Apple dominates the smartwatch market, but Samsung is giving Cupertino some new competition with the just-announced Galaxy Watch3.
How does Samsung’s latest wearable stack up to the Apple Watch Series 5? There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Watch3, so we’re just scratching the surface here. All will be revealed in the coming days when we get our hands on Samsung’s new smartwatch, so check back for our full review. Until then, here’s what we know so far.
Samsung is offering Bluetooth and LTE versions of the Watch3 in 41mm and 45mm sizes. It starts at $399.99 for the 41mm Bluetooth model and $449.99 for the 41mm LTE model. The larger 45mm version starts at $429.99 for the Bluetooth model and $479.99 for the LTE model. The 41mm version comes in bronze and silver and the 45mm version comes in silver or black.
Fitness and Health Features
The wearables should be on equal footing when it comes to heart health monitoring, as they both offer electrocardiogram (ECG) apps. In a statement to PCMag, Samsung confirmed the ECG app will be available on the watch in the US.
“We are thrilled to share that we recently received FDA clearance for the Samsung ECG monitor app,” the company told PCMag in an email. “We look forward to sharing more details soon.”
The Watch3 also has a blood pressure monitoring app, but it has not been certified in the US. “The Blood Pressure Monitor App will not be available in the US unless FDA authorization is granted,” Samsung said.
In terms of advanced health and fitness metrics, Samsung says it plans to release a software update that enables on-demand VO2 max and SpO2 readings before the end of next month. The Series 5 can record your VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during intense exercise) when you track an outdoor walk or run for at least 20 minutes with continuous heart rate monitoring. Apple’s latest wearable does not, however, track SpO2, a measure of your blood’s oxygen saturation level, but rumor has it the next version will.
For your safety, both the Series 5 and Watch3 offer a fall-detection feature, though Samsung calls its version trip detection. If the Watch3’s accelerometer detects a hard tumble outdoors or in your home, the watch will ask if you want to send a custom SOS message to emergency contacts. Apple’s version has already proven to be lifesaving.
watchOS 7 this fall, but the Series 5’s short battery life means you’ll have to find some time to charge it during the day, and possibly sacrifice some activity tracking, if you wear it to bed. The Watch3’s purported two-day battery life makes it more suitable as a sleep tracker. When you wear Samsung’s watch to bed, it will track your breathing, sleep duration, quality, and consistency. In the morning, it will give you a sleep quality score and may offer tips for improving your shut eye.
The Apple Watch doesn’t work with Android at all, but Samsung isn’t excluding iOS users.
In terms of compatibility, the Watch3 works with Android phones running version 5.0 and higher with at least 1.5GB of RAM. It also works with iPhone 5 and newer Apple phones running at least iOS 9. But before you cheat on Apple’s ecosystem, know that you will have some limitations using the Watch3 with iOS.
Namely, the Watch3 supports Samsung Pay, but the mobile payment system is not available on iPhones. In addition, if you use an iPhone, you won’t be able to sync your fitness data from the Galaxy Watch3 to Apple Health. Instead, your fitness metrics will live inside an iOS version of the Samsung Health app.