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Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review: Should you buy it?

Samsung's latest gives us all deja vu.
By

Published onJanuary 5, 2024

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel, but it's an attractive smartwatch boasting the best Wear OS experience available. It covers the basics in terms of health and fitness tracking and leverages Google tools like the Play Store to offer a robust smartwatch experience. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is a little more appealing thanks to its rotating crown, but with improved battery specs and a larger display, the vanilla Galaxy Watch 6 is a solid option, especially for Samsung phone users who don't want to pay for the Classic's premium price.

What we like

Bigger, brighter AMOLED display
Snappy Wear OS 4 software experience
Sporty yet tasteful aesthetic
User-friendly quick-release strap
$100 less than Watch 6 Classic

What we don't like

Mostly minor improvements over Watch 5
Unreliable touch bezel
Inconsistent GPS and heart rate data
Some features only available to Samsung phone users
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel, but it's an attractive smartwatch boasting the best Wear OS experience available. It covers the basics in terms of health and fitness tracking and leverages Google tools like the Play Store to offer a robust smartwatch experience. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is a little more appealing thanks to its rotating crown, but with improved battery specs and a larger display, the vanilla Galaxy Watch 6 is a solid option, especially for Samsung phone users who don't want to pay for the Classic's premium price.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review: At a glance

  • What is it? The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is 2023's base model Galaxy Watch, with a 20% larger display that's twice as bright as the Galaxy Watch 5. The smartwatch also features tweaked battery specs, minor performance improvements, and Google Wear OS 4 running under Samsung's One UI Watch 5 skin. It is available in two sizes: 40mm and 44mm.
  • What is the price? The smaller, 40mm model Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 landed at $299, while a 44mm case starts at $329. Adding LTE to either device adds a $50 upcharge.
  • Where can you buy it? The Galaxy Watch 6 series went on sale on August 11, 2023. The devices are available now from Samsung.com as well as from third-party retailers such as Amazon.
  • How did we test it? I tested the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 for five days. The review unit was supplied by Samsung.
  • Is it worth it? The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 continues the company's trend of annual smartwatch releases with minor upgrades. From its looks to its sensors, it's a remarkably similar watch to the Galaxy Watch 5. It also doesn't necessarily solve some of our existing complaints, namely an unreliable touch bezel. If you already own a Galaxy Watch 5, it's not worth upgrading. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic stands out a little more because of the returning rotating crown, but the Galaxy Watch 6 still offers the very best Wear OS experience, and for $100 less.

  Update, January 2020: Added details about alternative devices now available in the smartwatch market.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6?

A user review their App Library on their Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

Right on schedule, Samsung rounded out the summer of 2023 with the launch of its latest smartwatch series, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6. The two-pronged lineup reintroduced the company’s Classic model featuring a rotating bezel (omitted from the Watch 5 series), as well as a standard base model. The latter, sportier device is almost otherwise identical to the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic and eerily similar to the vanilla Galaxy Watch 5.

In fact, my first major takeaway from testing the Galaxy Watch 6 was that it looked and felt very similar to the Galaxy Watch 5. The device features a full-color Super AMOLED display with a flat sapphire crystal overtop. On the 40mm model, users find a 1.3-inch screen with 432×432 pixel resolution. Those specs on the 44mm device land at 1.5 inches and 480×480. That’s roughly a 20% increase in real estate thanks to the device’s thinner bezels. The screen also offers double the peak brightness of the previous model, upgrading from 1,000 to 2,000 nits.

The Galaxy Watch 6 is nearly identical to the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, minus the latter's rotating bezel.

On the back side, the watch features the regular round-up of health and fitness tracking sensors. It also adds a quick-release button design for changing bands more efficiently. Below the glass, the watch runs Google’s latest Wear OS 4 software with a One UI Watch 5 overlay. I found the watch’s performance clean, sharp, and fresh. Apps load quickly, and readability is fantastic.

What holds up the user experience is the touch-enabled bezel. It’s wishy-washy at best and downright useless at worst (think any situation involving sweat or grease). I quickly resorted to swipes only for navigation, and even those weren’t foolproof. This bungle isn’t necessarily new for a Samsung Galaxy Watch; we cited similar issues on the Galaxy Watch 5 and previous Galaxy Watches without a proper rotating crown. It begs the question of how the touchscreen has not been ironed out yet. It also makes the sporty model a less attractive buy than its Classic sibling.

A Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 face down displays its sensor package.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Given its athletic aesthetic, most users eyeing the standard model will be interested in its fitness-tracking capabilities. Here, Samsung delivers all the basics like tracking activity, steps, etc. A new running track mode records GPS data on outdoor tracks. Meanwhile, the device detects and creates custom heart rate zones (once you log a 10-minute run) to help users monitor performance and stay on target during training. I find them extremely helpful for determining how hard to push during interval work.

For cyclists, Samsung also reintroduced automatic cycling detection. Relatedly, the company’s detection is some of the best in the game across multiple workout types. On runs and walks, I can’t get even a house’s distance away without getting credit for it.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 vs Polar HR

Unfortunately, heart rate data on the Watch 6 is inconsistent, though likely accurate enough for the average user. Most prominently, compared to my Polar chest strap, the device lagged at the beginning of interval workouts. It did match the strap with slightly better accuracy than we found in our Galaxy Watch 6 Classic testing, but more serious athletes would be better off shopping from Garmin’s stable.

Finally, three features still limited to Samsung phone users are on-demand ECGs, irregular heart rate notifications, and blood pressure detection. Though not deal breakers, these health tools could offer much value to more users if not locked behind Samsung’s wall.

Both heart rate data and GPS accuracy are inconsistent, making the device an iffy choice for athletes.
A GPS map shows a comparison of the Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch Series 8.

Equally unfortunate is that GPS accuracy on the device is also spotty. During several runs, the device lost its way, plotting me slightly off track compared to other reputable devices. While my Apple Watch Series 8 and Garmin Epix showed near alignment, Samsung had me cut a few corners or waiver into streets. In the section of one of my neighborhood runs shown above, you can see where the Galaxy Watch took a deep cut rounding the corner of Lilipuna Road. It also tracked me on the opposite side of the road than I ran and frequently dipped into the street.

It’s not the worst accuracy I’ve seen, but it’s disappointing to see Samsung drop the ball somewhat. It also sharpens the sting of Samsung’s failing to carry over any of the navigation features of the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, including multi-band GNSS.

A Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 displays the new Sleep Mode screen.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Overnight, the watch joined me in bed to track everything from sleep consistency and stages to skin temperature and potential snoring. Samsung also introduced a simple yet effective sleep mode screen. I appreciate how easy it is to enable and disable compared to Apple’s Digital Crown method.

Despite Samsung promoting a significantly improved sleep-tracking platform pre-launch, the tools are mostly reminiscent of the Galaxy Watch 5’s offerings. My penguin sleep animal is wobbly and cute. My stats roughly align with trusted sleep-tracking devices, and sleep coaching is basic but useful for building better habits.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 battery
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

After tracking stats day and night, one of the most crucial aspects of any smartwatch is battery life. Both the 40mm and 44mm Samsung watches received bumps in battery size this generation and now pack 300mAh and 425mAh batteries, respectively. Samsung claims up to 30 hours in always-on mode. With the always-on display enabled and about one hour of GPS workout tracking per day, my unit lasted almost exactly that. I also didn’t experience the finicky adjustment period I ran into when testing the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
AA Recommended
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Bigger, brighter AMOLED display • Snappy Wear OS 4 software experience • Sporty yet tasteful aesthetic
MSRP: $299.99
Bigger and better.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 brings the best of Wear OS 4 and Samsung's smartwatch features to the table. A large display and full Samsung Wallet app make the Watch 6 a powerful standalone device, while integration with Samsung phones makes the Watch 6 a valuable part of your Galaxy ecosystem.

What are the best Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 alternatives?

