Subscribe to Radio Times
Try 10 issues for £10!
The most recent addition to Samsung’s Galaxy line is laden with features – but it comes at a cost. See how it performed in our in-depth review.
Samsung could easily lay claim to being the most relevant tech brand on the planet, with only one contender: Apple. The Korean manufacturer sells its products across the globe. With a few hiccups here and there, it has proved itself an industry leader in televisions, phones, monitors, soundbars, and, yes, smartwatches.
Its wearables line was formerly known as Gear until, after a rebrand in 2018, it reemerged with the Galaxy name. This was a clear move for brand uniformity on Samsung’s part, to keep its watches in line with its flagship Galaxy smartphone range – and since smartwatches are used so frequently in tandem with phones, it seems a logical move. (To be clear, though: Samsung’s watches are connectible with both Android and iOS phones – the same in reverse cannot be said for the Apple Watch.)
And on this subject, let’s not beat around the bush: it's obvious from the price alone that the Galaxy Watch 3 has been positioned on the market as a direct rival to the Apple Watch Series 6. But is it a worthy contender?
We put the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 to the test – you can read our in-depth review below. We assessed this top-end wearable by a series of criteria – design, battery life, features, ease of use – before arriving at overall verdicts.
If fitness tracking is your priority, make sure you read our Huawei Watch Fit review – it’s a more to-the-point but much cheaper alternative. And for a comprehensive list of the best wearables available to buy, there's our best smartwatch article.
The Galaxy Watch 3 is an attractive wearable that, with its leather strap, has a distinctly upmarket feel with its luxe design and stylish and sophisticated colour combinations. It’s a smartwatch that offers a substantial range of features, covering health stats, fitness tracking, daily reminders and displaying the traffic of calls, notifications and texts that pass through your smartphone.
With a price of around £350, it’s an undeniably pricey addition to your wrist. But with a wealth of features that are all efficient and reliable, it’s hard to argue that you’re not getting what you pay for. Best of all is the Galaxy Watch 3’s interface, which is fluid, intuitive and incredibly easy to use.
Like lots of high-powered devices, the Galaxy Watch 3 does guzzle its power supply a bit, and some users might find the shorter-term battery life an annoyance. But its cross-compatibility with Android and iOS phones gives it a winning edge over its closest rival, the Apple Watch Series 6.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is a slick, premium wearable for Samsung’s Galaxy line. Samsung’s smartwatches were originally called Gear but were renamed in step with the handset range in 2018 for more brand uniformity.
It was launched on the UK market on 21 August 2020 and – for now – is the most recent generation of Samsung Galaxy smartwatches.
As a high-end smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 3 comes replete with an ample range of features that should keep all but the most demanding users happy. Here’s what you can expect from this wearable:
The Galaxy Watch 3 costs £369 on Samsung’s website, although you’ll find prices fluctuate slightly between other retailers.
A premium smartwatch makes for a serious investment, and it’s one that you’ll want to serve you well for several years.
Its leather strap and round face nod towards traditional watches versus the rounded rectangular design of the Apple Watch. There’s a feeling of assured luxury around the Galaxy Watch 3, and we love the assorted colour options, which are stylishly understated. It might cost in the hundreds, but it also looks like it costs in the hundreds.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 comes with a 24-month warranty, which should keep the more nervous buyers happy. All in all, we think this is a high-end device that feels totally worthy of its price tag.
As said, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 has a classical feeling, rather than a chunky, futuristic look you’ll find in cheaper wearables. The face is round, and of course, it has a touchscreen display, but it also has two buttons on the right-hand side which also function as dials. It also has a rotating bezel, which can be used to scroll through the watch’s UI.
The three strap/face colour options feel stylish and sophisticated – although if there’s one criticism we’ll level at Samsung, it’s those absurd colour names: Mystic Black (black face, black strap), Mystic Silver (silver face, black strap) and Mystic Bronze (bronze face, tan strap).
