I was hesitant when invited to review the new Samsung Galaxy Watch6.
I haven’t worn a digital watch in years, let alone, an electronic smartwatch. The grumpy, old-fashioned dude I am, I’ve also never embraced the idea of using a watch for more than time-telling.
I mean, what can a smartwatch do that a smartphone can’t? Why burden yourself with another gadget?
But, a writer should always try new things and so I accepted the invitation. Day one: Delivery. Took me a while to realise, oh! You need to wireless charge the phone! Grrr! What happened to five-year batteries?!? Day two: Linked the Watch6 to my loan unit of the Galaxy Fold5 (review coming soon) and okay … It’s kinda fun, in an indulgent way, to change the screen design every other hour.
Day three: Went for a long, super-hot run with the Watch6 and discovered it does way more than just measure steps and distance, which by the way, it does with impressive accuracy. Day four: Went out for a quick photo shoot while entirely Samsung-geared, Galaxy buds and phone and all. No big discovery this time. But I did enjoy controlling my buds and S22 with the Watch6 …
I think you can tell what I’m putting across here. I wasn’t exactly converted to a fan. But I certainly appreciated the Watch6 more and more each day.
The following are what I love most about this latest smartwatch of the Samsung Galaxy ecosystem.
A Bright, Different Look Each Day
This was the first Watch6 feature that I tried and it grew on me in a strange way.
I knew about it beforehand. However, I didn’t see why I would need a different watch look every day; I’m not a fashionista. (Grumpy, old-fashioned mentality at work)
But I discovered it goes beyond appearances. Hard for me to explain beyond saying, it adds a bit of sparkle, a bit of liveliness, to each new day? It’s like heading to the convenience store each morning before work and getting to decide, hmm, which grab-and-go coffee should I have this morning? Or should I go for tea? Or a soda?
The default designs provided by Samsung are moreover attractive, as well as equipped with extensive customisable features. Best of all, the faces look so great, with luscious, rich colours and all that, because the AMOLED screen of the Galaxy Watch6 is capable of an impressive 2,000 nits peak brightness.
The benefits of this go beyond aesthetics. First off, it gives the watch superior visibility in daylight. So I’ve been told: vloggers and videographers also prize any brightness increment as that makes it easier to film info presented on a smartphone.
Well, I don’t vlog or have any need to film a smartwatch. But a better, brighter screen is always a good thing in sunny Singapore, right? Especially when one would be exercising with it?
Not to mention, the screen looks so fantastic at nighttime too.
Easy-to-Use Sleep Tracking
Improved sleep tracking is one of the star features of the Samsung Galaxy Watch6; during the Singapore launch in July, a large segment of the presentation was about this. Thanks to that, I developed all sorts of convoluted impressions about the feature. Impressions that, in turn, resulted in me taking the longest to figure out how it works.
You see, I kept expecting sleep tracking to be an app/programme that requires me to input all sorts of data and actively manage in order to work. Well, you do need to activate certain settings with the Samsung Health app. Once done, though, there is no further “programming” or the like. You just need to wear the watch, put everything into sleep mode so that the screen doesn’t keep activating, and go to bed.
The next morning, voila! Your sleep data is recorded in the connected phone. It’s data that’s fascinating just to look at, by the way. Akin to progressively discovering another side of you.
Here’s what I like about the Watch6 sleep tracking experience too Firstly, the sensor arrays at the bottom of the watch are sensitive enough that you don’t need to shackle yourself for the tracking to work. I wore the Watch6 loosely for two nights and it was still accurate with recorded times. Had I needed to wear the watch tightly, I wouldn’t have even considered trying the function.
Wear it over enough nights and the Watch6 will eventually use a “sleep animal” to describe your slumber patterns; this is part of the sleep coaching function. But should you decide not to, for whatever reason, you can still access the data. There are also no annoying reminders or warnings to resume sleep tracking.
It’s neat and easy to use. One of the functions that I enjoyed most after I understood its simplicity.
