I ordered the Galaxy Watch3 on launch. I think I ordered it on August 6th and got it on August 13. After mulling over a bit and not able to find any detail specs after the announcement (and I was pretty busy that day) I went with the 41mm black/silver combination. That smaller 41mm one was definitely sold as a “women’s watch” IYKWIM. As you may know my biggest gripe about smartwatches are how big they are. They are chonk. They are thicc bois. So I went with something smaller, based on my experience with my current smartwatch.
A bit of background here–I used to wear a watch all the time, a pretty pedestrian Casio was my last watch but ditched it after I got fully on board on the smartphone revolution (Nexus One babeee). It wasn’t an immediate thing, but it made sense after a while so I went without it for a few days. It felt fine and segue easily into the lifestyle where I carry a smartphone on my person all the time. Which I still do.
Fast forward like, 10 years? Now, I ask Google Assistant what the time is sometimes. I’ve been rocking a Pebble Time Steel for the last 5 years. It’s a great watch but it is getting a bit long in the tooth in terms of the feature I would like. It is also, as I would find out, less comfortable to wear than modern Android watches with their teardrop backs. There are other drawbacks of the Pebble Time Steel, but it is a compromise I can live with given its long battery life and decent look. The gold watch can confuse some onlookers as if it’s the high end Apple watch when they first rolled out the line but not anymore.
Prior to the Pebble Time Steel I had a normal Pebble, being a backer from the original Kickstarter. Other than that, I’ve seen other folks’ fitness devices and smart watches. My mom actually likes them so she wears them pretty much since they became affordable. Ticwatch is great…back in 2017. Other relatives use Apple Watch. I studied it a lot and would have gotten one if I am going to upgrade from the Pebble. There is definitely a vacuum of smartwatches for non-iOS users. That’s nothing new.
So I think I agree with Engadget’s headline saying the Watch3 is the best Android smartwatch. The core Tizen/Exynos 9110 combo does great and for the most part surpasses most WearOS combinations on Qualcomm. The industrial design goes the way of a chonk watch, which is at least a watch thing, not the “device” thing Apple Watch is. They are sort of competing schools of thought but you would think the freedom of the Android ecosystem allows different companies and OEM design drastically different looking smartwatches. That makes them like, well, watches.
I decide to return the rather-expensive (it came to over $420 after tax) Watch3 today because after using it for a couple days, I think I can opt for the slight bigger (by 4mm) and slimmer (by 1mm) 45mm version. If I tried for the titanium version it would even be almost 6g less heavy. But that one is not available yet. The 45mm is $25 more, which is trivial when it cost $399 to just get in the door. That is a chunk of change, but I actually think that is the right price for this watch.
The idea about smartwatches is, like I said earlier, either about a device or a watch. I can keep wearing my Pebble Time Steel in 2025 because it actually looks rather appropriate despite the aging, arguably terrible display. Because a watch really is about how it looks on your wrist, which most of it comes in the stuff outside the display.
The Watch 3 is just a proper piece, a fine looking watch. The 41mm might be a bit cheeky for a luxury watch because it’s a bit nondescript, but the 45mm looks like a proper watch. The rotating crown is a great navigation tool and it really accentuates the watch, plus adding protection to the screen. It speaks a very stated, balanced, Korean-Asian sense of style. Go walk around SIN, HKG, or HND, look at all the luxury stores and ads, and you know what I mean.
My only reservation is with the size, and given Watch3 45mm is still a good 14-20% smaller than Galaxy Active, that means it’s finally not too big to be unwieldy, that I won’t press the crown buttons by bending my wrist. Even my relatively small Pebble Time Steel gets into that.
If you are tracking this product category, though, you would be a bit concerned that a Watch Active can be had for under $200, but this launches for over $400 after tax? Given the two really aren’t different outside their guts, what is going on? And it comes to that a smartwatch is not just a device. It’s also a watch. And you would never be able to justify a $20000 or even a $2000 watch, yet that’s where the game is.
So I think a fine looking hardware like Watch 3 45mm Titanium for a yet-to-know price is probably worth it. I dig the new features for sleep tracking and ECG. I like how it has heartbeat and O2 tracking over the Pebble. I like the crown. I like the display. I don’t like I have to use Samsung Health–mainly because it doesn’t integrate well with what I already use. The sleep tracking app I use also doesn’t seem to integrate with it (not a surprise, may take some time). I don’t like that I have to buy a 3rd party app for Google Fit integration. Samsung Health sleep tracking is okay, but is lacking compared to what I currently use. It can survive a full day (with always on turned on), but not so hot on how it takes a while to recharge.
But it’s good enough that I can make it work on my routine day. Kind of like Android watches generally they meet the minimum at best. I like the watch overall, which justifies the price, but it has added Samsung baggage that holds it back still. Another reason why I have returned the watch… Once Google’s acquisition of Fitbit clears.