter accuracy (also acts as eCompass)
Accelerometer Gyroscope Barometer Ambient light sensor Optical heart rate sensor Fall detection ECG (Electrocardiogram) * V02max (oxygen burn during exercise) * Blood oxygen Sp02 transfer *
IP68 (5ATM – but not for a diving watch) MIL-STD-810G The leather band is not waterproof so you will need to buy a 20mm silicon one.
Same but 22mm wide band
Tizen 5.5 Requires Galaxy Wear and Samsung Health
Now to the untrained eye, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is more of the same only smaller all around.
It shares with the original Watch the Exynos 9910 processor, the same 41mm screen and a slightly smaller 45mm screen. Wi-Fi and BT are updated. Surprisingly, it has a smaller battery at 247/340mAh versus the older 270/472mAh. That is to reduce the thickness, and we can only hope it does not affect battery life too much.
We use FAIL, PASS and EXCEED against all test parameters. PASS means it meets all our expectations.
First impression – Have you been working out? EXCEED
My Gear S3 was the 41mm version and quite svelte. The Galaxy Watch that followed was 46mm. I have always felt it was too big, especially when trying to do up a shirt cuff button. It had to sit weirdly in front of a buttoned cuff. The 45mm is still big but a little slenderer on the wrist.
I could be interested in the 41mm model for that reason. If you wear button-up or cufflinks, try it first. But to stereotype – the 45mm looks like a diver watch and the 41mm more like a traditional watch – Samsung calls it a dignified design.
Message to Samsung: The hand-stitched, genuine aged leather band may look good, but it is not really practical. A Silicone or more durable nylon band as standard would be helpful.
Battery – EXCEED for normal use
It depends on use. If you set HRM and stress to auto, 15-second face timeout (instead of AOD) and have normal use (walking, exercise, sleep) three to four days is achievable.
So far, we have had 2-3 days use of the 45mm version before charging, and the AI battery management is just starting to kick in. There is a power-saving mode that allows calls, messages, and notifications only. BTW – the smaller 41mm has more like 1.5-2 days use.
By far the biggest battery hog is the GPS so unless you are using it for navigation with Here Maps then turn it off. You can set location to GPS or Wireless or a combo.
The USB-A to magnetic charger (same as Active 2) requires 5V/1A minimum. It is not USB-C PD compatible, but you can use your Samsung Phone Charger that supplies 5V/3A.
A full charge will take about 2.5 hours, and it conveniently tells you how much time left to full.
It also supports reverse charging on selected Galaxy smartphones. It is considerably slower – over seven hours.
Fall detection – no longer the iOS province – EXCEED
Last year I was helping a farmer outside Moree who wanted a watch to detect falls from the tractor, quad bike or horse and to phone home. Until now that has been the province of Apple Watch.
As there was no Samsung alternative, he bought an Apple Watch 5 LTE stainless steel case and Sport Loop for $1179 and enabled the Telstra eSIM number sharing. Got it to the farm and the Telstra signal was not strong enough for it to work. Even tethered via BT to the iPhone SE (at $999 – the cheapest he could buy to support the Watch 5) it did not work. Now the real fault lies in neither the Watch nor the iPhone SE (or any of the iPhone 11 range) being Telstra Blue Tick certified for rural signal strengths.
Ironically, his old Samsung Galaxy S7 (Telstra Blue Tick certified) was more than able to make a call anywhere on his property. Long story short, while he can’t get his money back, he has just purchased a Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, 45mm, stainless steel BT model for $669 and it pairs beautifully to his S7. Problem solved, and it works all over the farm.
Although he is looking at the Galaxy XCover Pro 4G. He can’t stop laughing at the Moree Telstra Store that desperately tried to sell him the 5G model. Nearest 5G coverage is 400km away.
Test: I have emulated hard falls from two metres (without killing myself – attached it to a timber log).
In every case, the smartwatch rings/vibrates for 60 seconds. If you don’t respond, it texts your location and a 5-second sound recording to your emergency SOS contacts. You can also press the home key three times to send an SOS. The message has information about how to track the fallee!
We can’t test LTE signal strength, but we were able to reliably tether to via BT 5.0 to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G at distances over 100 metres. In theory, it can extend to twice that.
LTE – FAIL – don’t rely on its phone capabilities.
Samsung Australia has not published the LTE bands, but we understand that these are 1, 3, 5, 7, 8. It is missing the key band 28 (lower frequency 700MHz) that Telstra, Optus and Vodafone use for better in-building coverage, micro-cell repeaters and in rural areas. If it can’t get an LTE signal, it reverts to 3G (UMTS Bands 1, 5, 8).
Now you could argue that a smartwatch does not need high-speed data 4G transfer and you would be right. But it needs SOS functionality. We consider the lack of band 28 is almost a deal-breaker. It is advertised as an LTE, not ‘mostly 3G’ Watch.
