Unveiled during a Samsung event I attended in Seoul last month, the Galaxy Watch 6 boasts a high-quality super AMOLED screen with smooth transitions, 2000 NITs peak brightness, and a high refresh rate (60 Hz). The key features include workout animations, a viewfinder for remote selfies, health and fitness monitoring features, a broad range of tiles and watch faces, and a quick swap functionality for straps.
The stainless-steel case and various strap options enhance the watch’s smart appearance. The one-day battery life (sometimes less than a day with intense use) remains a concern, though fast charging is available.
For this review, I tested the small 40 mm Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 with no LTE connectivity. I wore it while going to the gym, the swimming pool, and walking a few hours daily in Seoul, where Samsung launched its latest products on July 26, 2023. Back in San Francisco, I tried it for a few more days with a few trips to the gym.
Price and availability
The Galaxy Watch 6 is available for purchase since August 11, 2023. The price starts at $299.99 for the 40mm model in Graphite or Gold and $329.99 for the 44mm model in Graphite and Silver.
See the demos at IFA Berlin 2023
What’s New In The Galaxy Watch 6 Vs. The Galaxy Watch 5?
Thinner bezels, brighter display, larger screen real estate, similar look and size
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 features a thinner bezel than its predecessor, the Watch 5. The display’s real estate is now 20% larger. Despite this change, screen sizes and button functions remain the same, resulting in a similar appearance. The device delivers a higher 2000 NITs peak brightness than the previous model.
Improved UI and health features
While keeping the same chassis size combined with larger screen real estate, Samsung managed to increase the keyboard size and the number of characters you can read for text-based notifications.
Samsung has improved sleep tracking and offers new health features such as Sleep Coaching, Personalized Heart Rate Zones, and Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications.
The Exynos W930 processor and 2GB of RAM offer improved performance over the Exynos W920 with 1.5GB of RAM found in the previous model. The Watch 6’s battery capacity has been slightly boosted over the Watch 5, with 425 mAH for the large 44mm version (over 410 mAH) and 300 mAH for the small version I am reviewing over the previous 284 mAh. Samsung kept the same 16 GB storage size in the Watch 6.
All the Galaxy Watch 5 series (Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro) and Wach 6 series (Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic) deliver the same durability features: 5ATM, IP68, and MIL-STD-810H.
What Is Different From The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic?
The main differences between the Galaxy Watch 6 and the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic are the return of the iconic rotating crown on the Classic, the Classic vs. Sporty look, and … the price. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is available in Black or Silver, starting at $399.99 for the 43mm and $429.99 for the 47mm watch.
We did not review the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, but we love that Samsung brought back the iconic rotating bezel for better usability.
Besides that, for each model, both the small and large versions feature the same hardware.
Design And Build Quality – Excellent
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is a stylish and customizable smart wearable device that can appeal to a wide range of users. It comes in two size options, 44 mm and 40 mm, with two color choices each (graphite or silver and graphite or gold, respectively).
The lightweight case is made of aluminum to ensure durability, and it comes with a comfortable Sport Band, suitable for different wrist sizes. Users can personalize the device with various watch faces and interchangeable straps.
The Galaxy Watch 6 is water and dust-resistant, with a 5ATM rating allowing it to handle water pressures equivalent to 50 meters for 10 minutes, making it safe for swimming. It also has an IP68 rating, protecting it from dust and contaminants. The MIL-STD-810H military-grade certification ensures its resilience against extreme temperatures, shocks, vibrations, and drops.
The physical interface features two external buttons on the side for intuitive control of the main navigation functions (back, return home, access to finish workout…) and ECG measurement. Overall, the Galaxy Watch 6 offers an excellent blend of style, durability, and user-friendly features.
Display – Excellent
As usual, Samsung offers a gorgeous display that is easy to interact with. The 44mm version boasts a 1.5-inch 480×480 Super AMOLED, while the 40mm model sports a 1.3-inch 432×432 Super AMOLED, both offering a Full Color Always-On Display with a high 60 Hz refresh rate.
With Sapphire Crystal protection and an impressive 2000 NITs peak brightness (on paper), the screen remains vibrant, scratch-resistant, and easy to read even under direct sunlight. The display is larger and brighter than the previous model, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, which tops at 1000 NITs.
The boosted display brightness allowed me to easily read notifications or glance at apps while walking around on a hot, sunny afternoon in Seoul.
SoC, Software, Connectivity, And Performance – Very Good
The Galaxy Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic got hardware upgrades over the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
Both models are equipped with the Exynos W930 Dual-Core 1.4GHz processor, surpassing the Exynos W920 dual-core 1.18 GHz Cortex-A55 in the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Memory has been expanded from 1.5GB to 2GB, alongside sustained 16GB storage.
