Apple Watch Series 6 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch3: Which Smartwatch is Best?

Apple and Samsung face off over wellness -focused wearables

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Series 6 vs. Galaxy Watch3

The Apple Watch Series 6 is arguably the best smartwatch on the market, and certainly the best for iOS users. But Android users aren’t without recourse because Samsung has also released its very premium Galaxy Watch3. The two devices use different operating systems, fundamentally different designs, and specs, but they share a focus on wellness and fitness tracking. We’ve put them head to head in order to compare their form-factor, comfort and fit, specs, fitness tracking capabilities, software, and other features. 

Apple Watch Series 6 Samsung Galaxy Watch3
Square display with Digital Crown Circular display with rotating bezel
Waterproof to 50m Waterproof to 50m
Heart rate sensor, sleep tracking, fall detection Heart rate sensor, sleep tracking, fall detection
Bloody oxygen monitor Blood oxygen monitor, blood pressure, and stress tracking
18 hour battery life 2 day battery life

Design and Fit 

Their respective predecessors, the Apple Watch Series 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch make it easy to see where the Apple Watch Series 6 and Galaxy Watch3 get their design language. The Series 6 hasn’t fundamentally changed from the previous year. You get two size options, 40mm and 44mm. There’s a Digital Crown on the side to let you navigate apps without having to use the touchscreen. There’s also one physical button right beneath the Crown to ley you access open apps and swap quickly between them. 

Apple Watch Series 6
 Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

The touchscreen itself is still a rectangle with rounded corners, there are a variety of case color options (Silver, Space Gray, Gold, Blue, and (Product)RED), and you can swap out and purchase a number of different bands for customization like the Sport Band, Modern Buckle, and stainless steel Milanese Loop. If you pay more you can get the Series 6 itself in stainless steel or titanium, though the ceramic model has been discontinued. 

As with all the Apple Watch models released to date, the Series 6 supports water resistance up to 50 meters under ISO Standard. That allows it to be used for swimming in a pool or ocean, but Apple advises you to avoid high-velocity water such as with scuba diving and water skiing. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch3 smartwatch alternative to Apple Watch

The Galaxy Watch3 takes a different tack towards design. It has a circular display with the famous rotating bezel for easy navigation. It’s one of the more innovative designs we’ve seen on a smartwatch and functions similarly to Apple’s Digital Crown button. There are also two physical buttons for the Back key and Home key, and Samsung offers 41mm and 45mm options for different wrist sizes. In terms of material and color options, the Watch3 comes in stainless steel and titanium, and color options are Mystic Black, Mystic Silver, and Mystic Bronze (really more of a rose gold). Straps are changeable and you can pick from a wide variety of material and style options. 

Like the Series 6, the Watch3 is rated IP68 and has a MIL-STD-810G for ruggedness and protection against drops and bumps. It can survive in 1.5 meters of fresh water for up to 30 minutes and it has a water resistance rating of 50 meters under ISO standard. But again, you shouldn’t do high-pressure water activities. 

Display, Battery, and Specs

The Apple Watch Series 6 has a bright and attractive OLED display. It measures 1.78 inches and has a resolution of 448x368, working out to 326 pixels per inch (ppi). The display is covered by sapphire crystal glass for extra protection against scratches. Apple has made some small improvements to the screen in other regards, boosting the brightness and making it so the screen is always-on so you never just see a blank display. 

Apple Watch Series 6.

Battery life still holds up despite these added features, with the Series 6 lasting up to 18 hours. That’s not as long as the two days the Apple Watch Series 4 lasted in our testing, but you’ll still get one day of use out of the device before needing to recharge. The Series 6 uses Apple’s brand new dual-core S6 chip and comes with 32GB of storage and 1GB of RAM. It’s supposed to be 20 percent faster than the chip in the Series 5. Our reviewer claimed it was more responsive when launching apps, but not dramatically so. 

The Galaxy Watch3 has a 1.4-inch circular Super AMOLED display. The resolution is 360x360, working out to a crisp 364ppi and making it slightly sharper than the Series 6 on paper due to the smaller display. It’s clad in Corning Gorilla Glass DX for extra protection against drops and also supports an always-on screen. 

Screenshot of the Heart Rate Graphic Galaxy Watch app.

The 340mAh battery is rated for two days of use, outstripping the 18 hours or so the Series 6 gets. Under the hood, you have a dual-core Exynos 9110 processor, 1GB of RAM, and just 8GB of storage compared to the 32GB on the Series 6. It can launch apps with ease and should be about as fast as the Series 6, but comparing two devices with different operating systems isn’t an easy feat. 

Software and Features 

The Apple Watch Series 6 unsurprisingly runs on watchOS 7 and comes packed with fitness tracking features. There’s an accelerometer and GPS, allowing you to track fitness activities like running and cycling. Tracking starts automatically once physical activity is detected. Apple’s famous Activity Rings provide motivation to keep you moving throughout the day and encourage you to work out.

This is all fairly standard stuff we’ve seen on previous iterations. Where Apple really takes it to the next level is with wellness. There’s a heart rate sensor that presses again your wrist. It’s able to track when your heart rate is elevated or irregular. There’s an electrocardiogram (ECG) test, which uses an electrical heart sensor in the Digital Crown to check for atrial fibrillation. An interesting new feature, especially with COVID-19 is the blood oxygen sensor. It provides a reading of how much oxygen is flowing through your body and can help you detect drops. Sleep tracking and fall detection are both present, using sensors to monitor your movement and breathing. 

Apple Watch front
 Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

The Galaxy Watch3 runs on Samsung’s custom Tizen OS rather than Android Wear OS. It also doesn’t skimp on features. Like the Series 6, it supports 24/7 activity tracking and is capable of recording runs, cycling, swimming, and other fitness activities. It also automatically recongizes when activity starts and will start tracking automatically. There are push messages to encourage you to work out, similar to Activity Rings. 

In terms of sensors, the Watch3 matches and even surpasses the Series 6. It can monitor heart rate, blood oxygen levels, ECG, and on top of that, it also has blood pressure monitoring. The measurements are also quite informative, tracking well your heart is pumping oxygen and providing real-time feedback for maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 Max). It has fall detection and sleep tracking, and can monitor your stress level, and offer breathing guides when it’s elevated to help you calm down. 

Price 

The Apple Watch Series 6 will cost you $399 for 40mm and $429 for the 44mm model. It’s an extra $100 on top of each if you want LTE. The stainless steel model can run up to $699 while the titanium model is $799, making it twice as costly as the base model. 

The 41mm Galaxy Watch3 costs $399 and the 45mm model costs $429. If you add LTE, this price rises to $450 and $480, respectively. This puts the Watch3 at the same price as the Apple Watch Series 6, however, you’re more likely to see it on sale during Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Final Verdict

For most people, the choice between the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch3 comes down to the ecosystem you’re already in. If you’re an Apple user, you’ll be best served by the Series 6. While it’s possible for the Watch3 and some Android on iOS, they take a bit of extra setup, and compatibility isn’t perfect. Conversely, an Apple Watch can’t be used with Android, it simply isn’t designed for it. So Android users will want to pick up the Watch3.