Alongside the release of the Galaxy Note9 smartphone, Samsung also debuted a new wearable: the Galaxy Watch. It’s the first Samsung wearable to deviate from the Gear family name, but it looks like a successor to the Gear S3. It’s also the first Galaxy-branded product to run anything other than a flavor of Android, as it runs on Samsung’s Tizen wearable operating system rather than Google’s Wear OS (formerly known as Android Wear). Tizen works on both Android and iOS, so users will not be limited by the operating system of their smartphone.
By nature of it being a Samsung wearable, the Galaxy Watch will challenge the Apple Watch in many ways. Two of the most important new features to consider are LTE access and battery life. The Galaxy Watch will have optional LTE, allowing users to receive calls, texts, and other alerts even when their Galaxy smartphone isn’t with them. Samsung says it’s working with more than 30 carriers in more than 15 countries to bring LTE-enabled Galaxy Watches to users who want an untethered smartwatch.
Samsung didn’t give specifics about the Galaxy Watch’s battery life, but it did suggest that it may be better than other traditional smartwatches. The watch will last “several days” on a single charge thanks to its new optimized processor and low-power technology built into the device. That’s pretty vague, so we’ll have to test it to get a better idea of what “several days” actually means.
But we were impressed with the Gear Sport’s 300mAh battery, as it lasted about three full days on a single charge. That’s at least one day longer than the Apple Watch Series 3 can last on a single charge. Battery life remains a hurdle for advanced smartwatches, as most can’t go for more than about two days before needing a charge.
The Galaxy Watch looks much like a Gear S3, with its round case and rotating bezel. Available in 42mm and 46mm sizes, it has a 360×360 AMOLED display that’s scratch resistant and is water-resistant up to 5ATM. It has wireless charging technology built in, so it can be charged with the new wireless charging pad that Samsung announced along with the Note9. Similar to how Apple’s forthcoming AirPower charging mat is supposed to work, this pad can charge both the Note9 smartphone and the Galaxy Watch at the same time.
Samsung billed the Galaxy Watch as a complete fitness tracker as well, with the ability to track 39 activities and with auto-recognition for six popular workouts. Its embedded heart rate monitor keeps track of your pulse all day long and will alert you when your heart rate spikes, suggesting guided breathing exercises to calm you down. Watch faces can be downloaded from the Galaxy App Store, and the new “My Day” watch face syncs with apps like your calendar to show you pertinent information at a glance.
The Bluetooth-only models of the Galaxy Watch will be available on August 24 starting at $329. The LTE models of the Galaxy Watch will be available later in 2018.