On the software side, Wear OS 4 comes with Samsung’s One UI 5 Watch interface. Connectivity options include LTE6, Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 2.4+5GHz, NFC, and a range of global navigation systems.
Overall, the perceived performance is good, the touch interface on the display is very responsive, and scrolling through the tiles is very fluid.
Battery – Could Be Better
However, the Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic feature smaller batteries — 425mAh for the larger ones and 300mAh for the smaller ones—compared to the Watch 5 Pro’s 590mAh Li-ion battery.
While we appreciate the good performance packaged in the elegant body, the battery life could be better. The Watch 6 latest around a day usage with regular activity and notifications, and less than a day with intensive use.
Charging times clock in at 50% in 30 minutes and 94% in 60 minutes with a 50W Samsung charger you need to buy separately.
Viewfinder And Remote Control For The Galaxy Phones’ Cameras
Like previous Galaxy Watch models, the Watch 6 transforms into a convenient viewfinder for capturing selfies and group shots. The watch acts as a remote shutter button if the phone is propped on a surface. It provides a glimpse of the camera’s perspective to help users better frame their shots. I highly appreciate the feature, especially for my experiment with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. The camera view on the watch delivers impressive quality image quality, further enhancing the overall user experience.
Health And Fitness Tracking
The Galaxy Watch 6 features Samsung’s 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor, encasing sensors for optical heart rate, electrical heart signals, and bioelectrical impedance analysis. These sensors enable heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, body composition analysis, blood oxygen level measurement, and skin temperature tracking.
New health features
- New health features
- Redesigned on-watch Sleep monitoring app
- New IHRN Irregular Heart Rythm Notification feature added to ECG
Samsung improved the health and fitness features in the Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic. The Sleep report available directly from Watch 6 had a layout redesign that emphasizes sleep score and newly added skin temperature, sleep consistency, and sleep animal symbol.
Users need to connect to the Samsung Health companion app to see more sleep data, such as in-depth analysis, sleep stages, and five sleep contributors.
Samsung added the Irregular Heart Rythm Notification feature to its existing Electrocardiogram (ECG). I tried it a few times, and 4 times out of 5, the sensor located on the top button found no irregularities in my cardiac rhythm.
Since February 2023, Galaxy Watches can monitor the menstrual cycle that leverages the temperature sensor, a function developed in partnership with Natural Cycles.
Like in the previous Samsung Watches, month-long Sleep Coaching is available from the mobile application and offers recommendations based on users’ sleep patterns and habits; after a few nights of monitoring, the system assigns a sleep animal symbol.
For Smarthings users, the Watch6 can detect when you fall asleep and automatically adjust the settings of connected home devices.
On top of 100 existing workout trackers, Samsung now offers the option to create custom workouts, with the ability to name them, set a target duration, choose a guide frequency, and select among four fitness data layout options for the screen. A broad range of coached fitness sessions are available for people who need guidance.
A few of the free weight exercises I perform at the gym are available, and I find it distracting to have to operate the watch after each set to change exercise, set the weight by double tapping the back button, and think about stopping the duration when the set is done. One day, all the free weights will be connected to allow smartwatches to detect both motions and weights automatically, and I cannot wait for the smart Galaxy Weights V1!
The Galaxy Watch 6 can also track indoor and outdoor swimming, and I used it at the gym’s swimming pool. The types of strokes are automatically detected, as well as the splits, the pool’s length, and the distance for each set.
Health Rate tracking accuracy – very good for a wrist-based sensor
Wrist-based heart rate sensors are not as accurate as the ones worn on the chest or the medical-grade ones doctors place on our fingers. That is why the ECG measurement on the Watch 6 requires gently resting the index on the top button. Regular heart monitoring is recorded by the optical sensor at the back of the device, and I measured its accuracy against various cardio machines that track it from the fingers.
Most of the time, the Watch 6 had zero or only a one-point discrepancy with the workout machine’s heart rate measurement. During my high-speed accelerations, the Watch 6 displayed a 3-point lag compared to the indoor bike’s sensor, and ultimately, the same rates were recorded but with a few seconds lag.
- Larger, brighter display with thinner bezels
- High 60 Hz refresh rate and excellent image quality
- Great design with a broad range of customization options
- Great user interface with a larger keyboard
- Health monitoring is getting better
- Good heart rate accuracy for a wrist-worn sensor
- Only one-day battery life with regular usage
- I wish the workout tracking Strong app would be available for Wear OS
Rating + Price
- Rating: 9/10
- Price: ~$299.99
- Available on Amazon