- Good health features
- Wear OS 4 works well
- Fitness accuracy
- Refined design
- Single day battery
- Fiddly options to enable
- ECG/Blood pressure require Galaxy phone
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is the bigger and more refined member of the Samsung smartwatch range – and it's back after a two-year hiatus.
Samsung dropped the Galaxy Watch Classic in favor of the Watch 5 Pro last year. But the Classic is back, with the rotating bezel and larger display. This makes it the quintessential Galaxy Watch in many regards, and it’s also packed with health and features.
But how much of a jump is the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic in terms of features? And does it offer value for money? We find out.
Price and competition:
The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is priced as follows:
It's a slight bump over the Watch 5, of around $30/£20 per device, which could be worse given the macroeconomic situation. It also comes in at around $100/£80 more than the standard Watch 6 mode.
Alternatives are the standard Galaxy Watch 6, but also the Watch 5 Pro with three days of battery life. You can read our Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 vs. Watch 6 Classic explainer to discover the key differences.
And the Huawei Watch 4 is a good health watch but suffers from a closed ecosystem.
Design and screen
There was no Galaxy Watch 5 Classic, so this latest version is a decent step up from the Watch 4 Classic which was released in 2021. Thus, it feels fresher than the standard Watch 6.
It has all the same hallmarks as its predecessor, but it now comes in 43mm and 47mm sizes, a jump up from the 42mm and 46mm Watch 4 Classic. Tipping the scales at just over 50g it’s got a certain weightiness, but we found it comfortable to wear and live with.
There have been refinements and the display is 15% larger than the Watch 4 Classic thanks to an improved screen-to-body ratio, and the bezels have also been reduced on both the standard and Classic versions.
The Watch 6 Classic boasts 1.5-inch AMOLED (1.3-inch on the 43mm) which is also a significant jump. It’s a lovely display, and because it’s framed by the bezel, it doesn’t feel like such a massive expanse of screen as the standard Galaxy Watch 6.
The Watch 6 Classic comes in black and silver colorways, and we had the black model to test.
Fans of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic will be pleased to note that the rotating bezel is back after being omitted from the Watch 5 Pro.
We’d forgotten how good the bezel control is to use, and it feels so natural to scroll through longer screens of data. The best use case is to quickly access the Wear OS 4 Tiles just by twisting from the watch face, where you can see goal progress, sports modes, sleep data, weather widgets, and anything else you add.
The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic packs a faux leather style, which does look convincing at a glance. Unlike leather, it’s good for a workout and is sweat-resistant
Samsung has also redesigned the strap mechanism to feature a quick-release button, so it’s easier to swap between bands. However, it still takes a standard 20mm band with a standard pin catch, so you’re not stuck with proprietary straps.
And it's also 5ATM water resistant, which means it's perfectly good for a dip in the pool.
While not breaking new ground, the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is a good-looking smartwatch offers a good mix of wearability and usability, and is a noticeable upgrade on the Watch 4 Classic.
Features, OS, and ecosystem
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is the first smartwatch to run the new Wear OS 4 – which puts it top of the pile in terms of Android smartwatches. And it's key to remember, that it is firmly Android only – so iPhone users need not apply.
Wear OS has taken a long time to get up to standard, but it finally feels like a mature operating system, and works well on the Watch 6 Classic.
All the health stats and activity metrics you’d expect are present, and navigation of Wear OS is made so much easier with the rotating bezel. It makes the Watch 6 Classic feel unique and premium, and it’s a feature that got under our skin.
It still doesn’t feel as cohesive as watchOS. We had to manually install many of the apps on our Samsung smartphones, such as Wallet, and even Samsung Health, before they would work. And the amount of permissions you need to agree to is insane.
But the quality and breadth of apps have improved immensely, and as if to prove the point, a new WhatsApp dedicated app landed days before the Galaxy Watch 6 unveiling. There have been improvements to Samsung Wallet as well, which is now much better at storing tickets and payment cards.
Notifications are well handled, and you can scroll the bezel left to cycle through unread messages before dismissing them.
The Google Play store is also accessible on the watch itself, and any new apps will also be installed on your smartphone automatically, which feels slick.
One gripe with Wear OS and One UI was the app screen. You swipe up to see a honeycomb of app icons, much like the Apple Watch. However, it's not possible to turn it into a simple list, so it's guesswork to discover which icon does what. A list view would be so much simpler.
There's Bixby on board – if you like that kind of thing. It handled basic tasks such as loading apps or starting timers. We're not big fans of voice assistants on smartwatches but it's easily summoned by holding the 2 o'clock menu button.