As for the quality of the tracking/data, well, I’d put it this way. The Watch6 reminds you at every opportunity never to regard it as a medical device. Thus, one should head to a doctor if experiencing significant sleep disorders. But outside of that, the data provided by the Watch6 can give some good hints on how to enjoy better rest each night.
In my case, it offered some insight as to why I sometimes feel worse despite having eight hours of sleep.
Fitness Tracking and Recording
Smartwatches are inseparable from fitness and well-being, aren’t they? I knew about this and so I expected a lot from the Watch6 in this area.
Correspondingly, and just like the above-mentioned sleep tracking, I expected lots of learning curves before I get the hang of everything.
Turns out … … it’s indeed a lot to experiment and fiddle with! Worthy of mention is also that a sphygmomanometer is required for calibration before you can use the blood pressure measurement feature. (Body composition estimations don’t require any calibrations, though)
But to Samsung’s credit, the discovery process requires patience but is neither frustrating nor baffling. I had hiccups during my first attempt to track a 30-minute jog. After that, the Watch6 kept celebrating me hitting my daily steps count, when I’ve set no target.
But these hiccups and prompts gave me a better idea of how individual tracking works and what other functions to investigate. I also determined that the data captured is pretty accurate. I did one round on a standard stadium jogging track and the distance measured by the Watch6 was off by less than 10 metres.
My household has two sphygmomanometers. After using one to calibrate the Watch6 with, I compared measurements from the other one with the numbers the Watch6 provided. They are very similar. The same goes for Oximeter measurements.
Battery Life & Charging
I mentioned from the outset that I dislike having to recharge a smartwatch. After trying the Watch6 for a fortnight, I still hate this but I’d admit that Samsung at least makes it convenient to do so.
Convenient but not quick. The speed of the wireless charger is nowhere near the super fast-charge speeds of newer Galaxy phones.
On the bright side, the 425 mAh battery size of my 44mm test unit seems more than capable of removing the need for daily recharging. I went out one afternoon with the watch fully juiced, did all sorts of tracking, used the Watch6 to control various functions of my older Galaxy S22 too. After six hours, the battery level was still above 80 percent. Even after one more night of sleep tracking, the battery level did not drop below 60 percent.
Since most people wouldn’t be fiddling with the functions the way I did, non-stop for six hours, I think it is reasonable to assume the Watch6 has efficient power management. That is, at least when the watch and battery are still new.
Integration With Samsung Galaxy Gear & Other Quality of Life Features
Outside of wellness functions, the Galaxy Watch6 has lots of apps meant to make life a little snazzier. One can also download more apps, per need and interest, via Google Play.
A lot of the pre-installed apps are intended as remote controllers for Samsung Galaxy phone apps too; in other words, it enhances the ecosystem. For example, you can use the Watch6 to control music that’s being played by the Samsung Music app. You can, of course, also control connected Galaxy Buds the same way.
I’ll be blunt. I was disdainful about these “controls”; I just don’t see the need for them when I can do everything on my Galaxy phone itself. But after trying various for a week, I have to agree they do improve, what’s the phrase, the Samsung Galaxy user experience. They could moreover come in handy at certain times. It is just easier to manage music tracks with a few taps on a watch when your hands are full.
On the technical side of things, since I don’t have older Galaxy smartwatches to compare with, I can only say the Exynos W930 chipset more or less facilitates a modern, speedy user experience. I say more or less because the Watch6 occasionally feels a tad slow or unresponsive, especially when you’re setting up something, but perhaps I’m expecting too much.
I had no issues mastering the One UI Watch 5 interface too—a terse tutorial is provided during initial setup.
To end, I’ll be returning my review unit soon and while I haven’t yet placed an order for my own Watch6, you bet I’m considering! I wouldn’t say I’ve gone from sceptic to big fan within a fortnight, but I certainly have a better appreciation of what this Galaxy smartwatch can do. And I like what it does.
I’ve also, erm, gotten addicted to immediately staring at my sleep chart the moment I wake up. I would love, so love to implement the suggestions given by the Watch6. Aiming to morph into a better sleep animal seems the right determination to have.