A variety of leading wearables from Samsung, Apple, Garmin, and Mobvoi rest on a wood surface.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Samsung’s latest lands at the midrange price point within the wearables market, aligning the device with plenty of Galaxy Watch 6 alternatives from other big names. Consider the following picks before making your purchase:

  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic ($429 at Amazon): As mentioned above, the Galaxy Watch 6 series devices share all the important core specs, including an Exynos W930 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. With its rotating bezel, we recommend the pricier model for a more elevated look and easier device navigation.
  • Apple Watch Series 9 ($392.67 at Amazon): If you’re an iOS user who has stumbled upon this review by accident, we recommend heading back to Apple’s stronghold. The Apple Watch Series 9 is the best smartwatch for iPhone users, with seamless integration, accurate sensors, and unmatched app support.
  • TicWatch Pro 5 ($227.49 at Amazon): A viable Wear OS competitor, Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 5 offers a rotating digital crown, fantastic battery life, and a unique dual display. It also shares the Classic’s aesthetic with a physical bezel, but it’s not a functional feature.
  • Garmin Venu 3 ($449.99 at Amazon): For a reliable fitness tracking platform and a handful of smart features, Garmin’s Venu 3 is slightly pricier than the Galaxy Watch 6 but packs fantastic training tools. Users won’t find as much third-party app support as on a Wear OS device, but there are certainly enough tools to keep you busy.
  • Garmin Forerunner 265 ($449.99 at Garmin): If smarts aren’t a priority but accuracy is, Garmin also offers the midrange Forerunner 265. The device’s heart rate and GPS tracking are stellar, and its AMOLED display positions it neatly alongside other popular wearables.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 specs

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Display
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
44mm: 1.5-inch
Super AMOLED
480 x 480 resolution
Full color Always On Display
Sapphire Crystal

40mm: 1.3-inch
Super AMOLED
432 x 432 resolution
Full color Always On Display
Sapphire Crystal
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
47mm: 1.5-inch
Super AMOLED
480 x 480 resolution
Full color Always On Display
Sapphire Crystal

43mm: 1.3-inch
Super AMOLED
432 x 432 resolution
Full color Always On Display
Sapphire Crystal
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
44mm: 44.4 x 42.8 x 9.0mm
33.3g

40mm: 40.4 x 38.8 x 9.0mm
28.7g
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
47mm: 46.5 x 46.5 x 10.9mm, 59.0g

43mm: 42.5 x 42.5 x 10.9mm, 52.0g
Colors and materials
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Armor Aluminum case with Sport Band

44mm: Graphite, Silver
40mm: Graphite, Gold
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Stainless Steel case with Hybrid Eco-Leather Band

47mm: Black, Silver
43mm: Black, Silver
Battery
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
44mm: 425mAh
40mm: 300mAh

WPC-based wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
47mm: 425mAh
43mm: 300mAh

WPC-based wireless charging
Processor
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Samsung Exynos W930
Dual-core 1.4GHz
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Samsung Exynos W930
Dual-core 1.4GHz
RAM
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
2GB
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
2GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
16GB
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
16GB
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
LTE
Bluetooth 5.3
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
2.4+5GHz
NFC
GPS/GLONASS/Beidou/Galileo
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
LTE
Bluetooth 5.3
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
2.4+5GHz
NFC
GPS/GLONASS/Beidou/Galileo
Sensors
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyroscope
Geomagnetic sensor
Light sensor
Temperature sensor
Samsung BioActive sensor: optical heart rate (PPG), electric heart signal, bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (BIA)
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyroscope
Geomagnetic sensor
Light sensor
Temperature sensor
3D Hall sensor
Samsung BioActive sensor: optical heart rate (PPG), electric heart signal, bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (BIA)
Durability
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810H
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810H
Software
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Wear OS powered by
Samsung (Wear OS 4)
One UI 5 Watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Wear OS powered by
Samsung (Wear OS 4)
One UI 5 Watch
Compatibility
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Android 10 or higher with more than 1.5GB of RAM
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Android 10 or higher with more than 1.5GB of RAM

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review: FAQ

The Galaxy Watch 6 features a water resistance rating of 5ATM, making it safe to wear in the shower or while swimming up to depths of 50 meters.

The biggest difference between the two models is the rotating bezel which only features on the Classic model. Beyond that, the Galaxy Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic offer very similar experiences.

The Galaxy Watch 6 uses 20mm quick-release bands.

Yes, like the previous generation, the Galaxy Watch 6 devices feature built-in GPS.

While it is safe to leave your device on its charger overnight, the Galaxy Watch 6 offers detailed sleep tracking. We recommend wearing it to bed instead.

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