The Apple Watch 5 supports LTE 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 18, 20, 25, 26, 39, 40, 41, 66 before it reverts the 3G. But it does not have band 28 either. There have been many reports of the Watch 3 (and we presume 5) not being able to get either a 3G or 4G signal on Telstra when the phone can.
Why is band 28 so important?
Band 28 has an excellent wide area coverage and wider bandwidth availability, data capacity and higher performance. All these offer clear advantages for regional and rural environments. So why has neither enabled it? The answer is that it does not have wide international use.
These are the Australian bands
2100MHz (B1) FDD – Telstra, Optus, Vodafone
1800MHz (B3) FDD – Telstra, Optus, Vodafone
850MHz (B5) FDD – Vodafone
2600MHz (B7) FDD – Optus, Telstra, Vodafone
900MHz (B8) FDD – Telstra (a handful of sites, utilises spectrum previously used by 2G)
700MHz (B28) FDD – Telstra, Optus, Vodafone
2300MHz (B40) TDD – Optus (Vivid wireless spectrum, metropolitan area), NBN (regional area including Gold Coast)
3500MHz (B42) TDD – Optus, NBN (NBN trials at this stage)
Wi-Fi and BT connection – EXCEED
If you don’t have the LTE version, you can pair the Watch to an Android smartphone via a home (or business) networks Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi enables Voice-over-Wi-Fi so you can take calls while on the same network.
BT will do the same.
Samsung Pay works in NFC PayWave mode (not MST magstripe). Google Pay does not because it does not have a Tizen app.
You can install Google Assistant via a GAssist app (not tested), otherwise its Bixby.
Accessibility – EXCEED
Apart from being very daylight readable, you can use features like Voice Assist, Visibility, and hearing enhancements. One great feature is Text-to-Speech, where it will read our SMS.
Security – EXCEED
A smartwatch is just as much a front-door to your data as a smartphone. Physically you can set a Pin or Pattern. There is no voice or fingerprint unlock. But it has Samsung Knox protecting it including a find and or disable my watch capability.
You can also set it as a trusted device to open when its in proximity of a smartphone.
Each app can also have security levels independently set.
Gestures include wake-up (lift wrist), touch or bezel wake up. You can apparently clench/unclench your fist to answer a call (did not work for me).
The greatest reason to get the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is Samsung Health
Samsung Health has reached ‘prosumer’ levels of sophistication, yet it is very easy to use.
I won’t go into it all – you can read about its features here and how to use it on a Galaxy Watch here.
Joe and Jane Average will use steps, floors, running metrics, calories burnt, exercise time, heart rate, stress, breathing exercises and weekly charts and trends. It will also nag you when it is time to move. If you wear the Watch while sleeping, it tracks various sleep levels and efficiency.
It also has calorie/water/caffeine intake and weight management, which requires entry of various information into the Watch or app.
What is has added is hundreds of workouts, (many are auto identified), video coaching (cast to a TV), menstrual cycle, leader boards and integration with a limited range of apps and devices.
What I have found most interesting is SpO2 and VO2 Max reporting – the amount of oxygen in my bloodstream, and that relates to lung capacity. I anxiously await ECG approval here.
GadgetGuy’s take: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is a subtle update to the Galaxy Watch
I can’t find one thing negative to say, oh well I don’t like the leather band, Bixby is useless (to me), Samsung Pay is great, but Google Pay would be better, and in my opinion LTE is a waste of money. Oh, and Mystic Bronze is not my colour.
It is pretty well perfect
Terrific daylight display
Intuitive rotating bezel and app layout
Lots of free and paid watch faces
A perfect companion for a smartphone (alerts, notifications, discreetly do a Dick Tracy)
The app is easy to use.
You may read a few reviews that try to compare the Watch against dedicated medical devices. They may be critical of heart rate accuracy or step measurement etc.
It is no more accurate or inaccurate than any other premium smartwatch. It is a consistent reference point for you regardless of whether Fitbit records 25 steps more or Garmin shows 10bpm heartbeats less.
And that is the point of this Watch. It is the most full-featured, easy to use smartwatch bar none. It has an excellent health and fitness app. And it looks good too.
We rated the Galaxy Watch 2018 as 4.7/5 and the Galaxy Watch Active 2 2019 as 4.7/5. These are objective points based on a suite of tests. It is no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 45mm is 4.8/5.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Vivid daylight readable screen
Build quality - IP68 and MIL-STD-810G
Samsung Health just keeps getting better
The fullest range of features
LTE missing band 28 so it reverts to 3G too often
LTE missing band 28 so it reverts to 3G too often Love to replace Bixby with Google Assistant (theoretically possible)
Not all features work on Apple iPhone so look carefully first
Android Wear OS offers a greater range of apps if that is what you need