Galaxy smartwatches are great, but here’s how they could be better


Last updated: November 24th, 2020 at 10:22 UTC+02:00

Samsung’s smartwatches are among the best in the industry right now, and they feature brilliant designs, great screens, and decently long battery life. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 and the Galaxy Watch 3 are Samsung’s best smartwatches ever.

The only real competition the company faces right now is from Apple. Despite having a three-year head start over the Apple Watch, I can’t help but feel that Samsung needs to do better in some aspects and add more features to its smartwatches. After using various Gear and Galaxy Watch series devices over the years, I have found some areas where Samsung needs to improve.

Add more watch faces & keep updating existing ones

Samsung pre-installs some great-looking first-party watch faces on its smartwatches, but it needs to add new watch faces more frequently and keep updating existing ones. It also needs to release newer watch faces to older devices. Samsung’s watch face collection is currently better than Apple’s and other rival brands, but it needs to put in more effort to maintain its advantage going further.

While the watch faces that were released with older-generation smartwatches can be installed on the newer ones, their Always On Display mode designs have not been updated to offer a richer look. Moreover, some watch faces don’t support customizability. The company has even removed the moving seconds hand feature from the Always On Display mode.

Another watch face feature that Samsung could implement is touch interaction. It could bring a feature that lets graphics or UI elements on the watch face react when you touch them (similar to live wallpapers on Android smartphones) or even offer audio feedback while doing so.

Create an ecosystem for watch face widgets

Right now, some first-party watch faces can be customized by adding multiple widgets, but there are several inconsistencies. Some widget areas can only accommodate fitness-related widgets, while others only allow adding date and calendar-related widgets. Samsung can create an ecosystem where all the widgets can be used interchangeably everywhere, and even third-party apps can offer their own widgets. Moreover, Samsung should allow third-party watch face developers to implement this style of widgets. If the company can pull this off, it will create the possibility of endless watch face customizations.

Improve the Always On Display mode

As I mentioned earlier, Samsung has removed the feature where the seconds hand of a watch face moved even in the Always On Display mode. The company should bring back the feature as it makes the smartwatch look closer to a mechanical watch when it is in the Always On Display mode. It can also use variable refresh rate displays in future smartwatches to make the AoD mode brighter but less power-hungry.

Improve the keyboard, typing experience

In my opinion, Tizen’s keyboard in its current form offers a sub-par experience on smartwatches. Samsung needs to improve it by making it easier to switch between different modes and adding a way to draw alphabets with the finger. The company should also improve voice dictation and support more languages so that it becomes easier to reply to messages and emails.

Bixby needs a lot of work

Speaking of voice dictation, Samsung’s voice assistant needs a lot of work. Right now, it is no match for Google Assistant on Wear OS devices or Siri on the Apple Watch (and I’ve used both). Bixby is slow, its voice recognition is poorer, and it can’t even answer requests related to sports scores or other common questions. Samsung also needs to improve the Bixby integration so that it can work with all the stock apps and features inside them.

Encourage developers to create more apps

Granted, most consumers don’t use many apps on their smartwatches, but Samsung still needs to work with well-known developers and content providers to make apps for Galaxy smartwatches. The competition is not resting and adding hundreds of new smartwatch apps, and the South Korean tech giant needs to do even better. Samsung should focus on bringing more communication (email and messages) and informative apps (such as sports scores and news). Existing apps need to have better and more consistent design language, too, and they should be updated more frequently.

Improve workout-tracking accuracy

My wife and I both use a Galaxy Watch Active 2, and we have noticed that it usually reports a higher step count and the heart rate readings go haywire during workouts. When I usually take the stairs, my smartwatch under-reports the number of floors I climbed. Going by my personal experience, I feel that Samsung needs to improve workout-tracking accuracy on its smartwatches.

Bring Alexa, Google Assistant, and support for Google Maps

If Samsung can’t improve Bixby faster, it should consider bringing Alexa and Google Assistant to its smartwatches. It might sound like wishful thinking or even a bizarre request, but the company has already done that with its Tizen-powered smart TVs. So, why can’t it do the same for its Tizen-powered smartwatches?

Right now, there are no good navigation apps on the Galaxy Watch series. Even if Samsung can’t bring the full Google Maps app to its smartwatches, it could work with Google to extract data from the connected smartphone’s Google Maps notification and show it on the smartwatch’s display.

Dual-band Wi-Fi, louder speaker

Considering that Galaxy smartwatches can now download apps and watch faces directly from the Galaxy Store and music from Spotify, I think it is time for Samsung to add dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity for faster internet access. Plus, the company should use a louder and clearer loudspeaker to offer a better voice call experience even in busy places.

Standard Qi wireless charging

This is the feature I want the most on a Galaxy Watch. While it does have Qi wireless charging, it does not work with a regular wireless charger. It needs an official Samsung accessory such as a magnetic charging puck or a Samsung power bank with wireless charging. Despite having many wireless chargers from Samsung and other brands at home, I have to use a separate charger for my Galaxy Watch Active, which becomes frustrating. The company should offer compatibility with standard Qi wireless chargers in future smartwatches.

I understand that some of the feature requests I mentioned in the article may never come to be, but others are entirely possible if Samsung decides to focus on improving the performance and user experience on its smartwatches, especially after seeing the recent increased demand for wearables.

Is there any specific feature or improvement you would like Samsung to bring to its smartwatches? Sound off down in the comments!

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