The Apple Watch 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 are the two most important smartwatches of the year.
They’re the top watches from the two biggest tech names, packed with features and the latest health data that have become all the more important in 2020.
Each starts at roughly the same price – in fact, the US starting price is exactly the same – so there isn’t even a price gap to consider. So what should you buy This is how the Apple Watch 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 stack up.
Design and display
Apple made such a homerun with the original Apple Watch design that it hasn̵
The Apple Watch 6 is available in 40 mm and 44 mm versions and is 10.4 mm thick. The case can be made of aluminum or stainless steel, depending on how much you want to pay. New this year is the aluminum version in blue and the stainless steel in shiny gold.
Colors aside, the Apple Watch 6 is the Apple Watch as you’ve always known it, at least on the surface.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is different. Samsung’s first Galaxy Watch was great, but bulky and maybe a little masculine for some tastes.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2’s half-follow-up was smaller, but it lost the physically rotatable bezel controls that made the Galaxy Watch series stand out.
The Galaxy Watch 3 tries to bring the best of both together. It’s smaller than the original Galaxy Watch but still has an analog watch style and rotating bezel. Oh, and the screen is circular if you haven’t gotten that already.
It is available in the sizes 45 mm and 41 mm and each is slightly larger than the respective alternative to the Apple Watch Series 6. However, we think it’s good that the Galaxy Watch 3 at least with analog monkey smartwatches with 11.1 mm or 11, 3mm (whichever size you choose) is not excessively thick.
Such watches are often aimed at timeless style and usually end up in a nerdy, technical-looking puddle. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 comes closer to the goal in this regard than almost any other circular smartwatch.
Both watches have OLED screens, the resolution of which is high enough that the number of pixels is largely no problem.
The larger 44mm Apple Watch 6 has a 1.78-inch screen with a size of 448 x 368 pixels, which corresponds to Apple’s Retina standard of 326 pixels per inch (ppi). The larger Galaxy Watch 3 has a circular 1.4-inch screen with 360 x 360 pixels and 364 ppi. In both cases, they are sharp, bright, and colorful.
According to Apple, the Watch 6 can reach up to 1000 nits of brightness, similar to some of the brightest phones. Samsung doesn’t make any specific claims about the Galaxy Watch 3’s scorching OLED pixels, but we used them outdoors on a sunny day and had no issues seeing WhatsApp messages or our running stats.
Both always have screen modes. With hardware and screen technology that are roughly coordinated, you can judge them with your eyes. Slim rectangle or circle in analog style: which one do you prefer?
However, Samsung has an advantage in one respect. For the price of the aluminum Apple Watch 6, you get a stainless steel Samsung. There is no aluminum version of the Galaxy Watch 3.
Fitness and functions
In 2019 and 2020 we saw a lot of wearables trying to take on some of the duties of medical devices. The Apple Watch 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 are first-class examples along with the Withings ScanWatch.
They have all of the usual fitness tracking features. There’s GPS, an optical heart rate sensor, a gyro / accelerometer combo, and an altimeter function.
An EKG / EKG (electrocardiogram) sensor and a blood oxygen sensor are the more advanced additions. The Galaxy Watch 3 and Apple Watch 6 both have.
The electrocardiogram is roughly an electrical alternative to the optical heart rate sensor. An electrode sits on the underside of the watch. Another is on the crown of the Apple Watch 6 and on one of the buttons on the Galaxy Watch 3. Press a finger on one of these buttons to complete the circuit and the watch can take a look at your heart rhythm.
The goal? Look out for abnormalities that may suggest an arrhythmia. These should be checked by a doctor.
Blood oxygen or SpO2 measurements use a sensor on the bottom of the optical heart rate monitor. Red and infrared LEDs pulse into the top of your wrist and an optical sensor records the reflected light level.
Oxygenated and oxygen-free blood absorb different amounts of red and infrared light. By monitoring the changes in the pumping of your blood, a wearable can make a good estimate of your oxygen saturation.
Functions such as SpO2 and EKG sensors must be approved by the competent authority in a particular country. It’s the FDA in the US while the CE mark is given by the EU. It is worth checking whether these are certified in your country. For example, at the time of writing, the features for the Galaxy Watch 3 have not yet been activated in most of the world.
Why the bureaucracy? Imagine how you would feel if your watch suddenly told you that a heart abnormality was detected or that your blood oxygen saturation was dangerously low. The certification process aims to ensure that such sensors function with an acceptable level of accuracy.
