The Galaxy Watch 6 shows that Wear OS has come of age at last, and Samsung has finally brought solid fitness and sleep tracking to the table.
- Great design
- Love the rotating bezel
- Accurate fitness data
- Battery life still too short
- Lots of fiddly settings
- So many terms and conditions
- Rotating bezelThe phyiscal rotating bezel returns and is a great way of interacting with the Watch 6 Classic
- Two sizes43 and 47mm sizes available, wirth various strap options
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is the pricier, more premium of the new smartwatch pair – but it’s the true Galaxy smartwatch worthy of your attention.
A full set of health features, revamped fitness smarts and, of course, the rotating bezel make the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic unique, even if it’s not the best smartwatch around.
Samsung retained the Watch 5 Pro as a current generation model alongside the Galaxy Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic, which boasts three days of battery life, and while the Classic is more refined, battery life is its achilles heel.
The headline addition is Wear OS 4; the refinement of Google’s OS started with Wear OS 3 and the Galaxy Watch 4, and here there’s a revamp of sleep and heart rate features, but these updates are rolling out to the Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 4 – so they won’t be exclusive for long.
So how does the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic perform? I put it through its paces to find out.
Design and screen
- Two sizes, 43 and 47mm
- OLED circular display with rotating bezel and sapphire crystal coating
- Stainless Steel case
The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic has all the same hallmarks as its predecessor, but it now comes in 43mm and 47mm sizes. That’s a jump up from the 42mm and 46mm Watch 4 Classic.
The Watch 6 Classic comes in black and silver colourways, and Trusted Reviews had the black model to test. Weighing just over 50g it’s got a certain heft for sure, but it’s comfortable to wear and live with.
Fans of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic will be pleased to note that the rotating bezel is back, after being omitted from the Watch 5 Pro.
The display is 15% larger than the Watch 4 Classic thanks to an improved screen-to-body ratio, and the bezels have also been reduced.
The Watch 6 Classic boasts a larger 1.5-inch AMOLED (1.3-inch on the 43mm). It’s a great looking and colourful display, and because it’s framed by the bezel, it doesn’t feel like such a massive expanse of screen as the standard Galaxy Watch 6. It’s also 5ATM rated, so it’s good for a dip in the pool.
Until this review, I’d honestly forgotten how pleasing the rotating bezel is to use, and it feels so natural when scrolling through longer screens of data. You can access Wear OS 4 Tiles just by twisting the bezel with ease – and this glanceable data brings the watch experience to life. It also works well on longer menus, such as one for sleep tracking.
The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic packs a faux leather strap and Samsung has also redesigned the strap mechanism to feature a quick-release button, so it’s easier to swap bands, but it still takes most standard 20mm band with a standard pin clasp.
Features and performance
- Excellent selection of faces
- Bixby is far from the best voice assistant
As mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic runs the new Wear OS 4 but remember that it’s Android only, so iPhone users can skip this one. iOS fans of best of with an Apple Watch anyway, or one of the best Garmin smartwatches.
Wear OS finally feels like a mature operating system. The breadth of apps has improved, such as the new WhatsApp dedicated app. Using the rotating bezel, you can cycle through notifications and the aforementioned Tiles, which are packed with customisable options and key bits of data – something that Apple has had to play catch-up with. With that said, Wear OS still isn’t as polished as watchOS. You have to install everything, even Samsung Wallet and Samsung Health, before getting them to work.
There’s a good watch face selection however, but there’s a definite lack of classier options amidst the many bitmoji and animated designs. The Google Play Store feels slick enough. and the app quality and variety is improving, plus downloading from the store is simple.
Wear OS still has its annoyances. It’s not possible to get your app screen displayed into a simple list, so it’s guesswork to discover which icon does what.
There’s Bixby on board and Samsung’s beleaguered voice assistant handles basic tasks such as loading apps or starting timers, and it’s easily summoned by holding the 2 o’clock menu button. Again, Samsung Wallet is well supported and it’s easy to fire up a payment card from the lower side button.
It’s taken a while to get there but Wear OS finally feels like a mature operating system, and now feels like it’s growing after so many years of neglect. It’s no longer a poorer cousin to watchOS, and it’s easy to recommend.
Health and Fitness
- WearOS 4 is the software of choice
- Accurate tracking
- Good sleep tracking
I took the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic out for several runs and workouts, and have been impressed by heart rate accuracy within steady sessions. Jumping around and doing HIIT will certainly flummox the sensor, but for a steady workout, it’s just as good as Garmin, Apple or any other sports watch.
