It’s been a couple of years since Samsung released its first Galaxy Watch. In that time, the smartwatch landscape has drastically changed. Companies are adding ECGs and oxygen saturation sensors to their wearables, and features we once thought were a far-off future are now commonplace.
Alongside the Galaxy Note 20 lineup, the company launched the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. It’s lighter and much more powerful than the original and has additional health and safety features that will even give the Apple Watch more competition than before.
Update: June 4, 2021: We have updated this Galaxy Watch 3 buyer’s guide with details about Samsung’s Wear OS collaboration with Google, and how this might affect the Galaxy Watch 3. Read on for more info.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 at a glance
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is Samsung’s flagship smartwatch for 2020 and the successor to 2017’s Galaxy Watch. While 2019’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 is geared toward, well, active people, the Galaxy Watch 3 is more suited for those who want a smartwatch first and a fitness companion second.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is for those who want:
- a versatile smartwatch
- an alternative to Apple Watch or Wear OS smartwatch
- a smartwatch that doesn’t skimp on fitness or smart features
- a wearable to work alongside your Galaxy smartphone
And it may not be a great pick if you need:
- an inexpensive smartwatch
- decent third-party app support
- the most accurate fitness and health sensors
Is the Galaxy Watch 3 worth buying?
Yes, absolutely. If you’re looking for the best smartwatch you can buy that isn’t made by Apple, the Galaxy Watch 3 is it.
It’s one of the most fully featured smartwatches you can get. It has a breadth of fitness tracking features, a good health app, fantastic hardware, equally good software, and onboard music storage with support for popular music apps.
Wear OS is a popular choice for people looking for Android-compatible smartwatches, but Google’s lack of updates leaves us not wanting to recommend any Wear OS smartwatches — at least for the time being. Regardless, the Galaxy Watch 3 has most Wear OS watches beat in many ways, except for lacking third-party app selection.
It’s pricey, though. It usually starts at $400, with top-end LTE models going up to $479. That’s a high price to pay for any smartwatch. Also, while the Galaxy Watch 3 has many fitness features baked in, it doesn’t track all that accurately. Its GPS and heart rate sensors are still far behind what you’d find on a dedicated fitness watch.
Be sure to read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review for all the details.
What reviewers are saying about the Galaxy Watch 3
I’ve already let you know what I think about the Galaxy Watch 3. You should probably buy one, but only if you’re okay with spending hundreds of dollars on a wearable. Here’s what other reviewers around the web are saying about the Galaxy Watch 3.
- The Verge’s Dan Seifert also praised the Galaxy Watch 3’s rotating bezel and crisp display, as well as its easy-to-use software interface. Overall, though, Seifert drove home the point that the Galaxy Watch 3 isn’t the biggest upgrade compared to previous Samsung watches. He noted that the app selection is still bad and that fitness features are hit or miss.
- Engadget’s Cherlynn Low had good things to say about the Galaxy Watch 3, claiming that it’s the best non-Apple smartwatch. She said the watch is chunkier than the Active 2, which means it’ll be a bit more annoying to use while working out. She mentioned that fitness tracking has improved over previous watches. People on Android looking for non-niche devices like Garmin and Polar watches should probably check out the Galaxy Watch 3.
- TechCrunch’s Brian Heater said “not many can compete” with the Galaxy Watch 3 when it comes to smartwatches on Android. He also called the rotating bezel satisfying, which many other reviewers seem to agree with. Again, Heater noted the lack of third-party apps in the app store, as well as the Galaxy Watch 3’s bulky design.
What people like you think of the Galaxy Watch 3
We like to hear from you, our readers, when big product launches roll around. It’s clear people are opinionated about Samsung’s Galaxy Watch devices, so we issued a few polls to see how hyped (or how un-hyped) you were before and after the launch of the new Samsung watch.
