Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Review: Some small updates, same one-day battery life

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Review

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Intro


The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 adds a number of improvements over the previous generation, and while looks are mostly the same, the new features pile up and make this one exciting watch for better sleep tracking, workout and health tracking, as well as staying up to date with notifications.

On the list of new Galaxy Watch 6 features you can find thinner bezels, larger battery size, a faster and more power efficient chip, new health and fitness tracking features and bands with a new one-click swap mechanism.

But before we dive any further, let's make it clear that this here review is specifically for the regular Galaxy Watch 6 model, and not the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic model. That Classic version has a physical rotating bezel, different physical sizes, as well as a different battery size, so you can learn more about that one in a separate review.

The regular Watch 6 comes in a choice between 40mm and 44mm, while the Watch 6 Classic is available in either 43mm or 47mm. Those with smaller wrists might find the more petite 40mm size of the Watch 6 the only viable option, while those with larger wrists might prefer the Watch 6 Classic with the 47mm version.

Galaxy Watch 6 Classic (43mm): 18% off on Amazon

The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is up for grabs at Amazon at a lower price. At the moment, you can get the 43mm version with Bluetooth for 18% off.

Galaxy Watch 6 Classic (47mm): $85 off on Amazon

The larger-sized Galaxy Watch 6 Classic can be yours at a lower price via Amazon. The 47mm version with Bluetooth is now $85 cheaper than usual. Limited quantities available.

Galaxy Watch 6 (40mm): save $90 at Amazon

The quality Galaxy Watch 6 is sporting an awesome $90 discount at Amazon. This is the 40mm Bluetooth-only version of the wearable in Graphite.

Disclaimer: You must pair the Galaxy Watch 6 with an Android phone. You do not need to have a Samsung phone, other brands with compatible Android software will work fine (some of the advanced features however only work on a Samsung phone). The Galaxy Watch 6 will NOT work with Apple iPhones. You can get a Watch 6 in a Wi-Fi only version, or one with Cellular/LTE (eSIM) connectivity.

What’s new about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
  • Faster and more power efficient processor
  • Larger screen thanks to shrunken bezels
  • Comes with WearOS
  • Improved battery life
  • Sapphire glass
  • New one-click easy to swap bands
  • Better sleep tracking

Table of Contents:

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Design & Sizes

Some small tweaks but mostly the same look


If you find the Galaxy Watch 6 similar to last year's Watch 5, well... that's because it mostly is.

Samsung is sticking with the round design, and the 40mm/44mm sizes are the same, but there are tiny differences in the actual dimensions. The Watch 6 has a slightly thinner body, and it comes with a 20% larger screen sizes thanks to reduced bezel size.


We like the extremely light weight of the Watch 6, and the smaller 40mm size that we used for this review wears very comfortably, which is very important for working out and sleep tracking. We think the round shape and thin profile, give this extra style points, but your preferences might be different.

Just like its predecessor, the Watch 6 gets sapphire glass on both the screen and the bottom part of the timepiece, and this is great news as sapphire is said to be 60% better at resisting scratches than regular glass. In our experience, sapphire stays free of scratches even after years of using a watch, so it's definitely a welcome upgrade.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Bands

A brand new way to swap bands


First, let's say that the Galaxy Watch 6 supports the same 20mm band size and your old Galaxy Watch bands will fit here just fine.

However, Samsung has developed new one-click bands that have a button that you press to easily swap the strap. Underneath, you still have your familiar spring bars, it's just that instead of pulling on a tiny lever, you now have to press a button. We hoped this would make swapping bands much easier, but after using this system for a while we find it a bit finicky. The button is a bit too small and the silicone sporty loop band that Samsung provides is a bit on the thick side, which make it harder than you'd expect to swap bands.


Speaking of that included sports strap, it's made of soft silicone, so it does not irritate the skin, but it protrudes out of the watch a bit too much. Yours truly had to swap it for a thinner band from another company which made wearing the watch a better experience.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Software & Features

Much improved sleep tracking, and new health and fitness features

The Galaxy Watch 5 was the first Samsung timepiece with Wear OS, a change from the Tizen platform used previously.

The Watch 6 is the second generation and it is even more refined, running on Wear OS 4.0.

This latest version of the software bring more polish, new interactive watch faces and a few welcome changes like no longer requiring you to reset your watch when you connect to a new phone.

Galaxy Watch 6: How good is it for Sleep Tracking?



The main new feature that Samsung has focused on is improved sleep tracking, with a detailed breakdown of your sleep stages, as well as awake time, and physical and mental recovery.

New Sleep Messages each morning will help you understand better your sleep, and a Sleep Consistency score is an easy way to know how well you are doing with sleep in the longer term. Additionally, Sleep Coaching will give you tips on how to stick with your sleep goals, and Sleep Mode will help you switch off notifications and dim the screen on your connected devices.