On the wrist, it feels a tad heavier than other, similar smartwatches we’ve put to the test – but with that comes a real sense of durability: the Watch 3 feels built to last. We were impressed by the brightness of the display, which is just as clear and bright as any smartphone.
Across the board, the Galaxy Watch 3 delivered well in all its included features. Ultimately, it all adds to a highly reliable smartwatch that you can come to rely on for both your fitness routine and day-to-day life.
When we went out for a walk, the watch immediately registered that as an activity, and without a prompt began tracking, before automatically stopping when we put up our feet. It’s little touches like that really endeared us to the Galaxy Watch 3.
There were no lags or loading issues with any of its apps or features, either – they all loaded exceptionally quickly and smoothly, thanks to the high-spec 1.15GHz Samsung Exynos 9110 processor.
The Galaxy Watch 3 has a maximum battery life of two days. Like any feature-laden device, it gets through power much more quickly than simpler wearables.
When we first plugged it in, the display said the charging time would take two and a half hours. That isn’t as quick as similar smartwatches we’ve tried. We also noticed that the battery level jumped a little erratically; after a short charge, its power level was marked at 100% before falling quickly to 66%.
One feature we like is the ‘Basic mode’, which essentially turns the Galaxy Watch 3 into a standard watch. By doing nothing but display the time, it eats through its power far less quickly – perfect if you’re out and about without being able to charge.
The set-up process for the Galaxy Watch 3, from unboxing to activation, takes about 20 minutes.
It comes in a long, sleek case, not unlike that of the Apple Watch. Inside the rectangular box, the watch comes with the strap already attached, along with the USB charger. This will bring your smartwatch back to life via a magnetic wireless connection behind the face – though do keep in mind that there’s no plug adaptor for the charger included. You’ll need to either buy one separately, though we suspect most people will have a laptop or home computer with a USB port that will do the job.
The sign-up process for the Galaxy Wearable app on our smartphone was straightforward enough. When connecting to the watch, our phone discovered it quickly, though it took a while to actually connect.
Upon powering up the Galaxy Watch 3 for the first time, you’ll find a quick and clear tutorial that talks you through how to operate the smartwatch. This turns out to be highly intuitive across the board. To scroll through the various apps and features, you rotate the bezel. The top side button sends you back to the home screen; the bottom button sends you back to wherever you were before. For your battery and wi-fi stats, you swipe down; to send the watch to sleep, you place your palm over its face.
If you’ve got the budget and you’re seeking out a versatile smartwatch that has both your fitness and life admin covered? Go for it.
The Galaxy Watch 3 is an excellent premium smartwatch that avoids the smartwatch pitfall of being bogged down with features that feel frilly and superfluous – ones that ultimately are best accessed via your smartphone instead.
Above all else, this is due to the Galaxy Watch 3’s ease of use. We love the simple interface, especially the rotatable bezel, a clever smart-era update on a feature that has appeared on analogue watches for many long years. That points to another strength of Samsung’s Galaxy line: their trad-style aesthetic is a sensible alternative to the Apple Watch's rectangular futurism. Not everyone wants the Star Trek look on their wrist.
Finally, the fact that you can pair the Galaxy Watch 3 with both Android phones and iPhones makes it a wearable with, quite literally, double the appeal. Apple, with typical exceptionalism, has kept its smartwatches exclusively compatible with its smartphones – but we have a feeling there will be many iPhone owners out there who don’t feel any conflicting loyalty.
According to online rumours, the Apple Watch 4 is due to launch in either the late spring or early summer of 2021. We’re hugely excited to see what updates and additions will offer in the Watch 3’s successor – but don’t forget, when that arrives, this is highly likely to drop in price.
Certain categories are weighted more highly.
Overall star rating: 4/5
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is available to buy from the following retailers in the UK. As you can see, there’s little variation in price. Make sure you cross-compare delivery costs before automatically going with the cheapest option!
Looking for a smartwatch on sale? Check out our pick of the best smartwatch deals available right now.