Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 brings back the rotating bezel — plus a few other tricks

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 ($399) brings a rotating bezel, ECG monitoring and fall detection right to your wrist. It's the best Android lifestyle smartwatch you can get now.


  • +

    Slimmer design than the original

  • +

    Physical rotating bezel is back

  • +

    FDA-approved ECG readings


  • -

    Blood pressure readings don't work in U.S.

  • -

    Shorter battery life than original

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3's fan-favorite bezel — the rotating bow on a beautifully-packaged, $399 smartwatch — is every bit as satisfying as it seems.

Though fidget-swiveling is great, life-saving health features like an FDA-approved ECG sensor and trip detection are better. Tack on SpO2 and VO2 Max readings, a vast library of watch faces and slimmed down design, and Samsung found a winner in this wearable

At the time it launched, there was no question this was the best smartwatch for Android you could buy. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 isn't the newest Samsung smartwatch, though. Last year, the company announced the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, which had a refreshed design, a 3-in-1 health sensor for measuring heart rate, taking ECGs and reading body composition, and a new WearOS operating system. Our guide to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 3 has more on the key upgrades.

But more recently, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 lineup has arrived. Our Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 review and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review have everything you'll want to know about the latest devices. Be sure to check out the differences between the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 vs. Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, too.

Though it's been replace, this Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review explains how this new contender stacked up against the best smartwatches, as well as the Apple Watch Series 6, which launched the same year.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 price and availability

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 specs

Starting price: $399
Display: 1.2 inches/1.4 inches
Colors: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic White
Size: 41 x 42.5 x 11.3 mm/45 x 46.2 x 11.1 mm
Storage: 8GB
Battery: 247 mAh / 340 mAh
Durability: 5ATM + IP68
OS: Tizen 5.5
Features: HRM, SpO2, VO2 Max, ECG, blood pressure monitoring

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 went on sale on August 6, 2020. Those interested in picking the new smartwatch have a few sizes and variations to choose from.

The starting Galaxy Watch 3 price of $399 will get you the 41mm model in either Mystic Silver or Mystic Bronze. (The latter option is Samsung’s signature color, matching the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, which launched at the same time). 

The larger, 45mm model starts at $429 and comes in Mystic Black or Mystic Silver. It’s offered in a titanium variant as well, though that will come at a premium. And if you want your Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 with LTE so it can make phone calls and respond to messages when your smartphone is out of Bluetooth range, expect to add $50 to the base price.

Whichever model you pick, we may be able to knock a few dollars off the price with our Samsung promo codes.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review: Design

The bezel is back, baby. When we tested the mechanism during our original Samsung Galaxy Watch review, we found the physical bezel useful and fun. Spinning the dial worked well with both side buttons and offered a great alternative to swiping or trying to poke at the circular display with our finger. 

The bezel holds up a second time around, but feels even better because Samsung slimmed down the Galaxy Watch 3. It’s 8% smaller, 14% thinner and 15% lighter than the first Galaxy Watch. We’re talking millimeters here, but when it comes to something you wear on your wrist, the difference is noticeable. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

(Image credit: Future)

Still, the 1.7-ounce, 41mm Mystic Bronze model I tested looks chunky compared to my Apple Watch 5. The trade-off is that it looks more like a traditional watch than a high-tech one. Whereas I might ditch my Apple Watch for a nice dinner or date night, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 holds its own as a stylish accessory. 

Better yet, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 comes with genuine leather straps that match the casing’s color and contribute a more elevated aesthetic compared to the fitness-focused Samsung Galaxy Watch 2. But the leather doesn’t fare well against sweat or water, so I’d swap them for sportier ones if I were to continue using the Galaxy Watch 3 as my daily driver.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review: Display and watch faces

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3’s 360 x 360-pixel screen is sharp, bright enough to see in direct sunlight and always-on, but that's not what caught my interest.

