Best daily deals

Affiliate links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 3: Time for an upgrade?

Time has been kind to Samsung's 2020 flagship watch, but can it keep up with the new hotness?
By
November 24, 2023
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 may not seem too different from its recent predecessors, but just three generations ago, Samsung smartwatches were running a different operating system entirely. If you own a Galaxy Watch 3, should you upgrade or hold on to it? Read our Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 3 comparison for our thoughts.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 3: At a glance

It's tough picking between two of the best smartwatches around. Here's a quick summary of the big differences between the Galaxy Watch 6 and the Galaxy Watch 3:

  • The Galaxy Watch 6 series features much larger, denser, and brighter screens than the Galaxy Watch 3.
  • The Galaxy Watch 3 can pair with iPhones, while the Galaxy Watch 6 cannot.
  • Samsung's Galaxy Watch 6 has more fitness tracking and health monitoring sensors.
  • The Galaxy Watch 3 runs on Tizen, while the Galaxy Watch 6 employs Wear OS 4.
  • The Galaxy Watch 6 has much larger batteries than the Galaxy Watch 3.
  • Galaxy Watch 6 devices use a different band release and attachment system.

Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 3: Design

We mentioned in our Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 4 comparison that Samsung’s newer watches hadn’t changed much. This is true aesthetically as well. The Galaxy Watch 6 boasts a much larger display mounted within a broader dial, narrower bezels, and slimmer side buttons. The bands also sit more flush on the watch’s body and feature a new, more convenient release and attachment mechanism. Besides the returning rotating dial on the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, this is our favorite addition to the new watches.

The Galaxy Watch 3 exhibits a more brutish design. It has a stainless steel or titanium body, a chunkier rotating (but still excellent) bezel, two protruding buttons on its right flank, and a sizeable bumper to protect them. It looks more like an analog watch than Samsung’s newer devices.

In terms of size, the Galaxy Watch 3 is the larger of the two watches. It’s offered in two sizes, a 41mm for smaller wrists and a larger 45mm alternative. The Galaxy Watch 6 comes with a 40mm or 44mm dial. It’s also far lighter and thinner than its older sibling, thanks to the use of aluminum. Notably, the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic also uses stainless steel and is bigger than the standard Galaxy Watch 6 and the Galaxy Watch 3. While its bezel is much narrower than the older watch, it features 43mm and 47mm dial options. It’s now the largest Samsung smartwatch you can buy.

We don’t think one smartwatch looks better than the other here. Both are attractive wearables in their own right, but your taste will ultimately determine your bias.

Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 3: Features

Galaxy Watch 6 always on display
Damien Wilde / Android Authority
Galaxy Watch 6

The Galaxy Watch 6 and Galaxy Watch 3 differences extend to their feature offerings. Let’s start with the biggest change.

In 2020, Samsung’s smartwatches still ran Tizen, a lightweight OS that didn’t demand much from the hardware. As a result, the Galaxy Watch 3 only requires 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. Despite those positives, Tizen lacks the broad app library the Galaxy Watch 6 can now access with Wear OS. It’s also likely that Tizen won’t see much active development in the future, considering that the Galaxy Watch 3 was the last Samsung smartwatch to run the OS.

At the time, Tizen was a much better wearable OS than what was then known as Android Wear. However, Google and Samsung’s revised Wear OS is a more refined and usable platform. Wear OS and One UI Watch brings a more mature feature set and plenty of Google app support to the Galaxy Watch 6. Unlike the Galaxy Watch 3, the newer wearable boasts Google Wallet, Google Maps, and Google Assistant support. This gives the watch a utility advantage over its Tizen-powered predecessor. It also features double the RAM and storage capacity of the older model.

samsung galaxy watch 3 review header
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

If you own an iPhone, the Galaxy Watch 3 is the only one of the two devices you can pair with your device. Although other Wear OS watches support Apple phones, Samsung hasn’t facilitated this feature on its newer watches.

The Galaxy Watch 6 has a more advanced fitness tracking and wellness monitoring kit, which we really liked during our review. It’s headlined by the BioActive sensor trio that monitors heart rate, heart health via ECG, and body composition with the biometric impedance sensor. It also monitors blood oxygen saturation and sleep cycles and uses a skin temperature sensor to improve female health tracking. The Galaxy Watch 3 can track a user’s heart rate and health, blood oxygen levels, and sleep, but that’s about it. It supports 40 sports modes and provides VO2 max estimates for runners, but it’s not a good option for those more serious about their health.

