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Samsung went back to the drawing board with the Galaxy Watch 6 and returned with a fan-favorite feature, the physical rotating bezel. This year there are two models, but only one has the bezel: the aluminum Galaxy Watch 6 and stainless steel, bezel-bearing Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. The watches arrive Aug. 11, announced alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 5, Z Flip 5 and Tab S9 tablet revealed at the Galaxy Unpacked event in Seoul on Wednesday.
Both share the same sensors as last year’s Galaxy Watch 5, but have a bigger battery and larger screens. While the new watches have incremental updates overall, the return of the bezel that was last seen on 2021’s Galaxy Watch 4 Classic may be enough to convince owners of earlier watches to upgrade. Samsung’s rugged, outdoors watch, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, remains in the lineup.
The Galaxy Watch 6 series launches at a pivotal time for Android smartwatches, with more competition than ever. Google’s Pixel Watch made its debut in 2022 and while its battery life wasn’t perfect, its slick design paired with Fitbit’s fitness tracking finesse helped it set the standard. Then there’s the Ticwatch Pro 5, which doubles down on battery life and beats out the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic on price at $350. Like all Galaxy Watches since the series 4, the Galaxy Watch 6 is Android-only.
The bezel is back!
After hearing fans unhappy at the rotating bezel’s absence on the Galaxy Watch 5, Samsung brought it back on the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. The bezel is a physical navigation ring around the screen. You use it with the touchscreen to switch between menus and change settings. Or, if you’re like me, you also enjoy hearing and feeling a satisfying click as you use it as a fidget spinner.
The rotating bezel is a flagship design feature that’s synonymous with the Galaxy Watch line since its inception and something that sets it apart from other smartwatches. Last year’s Galaxy Watch 5 and 5 Pro removed the bezel altogether, replacing it with a touch bezel that responded to your finger moving around the edge of the watch. And we weren’t happy.
Its return on the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic doesn’t bring any new functionality. I’m glad to see it back regardless. It is slightly thinner than the bezel on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
Both sizes of the Galaxy Watch 6 will get slightly larger and higher resolution screens than the Galaxy Watch 5. The smaller 40mm Watch 6 and 43mm Classic have 1.3-inch displays, while the 44mm Watch 6 and 47mm Classic have 1.5-inch displays.
With a maximum brightness of 2,000 nits, the screens are twice as bright as last year’s models. Samsung has added an always-on brightness adjustment that should help you be able to see the screen better in sunlight. That was one of my big complaints from reviewing the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. They also both get Samsung’s own Exynos W930 processor, an upgrade from the Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 4, which used the same Exynos W920 chip.
Galaxy Watch 6 price: A little more than last year
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 6 starts at $300 (£289, AU$549) for the smaller 40mm size and $330 (£319, AU$599) for the larger 44mm size, $20 more than the initial base price for the Galaxy Watch 5. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic starts at $400 (£369, AU$699) for the small and $430 (£399, AU$749) for the large. There are also 4G LTE variants of each watch. Samsung offers trade-in discounts up to $250 through its trade-in program and preorders through Samsung direct will get a fabric band with either watch.
Battery life: Ever so slightly bigger
Samsung claims all Galaxy Watch 6 versions should last the same: 40 hours with the always-on display off and 30 hours with it on, regardless of the size you choose. Both the regular Galaxy Watch 6 and 6 Classic versions have the same battery, with the large size at 425 mAh and the small at 300 mAh. This is marginally bigger than the capacity quoted on the Galaxy 5 series. In theory, the larger capacity should net slightly longer battery life, but the real proof is in testing.
In my Galaxy Watch 5 review, I noted the smaller 40mm watch lasted 24 hours with the always-on display turned off — I wasn’t able to test the 44mm version. The Watch 5 Pro is staying in the Galaxy Watch lineup and still has the largest battery overall at 590 mAh. I found it lasted two-and-a-half days with moderate use and it’s still the one to get if you need the longest-lasting watch.
