Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is not followed by the Active 3, but by the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, which is actually a successor of the Galaxy Watch released in 2018. Thus, the “old” series is revived here.

With the omission of the “Active” in the name, the touch-sensitive edge also gives way and is replaced by the popular rotating bezel. The question now is whether the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 offers more than a new (old) design. We clarify this and more in our review.

Technical details

Screen size2 inches
Wrist materialReal leather, Synthetic lether, Silicon, Plastic, Stainless steel
Size watch case41 / 45 mm
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0, WLAN, NFC, GLONASS, GPS, LTE, Galileo, BDS
Battery lifeup to 4 days
Supported systemsAndroid, iOS
Water resistance5 ATM / IP68
DisplaySuper AMOLED
SensorsAccelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, Electrical Heart Sensor, Optical Heart Sensor, Light Sensor, GPS,
Microphone includedYes
Speaker includedYes

Design & workmanship + water protection

As mentioned at the beginning, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is more of a successor to the first Galaxy Watch from 2018. Accordingly, the design turns out similar and reminds a bit of a chronograph. Where the Watch Active 2’s rounded glass still reached the casing, the flat Gorilla Glass DX is now surrounded by a pleasantly thin bezel.

On it are numerals for 05, 10, 15, etc., with dots in between for each minute. The rotating part of the bezel is completely unprinted, but has grooves on the outside for a better grip.

Compared to the predecessor, the display of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 could be enlarged by 0.1 inch and the case and bezel could be reduced at the same time. However, the battery also had to shrink for this, but more on that later. The case is made of stainless steel in all normal versions, only the expensive titanium edition is made of the eponymous metal. On the right of the case, as is so often the case, are two buttons and the microphone for phone calls and voice inputs, on the left is only the speaker.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Smartwatch
The different Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 versions are highly customizable.

Various equipment selectable

The back is made of plastic on the outside, but in the middle sits glass again above the eight photo diodes and the green LED in the middle, all of which is used for heart rate measurement. The wristband is 22mm wide on the 45mm version and can easily be replaced with any 22mm wristband. The wristband included with our black 45 mm version is made of genuine leather and makes a high-quality impression. However, you should use a silicone strap when doing sports or showering, otherwise the sweat will attack the leather.

The black stainless steel case is rather matte this time compared to the Galaxy Watch Active, which I personally like better. As expected, the workmanship is without flaws and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 feels very valuable, which is partly due to the weight of 53.8 g. The Watch 3 has the following protection against water, dust and other dangers: 5ATM, IP68 and MIL-STD-810G. So, in practice, you can go swimming with the watch, but you should refrain from jumping from the edge of the pool and other activities that generate high water pressure.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3: Different versions available

You can already tell, Samsung has perhaps meant it a bit too well with the variants. I try here times to create a certain overview and bring you step by step to the right watch.

Bluetooth or LTE

First, you should decide whether you want the Bluetooth or LTE variant. Of course, the LTE version also has Bluetooth 5.0 support, but it also has an integrated eSIM. To use this, you need a corresponding rate plan that supports an eSIM (Telekom, Vodafone and o2 possible).

Then you can make calls, stream music and use all the functions for which you would otherwise need a cell phone or Wi-Fi connection even without a connected cell phone. Unlike the Active Watch 2, both versions of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 offer 1 GB of RAM, which means the system runs smoothly overall.

You can easily find a Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 version that fits your own style.

45 mm or 41 mm

The decision between the large (45 mm) and small version (41 mm) has an impact on the physical size of the watch, the display size, as well as the size of the battery and thus the runtime. Additionally, the display size is of course different.

So, if you want the best possible battery life, you should go for the 45 mm version. The wristbands of the 45 mm version are 22 mm wide, while the 41 mm version has 20 mm wristbands. In both sizes, you can easily replace the bracelet with others of the same size.

Stainless Steel or Titanium

If you have now already decided on a size and between LTE and Bluetooth version now follows the choice of material and thus also the style. This time, most versions offer a stainless steel case, only the more expensive titanium version has a, you guessed it, titanium case. As for the straps, all versions also have a genuine leather strap, only the titanium version offers a stainless steel strap.

Display and touchscreen convince

The round Super AMOLED display is 1.2 or 1.4 inches in size, but always offers a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels. Accordingly, the display of the 41mm version is a bit sharper, however, the resolution is also sufficient for a nice display on the 45mm version. In addition, there are the Samsung-typical vivid colors and of course the perfect black thanks to the OLED technology.

There are a total of 10 brightness levels that you can set as the default value. Additionally, you can also activate the brightness adjustment. In much higher ambient light, such as direct sunlight, the brightness is then turned up, which is called outdoor mode. When the ambient light is much lower in the evening or at night, the brightness automatically decreases.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Smartwatch
The AMOLED display does a great job – even while used in direct sunlight.

Samsung is definitely on par with WearOS in terms of watchfaces, because there are thousands of watchfaces to choose from in the Galaxy Store in the Galaxy Wearable app. Already at the beginning, 17 watchfaces are preloaded on the watch. You can also set your own picture as the background, use live backgrounds, and often set the accent color of the watch face, how the hands look, and more. You can also change the individual shortcuts of most watchfaces at will.

Of course, you can also activate an always-on display for each watch face, but this halves the battery life. By the way, you generally have to pay attention to this with watchfaces, because they can also eat up quite a bit of battery, depending on how complicated they are.

Classical controls from the house of Samsung

In terms of operation, Samsung has a very clear advantage over other smartwatches with its rotating bezel, which usually only have two buttons (pushers) and the touchscreen to operate. The digital bezel of the Watch Active series is also superior to the real bezel in my opinion.

