The Galaxy Watch 6 is official. Is it the new Android watch to beat?

Someone wearing the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

It’s time to loosen up those wallet and purse strings because Galaxy Unpacked has revealed a whole lot of expensive new tech you’re going to love getting your hands on. Samsung Galaxy Unpacked July 2023 introduced us to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9, and the reinvention of a popular brand, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. But don’t forget there’s another watch in there too, and at a lower asking price. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is the sportier and cheaper part of Samsung’s new watch line, and it’s definitely worth considering.

The new Galaxy Watch 6 isn’t a massive departure from the previous generation of Samsung’s watch, but Samsung didn’t need to do much to what was an excellent smartwatch. Instead, it’s spent some time looking at what made the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 great, and it’s made everything on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 just a little bit better. Here’s everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.

Galaxy Watch 6: design and display

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 lying on a table with its screen turned on.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

At first glance, the new Galaxy Watch 6 looks identical to the Watch 5, but there are some small tweaks. Both the 40mm and 44mm variants of the Galaxy Watch 6 are slightly smaller than the respective sizes on the Watch 5 while also sporting slightly larger displays. The 40mm variant has gone from a 1.2-inch display to a 1.3-inch size, while the 44mm frame has gone from 1.4 inches to 1.5 inches. That might be just 0.1 of an inch on each watch, but when you’re dealing with devices of this size, every iota of screen space you can get makes a big difference.

Those larger screens are getting bigger resolutions too. The 44mm model runs a 480 x 480 resolution (up from 450 x 450), while the 40mm has a 432 x 432 resolution (up from 396 x 396). The slight increase in size means the pixels per inch measurement (ppi) stays roughly the same on each size, but since both variants were rocking super-crisp resolutions above 400 ppi anyway, that’s not an issue at all. The displays themselves are Super AMOLED panels and include a full-color always-on display — though keep in mind that keeping an always-on display running will reduce your battery life.

Durability-wise, the Galaxy Watch 6 is covered in the same sapphire crystal glass as before, so you can expect the glass to be able to take some punishment from your daily life. It’s rated to IP68 for dust and water resistance, and it also has underwater resistance up to 5ATM, so you can take it swimming without worrying water will get in.

Galaxy Watch 6: specs and software

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic, in small sizes.
Galaxy Watch 6 Classic (left) and Galaxy Watch 6 (right) smaller sizes Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Performance is never going to be as big a driver on a smartwatch as it is on a smartphone, as, well, you’re unlikely to be playing Shadowgun Legends on your watch any time soon. However, it’s important that using your watch is as smooth and hitch-free as using your phone, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 has gotten some upgrades to make sure that’s the case. The Galaxy Watch 6 is using the Samsung Exynos W930 processor, a dual-core chip running at 1.4GHz. It’s joined by 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Compared to last year’s Galaxy Watch 5, Samsung says the Galaxy Watch 6 should open apps up to 18% faster and be a bit snappier overall.

The Galaxy Watch 6 runs Samsung’s One UI 5 Watch skin on top of Google’s Wear OS 4. One UI 5 Watch has a focus on personal safety and wellness that mimics a number of excellent features we’ve seen in other smartwatches, especially the Apple Watch Series 8. The emergency safety features are the most important, and immediate standouts of these new additions include automatic fall detection, SOS calling (enabled by default, too), and emergency information for first responders. The other inclusions are sleep coaching and insights, plus improved running metrics which can also be used to create individual interval training programs.

Galaxy Watch 6: battery life and charging

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 with a red and black watch face.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

We found that Samsung overblew its battery life claims in the Galaxy Watch 5, with the watch lasting roughly a day on most use, despite the claims of 40 to 50 hours of battery life by Samsung. Samsung seems to have toned down those expectations in the generation of Galaxy Watch 6, despite increasing cell capacities across the board. The 40mm model has seen an increase of 16mAh, rising from 284mAh to a round 300mAh. The 44mm variant has seen a similar bump from 410mAh to 425mAh. The upshot of this isn’t likely to be a massive bump in battery life, but Samsung is promising up to 40 hours of battery life without the always-on display and 30 hours with the always-on display on.

Charging is the same as its ever been, too, with wireless charging coming from the included WPC-based wireless charger. Yes, it doesn’t use the same Qi wireless charging protocol that almost everyone else uses, so you’ll need to use a specific charger to charge it and can’t just drop it down on any wireless charger to top up. But really, think of it as a proprietary wired charger, and it’ll reduce the sting.

Galaxy Watch 6: health/fitness tracking

A side view of the silver case of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Health and fitness tracking are the major advantages smartwatches have over normal, “dumb” watches, and Samsung’s tracking is some of the best around. Key to this is the 3-in-1 BioActive Sensor you’ll find on the underside of the Watch 6, which forms the backbone of the watch’s capabilities. The Galaxy Watch 6 has step tracking, sleep tracking (and coaching, as mentioned above), and manual tracking for over 90 exercises with automatic tracking for a certain number of those. The Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis sensor measures your body fat, skeletal muscle, body water, and other stats. The Galaxy Watch 6 also provides 24/7 heart rate tracking, SpO2 tracking, an ECG app, and even a skin temperature sensor. The heart-tracking capabilities have been upgraded for the Galaxy Watch 6 to include an automatic alert when irregular heart rhythms are detected. While that feature will be available out of the box for the Galaxy Watch 6, irregular heart rhythm notifications are coming to older Galaxy Watches later this year.

That’s a broad range of sensors, and thankfully, the data for it is presented well too. The Samsung Health app keeps all of your data safe, and it’s here you’ll be able to swipe through your daily activities, exercises, and other stats. While it’s unlikely to be the fitness tracker of choice for serious athletes, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is no slouch where tracking is concerned — and will be an excellent choice for casual to experienced fitness lovers.

Galaxy Watch 6: price and availability

A side view of someone wearing the the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 will be available from August 11. The 40mm is the cheaper of the two variants on offer, with prices starting from $300, in gold and graphite colorways. The 44mm starts from $330 and is available in silver and graphite.

You can wait for regular sales later in August, but preorders are open now if you want to be among the first to own Samsung’s latest smartwatch.

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