If you're on the hunt for your next smartwatch, the Garmin Venu 3 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 are two premium options that should absolutely be on your shortlist.
But which is the better pick of these 2023 releases - and how are they different?
Well, here, we'll be putting these latest and greatest options from Samsung and Garmin head-to-head in order to give you an idea.
Below, we've analyzed the key differences in price, design, features, and battery life, using our hands-on, real-world experience with both smartwatches to provide expert insight.
As ever, though, if you want the most granular detail, check out our dedicated reviews of each device.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review
- Samsung Galaxy Watch Classic review
- Garmin Venu 3: Everything you need to know
Prices and versions
As with all modern-day smartwatches, choosing between different watch generations isn't enough - you also have to figure out which version and which size is the best fit, too.
In relative terms, though, we should say that the Venu 3 and Galaxy Watch 6 lineups aren't too overwhelming.
With both brands offering two case sizes for each base model (as well as the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic edition and its pair of sizes), we really think there's a perfect option for every wrist size here.
The asking prices, however, are very different.
Every version of the Galaxy Watch 6 series is cheaper than the Venu 3 (and smaller Venu 3S), with even the most premium Samsung device still being a snip under the Garmin.
Garmin Venu 3 pricing
- Venu 3: $449.99 / £449.99
- Venu 3S: $449.99 / £449.99
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 pricing
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 (40mm): £289 / $299.99
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 (44mm): £319 / $329.99
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic (43mm): From £369 / $399.99
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic (47mm): From £399 / $429.99
Design and display
On the wrist, we would say that all three of the core models here - the Venu 3, Galaxy Watch 6, and Galaxy Watch 6 Classic - all offer a very classic take on the modern circular-case smartwatch.
The trio are all relatively unisex, with only the larger 47mm Classic model really jumping out as a more masculine option, and all boast a number of different case colors to pick from, as well.
As you would expect between different manufacturers, there are some clear differences, but the core of each design is roughly similar - they're versatile, premium-feeling, and light enough for comfortable 24/7 wear.
The biggest difference, then, is in the interaction. While Garmin keeps things simple with its three-button array and touchscreen support, Samsung goes one further by allowing you to navigate through either the digital (Galaxy Watch 6) or physical bezel (Galaxy Watch 6 Classic).
It's a simple difference, but it's still the biggest distinguishing factor here - one that fundamentally changes how you interact with each device.
And while the display sizes and resolutions naturally vary between all the different models on offer here, all feature superb, vibrant screens.
For Samsung's watches, that's courtesy of the Super AMOLED display, while Garmin opts for a standard AMOLED panel. We don't really think there's a noticeable difference here, with all performing well in even the harshest sunlight.
Features and OS
While the designs are all winners, Garmin and Samsung's differences begin to really show in the smart features made possible by the respective operating systems.
And, in fact, depending on which phone you have, this could be the first deal breaker.
Given Samsung's Galaxy Watch 6 devices only work with Android phones (with some features even limited to just those with Samsung handsets), those with an iPhone won't really be able to consider these models.
In contrast, meanwhile, the Venu 3 (like all of Garmin's watches) is compatible with both Android and iOS devices.
But while it's less inclusive, Wear OS is by far the richer of the two operating systems. Menus run just a tad smoother than they do on Garmin's proprietary OS, while the Play Store is bustling and apps are much more refined.
Even things like performing a contactless payment are much simpler through Wear OS and Samsung's watches, given that support for Google Wallet offers much wider support than Garmin Pay.
For those who desire the untethered smart experience granted by LTE, as well, the Galaxy Watch 6 devices are the only choice. The Venu 3 does have a speaker and microphone of its own, we should say, but you'll still need to be connected to your chosen phone in order to make or take calls from the watch.
Health and activity tracking
The Galaxy Watch 6 models ace the smart features test, then, but the Venu 3 does claw back some ground when it comes to fitness and activity tracking.
We've not yet put this specific model through its paces, but we have extensively tested out its core tracking features via other premium Garmin models.
So, that fifth-gen Elevate heart rate sensor that's on the rear is one we can confidently say is one of the best (if not the best) performing wrist-based sensors on the market, for example.
The Venu 3's All Systems GNSS is also reliable in almost every environment, and a lock-on is gained within a few seconds of selecting a workout profile.
The accuracy of All Systems doesn't quite match up to Garmin's own Multi-Band/dual-frequency GNSS, but it's still a step above what Samsung offers in terms of location accuracy, from our testing.
This also extends to the training insights available to Venu 3 wearers. There are some still present in the Galaxy Watch 6 - and it is now a watch we would recommend to intermediate runners, for example - but the experience still doesn't really compare to what Garmin can offer.
Where Samsung falls down with things like GPS performance and training feedback, though, it does make up for it somewhat with its improved array of health insights. You can perform ECG readings at will, link up with a blood pressure monitor, and even receive body composition information.
Garmin, meanwhile, while providing great wellness support with features like Body Battery, guided meditations, and Sleep Coach, does lag behind on medical-grade health features.
The hardware is there for ECG support, but, as of yet, Garmin hasn't enabled the feature for the Venu 3. And this means that blood oxygen saturation monitoring is the sole 'serious' health feature on Garmin's device.
With the Venu 3 still officially in our testing lab, we'll reserve full judgment here until we've assessed its battery performance fully.
With that said, though, it's not a huge gamble to say that it will provide a huge progression from what's offered through the Galaxy Watch 6 models.
While Samsung's devices all vary based on version and size, you'll generally struggle to make it through two full days of use - even with the always-on display turned off.
In our testing, we found that around 30 hours with the display set to always-on was enough to see the battery fully deplete, which, obviously, isn't great by 2023 standards. Most of the time, as a result, we were reaching for the charger every day.
With the Venu 3, meanwhile, Garmin suggests that you'll receive 14 days in 'Smartwatch Mode' (with the always-on display turned off) and 5 days with the always-on display turned on.
The company's estimates are generally bang on - and this means you're able to go multiple days even in heavy use without needing to charge. That's not even close to being the case with the Galaxy Watch 6.
Verdict: Which is best?
When it comes to choosing between the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 series and Garmin Venu 3, the pair's clear distinctions make the choice relatively straightforward.
For those who require more of an activity tracker with a multi-day battery, and a watch that still offers the basics when it comes to health and smart features, the Venu 3 is a superb choice. It is expensive, but the premium display and design also help elevate it above a lot of its competitors.
If you instead require something a bit cheaper, however, and don't mind putting up with single-day battery life, there's definitely a Galaxy Watch 6 device to fit your wrist. Samsung's latest models excel in health tracking, offer a wide array of excellent smart features, and are still viable trackers for beginners and intermediates.
How we test