In our experience, sleep tracking was able to accurately detect the time we went to sleep and the time we woke up, but from there on we noticed quite a few dubious readings.

Wearing the Galaxy Watch 6 on one wrist and the Apple Watch Series 8 on the other, we noticed these two tracked very similar total sleep time (6 hr 6 min on Galaxy Watch 6 VS 6 hr 10 min on Apple Watch S8), but the breakdown by sleep stages was completely different.

On the same night, the Galaxy Watch 6 detected only 7 minutes of deep sleep, while the Apple Watch Series 8 recorded 1 hour and 2 minutes! A massive difference! REM was measured at 1 hr 56 m on the Galaxy Watch and 1 hr 33 m on the Apple Watch, and Core/Light sleep was also different on the two.

Puzzlingly, the Galaxy Watch scored this night at 80%, equaling a "Good" sleep score. But how does a night with merely 7 minutes of deep sleep count as "Good"?!

This was a really strange measurement. The previous night, I slept for 7 hours and 40 minutes, which somehow also only resulted in 11 minutes of recorded deep sleep. That previous night was clearly much more refreshing for me, but it also got nearly the same 81% sleep score.

Additionally, the Galaxy Watch 6 recorded worryingly low blood oxygen levels during sleep.

On a plus side, the Galaxy Watch 6 pick up naps which arch-rival Apple Watch does not, so that's one area where it has the advantage.

We will be gathering more data and testing this further, but so far overall sleep data from the Galaxy Watch 6 should be taken with a grain of salt, especially if you care about an accurate sleep stage breakdown and a useful sleep "score".

Galaxy Watch 6: How accurate is it for Heart rate measurements and Workout Tracking?



The Watch 6 comes with a bunch of new workout tracking features. Probably the one that stands out the most are the personalized heart rate zones, which essentially breaks down your performance across five heart rate zones depending on the intensity of the workout.

My training consists mostly of calisthenics, which is notoriously hard to track, but I did compare the heart rate tracking on the Galaxy Watch 6 (using the Circuit Training workout type) against the Apple Watch Series 8 (Functional Strength Training workout type), and there were some quite significant differences.

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The same 37-minute training session recorded an average heart rate of 114bpm on the Galaxy Watch 6 and just 99bpm on the Apple Watch Series 8.

The Watch 6 also recorded a huge spike in heart rate at the beginning of the workout with peaks reaching more than 160bpm, while the same section was around 90bpm on the Apple Watch. We will be redoing this test with a chest strap soon, but the Apple Watch recordings are much closer to my actual perceived effort.

What we did love about this Galaxy Watch 6 is automatic workout detection. The Apple Watch takes 15 minutes to record a walk, enough to miss many walks, and it requires manual input, while the Galaxy Watch detects a walk in just 10 minutes and alerts when you have ended your walk immediately and very precisely, and best of all, you don't need any manual input for those recordings.

We don't mind manually tracking hard workouts that count, but having to manually record every walk gets very tedious on the Apple Watch, so Samsung is definitely doing the right thing here.

Galaxy Watch 6 ECG, Body Composition and Blood Pressure



On the health tracking side of things, you get new Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications, a potentially life-saving feature that will tell about a possible Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

For women, you have more accurate menstrual cycle tracking thanks to skin temperature measurements taken throughout the night.

Also, you get Fall Detection which is designed to catch a fall while you stand, exercise or even if you fall out of bed. The watch will be able to call your emergency contacts to notify them about that.

The Watch 6 can also be used to record an ECG and the results of that are stored in the Samsung Health app.

You can also take a body composition reading. For that, you need to first manually input your weight, and once that's done, you hold your ring and middle fingers touching the two buttons of the watch for about 30 seconds. I got varying readings with initial estimates of just 13% body fat, only to see numbers closer to 17% later on. We would take these with a grain of salt, but it's still a nice metric to have.

The Galaxy Watch 6 can take your blood pressure, but only in some countries, and unfortunately it has not yet been cleared to give blood pressure readings in the US. We did not test this feature yet, but you should know that it still requires you to first calibrate the Watch 6 readings to readings from a traditional blood pressure monitor.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Battery and Charging

Bigger batteries!


One of the biggest complaints against the Watch 5 was battery life as most users had to charge it every day.

And while technically the Galaxy Watch 6 does bring a slightly bigger battery size, the change is really quite tiny from the previous generation.