Both the Apple Watch 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Series 6 are great for fitness and general health data. However, Apple has come up with a new and interesting perk for the end of 2020.
Apple Fitness Plus is a subscription service that offers guided video workouts on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. These include activities like yoga, indoor cycling, and running on a treadmill. So it’s a bit like Peloton, but the cost is $ 9.99 / £ 9.99 / AU $ 14.99 per month.
The part of the Apple Watch is that your activity stats are sent to the Fitness Plus interface so you can see your heart rate and exertion as you exercise.
Pretty neat, right? The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 does not have such a thing, but can transmit its own heart rate values via Bluetooth. This allows you to effectively use the watch like a chest strap HR monitor for third party platforms like Zwift.
Operating system, power and battery
Samsung impresses with the battery life of the Galaxy Watch 3. It has a 340 mAh battery (247 mAh in the 41 mm version) that lasts up to three days if you wear it constantly, but don’t do too much with it . Or two days, if you can also use it to track a run or two with GPS.
According to Apple, the Watch 6 lasts 18 hours like the previous generation watches. While watchOS 7 now enables sleep tracking, you’ll need to find a different time to recharge than overnight to do it. It’s still a once-a-day charger apparently.
The battery life of the Galaxy Watch 3 is not particularly good, but better than that of the Watch 6, if Apple’s estimates are correct.
There are almost zero points that talk too much about the processing power of these watches. They run different software and different apps, so their common reference points are almost zero. It’s important to note, however, that neither has an ultra-low-power processor like the Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro – which improves battery life but limits its smart features.
These are both “real” smartwatches, and that means each has an app store.
However, the Apple App Store is far better than the Galaxy Watch 3’s Galaxy Apps Store. There are a lot more apps out there, and developers tend to put more effort into building them Well.
It makes sense. There are far more Apple Watch owners than any other smartwatch platform, which leads to more potential customers.
Facer is one of the few Galaxy Watch apps that we have reverted to a few times. That way, you can easily create and download more watch faces.
However, we rather like the user interface of the Galaxy Watch 3. It’s a Tizen OS-based system that uses the rotating bezel to scroll through pages with info screens and a circular apps menu. The watchOS interface from Apple is more “3D” and more complex. If you’re new to wearables, Samsung’s approach might be less of a hassle.
The starting price of these watches is the same in the US at $ 399. In the UK and Australia, the Apple Watch 6 starts at £ 379 / AU $ 599 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 starts at £ 399 / AU $ 649.
This gives you either a 40 mm Apple Watch 6 made of aluminum with a fabric or silicone strap or a 41 mm Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 with a leather strap.
Do you want the bigger version of both? That’ll cost you $ 429 / £ 409 / AU $ 649 for the Apple Watch 6 or $ 429 / £ 419 / AU $ 699 for the Galaxy Watch 3.
The costs for the “cellular” or 4G / LTE versions are mostly somewhat higher on Apple’s side. It’s $ 499 / £ 479 / AU $ 749 for the 40mm Apple Watch 6, $ 529 / £ 509 / AU $ 799 for the 44mm.
Samsung charges $ 449 / £ 439 / AU $ 799 for its LTE 41mm watch and $ 479 / £ 459 / AU $ 849 for the 45mm model.
There are many more expensive options in Apple Land. Would you like an Apple Watch made of stainless steel instead of one made of aluminum? Prices start at $ 699 / £ 649 / AU $ 1,049. Go to the designer bracelet range and the prices will keep rising. The stainless steel edition of the Hermes Double Tour is priced at USD 1,399 / GBP 1,349 / AU $ 2,119.
The standard leather strap upgrade alone is expensive.
Samsung has also announced a Titanium version, but at $ 600 (around £ 465 / AU $ 820) it doesn’t come close to Apple’s top prices.
This is tech pugilism at its finest. Two of the biggest names have trained year round to make sure they can’t be knocked out of the other in one fell swoop.
We already know who will win this battle in the stores. It’s obviously the Apple Watch 6. The chances that the Galaxy Watch 3 will outperform Apple globally in this category are practically zero.
However, there are two main reasons to choose Samsung. First, the battery lasts longer than a day. We love this, and while we’d love the two-week battery life even more, you just don’t get that in a full-fat smartwatch.
Then there is the look. Some will simply prefer the circular, watch-like appearance of the Galaxy Watch 3 over the once futuristic, now easily recognizable Apple Watch.
An Apple Watch is now a better choice if you own an iPhone, like the sound of Apple Fitness Plus, or really want to immerse yourself in smartwatch apps.