I'll admit, Apple Watch complications stress me out. I feel forced to use a combination of five different faces at once to see everything I could need throughout the day, and even then I wish there were more options. Enter the Galaxy Watch 3 with 80,000 different watch-faces and 40 complications from which to choose.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

(Image credit: Future)

It took me some time to figure out which combination of design and data brought me comfort on the Galaxy Watch 3, but I'm a sucker for the weather-centric backgrounds. I can't explain why I never check the forecast before leaving the house, so if seeing rain animations on my wrist doesn't help, nothing will.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review: Performance

Samsung’s Tizen software still trails behind Apple’s watchOS, but is a significant improvement from Google’s fickle Wear OS. Not only are the Galaxy Watch 3’s various menus highly customizable and packed with useful apps, but launching and switching between them feels sharp, too.

Thanks to the bezel, navigation is intuitive, and I relied on it along with the dual buttons to get where I wanted to go. The motion gestures, on the other hand, didn’t really do it for me. When I could get them to work, I felt a little foolish in the process. 

What didn’t feel silly is the Galaxy Watch 3’s T9 keyboard, which I relied for texting more often than I thought I would. I know, typing on such a small screen sounds ridiculous, but I appreciated the ability to send messages in cases when I couldn’t use talk to text. I wish the Apple Watch would replace Scribble with a modified, miniature keyboard.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review: Fitness and health features

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 can track 40 total activities, and seven can be tracked automatically, meaning you won’t always have to select what kind of exercise you’re doing beforehand. I needed this when my sprightly 85-pound black lab didn’t want to stop for me to launch a walk tracking on our routine treks around our town.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Watch 3’s on-board GPS measured my daily course accurately enough (it's roughly 1.2 miles, depending how many times the dog wants to go in circles). I had the same experience when I took the watch biking and running, the latter of which was informed by on-demand VO2 Max readings. I’m far from an endurance runner so I didn’t trigger any warnings, but I imagine more dedicated athletes would appreciate this feature during training.

But they might not appreciate the leather straps. I certainly know I didn’t. It felt odd getting them wet with sweat, and I didn’t even consider taking the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 near a pool despite its 5ATM rating for water resistance. I’d recommend getting silicone bands if you plan to use the Galaxy Watch 3 for anything more than light exercise, or taking a look at one of the best fitness trackers instead.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

(Image credit: Future)

Still, no matter where you are, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3’s trip detection sensors will call emergency services on your behalf when it senses you took a hard and sudden fall. Apple Watch has had this feature for a few years, so it's good to see Samsung catching up.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review: ECG readings and blood pressure monitoring

The Galaxy Watch 3 has a FDA-approved ECG monitor, meaning the new smartwatch will be able to detect signs of atrial fibrillation just like the Apple Watch. 

While the Apple Watch’s FDA-approved ECG sensor is old news (it debuted with the Apple Watch Series 4), Samsung has been slow to get its version approved, first earning clearance for the technology on the Galaxy Watch Active 2 in South Korea.

Now, both those smartwatches can administer ECG readings.

Samsung has also earned clearance for its blood pressure monitor in South Korea. For now, the sensor will sit dormant in The Galaxy Watch 3 until it’s approved by the FDA. If it receives the green light soon, it would be the first smartwatch from a big-name tech brand with a working blood pressure monitoring system. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 sleep tracking

In bed, the Galaxy Watch 3 benefits from Samsung’s partnership with the National Sleep Institute to provide wearers with insight on their REM cycle, plus a morning report on quality of sleep and tips on how to improve sleep. 

In the nights I wore it to bed, I simultaneously tested the Apple Watch sleep tracking. Apple’s native sleep tracking app credited me with a bit more sleep and knew when I woke up in the middle of the night during monstrous thunderstorms, whereas Samsung responded with more actionable data.

Some of these insights are provided by the Galaxy Watch 3’s SpO2 sensor, or pulse oximeter. An SpO2 sensor can inform breathing disturbances while sleeping, which is a prevalent symptom of sleep apnea. I, for one, don’t have much trouble sleeping, but someone who does could learn how to take action on changing their sleep cycle with the Watch 3. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review: Apps and storage

Tizen OS has a more limited library of third-party selections than the native Apple Watch App Store, but there are enough major programs like Uber and Spotify at your disposal. 

