Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is the newest model in Samsung’s popular line of everyday smartwatches and we think could also be the best so far. It outperforms its predecessors with a bigger screen and more powerful processor, and just like its younger siblings, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 remains reasonably priced given how many advanced features it contains. But is this fitness tracker worth investing in?

At Live Science, we know that Samsung’s wearables strike a good balance between quality and affordability. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is included in our guide to the best fitness trackers, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 scored a respectable four out of five stars in our review. If the sixth iteration of this popular smartwatch offers a sleeker design and markedly improved battery life, it does have the potential to push its forerunners out of the limelight.

We tested the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 for over a month, thoroughly assessing its design, features, and performance to see if it is worth the upgrade.

 Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6: Design

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 laying on a table

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is light and compact. (Image credit: Anna Gora)
  • Sleek looks and compact build
  • Highly customizable design
  • The watch seems to attract dirt easily
  • Its bulky sensor makes it somewhat uncomfortable to wear

Design-wise, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 does not stray far from its predecessors. It is a basic smartwatch that features two small buttons on the right-hand side, a rotating bezel and detachable straps but we think it looks better. This model features a slimmer watch face and a bigger screen but it still maintains a relatively light and compact build typical of its previous models.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is available in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm, and it comes with multiple straps to choose from. Options range from classic gym-friendly silicone bands to elegant faux leather straps, with dozens more designs that can be purchased from third-party retailers. Whether you want a watch that matches your brightly colored sports gear or something more stylish for everyday use, the Galaxy Watch 6 will have a design that ticks all your boxes. We were thoroughly impressed by the options on offer.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell – Column 0 40mm 44mm
Display Super AMOLED 1.3-in – 432 x 432 Super AMOLED 1.5-in – 480 x 480
Always-on Yes Yes
Dimensions (inches) 1.53 x 1.59 x 0.35 1.69 x 1.75 x 0.35
Dimensions (milimetres) 38.8 x 40.4 x 9 42.8 x 44.4 x 9
Finish Aluminum Aluminum
GPS Yes Yes
Compass Yes Yes
Altimeter Yes Yes
Water resistance 5ATM, IP68 5ATM, IP68
NFC payments Samsung Wallet Samsung Wallet
Compatibility Android Android
Storage 16 GB internal storage 16 GB internal storage

We tested the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 in the basic 44 mm option, with a silicone sports band in graphite color. As such, our experience relates to this design only, and may not necessarily match the experiences of users who picked the smaller model or a different strap.

On the whole, we found its design to be very practical. The watch did not feel heavy on the wrist, while the buttery soft silicone straps felt comfortable on the skin and did not slide nor trap sweat during workouts.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 held in hand

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 has a propensity to attract dust. (Image credit: Anna Gora)

However, we found the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 to be somewhat clunky. The awkward positioning of the attaching pins combined with the bulkiness of the sensor results in a watch that does not lie comfortably close to the skin. Moreover, the strap did not seem to have enough adjustment holes, meaning people with narrow wrists could struggle to tighten the watch securely.

Another downside of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is its propensity to attract dirt. We found dust gathering in the hard-to-reach gaps, or sticking to the touchscreen, even on days when we were not testing it outdoors.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6: Display

  • Bright and colorful display with big, easy-to-read icons
  • Screen layered with Sapphire Crystal for added durability
  • The touchscreen can lag during power-intensive tasks

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 features a large Super AMOLED display that is crisp, colorful, and easy to read. It is also durable — the screen is shielded with a layer of Sapphire Crystal, giving it relatively good protection against scratches and minor accidents. In addition, the Galaxy Watch 6 has IP68 and 5ATM ratings, meaning it is water- and dust-resistant.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 worn on a wrist

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 features a big, bright and colorful display. (Image credit: Anna Gora)

We liked its customizability, too. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 comes with several pre-loaded watch faces to choose from, and there are countless more designs to download from the Play Store. However, we were not impressed with its responsiveness. The touchscreen tended to lag during more power-intensive tasks, and there were multiple instances when it did not detect our swiping motions.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6: Features

  • Plenty of health-tracking features
  • Multiple apps, including contactless payments and music playback
  • Emergency callout and fall detection

Packed with health-tracking sensors and wellness-oriented apps, the Galaxy Watch 6 is a comprehensive tool for monitoring the inner workings of your body. It measures heart rate, blood oxygen levels, electrocardiogram (ECG, a recording of the electrical signals from the heart), blood pressure, step count, body composition and body temperature. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 can also assess multiple other health stats, including your sleep quality, stress levels and exercise performance, and it can even pinpoint the stage of your menstrual cycle.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 laying flat on a table

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 measures a range of health stats, including ECG and body composition. (Image credit: Anna Gora)

The watch also features over 90 workout modes, including cycling, swimming and yoga and it can automatically recognize activities like running and walking.