Likewise, holding the 4 o'clock button summons the Samsung Wallet. Again, it's easy to pay, but the Wallet isn't as polished as the Apple alternative. But there are plenty of banks supported, making it a solid option.
There are a bunch of new features bundled in with Wear OS 4, which is wrapped up in One UI 5 Watch.
Sleep tracking has got a big overhaul, and there are all-new sleep insights as well as snoring detection. What’s more, you can listen back to your snoring, if you’re so inclined:
Sleep insights include:
- Actual sleep time
- Sleep score
- Sleep stages
- Blood oxygen under 90%
- Skin temperature
- Bedtime and wake-time consistency
- Sleep animal (chronotype)
- Snoring detection
Samsung also offers sleep animal chronotypes and you can opt into a four-week sleep coaching plan as well. We’ll get into this later.
The updated skin temperature tracking features enabled by the new Temperature API allow Galaxy Watch 6 users to do checks straight from the watch. That could be testing water temperature (useful for swimmers and new parents) as well as skin and air temperatures.
It worked well, and while slightly niche use case, it's refreshing to see these sensors being used for new applications.
The Galaxy Watch range has always been rich in fitness features, but we have found it has fallen short in terms of accuracy and the presentation of data in the past.
But as well as Wear OS maturing over the last couple of years, the Galaxy Watch and Samsung Health have also grown into a true fitness smartwatch.
There are a huge number of workout profiles, and it's an adept pool swim tracker – as evidenced in our testing of the Galaxy Watch 5 for our best waterproof smartwatches test.
We’ve taken it out for several runs, and have been impressed by heart rate accuracy within steady outdoor workouts.
Over multiple runs we found both MaxHR and average HR to be within 1bpm of a chest strap over an hour of running. That’s important because it means any analysis of your fitness is being done with good data, including calorie burn and recovery.
Good accuracy is important because, with the Watch 6 Classic, Samsung has added personalized heart rate zone tracking and training.
The Watch 6 Classic will show the zone you're running in, and you can then opt to follow training sessions that target particular zones. It prompts you if you stray too high and low – and if this wasn't powered by accurate heart rate training, it would be pretty shambolic.
We took the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic out for several heart rate zone-tracked runs, and were pleasantly surprised by how clear and easy it was to stay within range – and by the accuracy of the heart rate sensor when compared to a chest strap.
The Galaxy Watch 6 seems to have upped its games in terms of fitness features – and this is something we could now recommend to runners.
But there are a few issues. We did notice that the VO2 Max score in the Samsung app seemed wildly inaccurate. It was far too low, compared to Garmin, which we’ve previously validated in a lab test as being pretty accurate. Samsung’s data just wasn’t realistic. Maybe over many runs, this will get closer to reality, but it didn’t shift in our test period.
We’d also add that GPS accuracy didn’t seem fantastic and was repeatedly 100m short of our comparison Garmin over 10km. GPX data showed some significant wandering in tree-covered areas, so you could see slight discrepancies in some routes.
It’s within a reasonable margin for accuracy, but this is something that passionate runners should be aware of, as it affects pacing data.
There are also a ton of metrics on running form tracked within running workouts in the Samsung Health app. It will rate your form for asymmetry, contact time, flight time, regularity, vertical, and stiffness. There are good explanations in Samsung Health about what these mean, and some drills are hidden away as well to help you improve.
It makes for a really strong fitness experience, which is the best you'll find on a Wear OS smartwatch. High praise, indeed.
The Galaxy Watch 6 is a powerful health watch with some seriously deep metrics – but it's also a capable wellness and activity tracker as well. But we were surprised us how much of the ‘core’ health data is turned off by default.
We had to go in and enable a host of data points, including SpO2 and heart rate tracking. And it took us a couple of days to realize that we hadn’t enabled continuous heart rate, so weren’t getting proper resting HR data.
Activity tracking is a pretty standard affair and we didn’t find using the Galaxy Watch 6 overly motivating. It counts steps, active minutes and calories, and you have to close each heart-shaped ring. It wasn't something that we felt compelled to check, and doesn't feel as embedded into the experience as the Apple rings.
It does have movement reminders to prevent sitting too long.
But the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is a powerful health watch – and offers a strong experience.
Body composition, blood pressure tracking (which still requires validation by a cuff), and ECG are all on board, as well as menstrual tracking and Fall Detection.
None of this is new to the Galaxy Watch 6 – and has been brought over from the previous generation.
Samsung is still the only major smartwatch player to offer blood pressure tracking, but you must validate it against a traditional cuff, by taking three simultaneous readings. And it requires regular re-calibration. And here's a kicker – it's only open to those with a Galaxy smartphone, which is needlessly prohibitive.