When the Galaxy Watch 3 was just a rumor, we asked you how hyped you were for the watch. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of AA readers said they were hyped to see Samsung’s next smartwatch. Out of 1,405 total votes, 83.6% said they were excited for the watch, while just 16.44% said they weren’t.
When the Galaxy Watch 3 was just a rumor: Are you hyped for the Galaxy Watch 3?
Things got more interesting after the watch was announced. The $400 price tag was certainly one of the biggest talking points surrounding the Galaxy Watch 3’s unveiling, with many people saying the watch isn’t worth the premium price.
In reality, though, it seems like most people are pretty mixed on whether or not the Galaxy Watch 3 is a good deal. Check out the poll below; just about every option we posed received a nearly equal amount of votes. Many people think the Galaxy Watch 3 is worth the price tag, while others think it’s highway robbery.
Is the Galaxy Watch 3 a good deal?
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 hardware and design
The design hasn’t changed much from the original Galaxy Watch. There are still two sizes to choose from — 41mm and 45mm — and both come with nearly the same specs. The differences, as per usual, are found in the display and battery sizes.
Buy the 45mm Galaxy Watch 3 if you want a bigger smartwatch with a longer-lasting battery. This model has a 1.4-inch AMOLED display and a 340mAh battery, which Samsung says will get you about two days of use on a charge. The 41mm model is smaller and sleeker but has worse battery life. It comes with a 1.2-inch screen and a 247mAh battery, which Samsung says will get you about a day of use.
Both devices charge wirelessly and can be topped up by Samsung’s Wireless Powershare feature.
Samsung says the Galaxy Watch 3 is 14% thinner than the Galaxy Watch, 8% smaller overall, and 15% lighter. Not bad!
One popular feature that’s returning is the physical rotating bezel. Samsung had a hit on its hands (or wrists?) with the original Galaxy Watch’s bezel, which rotated for easier navigation through the software. The company removed it entirely from the Galaxy Watch Active, then added a pseudo-rotating bezel on the Active 2 that was “rotated” by touch.
You can buy the 45mm Galaxy Watch 3 in Mystic Black and Mystic Silver colorways, and the 41mm Galaxy Watch 3 comes in Mystic Bronze and Mystic Silver. Samsung released a Galaxy Watch 3 variant made of titanium on October 2. It’s only available in the 45mm size, though.
You can get both sizes of the Galaxy Watch 3 with Bluetooth+Wi-Fi connectivity or LTE+Bluetooth+Wi-Fi.
Interestingly, Samsung is keeping these watches powered by its own Exynos 9110 SoC, which is the same processor that powered the first Galaxy Watch. It also upped the RAM from 768MB to 1GB and upping the storage from 4GB to 8GB.
In early February 2021, Samsung rolled out a useful update to Galaxy Watch 3 units that brought SmartThings Find support, a new Hand Wash app to time your handwashing, and more.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs. Galaxy Watch: What’s new?
Okay, so the Galaxy Watch 3 doesn’t look too different from the original Galaxy Watch. A lot of the big changes are found under the hood.
The Galaxy Watch 3 can track 40 activities, such as running, swimming, and more. It supports automatic activity tracking for seven of those activities, while 33 need to be started manually. During running activities, the watch can give you real-time running analysis and feedback, including asymmetry, contact time, flight time, regularity, vertical, and even how balanced you are while running.
Of course, the new Samsung watch is also equipped with built-in GPS and an optical heart rate sensor. Samsung tells us these are the same sensors that appeared in the Galaxy Watch Active 2. Unfortunately, the new watch struggles with the same issues the Active 2 did.
Sleep tracking is getting a big boost, too. Samsung partnered with the National Sleep Foundation to bring better sleep tracking and analysis to its new watch. The Galaxy Watch 3 can measure sleep cycles (light, deep, REM) and your total time awake. It’ll also calculate a sleep quality score based on your sleep stages and movements, available in the Samsung Health app.