Both new watches share the same sensor configuration as the Watch 5 series. That includes heart rate, skin temperature and bioimpedance (body composition) sensors. They run WearOS 4, the operating system co-designed with Samsung and Google, alongside Samsung’s One UI 5 Watch that powers more in-depth sleep insights, personalized heart rate zones during workouts and an SOS update to send your location to emergency services. It’s worth noting the One UI 5 Watch update will come to the Galaxy Watch 5 and 4 later this year and is currently available in beta for those devices.
When paired with a Z Fold 5 or Z Flip 5 using Flex mode, the Galaxy Watch 6 will give you a notification to launch the camera app so you can control photo and video recording to take selfies or group shots. It will also give you zoom and camera angle controls from the wrist.
What else is new on the Galaxy Watch 6?
- Irregular heart rate notifications.
- A new track run workout type and the option to create custom workouts.
- Smart Things Find locates your phone from the watch even when it’s not connected, using GPS to determine its last location.
- Business users can set up a watch independently, without a phone.
- Moving to a new phone no longer requires you to reset the watch and start from scratch.
- Physical watch buttons are made from recycled plastic.
- New watch bands: fabric, a redesigned Milanese loop and extreme sports band, plus a hybrid eco band made from industrial corn.
Galaxy Watch 6 vs. Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
|Samsung Galaxy Watch 6||Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic|
|Watch size||40mm, 44mm||43mm, 47mm|
|Materials/ Finishes||Aluminum||Stainless Steel|
|Display size, resolution||40mm: 1.3 inch, 432 x 432 pixels, Super AMOLED; 44mm: 1.5 inch, 480 x 480 pixels, Super AMOLED||43mm: 1.3 inch, 432 x 432 pixels, Super AMOLED; 47mm: 1.5 inch, 480 x 480 pixels, Super AMOLED|
|Dimensions||40mm: 38.8 x 40.4 x 9.0 mm; 44mm: 42.8 x 44.4 x 9.0 mm||43mm: 42.5 x 42.5 x 10.9 mm; 47mm: 46.5 x 46.5 x 10.9 mm|
|Weight||40mm: 28.7g; 44mm: 33.3g||43mm: 52g; 47mm: 59g|
|Colors||40mm: graphite, gold ;44mm: graphite, silver||43mm: black, silver; 47mm: black, silver|
|Automatic workout detection||Yes (running, walking, rowing)|
|Water resistance||5ATM, IP68||5ATM, IP68|
|Voice assistant||Yes (Google Assistant, Bixby)||Yes (Google Assistant, Bixby)|
|Mobile Payments||Yes (Samsung Wallet)||Yes (Samsung Wallet)|
|Sensors||Optical heart rate + electrical heart signal + bioelectrical impedance analysis, temperature sensor, accelerometer, barometer, gyro sensor, geomagnetic sensor, light sensor||Optical heart rate + electrical heart signal + bioelectrical impedance analysis, temperature sensor, accelerometer, barometer, gyro sensor, geomagnetic sensor, light sensor|
|Emergency features||Emergency SOS, fall detection||Emergency SOS, fall detection|
|Compatibility||Android 10 and above||Android 10 and above|
|Software||WearOS 4||WearOS 4|
|Processor||Exynos W930 dual-core 1.4GHz||Exynos W930 dual-core 1.4GHz|
|Connectivity||LTE6, Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 2.4+5GHz, NFC, GPS/Glonass/Beidou/Galileo||LTE6, Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 2.4+5GHz, NFC, GPS/Glonass/Beidou/Galileo|
|Memory and storage||2GB memory + 16GB storage||2GB memory + 16GB storage|
|Charging||Fast charging (WPC-based wireless charging)||Fast charging (WPC-based wireless charging)|
|Battery life||Up to 40 hours (Always On Display off); up to 30 hours (Always On Display on)||Up to 40 hours (Always On Display off); up to 30 hours (Always On Display on)|
|Battery capacity||40mm: 300 mAh; 44mm: 425 mAh||43mm: 300 mAh; 47mm: 425 mAh|
|Price (USD)||40mm: $300 (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth); 44mm: $330 (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth)||43mm: $400 (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth); 47mm: $430 (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth)|