Hands-On with Samsung’s Galaxy Watch

Comfortable, customizable, easy to navigate, and full of useful new features

After typing away in CH HQ for one uninterrupted hour, we’re interrupted by Samsung’s brand new Galaxy Watch gently vibrating. The notification encourages movement. Specifically, it recommends we get up and do five torso twists. As the moves occur, the wearable logs them. No part of this is invasive, and had we wished to continue typing, we could have swiped the alert away instantly. But the latest watch from the tech giant wants to initiate wellness as much as track it, as evidenced by many new features. It also comes with a slew of other useful upgrades—and this smartwatch takes a nod from traditional watch design much to its benefit. It looks good and feels good, too.

Samsung offers the wristwatch in 42mm and 46mm diameter sizes. In contrast to the larger-is-better mentality dominating much of the watch world—and in defiance of wearable technology needing lots of operating and battery space—the 42mm immediately appealed to us. Simply put, it sits well on the wrist and feels comfortable. Customization options abound for both. First, there are three different finishes: silver, midnight black and rose gold. Second, both watches have various strap color options, some of which—like lime yellow and cosmo purple—are quite fun. Finally, according to Samsung, there are over 60,000 potential watch face customizations—though, we selected one of the pre-designed ones.

 

To navigate through all the wonders within, one simply turns the bezel clockwise. This rotating bezel is intuitive, accurate and easy. It helps users glide through all the widgets that fall after the time-telling watch face. A back key and home key sit where one usually finds chronograph pushers. They’re handy, but really the bezel does most of the work. The Galaxy Watch also features the Bixby voice assistant, though we didn’t tap into its functionality. We did explore everything from the superb heart-rate monitor to improved battery life, with the latter claiming multiple days of active use. One business day of casual test use barely diminished battery power. The watch comes complete with a Qi charger for wireless charging.

Perhaps most fascinating, the Galaxy Watch features a stress test that turns into a stress management guide—a guru on your wrist more or less. After measuring one’s heart rate a few times, to establish a baseline heart rate reading in the device, the watch monitors the user. If irregularities are detected, it prompts the wearer with breathing exercises. On the flipside, the watch features 39 different tracked workout models and it’s water-resistant for swimmers. It demonstrates to the wearer that it wants to be involved—even while they sleep, with very detailed tracking and analysis—and we found that to be quite successful.

The Galaxy Watch Bluetooth version starts at $330 for the 42mm and $350 for the 46mm. It can be purchased at Amazon in the US, while the Galaxy Watch LTE version is available at Samsung and T-Mobile starting at $380 for the 42mm and $400 for the 46mm.

Images by David Graver