Smartwatches have existed for a little over five years now, and so much has changed since then. But the majority of them aren’t fully standalone as they need to be connected to a smartphone to be able to get notifications, make and receive calls. For iPhone users, the Apple Watch is a defacto option. Android users have a number of options to choose from. But, in India, the Samsung Galaxy Watch LTE is the only one to offer standalone connectivity.
Back in 2014, the Samsung Gear S offered cellular connectivity using a SIM card. But in these five years a lot has changed. Today, it is all about the eSIM, which eliminates the need to have a physical SIM card. The Galaxy Watch LTE is offered in 42mm size for Rs 28,490, and 46mm size for Rs 30,990. There are just two differences compared to the regular model – eSIM 4G LTE connectivity, and 1.5GB RAM as opposed to 768MB on the Galaxy Watch. I’ve got the Samsung Galaxy Watch LTE (46mm model) for review, and after using it for two weeks, there is a pressing question – is it worth buying?
TL;DR – Yes, it is. If you are an Android smartphone user, looking to buy the best smartwatch that ‘almost’ has it all, buying the Galaxy Watch LTE is a no brainer. And if you want to know about its in-depth performance, read on.
Samsung Galaxy Watch LTE design and specifications
The Galaxy Watch LTE shares a lot of design elements with its predecessors – the Gear S3, Gear Sport and more. You get a circular AMOLED screen which has punchy color reproduction, and it is adequately bright. The screen is quite legible under direct sunlight as well.
Around the display, you get the proprietary rotating bezel to make UI navigation easier. The frame is made from stainless steel, whereas the back is made from thick plastic. The menu and back buttons are on the right, and they offer a good tactile click. On the back, you have the heart rate sensor.
|Feature||Galaxy Watch LTE (42m)||Galaxy Watch LTE (46m)|
|Display, resolution||1.2-inch (360×360 pixels)||1.3-inch (360×360 pixels)|
|Chipset and RAM||Exynos 9110 dual-core , 1.5GB RAM||Exynos 9110 dual-core, 1.5GB RAM|
|Connectivity||NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS, 4G LTE||NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS, 4G LTE|
|Sensors||Ambient light sensor, gyroscope, barometer, heart rate ||Ambient light sensor, gyroscope, barometer, heart rate |
|Price||Rs 28,490||Rs 30,990|
On the software front, the Samsung Galaxy Watch LTE runs Tizen OS 4 with One UI skin on top. It is compatible with smartphones running Android 5.0 and above or iOS 9.0 and above. Samsung has also integrated its SmartThings platform, using which you can turn on and off the lights, TV, AC, heater and more from anywhere. If you own a Samsung smartphone, the Galaxy Wearable and Samsung Health apps are the ones you need. On other Android smartphones, a couple more apps need to be installed, which will be taken care of once you have the Galaxy Wearable and Samsung Health apps.
Samsung claims the smartwatch can track 39 different types of workouts. It can track walking, running, cycling, dancing or playing basketball, circuit training, treadmill, swimming, and log the reading accordingly. The pedometer pretty accurate in its reading. You get the data such as the number of steps, distance covered and calories burned.
In an attempt at getting fitter, I have been going on long walks of about 4-5kms. Thanks to built-in GPS, it logs the data on the map. You also get alerts after every kilometer – which includes distance, pace and heart-rate. At the end of the run/walk, you also get to see these stats on the Samsung Health app.
The heart-rate sensor logs your heart beats at a span of every 10 minutes, irrespective of whether you are resting, working out or sleeping. You can also go for continuous heart-rate monitoring, but it will drain the battery faster. On an average my heart rate ranges from 66bpm to 110bpm. When I work out or am too stressed, it spikes beyond 160bpm.
It is pretty concerning considering my age, but there are stress levels you simply can’t do away with. I’ve cross-checked the heart rate readings with equipment that doctors use, and while not completely accurate, there was a difference of 7-9bpm.
Lastly, the watch can also track your sleep pattern, which includes, REM, awake time, deep sleep and light sleep. It does give good insights about how good or bad sleep you get. Based on that you can work on a few things – meditation, having proper air circulation, working out so that at least exertion causes you to fall asleep quickly.
Moving on to connectivity, you get a standalone 4G LTE connectivity. But as is the case in India, only Reliance Jio and Airtel networks support it. And configuring it is pretty easy right from the Galaxy Wearable app. I kept my phone at home, went out on a walk. Even when I was 3kms away, I could also make and receive calls from the Watch. Call quality was good, but in a noisy environment, the recipient could hear some ambient noise.
The Galaxy Watch LTE charges wirelessly. You can even charge it using the Galaxy S10 or Galaxy Note 10 via Wireless PowerShare feature. I tested the battery life in a few ways. First, by only connecting the watch using Bluetooth. I get a lot of notifications every now and then, and even with that, the battery lasted for five days. Settings were set to default.
When I kept 4G always on, the battery life took a hit, but it still managed to offer almost two days worth of battery life. When you stream music via LTE, make calls and more, you get a little over one-day battery life, which is still not bad. My only problem was that the Galaxy Watch LTE takes about three hours to charge.
Verdict: Should you buy the Galaxy Watch LTE?
The Galaxy Watch LTE is the only 4G enabled smartwatch for Android users in India. It has everything from design to connectivity and battery that make it among the best smartwatches today. Of course, that is provided you are ready to spend a premium.
The health-centric features make it a smartwatch that you can use for gymming, swimming and more. But the classic design also makes it a timepiece that you can wear with casual or formal attire. If there was a way to improve it, I would say it needs faster charging and ECG feature.