Hands-On With The Tizen-Powered Samsung Galaxy Watch

Samsung on Thursday unveiled a variety of new gadgets, including the true successor to its 2016 Gear S3 lineup of smartwatches - the Galaxy Watch. Following last year's experiment with the Gear Sport, Samsung is returning to a more conventional design that's seeking to blend style with functionality so as to not look out of place regardless of whether you're out for a jog or sitting at a fancy restaurant. Between the Galaxy Note 9 and the Galaxy Watch, it would appear the main theme of Samsung's latest Unpacked event was refinement.

The Galaxy Watch is undoubtedly the best wearable ever launched by the South Korean company, with our hands-on session revealing a highly capable gadget that's enjoyable to wear, and features the most advanced version of Tizen to date. However, it's still a largely iterative upgrade and one that isn't that impressive if you've ever owned the previous generation of Samsung's smartwatch lineup. Unlike the Wear OS (formerly known as Android Wear) segment, Samsung's wearables aren't suffering from outdated chips as the company produces its silicon in-house, with the Galaxy Watch featuring the new Exynos 9110 which delivers smooth performance and can supposedly guarantee days of battery life, though the jury is still out on that particular claim which is only attached to the larger 46 mm model and its 472 mAh capacity battery, whereas the 42 mm unit sports a 270 mAh cell.

The user interface that Samsung perfected with the Gear Sport is back once again, featuring the best use of a rotating bezel to date, as well as straightforward menus that are extremely easy to navigate. Tizen itself has been aggressively optimized for the new hardware and promises to offer one of the most reliable software experiences in this product category, though the trade-off still comes in the form of a much more limited selection of third-party apps considering Wear OS is a much larger ecosystem. While the number of color choices Samsung announced isn't large, you can be sure that the tech giant will be releasing special editions of the Galaxy Watch on a frequent basis for at least a year, so most markets should be treated with at least one extra alternative in due course. For now, the larger model is only available in Silver, while the smaller one comes in your choice of Midnight Black or Rose Gold.

One obvious shortcoming of the Galaxy Watch is the fact that Samsung removed MST functionality from the new device line, leaving users with no other wireless payment option but NFC. While the move won't affect consumers on a global level seeing how MST was primarily a thing in North America and many international models of Samsung's older wearables had its hardware disabled, having fewer choices is never a good thing. Overall, the Galaxy Watch is still an obvious step forward for Samsung's wearable division and a clear attempt at being more than a sum of its parts, though none of its aspects truly stand out on their own. All of that makes it an excellent choice for people who are serious about buying a high-quality wearable, but only if they don't already own one of the company's other recently released smartwatches.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]