Moreover, this smartwatch comes with contactless payments, GPS navigation, music streaming, and a phone extension that allows you to text and take calls from your wrist. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 also features a Camera Controller, a handy feature that functions as a shutter button for taking pictures remotely from your mobile device. This model is also compatible with a host of third-party apps.

In addition, the Galaxy Watch 6 features several emergency features, such as fall detection and an emergency callout (where pressing the button five times will send the SOS signal to emergency services). In case of an accident, the watch will even display the user’s medical information to the paramedics or hospital workers — which can be particularly useful for the elderly and other vulnerable individuals.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6: Performance

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 worn on a wrist

Unfortunately the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 lasts just one day on a single charge. (Image credit: Anna Gora)
  • Great health tracking accuracy
  • Imprecise workout tracking features
  • Short battery life

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 features a processor that is 18% faster than its predecessors, and it shows. We found that apps launched quicker, and the watch was smoother in operation. However, this model is still blighted by one of the most cited issues for Samsung wearables — short battery life.

Although we were impressed by its charging speed — it took us about an hour to reach a full battery on our Galaxy Watch 6 — we were not able to get more than a day of use out of a single charge. This was particularly frustrating when it came to sleep tracking. The watch would often die in the middle of the night, even if it looked like it had enough charge to last until the morning. If you do not want to commit to a daily charging regime, or if you are frequently going on long trips into the great outdoors, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 may not be the best fit for you.

On the other hand, we found that the watch boasts impressively accurate health-tracking features, especially for heart rate and body composition. We compared the readings taken with our watch to the measurements obtained with a chest-strap heart rate monitor, both at rest and during a workout, and found impressive similarities between the readings. We also compared the body composition metrics from our Galaxy Watch 6 to the data obtained using a standing bioimpedance machine. Essentially, mammoth scales with handles, the standing bioimpedance machine is the golden standard for measuring fat, muscle and bone mass in the body, so we were quite impressed when our watch closely matched its measurements.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 being tested during a workout

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 offers accurate health measurements, but its workout tracking features may be imprecise. (Image credit: Anna Gora)

There is a caveat, though. The ECG and body measurements can be quite tricky to take. That is because they are taken with the buttons on the side, and these can be flimsy. You have to stay completely still during the recordings, but even the smallest twitch of a muscle will interrupt the measurement and you will have to start over again.

We were also disappointed by its workout tracking features. Most sports modes do not track anything more than workout duration and heart rate, so we did not find it particularly useful for measuring exercise metrics. We found that heart rate readings were often patchy. This is likely due to the watch failing to continuously detect its sensors throughout a workout. Lastly, we were surprised to discover that the automatic sports detection was wildly off the mark. For example, on two separate occasions our Galaxy Watch 6 thought we were walking when, in fact, we were sitting in a moving car.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6: User reviews

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 scores 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with 78% of users giving it a full five stars. Positive reviews praise this smartwatch for its ease of use, sleek appearance, large display and accuracy of health tracking features, particularly in relation to sleep duration and stress. 

Negative reviews, though few and far between, often cite short battery life, sluggish performance during data-intensive tasks, and a slightly uncomfortable fit. As one user commented, “Just wish the charge lasted longer than a day, otherwise it’s perfect.” Another buyer said, “Overall, despite being on the sixth generation, this still seems like an early adopter product to me. There’s many rough edges to be smoothed out and Samsung does not seem to be in any rush to do so.” 

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6?

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 laying flat on a table

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is a good option for fitness beginners and seniors. (Image credit: Anna Gora)

We think this is a great fitness tracker for beginners and seniors. It offers a range of accurate health-tracking features, including an ECG and blood pressure monitor. It even comes with fall detection and an emergency callout service. Exercise novices will also appreciate its built-in apps and multiple workout modes that do not overwhelm despite the sheer amount of complex fitness stats.

However, if you are looking for long battery life and a precise, data-heavy approach to workout tracking, you may need to look elsewhere. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 does not impress with its day-to-day performance, either — but then that is reflected in its low price point.  

If Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is not for you

If you are looking for an everyday smartwatch at an affordable price but do not want to compromise on performance, check out the Amazfit Balance. This feather-light, comfortable fitness tracker is packed to the brim with wellness apps and health-tracking features, and it looks good, too. However, it is not as durable as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is another good alternative. It boasts similar features and sturdiness to the Galaxy Watch 6, but at $449.99, it is also much pricier.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6: How we tested

We spent a month testing the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, assessing its design, features, battery life, ease of use, and connectivity with third-party devices. We wore it during the day, while sleeping, and when training in the gym or hiking outside. Finally, we checked the accuracy of our Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 by comparing some of its measurements with the data we obtained using more professional devices, such as a chest-strap heart rate monitor.

This post was originally published on Live Science

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