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Galaxy Watch Ultra and Galaxy Ring? Nah, I'm more excited to try the Galaxy Watch FE — here's why!

The affordable Watch FE may be the play for most who want to get into the Galaxy wearables ecosystem.
By

Published onJune 15, 2024

This year, Samsung seems to be pulling out all the stops, with a branded smart ring and multiple new smartwatch generations headed our way. Yet, even with a rumored “Ultra” Galaxy Watch model and a teeny tiny Galaxy Ring on the horizon in 2024, my attention has been on the rumors of a humbler addition to the company’s wearable offerings. I’m talking, of course, about the budget-friendly Galaxy Watch FE, which Samsung officially announced with little to no fanfare on June 13. Despite the quiet debut, now that the device’s specs are clear, I’m even more convinced it’s worth my regard.

Before I get ahead of myself, I realize that introducing an affordable model isn’t a novel idea when it comes to popular smartwatch lines. Here at Android Authority, we’ve often recommended Apple’s Watch SE line as the best option for most, dubbing the paired-down device a Goldilocks pick that perfectly balances features and cost. The issue, obviously, is that Apple’s budget watch series isn’t an option for Android users at all due to its incompatibility with Android phones.

First and foremost, the Galaxy Watch FE offers an approachable price point for new users looking to embrace the lineup.

More affordable Wear OS watches are also already readily available, but Samsung’s new FE threads the same needle as the Watch SE: it offers a powerful experience and a simple step into a marquee mobile ecosystem, at just short of its top tier at a lower price point. For $199, the device invites more Android users to embrace the Galaxy Watch line, potentially attracting new fans (as intended with a “Fan Edition” model) to Samsung’s Android-centric products and the extended Wear OS family.

A Galaxy Watch 4 displays the Daily Activity screen hovering over a brown picnic table.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Digging into the details, the watch shares many similarities with the Galaxy Watch 4, which originally launched in August 2021 and won me over with its ninja-turtle-green colorway. The older model was the first device to debut Wear OS 3, a very well-received outcome of Samsung and Google’s partnership. Now, three years later, the new FE is powered by an updated version of that same fan-favorite operating system in addition to One UI 5 Watch.

Meanwhile, specs like the device’s 40mm case size, 1.2-inch full-color display, and Exynos W920 dual-core processor mirror the older device. Both also share 5ATM and IP68 resistance ratings; however, the FE adds Sapphire Crystal glass protection for further durability. Listing how the FE matches an outdated device might sound like a knock, but the truth is that the Galaxy Watch 4 was simply a great smartwatch.

Samsung Galaxy Watch FE: Hot or not?

423 votes

What’s missing on the Galaxy Watch FE are upgrades that not every shopper will prioritize anyway. For one, it’s not available in a secondary case size, and colors are limited to Gold, Pink Gold, and Silver (there is no Pink Gold crime-fighting reptile). The 247mAh battery is also small compared to newer Galaxy Watch models, and it’s unclear if the device will offer fast charging. There’s also no temperature sensor for detailed health monitoring, which is especially valuable in women’s cycle tracking.

The device is essentially a slightly upgraded Galaxy Watch 4 and that's not a bad thing.

There is, however, Samsung’s typical bioactive sensor for tracking everything from heart rate and activity to sleep and stress. The watch offers irregular heart rate notifications, body composition analysis, advanced running analysis, sleep coaching, and EKG readings. It packs a built-in GPS for tracking outdoor routes and NFC support for when those routes lead to a coffee shop. In other words, the watch houses nearly everything you could want regarding basic tracking and smart features.

A Galaxy Watch 5 Pro user initiates a Hiking workout.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

In my experience, the basics are what most shoppers are truly after in a smartwatch. With the exception of battery life, which I consider extremely valuable, many upgrades to wearables are superfluous. Not everyone needs military standard protection or additional sensors. Some people don’t even care much about health and fitness tracking beyond step counts and sleep scores.

Then there are the high-end models with pro monikers that stretch even further beyond the absolutely necessary. I am as likely to perch on a mountaintop as the next outdoor enthusiast, but I’m also aware that wandering the wilderness with a cliff bar isn’t for everyone. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and the expected Galaxy Watch Ultra will be fantastic, durable devices for the right user, but an overpriced smartwatch for the masses.

There will always be a place for high-end models with added specs and features, but a budget-friendly offering at the opposite end of the spectrum creates a well-rounded lineup.

I am in no way dismissing the value of Samsung’s (and Apple’s and Garmin’s) pricier offerings. I am sure I will find much to like in the upcoming Galaxy Watch 7 series once I get over the Ultra’s bizarre shape. I am just very happy to see Samsung open its lineup to more shoppers and counter the rising costs of wearables with a commendable budget pick.

See price at Manufacturer site
Samsung Galaxy Watch FE
Samsung Galaxy Watch FE
Sapphire Crystal glass
Powerful health and fitness tracking
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