It’s not continuous – like a wearable such as Aktiia – so you have to take the readings manually. But if you’re keeping an eye on blood pressure, this is a useful and easy tool to use.
ECG is also present, and again, this is easy to use with a 30-second on-watch test. Again, you need a Samsung handset to take advantage.
For both of these, you need to download the requisite Samsung Health Monitor apps on your smartphone to use them. But both produced good quality data which correlated with our tests.
Finally, there’s body composition analysis, via the BIA sensor. It shows BMI, body fat, body water, fat mass skeletal muscle, and weight. it’s really interesting data and more in-depth than we’ve seen in the past, generally from smart scales.
We’d like to have more explanation on the watch or within Samsung Health about what these mean – and how to make changes. Losing fat and building muscle is obvious, but the BMR calorie number is how many you burn per day without doing exercise, and can help in meal planning. We had to Google that, and it would be nice for Samsung to play a more active role in affecting change.
Stress tracking is on board, but as usual, a pretty lukewarm integration that doesn’t produce much actionable or interesting data. Every day was largely the same, and there wasn’t a day of mapping feelings or experiences to the data.
Overall, it's a superb health-tracking smartwatch, but the requirement to have a Samsung smartphone is a downside, and one that needs to be considered by anyone purchasing for these features.
Sleep tracking is a revamped part of the Galaxy Watch 6 and overall, we were impressed by the data.
We’re going to need to test some of the sleep features over a longer period because the sleep chronotypes and sleep coaching can take weeks to process.
However, the standard data has been excellent.
Unlike most smartwatches, the sleep duration produced two numbers. Total duration and “actual time asleep.” We’re not sure why the total duration is displayed so prominently over the real number, and this counts the time you fell asleep to the time you woke up, without restlessness in between.
If you take the “actual sleep time” number, it correlates better to our Whoop 4.0 than any other smartwatch we’ve tested and was generally within about 10 minutes. So that’s a really good sign and makes it a more powerful tool for getting better rest.
The sleep score was also fairly representative of our sleep quality, with lower durations and restless nights getting lower scores. It was also sensitive enough to show things like having alcohol before bed and was in line with our Whoop data.
The watch will also show awake, REM, light, and deep scores – although this didn’t tally so well with Whoop, and generally showed around half the amount of deep sleep time. Without a sleep lab it's hard to make statements on accuracy, and what we can compare stood up well against the best in the business.
There’s also some data on SpO2 throughout the night with any dips that could point to apnea issues.
Samsung also tracks sleep cycles, wakefulness, and interestingly, mental recovery – which is the amount of REM. It will also highlight any concerningly low areas using a traffic light system.
Overall, the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic provides one of the best sleep-tracking experiences out of the box.
It provides data comparable to Fitbit and Whoop, with more metrics to pore over. If you want the maximum detail on sleep, this is for you.
Samsung says that it has boosted battery capacity by 20%, but admitted to Wareable that users are unlikely to see any meaningful difference between versions.
Battery life on both devices amounts to a little more than a single day, if you turn on all the health and display features. We got around 25 hours, including a one-hour GPS-tracked workout, which drained the battery by around 20%. That included turning on the always-on display, stress tracking, and nightly SpO2.
On the next cycle, we managed around 30 hours, but with no workout tracked.
Samsung says that the Watch 6 Classic will last around 40 hours of use, without the always-on display turned on.
Likewise, Samsung estimates 30 hours with the always-on display turned on. Without working out, this feels realistic from our testing. But you might have to think about all of the health features you want turned on.
It's pretty uninspiring battery life but remember the Watch 5 Pro offers nearly three days – and will be getting all of the new features from Wear OS 4. So if you’re interested in the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, but need more longevity, that feels like the most recommendable Galaxy Watch right now.
Should you buy it?
While the Galaxy Watch 6 feels like a minor step up from the Watch 5, the Watch 6 Classic has the benefit of Samsung skipping a generation – thus it feels fresher and a bigger upgrade.
For our money, it’s the better Galaxy Watch 6 to buy, and the more refined look and tactile bezel are worth the extra money.
Wear OS 4 feels mature and usable here, and Samsung’s health features are also accurate and useful. For Android users, this is a strong choice of smartwatch – and it’s an easy device to live with.
With Watch 5 and 4 getting Wear OS 4, there’s an argument to save money by opting for an older generation. That’s more pertinent for the standard Watch 6. For the Watch 6 Classic, we feel there are enough reasons to recommend it outright.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 spec sheet
|Watch 6 Classic
|Wear OS 4
|Wear OS 4
|40 hours (no AOD)
|40 hours (no AOD)
How we test