Here are the Galaxy Watch 6 battery numbers compared to previous generations of Samsung watches, we have only single digit improvements:

  • Galaxy Watch 6 40mm battery size: 300 mAh (+5.6% compared to Watch 5)
  • Galaxy Watch 5 40mm battery size: 284 mAh (+15% compared to Watch 4)
  • Galaxy Watch 4 40mm battery size: 247 mAh

  • Galaxy Watch 6 44mm battery size: 425 mAh (+3.6%)
  • Galaxy Watch 5 44mm battery size: 410 mAh (13.6%)
  • Galaxy Watch 4 44mm battery size: 361 mAh

So what about real world battery life? We used the watch with the always on screen option enabled, in our experience, the Galaxy Watch loses about 60% of charge per day and a night of sleep drains an additional 12% to 14%. This means it is possible to get a full 24-hours or even more on a single charge, and I averaged about a day and a half between charges. Of course, if you have a longer than usual workout session or if you plan to run a half marathon or more, you will see the battery drain much quicker.

What I was hoping for, however, are faster charging speeds. A 30-minute top-up only gives you about 42% battery level back.

Here are the charging speeds we measured for the Galaxy Watch 6:

Full Charge WirelessLower is better15 Mins Wireless(%)Higher is better30 Mins Wireless(%)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6(40mm)1h 19 min
15%
42%
Apple Watch Series 8(45mm)1h 35 min
No data
47%

A full charge to 100% takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes on the smaller 40mm Watch 6.

Do keep in mind that the watch only comes with a charging cable (USB-C on one end, magnetic connector on the other), but no charging brick included in the box and you'd have to buy that separately if you don't own one from a previous device.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Models and Prices



Samsung gives you a choice between a Wi-Fi only version of the Watch 6, and a Wi-FI + Cellular model for an extra $50 on top.

Galaxy Watch 6 US Prices:
  • 40mm model: $300 for Wi-Fi model, $350 for Cellular
  • 44mm model: $330 for Wi-Fi model, $450 for Cellular

Compared to last year's model, we see a modest increase of $20 across the board.

At these prices, the Galaxy Watch 6 remains about $100 below the cost of comparable Apple Watches, so it's still a more affordable option.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Voice Calls and Haptics


The Galaxy Watch 6 has a microphone and supports voice calls, and if you have the cellular version with a plan you can make phone calls on the watch without ever using your smartphone.

Haptics are fine, but you don't quite get the very tight vibration feedback you have on the Apple Watch and haptics overall feels just a tiny bit more vague.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Competitors


So... what are your best Galaxy Watch 6 alternatives?

Your first option is clearly just the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic model with its rotating bezel. It has the same function, but with a physical bezel and a larger battery. However, it also comes at larger sizes which might not fit well smaller wrist sizes.

The Google Pixel Watch is due for a refresh later in 2023, and we expect the Pixel Watch 2 to bring much needed battery life improvements to finally bring it on par with the Galaxy Watch.

Then you have the Apple Watch, of course, but for that you need an iPhone. The Apple Watch is the market leader with extremely accurate heart rate measurements, plus it seems to do a better job with sleep tracking, and it comes with a number of improvements that Apple has made in watchOS 10.

Finally, you also have sports watches like the Garmin Forerunner 265/965 and other in the Garmin family like the Venu series or the Epix models. Garmin watches with OLED screens last at least four days or a lot more for the bigger sizes and if you don't use the Always-On function you can expect a battery life of as long as two weeks. That's a huge advantage. But most Garmin watches are not offered in an LTE model and you cannot place or receive calls on most of them.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Specs


The Galaxy Watch 6 comes with new internals, but the physical dimensions are very similar to the previous model with only small changes.


Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Summary



The Galaxy Watch 6 is clearly an iterative upgrade that looks and mostly feels similar to the previous generation. But while you cannot see immediate changes in appearance, the improvements on the inside do add up. You finally get more detailed sleep tracking. The larger screen and smaller bezels are well appreciated, and so is the faster processor that makes everything just a bit smoother.

This watch also remains a good deal: after all, you are getting sapphire glass on a $300 timepiece, that's nice.

Battery life is also improved, but we still did not get two full days off the charger, and charging speeds remain unchanged.

If you own an Android phone, the Watch 6 remains one of your best options if you want a full-on smartwatch with an OLED screen, voice calls, cellular connectivity, and all the health and fitness tracking bells and whistles.

In summary, the Watch 6 remains among your best smartwatch options, especially if you are looking for a watch that wears small, weighs little and is very good at automatically tracking your workouts.

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Lightweight and comfortable to wear
  • Nice and bright OLED screen
  • Great automatic workout detection
  • Not too expensive

Cons

  • One-day battery life
  • Heart rate tracking not perfectly accurate
  • One-click bands not as easy to swap as you'd hope
  • Watchfaces not as refined as on rivals
  • Sleep tracking has some quirks

PhoneArena Rating:

8.2

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