The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is now official, and we’re one of the first sites to get it on our wrists and take a look.
The Galaxy Watch 6 is one of the best Android watches money can buy. But the problem is so is the Galaxy Watch 5. There’s little to pick between them, which can make your buying decision a little problematic.
We’re here to try and pick out some of the key decisions and guide you to the right answer.
Reading this guide might save you some money, so buckle up.
Hands on test: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic review
Design and size
Galaxy Watch 6
If you’re looking at these two devices on shopping sites, then you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference.
Both come in 40mm and 44mm sizes, so there are no differences there.
The Watch5 40mm comes in pink gold, graphite, and silver. On the Watch 6 40mm that’s just gold and black.
Likewise, the Watch 5 44mm was available in blue, graphite, and silver, but on the Watch 6, that’s just black and silver. So there’s more choice if you plump for the older generation.
Galaxy Watch 5
There has been a change in the design, although it’s quite subtle. Samsung has reduced the bezel size on the Watch 6 and made the screen 30% larger. So there’s less plastic and more AMOLED to look at, and the overall design is slightly cleaner.
The screen specs of the Watch 6 are a 1.5-inch Super AMOLED with a 480 x 480 resolution on the 44mm version and 1.3-inch with 432 x 432 on the 40mm.
On the Watch 5, that’s a 1.4-inch and 1.2-inch display respectively – so you can see the difference.
Galaxy Watch 6
The headline change of the Watch 6 was the addition of Wear OS 4, the latest generation of Google’s smartwatch OS.
With it, sleep tracking has been overhauled, with a new focus on deep analysis and stats. There are insights into sleeping blood oxygen and heart rate – and you will also be assigned a sleep animal chronotype – which is a profile based on your sleep habits.
What’s more, the Watch 6 can offer four-week sleep training programs, to help improve the quality of your rest.
The other big addition is for runners. There are now heart rate zone training modes, and you can opt to run within zones, and be notified if you’re pushing too hard. We’ve already given this a try, and it works nicely.
In terms of accuracy, we criticized some of the data from the Galaxy Watch 5 in our review. But our workouts with the Watch 6 have shown good levels of accuracy against a chest strap, and it looks to be a far superior performer.
Runners will also enjoy new support for workouts on running tracks and the ability to build custom workouts.
None of the above features are available on the Galaxy Watch 5 – yet.
While it ships with Wear OS 3.5, the Galaxy Watch 5 will get Wear OS 4 in the “coming months” and all these features with it. So eventually, owners will be able to enjoy these features. But is saving money worth a wait for these features? That’s something you need to weigh up.
Health and fitness
In terms of core health features, there’s little difference between the Galaxy Watch 5 and 6.
Both feature standard GPS tracking of outdoor workouts, using the same GPS/GLONASS systems. So there isn’t a change in accuracy between the two.
Both feature ECG and blood pressure tracking as standard – and both will need to be calibrated to a traditional cuff for the latter.
If you’re looking for a big difference in battery life, there’s no winner here.
Samsung says you’ll get 40 hours with the Watch 6 with the always-on display disabled. That reduces to 30 hours if it’s turned on.
The Galaxy Watch 5 is also estimated by Samsung to be good for 40 hours between charges – with the always-on display.
It’s interesting as the battery size was increased between generations, but it’s hard zero impact on actual battery life. That's likely because the extra screen size on the Galaxy Watch 6 requires extra power.
The Galaxy Watch 6 was released with a higher MSRP than the Watch 5 and goes for about $20/£20 across the board. So even off the bat, you will save money with the Galaxy Watch 5.
At the time of writing you can already pick up a Galaxy Watch 5 44mm for around $220 –which is a significant saving. So if you’re looking for a bargain, there are already good reasons to go for the previous generation.
In terms of the latest Galaxy Watch 5 prices, see below:
So should you choose the new Watch 6 or Watch 5?
Well, if you’re looking for a bargain and are willing to wait for the Wear OS 4 update for a couple of months (or more) then the Watch 5 is a no-brainer. There are deals around already, and you could land one for $200/£200 if you’re lucky.
But if you want to get the latest version of Wear OS and the new sleep features today – it's the Galaxy Watch 6 that you need.
How we test