Finally, to match the newer hardware, the Galaxy Watch 6 also receives a few fitness-related upgrades to its software. One UI 5 Watch now includes better sleep tracking than its predecessors, irregular heart rate notifications, and personalized heart rate zones for runners. There’s an option to create custom workouts, too, while the device can also record users’ runs while on a track.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 3: Price and colors

  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 6: Starts at $299
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic: Starts at $399
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Launched at $399

The Galaxy Watch 3 was an expensive smartwatch when it launched in 2020. It initially demanded $399, which puts it on par with the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic and Apple Watch Series 8. However, in 2023, you can now snag one for well under $300. Thankfully, this price decrease still keeps it relevant three years later.

It was made available in two colors: Mystic Bronze and Mystic Silver. A Mystic Black option was reserved for the larger 45mm model.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
AA Editors Choice
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Fantastic display and rotating bezel • Thinner, lighter design • Two-day battery life
MSRP: $399.99
Samsung's premium smartwatch is a jack of all trades, master of many.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is one of the more versatile smartwatches you can buy. It's stylish, sporty, comes with plenty of smartwatch features, and has new health sensors that will make the watch better over time.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 launched on July 26, 2023, with general availability coming a few weeks later.

The two-device lineup starts at $299 for the 40mm standard model — a $20 price hike over the Galaxy Watch 4 but a $100 saving over the Galaxy Watch 3’s debut price. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic boasts the Galaxy Watch 3’s launch price of $399.

Colorways include Graphite, Silver, and Gold for the standard model and Black and Silver for the 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.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 ClassicSamsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
AA Recommended
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
The rotating bezel is back • Elegant design and build materials • Ships with Wear OS 4
MSRP: $399.99
The rotating crown is back
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic rocks a rotating bezel! Better equipped than the base Galaxy Watch 6, the Classic model is a powerful watch with updated activity tracking, improved health features, and the full Samsung Wallet app for your mobile payments.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 3 specs

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Display
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
45mm: 1.4-inch
Super AMOLED
360 x 360 resolution
Full color Always On Display
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX

41mm: 1.2-inch
Super AMOLED
360 x 360 resolution
Full color Always On Display
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX
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
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
45mm: 45 x 46.2 x 11.1mm
53.8g (stainless steel)
43g (titanium)

41mm: 41 x 42.5 x 11.3mm
49.2g
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
Colors and materials
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Stainless steel or titanium case
Genuine Leather Band

45mm: Mystic Black (stainless steel or titanium), Mystic Silver (stainless steel)

41mm: Mystic Bronze (stainless steel), Mystic Silver (stainless steel)
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Armor Aluminum case
Sport Band

44mm: Graphite, Silver
40mm: Graphite, Gold
Battery
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
45mm: 340mAh
41mm: 247mAh

WPC-based wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
44mm: 425mAh
40mm: 300mAh

WPC-based wireless charging
Processor
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Samsung Exynos 9110
Dual-core, 1.15GHz
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Samsung Exynos W930
Dual-core 1.4GHz
RAM
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
1GB
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
2GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
8GB
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
16GB
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
LTE (available in select models)
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
2.4GHz
NFC
GPS/GLONASS/Beidou
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
LTE
Bluetooth 5.3
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
2.4+5GHz
NFC
GPS/GLONASS/Beidou/Galileo
Sensors
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Light sensor
Barometer
Optical heart rate sensor
Electric heart signal
Ambient light sensor
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)
Durability
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810G
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810H
Software
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Tizen OS 5.5
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Wear OS 4
One UI 5 Watch
Compatibility
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Android
iOS
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Android

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 3: Should you upgrade?

For those purchasing their first smartwatch, this isn’t a contest. The Galaxy Watch 6 trumps the Galaxy Watch 3 in numerous facets. It’s the better fitness watch, runs a newer OS with better hardware, and will receive support for years to come. The only real sway that the old model has is its ability to pair with iPhones. If you own an iPhone, you should opt for an Apple Watch anyway.

The Galaxy Watch 6 trumps the Galaxy Watch 3 in numerous facets.

If you own a Galaxy Watch 3 and want to upgrade, the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic ($429 at Amazon) will be a more like-for-like replacement. You’ll benefit from a rotating bezel, a large, formidable lens, and a more professional aesthetic. That said, if you’re on a strict budget and find the Galaxy Watch 3 for under $200, it might be worth a punt. It remains a well-built smartwatch for those who crave a little bit of everything.


That’s it for our Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 vs Galaxy Watch 3 comparison. Which is the smartwatch for you? Vote in our poll below.

Do you prefer the Galaxy Watch 6 or the Galaxy Watch 3?

361 votes