With the new series of smartphones it introduced for India’s price-conscious buyers this year, South Korean electronics major Samsung also brought to the country its full portfolio of smart wearables. From fitness bands to smartwatches, this new range of Samsung wearables caters to users in all price bands.
The latest addition to the portfolio, the Samsung Galaxy Watch LTE, a smartwatch with eSIM support, serves as a standalone device rather than a smartphone companion — just like the Apple Watch. With this device, Samsung seems to have offered Android users everything that Apple Watch offers iOS users. But does it perform equally well on all metrics? Let’s find out:
The Samsung Galaxy Watch LTE is no design marvel. It lacks the charm of most current-generation smartwatches, even the Samsung Active (review). One culprit is its thick and bulky stainless steel case (Silver, 46mm review unit), which looks neither classic nor modern. And its black silicone strap looks rather cheap. Thankfully, the straps are swappable, so you can buy better ones separately and replace them — that might add some zing to the watch’s otherwise dull design.
The Galaxy Watch LTE is powered by Samsung’s proprietary Linux-based Tizen operating system, which boasts an app store featuring several commonly used apps, including Spotify, and watch faces. This makes it one of the best alternatives to Google’s WearOS-based smartwatches. That said, the watch is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones.
Being a smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch LTE also lets you track and measure your health and fitness regime. And, it has an automatic activity detection feature that lets the watch auto-track fitness activities. It also has a heart-rate sensor to monitor heart rhythms and notify if there is an anomaly. Using the heart-rate sensor, the watch also tracks your sleep quality and creates a neatly visualised log to help you understand your sleep patterns. You can also use the heart-rate sensor to monitor your stress level. To relieve stress, you get a guided breathing feature — you are asked to take deep breaths to bring down your stress level.
The Galaxy Watch has built-in GPS, altimeter and barometer. While the former allows you to track your movements, the latter two make it an ideal smartwatch for those into adventure sports like mountain hiking. The watch has a 5ATM rating for water and dust resistance.
Besides the features mentioned above, there are a speaker and microphone to allow you to take calls and messages using the watch — with eSIM connectivity when the phone is not close by.
The Galaxy Watch LTE is one of the most intuitive smartwatches for Android smartphones at present. The watch’s Tizen OS is easy to understand and operate. There is a 1.3-inch super AMOLED touchscreen of a 360 x 360 resolution, which looks sharp and has good sunlight legibility. The screen does not have bezels; there is a mechanical dial that rotates left and right, making it easy to navigate through the watch’s user interface.
As a fitness tracker, the watch is mostly accurate in in its reading during workouts. However, its auto activity tracking feature does not always work as intended. Therefore, check the watch before initiating a particular workout session to be sure that the watch is tracking and measuring the right activity.
The Galaxy Watch is a feature-rich smartwatch that can be used as a standalone device — at least for making calls and sending messages. However, it works best when connected with a smartphone. The reasons: It is easy to manage watch’s features, including watch faces, through the Samsung Wearables app; and Samsung Health app syncs watch data and represents it through various visualisations for easier consumption.
(A caveat: The eSIM functionality is activated only through a Samsung smartphone. Currently, only Airtel and Reliance Jio allow eSIM connectivity in India, and the watch supports both these operators.)
Complementing the watch’s performance is its battery, which is good for three days on normal use, and at least a day if always-on screen is enabled.
With the Galaxy Watch LTE, Samsung has come close to the Apple Watch in terms of utility and features. It is easily the best smartwatch at present for Android smartphone users. At Rs 30,990, the Galaxy Watch LTE is the only smartwatch that supports eSIM functionality; besides, there are impressive health and fitness features and on-battery time. Though the watch’s design is nothing to write home about, its easy-to-use operating system, mechanical rotating dial and decent app support make it a functional smartwatch you might like to consider.