And, with the Galaxy Watch 3’s 8GB of music storage, you can save tunes for offline play black with a Spotify Premium subscription. I'm not using an LTE model, so I look forward to having a few of my playlists available when I leave my phone at home for bike rides. I appreciate this feature about my Apple Watch 5, which has a larger 16GB storage capacity. I’ve already used up about half my Galaxy Watch 3’s storage with a few of my favorite playlists, though, so I’ll need to be mindful of offloading audio I don’t need anymore.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 battery life

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

(Image credit: Future)

Where the new Galaxy Watch seems to fall short of the previous model is battery life. Unlike the 4-day stamina of the original Galaxy Watch, the Galaxy Watch 3’s 340 mAh battery is rated for 2 days. That’s fair for smartwatch standards (the Apple Watch 5 only gets 18 hours) and likely contributes to the slimmed-down design. 

The Galaxy Watch 3 lives up to Samsung's battery estimates. Even with hour-long workouts and sleep tracking in the first two days I wore it, the watch lasted about 2 days. However, when I enabled the always-on display setting, the battery life dropped to 24 hours in its second cycle. Still, this is better than my Apple Watch 5.

When it needs more juice, the Galaxy Watch 3 can be charged with its proprietary charge or via wireless power share with a compatible Samsung phone. I tried out this charging cradle dock from Amazon for the sake of keeping my bedside table organized, too.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 stands out in a crowded wearable market. There are plenty of stylish smartwatches and excellent fitness trackers to choose from these days, and Samsung managed to strike a balance between the two. It brought the best health features of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 to a bezeled design that rivals offerings from timepiece savant Fossil. 

But this convergence came at a cost — the Galaxy Watch 3 is more expensive than the Galaxy Watches and Wear OS Fossil options before it, and leans more towards lifestyle than fitness. I can’t say I’d replace my Apple Watch with an Android one at the same price. But if you’ve picked up an Android phone—in particular, one made by Samsung—and want an extension of it on your wrist wherever you go, you won’t find anything more polished and powerful than the Galaxy Watch 3. Or anything with as satisfying of a spinning mechanism, at least. 

Kate Kozuch

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. 

  • JLBME98
    What is the watch face with the weather around the dial? I want it for my galaxy watch.
  • MC2609
    Terrible product
    I have had 2 so far and both have had so many problems
    Batter life is 8 hours max even with all features turned off
    it constant overheats - even when sitting on a desk
    charging takes 4 hours
    it's completely useless

  • Gunta
    ❗❗❗ Don't buy Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 41mm ❗❗❗

    The battery of the new watch holds not more than 2 hours if you are using Endomondo + Music
    If just Endomondo - then not more than 3 hours.

    My conversation with Samsung service was ridiculous. I was saying that it’s written in the description that the battery holds up to 2 days, if it would hold at least1 day, I wouldn’t complain. But the Samsung service says that I have the watch without any defects and it's my fault.

    Here are service explanations:
    You are using too many applications - if Endomondo + Music is too many, then yes
    You are in a place with a bad GPS signal - no, mostly I’m using the watch in the city centre. We made experiment with a friend, in the same location, in the same time, in the same distance, Galaxy Watch battery discharged for 73%, Garmin 23%
    You are watching too many times on the screen… this was funny one :) - I don’t think that few times in one hour is too many
    You are using E-sim card - yes, this watch offer such feature
    I want my money back!!!!
  • HacksawHenry
    Battery lasts less than 12 hours for me. I'm forced to charge it twice a day. Pretty much unusable. Trying to return it now. Very disappointed with this review tbh

    Do not buy this watch.
  • PeninaS
    I've had this watch since late October after having Watch Active 2... I am not a heavy feature user, and do not use always on, but I consistently get 2+ days out of a charge with Bluetooth on.
    SpO2 is always within 1% or exactly matches my medical grade pulse oximeter, HR is very close... as I was a Paramedic, the ECG interests me as I can see more on the dynamic tracing than I expected, even if the watch itself is not officially programmed to report on anything other than A-Fib.
    As a tester for MyBPLab, I have been frustrated to get this device set up for BP... it actually worked with all my previous Samsung phones and smart watches starting with Galaxy 9+ and Gear Sport. I expect this function will eventually come through.
  • ConnieL429
    While I love the watch, I absolutely HATE these kinds of bands. I realize that’s just personal preference but even if I did like the buckle bands, this leather doesn’t feel all that great to me. It’s stuff and not very soft to the touch. I’m one of those who prefers the silicone band that tucks in as the buckle ones constantly get caught on clothing and other things. YUK