Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is a big upgrade – with ECG and big price tag

Updated: Everything you need to know about Samsung's next smartwatch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is a big upgrade
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The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is official, and it’s everything we thought it would be. The watch is available for pre-order now with a release date of 6 August in the US and ships by 20 August in Europe.

A constant torrent of lazer guided leaks have ruined nearly every surprise, but the announcement that its ECG app has received clearance by the FDA is a big win for the company as it challenges the Apple Watch Series 5.

And that makes the Galaxy Watch 3 a big contender for the best smartwatch of 2020 – at least until the Apple Watch Series 6 comes along.

To catch you up, Samsung’s next smartwatch has widely leaked, and is called the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. No, you didn’t miss a generation, but it looks like Samsung will skip on to Watch 3 to avoid confusion with the Galaxy Watch Active 2.

As expected there are two models at 41mm and 46mm, which represents a slight slimming down from the 2018 original.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 specs at a glance

  • 41mm/45mm
  • Tizen OS
  • LTE versions available
  • 1.2-inch/1.4-inch display
  • 360 x 360 Super AMOLED
  • 247mAh/340mAh
  • Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15 GHz
  • ECG
  • Blood pressure
  • SpO2
  • Sleep tracking
  • Heart/rate VO2 max
  • Fall detection

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 41mm Bronze/Gold SS BT

But the case size isn’t the only thing to slim down.

The Galaxy Watch 3 is 14% slimmer and 15% slimmer than the original Galaxy Watch, which makes it more wearable and, more importantly, unisex.

You do get a bigger battery inside the larger case, with the Watch 3 packing in 247mAh (41mm) or 340mAh (45mm).

And most importantly for Galaxy Watch fans, the rotating bezel is back, with that mechanical click for navigating around the Tizen OS.

There are stainless steel and black options in both sizes. However, as we reported, the 46mm will come in black titanium, and the 41mm has a Mystic Bronze option too.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 80,000 watch faces example

Inside the case is a 1.2-inch (41mm) or 1.3-inch (45mm) Circular Super AMOLED panel, with which looks crisp and sharp. Displays have always been the strongest suit of Samsung wearables, and that’s no different here.

And that should be good for showing off the 80,000 available watch faces, which Samsung says is the biggest in the industry.

And like Oppo and Fossil watches before it, you can take a picture of your outfit and have the Samsung app select color-matched watch faces.

What's more, there's a special weather watch face too.

Fitness and health features

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 on wrist

There’s 40 workout tracking profiles, and 11 will be auto-detected.

That includes running, walking, swimming, cycling, rowing, elliptical workouts, and dynamic workouts.

Running also features body form as well as the standard pace/distance/time, with balance, symmetry and contact time all tracked on the watch.

And there’s a focus on advanced fitness, with VO2 Max scores.

You can also start workouts by asking Bixby, if you dare, because Samsung’s assistant is back on the Galaxy Watch 3. We’ll have to wait to see how that works, as it was useless on the original Galaxy Watch way back in 2018.

Sleep tracking is boosted with a partnership with the US National Sleep Institute, which the company says will offer deeper insights into REM cycles. Again, this is one we’ll get a feel for in our review.

ECG and blood pressure monitor are included, and Samsung has got clearance for ECG from the FDA, which is pretty exciting, although there could be a wait for the feature to go live.

Blood pressure is live in Korea, but needs to be validated frequently with a cuff.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 ECG app approved by the FDA

However, you will get blood oxygen tracking via the SpO2 sensor, but this is best automated during sleep (like it's done on the Fitbit Charge 4 and Versa 2), so we're hoping the feature is used beyond a simple spot-check app which isn't nearly as useful.

Stress tracking also makes it to the Galaxy Watch 3, although details are a little scant on what that involves.

Historically, Samsung has partnered with Calm for guided breathing and meditation, so we’ll be interested to see how stress is tracked.

Fall detection also makes it to the Galaxy Watch 3, as it goes toe-to-toe with the Apple Watch Series 5.

And that brings up neatly to the only real surprise of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.

The price has jumped fairly dramatically, and Samsung’s flagship isn’t here to be a bargain alternative to the Apple Watch. It’s here to dominate the Android Watch market.

Prices start at $399 for the 41mm Galaxy Watch 3, and rise to $429.99 for the bigger 45mm.

LTE is $449 for the 41mm version, and $479 for the 46mm.

That’s pretty much on par with the Apple Watch Series 5.

Early verdict

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 silver and leather strap

From a first look the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 certainly looks like a top contender for best Android watch, but there’s a lot of competition here right now.

The Oppo Watch was just announced, which undercuts the Galaxy Watch 3 and excels in terms of battery life and offers a design much closer to the Apple Watch.

And don’t forget that Huawei is pushing big numbers with the Watch GT2e, and looks like it could be about to drop a Watch GT2 Pro and Huawei Mate Watch.

The Huawei Watch GT2e is available sub-$200 which puts a lot of pressure on Samsung’s flagship. However, the US v China trade war means lack of availability in the States for these brands plays straight into Samsung’s hands.

That, coupled with Samsung’s premium design, means it’s advantage Galaxy Watch 3 as we head into the silly season.