Over multiple runs I found both Max HR and average HR to be within 1bpm of a chest strap over an hour of running, and while this isn’t a replacement for a Garmin – I’d have no hesitation recommending it to people who enjoy running as part of their fitness regime.
With Wear OS 4 the Samsung Watch 6 Classic can show heart rate zones, and you can then opt to follow training sessions that target particular zones. It prompts you if you stray too high or low, and I was pleasantly surprised by how clear and easy it was to stay within range because of that guidance.
However, I’d like to see Samsung take a more user-friendly approach to zone training, with terms like “building endurance” or “fat burning workout” than simple zones 1-5, which feels a little confusing.
Not all data was as accurate. VO2 Max was far too low and GPS accuracy was repeatedly 100m short of our comparison Garmin over 10km, thanks to significant wandering in tree-covered areas.
Health features here are excellent overall. There’s nothing inherently new in this area with the Watch 6 Classic sporting ECG, blood pressure monitoring and body fat analysis from the BIA sensor.
Samsung is still the only major smartwatch player to offer blood pressure tracking, but you must validate it against a traditional cuff by taking three simultaneous readings. It requires regular re-calibration, but can be a powerful tool for those keeping tabs on blood pressure, simply thanks to the convenience of it all.
The body index feature scans your body and estimates BMI, body fat, body water, fat mass skeletal muscle, and weight. Again, it’s something unique to the Galaxy Watch brand and it feels insightful.
I’d like to see more of a breakdown on the watch or within the Samsung Health app about what all aspects of the data mean – and how to make effective changes off the back of them. There is a temperature sensor which is leveraged for a new app that enables you to check the temperature of various elements including water (handy for an outdoor swim). It’s also used by the menstrual tracking features which is a great use-case, but temperature isn’t leveraged for health or wellness, which seems odd given the depth of health features elsewhere.
Sleep tracking has been overhauled, and I was impressed by the data. You get two numbers: total duration and actual time spent asleep. The latter is the true amount of sleep barring restlessness and moments of waking up, and it correlated to my Whoop 4.0 better than most smartwatches I’ve tested.
The sleep score was also representative of our sleep quality, with lower durations and restless nights getting lower scores.
The Watch 6 Classic will also show awake, REM, light, and deep sleep scores, SpO2 throughout the night with any dips that could point to apnea issues, and tracks sleep cycles, wakefulness and interestingly, mental recovery – which is directly related to REM. Any problem areas are highlighted.
The depth of data and the accuracy make it one of the better sleep trackers I’ve used.
- Certainly not the best for endurance
- Wireless charger included
While Samsung has boosted the size of the battery on board, it’s not added any longevity to the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. It estimates 40-hours of use without the always-on display and 30-hours with it switched on.
There are also settings for nightly SpO2 and continuous HR which are off by default. I turned everything on and got around 25 hours on the first cycle, with a 1 hour run that depleted the watch by around 20%.
Going to bed with 30% battery is just enough to get through the night. So getting the most out of sleep tracking can lead to some battery anxiety.
Samsung’s 30-hour estimate seems about right, but really heavy users could struggle to get the watch through a 24-hour cycle, which isn’t ideal. It makes a strong case for the Watch 5 Pro, which will last between 2-3 days and remains part of the available Galaxy Watch line-up.
Should you buy it?
You should buy it if you want a reliable watch for an Android phone: With accurate tracking, good software and plenty of features, the Watch 6 Classic is a very good smartwatch.
You shouldn’t buy if you want the best battery life around: The battery here is far from the best around, especially when compared to a rival like the TicWatch 5 Pro.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is a great all-rounder, boosted by the resurgent Wear OS.
If you’re looking for one of the best smartwatch options around, this is a key candidate. The design, tactile control and excellent sleep and fitness powers put it at the top table of Wear OS, but there are familiar caveats around battery life – which will put off some users. If you can look past this, the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is an easy buy.
The Galaxy Watch 6 shows that Wear OS has come of age at last, and Samsung has finally brought solid fitness and sleep tracking to the table, but the long battery life offered by the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro and TicWatch Pro 5 can’t be ignored.
How we test
We thoroughly test every smartwatch we review. We use industry standard testing to compare features properly and we use the watch as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Worn as our main tracker during the testing period
Heart rate data compared against dedicated heart rate devices
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The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic will only work with Android handsets.
There’s a cable, with the puck and USB-C cable.