If you’re wearing your watch to bed for sleep tracking, people who own the 45mm model with the bigger battery might be better off — sleep tracking does use up some juice! If you have the 41mm model and wear it all day, you may need to top it up before going to bed. Otherwise, you might run the risk of it dying in your sleep.
The pulse oximeter is only able to be used for on-demand readings and general health purposes. It won’t record during sleep tracking, so the Galaxy Watch 3 will not detect signs of sleep apnea like competing products from Fitbit and Withings.
The Galaxy Watch 3 is getting another nice safety feature: trip detection. If the watch’s accelerometer senses that you’ve fallen, you have the option to send a custom SMS to up to four predefined contacts. This will be very helpful for runners who are out on their own or for older users who live alone.
Samsung is also touting the Galaxy Watch 3’s built-in ECG and blood pressure monitoring. On September 23, Samsung announced that it enabled ECG functionality on the Galaxy Watch 3 and Active 2 smartwatches. You can read more about that here. The company then rolled the feature out to 31 additional countries in late January 2021.
If you happen to own a Samsung TV, the Galaxy Watch 3 will actually be a pretty decent workout companion for staying active at home. You can select a workout on your Galaxy Watch 3 and follow along with a Samsung-made workout video on your television. Samsung says users can select from up to 120 different workout videos.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 specs
|Samsung Galaxy Watch 3|
|Display||45mm: 1.4-inch AMOLED|
41mm: 1.2-inch AMOLED
Corning Gorilla Glass DX
|Dimensions and weight||45mm: 45 x 46.2 x 11.1mm|
53.8g (stainless steel), 43g (titanium)
41mm: 41 x 42.5 x 11.3mm
|Colors and materials||45mm: Mystic Black (stainless steel or titanium), Mystic Silver (stainless steel)|
41mm: Mystic Bronze (stainless steel), Mystic Silver (stainless steel)
WPC-based wireless charging
|Processor||Samsung Exynos 9110|
|Connectivity||LTE (available in select models)|
Optical heart rate sensor
Ambient light sensor
|Durability||5ATM + IP68|
|Software||Tizen OS 5.5|
|Compatibility||Android: Android 5.0 or higher & RAM 1.5GB or above|
iOS: iPhone 5 and above, iOS 9.0 or above
What about the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2?
Samsung confirmed that its Active line of smartwatches wouldn’t be going away anytime soon. That means the Galaxy Watch 3 and Galaxy Watch Active 2 will be sold on official retail channels at the same time. Also, we will likely eventually see a Galaxy Watch Active 3.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is still a solid sports smartwatch. It’s thinner and more workout-friendly than the Galaxy Watch 3. It only has a touch-enabled rotating bezel, though, instead of the much-preferred physical bezel on the Galaxy Watch 3.
If you find yourself using your wearable for tracking workouts, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider the Galaxy Watch Active 2 if you can find it at a discount. However, the Galaxy Watch 3 does offer a solid suite of workout features, so it’s a little too early for us to crown a winner. Stay tuned for a full comparison.
Where does Samsung and Google’s Wear OS partnership leave the Galaxy Watch 3?
In May 2021, Samsung announced that it would partner up with Google to develop Wear OS. Three key focuses were outlined: battery life, performance, and the improvement of the app ecosystem.
With the news of Samsung’s involvement, it seems likely that the next Samsung Galaxy Watch, likely called the Galaxy Watch 4, will run Wear OS instead of Tizen. But where does this leave the Galaxy Watch 3?
For now, there are no clear plans on Samsung’s part to upgrade its current Tizen OS watches to Wear OS. This means the Galaxy Watch 3 and Samsung’s legacy watches will continue running Tizen for the foreseeable future.
What are some good Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 alternatives?
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 seems pretty great, but it will not be the watch for everyone. Here are a few of our recommended Galaxy Watch 3 alternatives:
- Apple Watch Series 6: This one’s a no-brainer if you have an iPhone. For iOS users, the Apple Watch is hard to beat. It trounces the Galaxy Watch 3 with third-party app support and rivals it in terms of fitness and smart features. It’s a seriously great wearable. If you’re on Android, though, the Galaxy Watch is your best bet.
- Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 3: The TicWatch Pro 3 is our pick for the best Wear OS watch you can buy, thanks to its long-lasting battery life and smooth performance.
- Fossil Gen 5 or Skagen Falster 3: The Fossil Gen 5 and Skagen Falster 3 are two solid Wear OS devices. They’re not the best smartwatches ever — they can thank Wear OS for that — but we still really enjoyed reviewing these devices. They also seem to be on sale every other week.
- Garmin Venu 2: If you want a smartwatch that prioritizes accurate fitness and health stats, the Garmin Venu 2 is a good option. It’s one of our favorite fitness watches of all time, thanks to its long feature set and relatively affordable price. It’s not as “smart” as the Galaxy Watch, but it’s likely the better fitness wearable.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Duh! If you’re not into the Galaxy Watch 3’s high price tag or its kinda chunky design, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 gets you most of the same features in a slimmer, cheaper package.
These smartwatches are on sale quite often. Be sure to check our best smartwatch deals hub for discounts on today’s popular wearables.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 accessories
So, you’re looking to buy a Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, but you’d like to customize it with some accessories. Luckily, there are lots of first- and third-party accessories to choose from.
Samsung sells leather, metal, and silicone watch straps on its website. Many of the first-party options on Samsung.com are listed for older Galaxy Watch devices, but they should work with your new Galaxy Watch 3.
Not interested in spending the extra dough on a first-party strap? The Galaxy Watch 3 is compatible with most standard watch straps you can buy today. Just make sure you buy the right size. The 41mm Galaxy Watch 3 is compatible with 20mm straps, while the 45mm Galaxy Watch 3 is compatible with 22mm straps. Check out the links below to see popular options on Amazon.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 pricing and availability
Here’s how much each variant costs (excluding sale prices):
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 (41mm, Wi-Fi): $399.99 | £399.99
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 (41mm, LTE): $449.99
- Verizon: $18.75/month for 24 months or $449.99 full retail
- AT&T: $15/month for 30 months or $449.99 full retail
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 (45mm, Wi-Fi): $429.99 | £419.99
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 (45mm, LTE): $479.99
- Verizon: $19.99/month for 24 months or $479.99 full retail
- AT&T: $16/month for 30 months or $479.99 full retail
In India, the Galaxy Watch 3 41mm is priced at Rs 29,990 (~$400) and Rs 34,490 (~$460) for the Bluetooth and 4G variants respectively. The Galaxy Watch 3 45mm Bluetooth and 4G variants are priced at Rs 32,990 (~$440) and Rs 38,990 (~$520).
The Galaxy Watch 3 is a pricey smartwatch, but Samsung really did add everything but the kitchen sink to this watch. You can get more specialized watches for certain fitness activities or buy Wear OS if you want better app support on your smartwatch. But all in all, the Galaxy Watch 3 looks to be one of the most exciting smartwatches to launch this year.
Top Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 questions and answers
Q: What happened to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2?
A: Good question. Samsung likely chose to go with “Galaxy Watch 3” to keep it more in line with its other Active line of smartwatches. Launching a “Galaxy Watch 2” after the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has been out for so long might confuse some people.
Q: Does the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 have MST?
A: Unfortunately, no. Samsung confirmed that the Galaxy Watch 3 does not support MST technology with Samsung Pay — only NFC. It’s a bummer, and we hope Samsung brings back this wonderful feature in a future smartwatch.
Q: What watch straps work with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3?
Q: Does the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 work with iPhones?
A: Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 works with iPhones. As always, the experience will be much better with a Samsung phone, but you can access most of the watch’s features with an iPhone.
Q: What networks are compatible with the Galaxy Watch 3?
A: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 supports several LTE bands used by T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T in the US. Visit this page for a full list of networks supported in other global regions.