This is because you can operate the watch “blindly” in places and turn off the alarm (turn to the right) or use the snooze function (turn to the left) by turning the bezel, for example. Of course, any swipe from left to right or up to down and vice versa can be replaced by turning the bezel.

The buttons are also an important part of the operation, as they are the only way to “go back”. The upper, slightly larger button also almost only has this function as a back button. It can only be used as a pause/continue button for sports tracking. The lower round button is then the home and power button.

It can be used to return to the home screen at any time, and a long press either starts Bixby or takes the user to the power off menu. If you are already on the home screen, you can get to the overview of all apps by pressing the button. By double pressing, you can open a freely selectable app or perform an action, for example, I get to the workout list.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Smartwatch
A few buttons are more than enough to easily use all functions of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.

Reply messages incl. photos directly from the watch

But enough of the passive-aggressive criticism, because the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 has many good features that are available to all users. For example, emojis are also displayed without problems when notifying apps like WhatsApp. Even photos that come via WhatsApp message can be viewed on the watch as long as you have enabled the automatic photo download in the WhatsApp app on your phone. Additionally, you can reply to messages directly from the watch.

You can either write the text by hand (each letter individually), use a T9 keyboard (if you can still do that), dictate a text that is then converted to writing, or simply reply with an emoji. Alternatively, there are also some ready-made quick replies and you can also add more of your own in the wearable app. Unfortunately, you cannot listen to or send voice messages.

Of course, you can also make calls with the watch. Our Bluetooth version only requires a connection to the cell phone and you can reject and accept calls on the watch. The speaker’s voice quality is okay and the volume is sufficient. The other party could also understand me well, so nothing stands in the way of a secret agent phone call.

Everyday/Health Tracking

Like pretty much every fitness tracker and smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 measures daily steps, distance walked, pulse, stress, sleep, and calories burned. Blood oxygen saturation can also be measured, but only manually. Furthermore, you can enter some data yourself directly on the watch and thus track your daily behavior.

This includes the daily water and calorie intake. You can also track weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and the menstrual cycle via the Samsung Health app and display these data in a separate widget on the watch. Unfortunately, the caffeine and floor counters were removed in one of the last updates – a pity.

In general, you get a lot of data on the watch, but it is of course displayed even more clearly in the Health app. The sleep tracking detects wakefulness, light, deep and, if desired, REM sleep. However, the times when you fall asleep and wake up are sometimes too early or too late, respectively, when you are lying on the couch in the evening or still a bit in bed in the morning but already awake. At least you can still correct the times manually if that’s important to you.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Smartwatch
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 can track differents statistics for you.

Sports tracking with GPS

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 supports 40 different sports or workouts on the watch alone, and about 60 more are added via the via Samsung Health app. So you have a total of 95 sports modes to choose from, although of course you have to have your phone with you for the 60 from the app.

However, the most important classic sports are represented on the watch: Running Coach, Running, Walking, Cycling, Hiking, Swimming Indoor and Outdoor, Treadmill, Exercise Bike, Cross Trainer, Circuit Training, Strength Machine and “Other Workout”. The other workouts include yoga, pilates, stepper, crunches and very many weight exercises like bench press, deadlift and so on. Additionally, you can also install other fitness apps from other providers on the fitness watch.

For runners, there is also the running coach with seven preset running workouts. This also gives spoken instructions if you want them. These can either be played via the speaker or connected Bluetooth headphones. If the seven are not enough, you can access three more in the Samsung Health app on the smartphone and also create your own workouts.

An unfortunately too short battery life

Unfortunately, this was to be expected: With all the many and good features that Tizen brings, the battery life suffers. However, this is not only due to the operating system, but also to the smaller battery compared to the first Galaxy Watch. With only 340 mAh, the battery is just as big as in the Galaxy Watch Active 2. The Huawei Watch GT 2 has a similarly sized screen (1.39 inches) and casing with an approximately 34% bigger battery (455 mAh).

In practice, the runtime averages two days. If I did not use sports tracking with GPS for three days, it could also last almost the whole three days, but that is the absolute maximum. The minimum was about 1.5 days for me.

When tracking runs with GPS on high precision, the watch consumes about 14% per hour without listening to music via Bluetooth headphones at the same time, and it is then about 24% per hour with music. Thus, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is well suited as a sports watch for hobby runners or cyclists; however, for a marathon or over four hours of long bike rides with music, I would reach for another one.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Smartwatch
Sadly, the battery life of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is way too short.


The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is basically “just” a Galaxy Watch Active 2 with the new/old design of the first Galaxy Watch. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, it is one of the best smartwatches for Android and has what it takes to be a front-runner. Unfortunately, however, two of the six new features (ECG, blood pressure, Samsung Pay, fall detection, VO2 max & running metrics) are only accessible with a Samsung smartphone.

For those who don’t care or own a Samsung smartphone, the Galaxy Watch 3 offers a unique combination of sleek design, top display, the ingenious rotating bezel, Spotify offline storage, excellent notification management, extensive sports features, accurate GPS tracking, and a payment option (Samsung Pay).

The 2-day battery life is good with all the features, but only “ok” overall. That and “opening” the two remaining features to non-Samsung users would be our two biggest improvement requests. A dedicated, good podcast app would also be nice. Bixby is still there, by the way – for the three of you who really use Samsung’s assistant. Setting a timer quickly works well with it.

However, if you’re really thinking about buying the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, feel free to take a look at our review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 first: The newest version does bring a few improvements, but is also a bit more expensive.


Author: Smartwatch Fans

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