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Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 just got a key feature to fight Apple Watch 6

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
(Image credit: Samsung)

The Samsung 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. 

If you followed along with Samsung Unpacked on Wednesday, you might have missed this morsel of news — Samsung snuck it in before announcing the show-stopping Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, as if the FDA gave its green light just moments before.

Seriously, the FDA-approval footnote was so quick I had to turn to Twitter confirm what I heard.

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And yes, as it turns out, the ECG monitor is cleared for use. For as the casual as Samsung made the announcement seem, I'd say it's pretty big deal for how stacks up against the Apple Watch. Especially with the Apple Watch 6's release right on the Galaxy Watch 3's heels.

(Image credit: Samsung)

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. The Watch Active 2 has one onboard, but until last month it sat inactive.

In May it received approval from South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to measure and analyze a user's heart rhythm for irregularities indicating atrial fibrillation.

And we presumed the ECG would mostly lay dormant in the new Galaxy Watch, because Samsung can’t enable the ECG in other countries unless it receives similar approval from necessary government agencies. In the U.S., it's the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA.

When will the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 ECG monitor work in the U.S.?

Considering Samsung acted like its ECG-reading technology received FDA approval mere hours ago, we don't expect it work on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 when it hits shelves on August 6.

But we imagine Samsung will be motivated to get it live in the next few weeks before the Apple Watch 6 can steal some of its thunder.

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at