Samsung is expected to launch the Galaxy Watch 3 and Galaxy Note 20 on Wednesday August 5.
However, there’s no need to wait if you want to know all about Samsung’s next wearable. Almost every detail has already been leaked.
There is no pricing info yet, but these eight points tell you almost everything else you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. Other features remain similar to the previous Samsung watches, like a high-res OLED screen and GPS.
Samsung superfans may want to watch the Unpacked event live at the Samsung website for the official unveil. It starts at 10am ET.
41 and 45mm versions and both have rotating bezels
There will be two sizes of Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. One has a 45mm diameter casing, the other a 41mm one.
They take the best bits of design from the original Galaxy Watch and the Active 2 series.
The Galaxy Watch has a delightful rotating control bezel but is chunky. The Active 2 watches are stylish, but use a touch sensitive strip around the screen rather than a true rotating bezel. It works fine, but does not feel as good.
Both Galaxy Watch 3 sizes use a true rotating bezel according to leaks, but have a smooth appearance a step closer to the Active 2 range than the original Galaxy Watch.
Smaller than the original, larger than the Active2
That rotating dial does not come for free, leading to a slight size increase over the Active 2 series. However, the Galaxy Watch 3 is still significantly smaller than the original Galaxy Watch.
Here’s how all six specs of Samsung Galaxy-series bands compare:
- Galaxy Watch (46mm): 46 x 49 x 13 mm, 63g
- Galaxy Watch (44mm): 41.9 x 45.7 x 12.7 mm, 49g
- Galaxy Watch Active2 (44mm): 44 x 44 x 10.9 mm, 42g
- Galaxy Watch Active2 (40mm): 40 x 40 x 10.9mm, 37g
- Galaxy Watch 3 (45mm): 45 x 46.2 x 11.11 mm, 53g
- Galaxy Watch 3 (41mm): 41 x 42.5 x 11.3 mm, 48g
The result is a happy medium. Both Galaxy Watch 3 sizes are significantly slimmer than the smaller Galaxy Watch, and only a little thicker than the Active 2 watches.
Why is the Watch 3 not completely round? Its side buttons stick out a little, and there’s a little lump to one side of the casing, to avoid too many accidental presses.
There’s an ECG sensor (but it might not work at launch)
An electrocardiogram sensor is one of the Galaxy Watch 3’s more interesting features.
It measures the electrical signals of your heart, much like the ECG sensor of the current Apple Watch. This is likely to sit on one of the side buttons, as it does in the Watch Active 2.
However, this may not work everywhere on day one. ECG features need to be proven to function to a certain degree of accuracy. Samsung announced the Active 2’s ECG had been signed off by South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on May 24, but we’re still waiting in the US and Europe.
Why such rigour? An ECG is used to detect signs of atrial fibrillation, which can cause an irregular or abnormally fast heart rate. False positives could cause undue alarm, and false negatives could stop someone visiting their doctor when there is actually an underlying problem.
ECG hardware needs to work, or it can be worse than useless. It might actually be dangerous.
When ready to roll, the Galaxy Watch 3’s ECG sensor won’t be used for all-day readings. You’ll place a finger on the side pad and it will analyse your heart’s rhythm to check for any possible abnormalities.
The Apple Watch’s ECG feature has been credited as the catalyst in several handfuls of cases where a questionable reading has led to a doctor’s visit that has resulted in a serious diagnosis. Like this one.
… But the PPG sensor is still there
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3’s standard heart rate sensor still remains on the back. It is not replaced by the ECG.
This is a PPG (Photoplethysmography) sensor, also known as an optical heart rate sensor. It will be an 8-LED array, much like the Watch Active 2’s.
This, and just about every other wearable HR tracker, uses LEDs to illuminate the wrist, and a light sensor to analyse how blood flow affects the light reflected back onto the sensor.
Most wearable hardware uses just two green LEDs for the purpose. The Watch 3’s eight should help improve reading consistency as you exercise.
It will likely last as long as the Active2 series
There’s one potential piece of bad news. The larger 45mm Galaxy Watch 3 does not have a battery as large as the original 46mm Galaxy Watch’s.
The 45mm version has a 340mAh cell, the 41mm version a 247mAh one. Samsung’s original, and longest-lasting, Galaxy Watch has a 472mAh battery.
The new watches’ numbers are the same as the Active 2 series’s.
Given these watches use the same Tizen-based Wearable OS, and the Watch 3 is reported to use the same Exynos 9110 processor as the Active2 range, battery life is likely to be very similar to the Active 2.
Expect the 45mm Galaxy Watch 3 to last two good days of use with some exercise tracking, the 41mm a little less.
This is way off the up to 2-week battery life of the Huawei Watch GT 2, but Samsung’s watches are smarter.
They are swim-ready
No surprises here. The Galaxy Watch 3 watches are expected to offer 5ATM water resistance, and have been tested with some strands of the MIL-STD-810G standard according to leaked specs.
That is a set of specifications devised in co-operation with the US military, testing things like the ability to withstand hot and cold temperatures, certain levels of humidity and shock force.
The result is you will be watch to wear the Galaxy Watch 3 while swimming, and the main worry is scratching the display glass.
You get two colour options
There will reportedly be two colour options when you buy a Galaxy Watch 3, but the available shades vary between the 41mm and 45mm versions.
The larger Galaxy Watch 3 will come in Mystic Black and Mystic Silver. Samsung’s smaller watch loses the black model, and replaces it with Mystic Bronze, for a softer look.
It will almost certainly have blood pressure monitoring mode
A relatively recent piece of news also shows us one Galaxy Watch 3 feature Samsung may highlight during the Unpacked event.
Samsung announced that its blood pressure monitor app for the Galaxy Watch Active2 had been cleared for use by the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in April. Just like the ECG feature, this needs to be at least reasonably accurate as misleading results could have significant health implications.
It uses the heart rate sensor to monitor changes to blood pressure through “pulse wave analysis”. However, it needs to be calibrated using a blood pressure cuff. This acquires a baseline reading, which should ideally be refreshed every four months.