The morning after attending Samsung Galaxy Unpacked live in Seoul, I picked up a review unit of the new Galaxy Watch 6 — the 40mm size in Silver, in case you're curious — and started putting Samsung's latest-generation smartwatch through the paces.
Thanks to the refinements I report in my Galaxy Watch 6 hands-on review, it looks like this model could be the best Samsung watch yet. While Samsung made no sweeping changes, this year's smartwatch feels more polished than before — slimmer bezels, a better band mechanism, and vertical advancements in existing health pillars are some of the highlights. Plus, the return of the rotating bezel for the Classic version offers a stylish degree of versatility that other top smartwatch brands don't currently offer.
Starting at $299 and arriving on August 11, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 will define the company's wearable strategy for the upcoming year. (And here's how to preorder the Galaxy Watch 6 if you're already intrigued.) But what impact does the new smartwatch leave after just 24 hours?
Bigger display makes a difference
In 2021, the Apple Watch Series 7 introduced the thinnest bezels yet for an Apple smartwatch. I found it made the device more usable than ever, because you could see and interact with the display to a greater extent. Among all the Galaxy Watch 6 upgrades, Samsung making a similar change to its smartwatch screen excited me most.
Demonstrated by a fun, retro-looking digital clock face that pushes out to edge of the display, the Galaxy Watch 6 seems positioned to be used to its full potential. I had a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 with me for testing, but I didn't need to take it out of my bag much as I went about my day. I productively used Google Maps, messaging, the weather app all from my wrist as I explored Seoul.
Sleep tracking doesn't happen overnight
Well, obviously sleep tracking does happen overnight, but what I mean is that it takes more than one night of wear to reap the benefits of the Galaxy Watch 6's biggest wellness-related improvement. The device features a more comprehensive Sleep Score algorithm, routine-building Sleep Coach and animal assignments that help you better understand your sleep patterns.
My sleep score my first night clocked in at a so-so 65, no doubt the result of traveling across the world for a week. But that's all the sleep-tracking information I got out of my first night. The Sleep Coach won't offer a plan of action until after seven days of collecting my sleep data. At that point, I'll also be told which animal best reflects my sleep habits.
Lower your battery life expectations
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the last Samsung watch I thoroughly tested. Positioned as an outdoor sports watch, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro had the longest battery life of any Samsung wearable yet, lasting over two full days in my experience.
Though I knew the Galaxy Watch 6 wouldn't have the same stamina, I was surprised how many features explicitly cut down battery life. When I enabled both the always-on display and SpO2 tracking, the watch warned me it would cut into battery life. Then, I had GPS running for more than an hour for a walking workout. As a result, my device is running on fumes and needs to hit the charger after 24 hours.
The moral of the story? Take Samsung's 40-hour estimate with a grain of salt.
Still have my eye on the Classic
The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic has my attention in a way the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic never did. That's because the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic has a 15% slimmer bezel than the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. I saw a drastic difference, having seen the watches side-by-side.
No longer do Galaxy Watch devices with the physical bezel look bulky to me. By trimming down the bezel this year, Samsung made the Galaxy Watch 6 look more sleek and sophisticated, and I'm here for it. If I had to choose between the Galaxy Watch 6 vs. Galaxy Watch 6 Classic based on appearances, I think I'd opt for the later.
A full Galaxy Watch 6 review to come
My first 24 hours with the Galaxy Watch 6 definitely powered some early impressions, but I'll need to spend at least a week with the device before coming to conclusions or making a recommendation. After that, I should be able to determine how Samsung's newest flagship stacks up against the best smartwatches overall.
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Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.
AOD turned on? Why? Why would you want your screen turned on when you're not looking at it? AOD has never been a viable option because of the battery drain, unless someone "wants" to charge their watch every night.Reply
I bought the 6 classic just to get back to the physical bezel. If I can charge every other night like I do now with my 5Pro, I'll be happy.