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I'd love to buy a Galaxy Watch 6, but it isn't the smartwatch for me

Exclusive Samsung phone-only features are keeping me at a distance.

Published onJune 25, 2023

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro in silver color with fluoroelastomer strap on wrist showing ECG
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

If rumors are to be believed, we’re about a month away from the Galaxy Watch 6’s launch. And we’re also a month away from me watching Samsung’s keynote with a bit of jealousy because as much as I want to love this watch, it isn’t for me. The reason is simple: Samsung keeps locking some of its watch features to its own phones and, as a multi-phone (and specifically Pixel) user, I would be missing out on several crucial features if I bought this watch.

Do you use a Samsung phone with your Galaxy Watch?

7005 votes

I say this with the resignation of a smartwatch fan who got a Galaxy Watch 4 in 2021 and loved how it mixed the best of Samsung with the best of Google and Wear OS. It took a few months and updates, but having access to both Bixby and Google Assistant or Samsung Pay and Google Wallet was neat. So was the ability to install Gboard and Google Messages on the watch to have a uniform experience with my phones.

The Galaxy Watch 4 mixed the best of Samsung with the best of Google and Wear OS.

Battery life was poor on my 40mm model, though that seems to have been improved with the Galaxy Watch 5. Samsung Health wasn’t ideal either, especially when it came to sleep tracking, so I wore a Fitbit tracker on my second wrist to keep all my health data there (I had been wearing Fitbits for eight years and didn’t want to move to another platform). But, as I mentioned earlier, the biggest letdown was how Samsung had tied some Galaxy Watch features to its phones.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 skin temperature sensor
Andy Walker / Android Authority

As long as my Galaxy Watch 4 was connected to my Pixel phone or any other non-Samsung phone I happened to be testing at the time, I couldn’t record an ECG or monitor my blood pressure. These are two of the most crucial health metrics I’d bought the watch for; my late-thirties body wanted that extra peace of mind. So I had paid for sensors I couldn’t use only because Samsung decided that I must buy into its entire ecosystem to get those features.

Companies can do whatever they want with their products and strategies, I won’t argue that, but the limitation felt arbitrary, greedy, and unfair to me. If there was a cheaper version that eschewed these extra sensors and dropped the price a bit, I would’ve appreciated it more. But alas, no.

Samsung ties the ECG, blood pressure monitor, and other features to owning a Samsung phone. A big dealbreaker for me.

And those weren’t even all the exclusive features for Samsung phone owners. I couldn’t control the camera on my phone, sync Do Not Disturb mode or Bedtime mode with my phone, or make/receive calls when the watch wasn’t connected to my phone via Bluetooth. The first features are somewhat understandably tied to a parallel feature on the phone, but the latter is puzzling. Why would I need to be paired to a Samsung phone to make calls without the phone?

Samsung Health Apple Health Compatible Devices
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Things haven’t gotten any better with the Galaxy Watch 5 either. As far as I can tell from my online research, the skin temperature sensor requires pairing to a Samsung phone too. And who knows how many of the upcoming One UI 5 for watch features will also be locked to Samsung phones?

I chose Android because it promised options and openness, but companies keep cornering me and forcing my buying decision.

I don’t like arbitrary exclusivities and closed-garden approaches that exist solely to force users into a buying corner. I chose Android as my primary mobile platform more than a decade ago because it promised interoperability and openness. Yet we find ourselves now at a time where hugely profitable companies like Samsung and Google have to resort to anti-consumer measures like locking the Galaxy Watch’s ECG to Samsung phones or the Pixel Buds Pro’s head tracking spatial audio to Pixel phones.

So yes, even though I think the Galaxy Watch 6 will be an excellent smartwatch and will likely surpass the upcoming Pixel Watch 2 in many aspects, I’ll have to stop myself from buying it. My money is better spent on a watch that works well with any Android phone.

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