Test Samsung Galaxy Watch: a Good Alternative apple Watch


The first thing to do if you are interested in the Samsung Galaxy Watch is to choose between the two case sizes on offer: 42mm at 309 euros (available in carbon black or imperial gold) or 46mm at 329 euros.

Although the larger model is a little heavier, it has several advantages. Not only is its display larger, but the watch has a longer Battery Life We also preferred its silver stainless steel finish. Both models are equipped with Samsung’s dual-core Exynos 9110 processor at 1.15 GHz and 4GB of storage, but the non-cellular editions have 748 MB of RAM while the LTE editions have 1.5 GB (this model is not offered in France).


 

Although Samsung has changed the nomenclature of its watches (Galaxy Watch instead of Galaxy Gear), the 2018 models do not differ greatly from the previous ones in terms of design and function. We always find the Tizen home OS (no Google Wear OS here). The 46mm Galaxy Watch is similar to a slightly modified version of the Gear S3 Frontier, while the 42mm is reminiscent of a more refined Gear Sport watch.

The most notable developments are under the bonnet

Waterproof to 50 meters): it’s the same as the Gear Sport, but a welcome improvement over the IP68 rating of the Gear S3. The Galaxy Watch can withstand salt and chlorine water. But it will have to be rinsed off afterwards.

Better autonomy: the Galaxy Watch 46mm is given for four days, the 42mm for three days (on non LTE editions, in any case).

More options for sport and fitness: 21 indoor exercises, 39 training sessions followed in total. Monitoring fitness and sleep is done via Samsung’s S-Health application, but there are also gateways to other applications such as Under Armour, MapMyRun, Speedo and others.

We found that the watch worked well overall to keep up with the workouts and motivate us to exercise more. You can also manually record your water and caffeine consumption, as on previous models.


 

Regular runners will probably prefer Garmin Forerunners or Fenix connected watches. However, the Galaxy does not demerit at all in this area, judging by the 4.8 km run we did without any problems.

Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant, is present for the first time. You can issue voice commands such as “What’s the weather like? “You can also select “Start Training” or “Listen to Music”. Text messages can also be replied to by voice (this feature is not supported on iPhone). Bixby n’t work as well as Siri on the Apple Watch but it is an improvement over the S-Voice.

Although logically optimized for Samsung smartphones the Galaxy Watch works well with other Android phones and even iPhones to some extent. The Samsung Gear application is now called Galaxy Wearable on Android and Galaxy Watch on iOS.

Galaxy Watch beats Apple Watch for…

The design

Square for the Apple Watch round for the Galaxy. First of all, it’s a matter of taste that’s not debatable. But there is also a practical aspect. Unlike Samsung watches, Apple watches do not have a rotating ring around the screen that acts as a protection for the screen. The Apple Watch’s display is fully exposed and easier to damage even though it is covered with Gorilla tempered glass. In fact, the new Galaxy is equipped with Gorilla DX+ military grade glass.

We really like the principle of the rotating ring which allows to navigate very simply in the watch interface. You can also use the touch interface with scanning gestures, but the ring seems more practical and intuitive.

The choice of dials

One of the strengths of the Galaxy Watch is the ability to change the dial and customize the look of the watch. There are thousands of models to choose from (many of them are free) and dozens can be stored on the watch (4 GB internal memory).

Thanks to the crisp, high-contrast OLED display the dials are incredibly detailed. Most analog watch dials maintain the illusion of a classic watch very well, at least a few meters away. For its part, Apple continues to expand its small collection of dials, but has not yet opened a dedicated online store

The dials as well as the applications can be installed directly from the watch or via the mobile application The non-cellular models are equipped with Wi-Fi (direct connection from the watch) and Bluetooth.


 

The right autonomy

Samsung announces four days of use on the 46mm model without having to recharge it and three days on the 42mm model. According to the Korean manufacturer, the secret of this longevity lies in the OS Tizen. Also note that the Galaxy Watch 46mm is equipped with a 472 mAh battery which gives a better endurance.

We have been using the 46mm model for over a month and can confirm that you can go four days without recharging the watch. But to do so, you should take some energy-saving measures by limiting your use of Wi-Fi, avoiding continuous heart rate and turning the screen to sleep mode after 10 seconds of inactivity. And needless to say, GPS also has a heavy impact on range.

We also conducted a test with an emphasis on sports functions. As a result, we went slightly over 24 hours. All in all, in a scenario of intensive use, you’ll be lucky to last two days (with the 46mm edition). But overall, the Galaxy 46mm’s battery life is significantly longer than that of the Apple Watch Series 4.

Spotify support

Until recently, Samsung was the only manufacturer of connected watches to have a partnership with Spotify that allows Spotify Premium subscribers to download playlists directly to the watch. Some Garmin models now support offline playback of Spotify playlists, and although the Spotify for Wear OS application has recently been upgraded, it does not offer this option.


 

Samsung has greatly improved the process, the complexity of which had been highlighted on previous models. We had no trouble downloading a 1GB Spotify playlist using a home Wi-Fi network. Standard music files can also be transferred to the watch using Samsung’s Music Manager.

apple watch users can download Apple Music playlists on their watch, but not Spotify playlists. Storing playlists on the watch offers the advantage of being able to enjoy them with a Bluetooth headset without having to take your smartphone with you. A valuable option for runners.


 

A few minor faults persist

Samsung has made progress in terms of user-friendliness. But we did run into the occasional problem: the practice app seemed to have launched but it didn’t; inability to connect to Spotify from some Wi-Fi networks; a questionable calculation of the number of steps climbed. But all this is finally not very frustrating and the watch is overall easy to use.

Since its launch, Samsung has updated the watch’s firmware several times, as well as applications for iOS and Android. The updates seem to have eliminated a number of bugs. In addition, the use of the watch and the interface with the application to add dials and applications continues to improve. And the ability to customize widgets from the Galaxy Watch itself without the need to use the application on the phone is very convenient.


 

Bixby also seems to progress a bit, but it still leaves something to be desired compared to Google Assistant Alexa and even Siri.

In the end, the list of Galaxy Watch’s positives gets longer, while the list of negatives gets smaller. Does this make it the best connected watch for Android users? Probably. Fitbit’s Versa and Ionic as well as Garmin’s smart watches remain good alternatives for those looking for sports-oriented products that cost a little less. Let’s add that we were impressed enough by the latest version of Google Wear OS to think that it could start to find its rhythm. But from a purely material point of view the Galaxy Watch remains hard to beat. And hopefully, thanks to continuous updates, the situation will improve further over time.

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