Opinion

I think Samsung should not let the physical smartwatch bezel die

It’s been more than a year since Samsung abandoned the physical smartwatch bezel design, and the company launched two smartwatch models in the meantime, neither of which count as direct Galaxy Watch successors. Likewise, many months have passed since I last touched the 2018 Galaxy Watch, but I got to play with it again for a few minutes over the weekend. The experience reminded me of just how satisfying it is to use the physical rotating bezel, and the feeling was further accentuated by a side-by-side comparison with the touch-based solution employed by the Galaxy Watch Active 2.

A thought has been growing in my mind ever since, prompting me to recall this recent experience, wondering if the Galaxy Watch series and indeed the physical bezel will ever make a comeback.

The physical smartwatch bezel feels fitting for sportier designs

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 user experience is quite satisfying on its own, and the touchscreen bezel works well for what it is. I don’t have complaints about the Galaxy Watch Active 2 formula, per se. I think it’s a stylish smartwatch, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, the virtual bezel feels more like a sidegrade or reinterpretation of the same concept rather than an upgrade over the physical bezel design. You can achieve the same operations with either input method, but the virtual solution doesn’t deliver the same tactile feedback, for obvious reasons.

This difference in design makes little or no difference for most users from a purely practical point of view. But I can’t shake the feeling that the physical rotating bezel is better optimized for sportier wearables, and it shouldn’t be completely forgotten. I think Samsung was onto something when it came up with the physical smartwatch bezel concept. The company should not let this idea die, in my opinion, regardless of whether the Galaxy Watch Active formula will or won’t go through drastic design changes in the coming years.

Virtual or physical rotating bezel? Why not both?

I don’t have the answer as to what Samsung will do next for the wearable segment or whether the Galaxy Watch series will live on, but I wouldn’t want the company to abandon the current Watch Active touch bezel implementation. Switching back and forth between designs isn’t the best way to progress, and it’s probably better if Samsung keeps perfecting the current formula. The virtual bezel fits the Galaxy Watch Active 2’s sleek design like a glove. As yet, there’s no real reason for Samsung to steer it in a completely different direction.

Nevertheless, I think the physical and virtual input methods shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, either. I wish they could coexist through separate smartwatch models and satisfy different audiences. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is already more stylish than it is sporty, and some people do prefer the more prominent case and bezel design of the Galaxy Watch.

Can the smartwatch market support a second Galaxy series?

2019 may have not been the right year for Samsung to release more than one smartwatch series, but the wearable market segment is in an upward trajectory and should experience significant growth over the next few years, according to experts. I’m hoping there will come a time when Samsung will consider a multi-smartwatch lineup profitable again.

The company already expanded upon its multi-flagship phone strategy when it launched three Galaxy S10 and two Galaxy Note 10 variants this year. The smartwatch market could grow enough to accommodate a similar business model in the future. It may become the perfect environment for a second smartwatch series to be introduced, and for the physical bezel to make a comeback along with it.

If a multi-smartwatch strategy will become viable, I hope Samsung considers this possibility. The company might not want to be perceived like it’s backtracking on one of its design choices, but then again, if there’s one smartwatch feature that deserves another chance, the physical bezel is probably it. Especially if it could coexist with the Watch Active solution instead of replacing it.


What are your thoughts on the physical smartwatch bezel? Do you miss it, or have you forgotten all about it? Would you like this feature to eventually be reintroduced along with a new Galaxy Watch model or a new smartwatch series? Or do you think the current, bezel-less Watch Active design language is the only way to go, regardless of how the segment grows? Join us in the comment section below.

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Dreamreels
Dreamreels

Btw I need suggestions for both my galaxy watch 46mm and GWA2 Stainless steel LTE 44Mmm.

Could y’all please recommend genuine high quality leather straps/bands that are wider than the lugs of the above two watches. Just fyi the galaxy watch lugs are 22mm and GWA2 is 20mm.

Almost all straps in the market are narrow for my big wrist. So I was hoping to find straps that are wider than lugs and preferably with a quick release mechanism.

Thank you

Dreamreels
Dreamreels

As owner of two Samsung’s beveled watches and now a proud owner of GWA2 I think Samsung has done a dandy thing moving away from the physical bezel, and here is why: 1. More moving parts more hardware malfunctions 2. Sheer number of warranty services Samsung has had to do with Bezel getting stuck or being unresponsive was simply not worth it. I’ve had to replace my Galaxy Watch thrice and Gear Frontier once as a result of unresponsive bezel. My solution other than one already employed by Samsung in GWA2 is to raise the circular edges of the next… Read more »

pauloens
pauloens

The rotating bezel is amazing! I had a Galaxy Watch Active for one week and then moved up to a Galaxy Watch 46mm. This watch is amazing!!! And the rotating bezel works better than anything in the old apple watch I used to have.

exclusive_jeet
exclusive_jeet

S3 frontier looks are still up to date and thats bcoz of Physical bezel. Dont want false look

preime101
preime101

I love the rotating bezel on my S3, both from a physical interaction perspective and the fact that it is raised above the glass, so it has protected the screen numerous time from knocks and scratches. Plus it makes a great fidget device 🙂

woody365
woody365

I think they should let android get it’s software on there. They make the best hardware so I’d love to have the choice of what software goes onit. Just my opinion too.

apchauho
apchauho

I have the S3 frontier and the reason I bought it was the physical bezel. It looks so rugged and stylish outdoor look. Loved it! It’s a design that most men wants and some ladies like. Having the 2 types of design wont harm samsung and would cater for those who like the minimalist design and the rugged, action out door look. Would upgrade if a physical bezel is reintroduced. I might buy both, lol, one for smart occasion and the other doing sports.

rmn4
rmn4

The physical bezel should stay! Its the best way to interact with a smart watch. Samsung should retain it for the Watch series and stick with the virtual bezel for the sport series.

Yeti_Yi
Yeti_Yi

I’m still using Gear S3 Frontier.
Wanted to upgrade to Watch Active 2, but, due to bezel, I decided to go up only to Galaxy Watch…
So yes, in my opinion, bezel should be reintroduced… this really defines Samsung watches.

Gunter2
Gunter2

I had S3 Frontier and now Galaxy Watch. The physical bezel is better looking and helps keep the screen clean. I looked at the Active 2 in the Samsung Store and the screen looked greasy and disgusting from the finger marks of people trying out the virtual bezel. For me it looks like a round Apple Watch, featureless and boring. The S3 Frontier, Classic, Gear Sport, Galaxy Watches look like real and high value products. The Active look like 10 euro crap you could buy from a street seller.

kempsterx5
kempsterx5

Bring back the rotating bezel it helps with the aesthetics when it comes to a manly watch and keep the digital rotating for the ladies.

Mario387
Mario387

The physical bezel gives the watch a certain class. You could put it next to a real watch, and it can compete with them, they feel like they belong. Put an active next to it and it looks more like a toy watch.

Like having a Breitling and put a Swatch next to it. The watch with physical bezel would not win the contest either, but it has the real watch feel to it.

Next to that the bezel helps keeping the screen protected. Good luck with the active series.

Danny D.
Danny D.

I agree with 100%. Samsungs bezel ring is unique. They really should make a classic smartwatch with a metal band.

mada222
mada222

Agree with u i love physical bezel more than touch bezel because it looks normal watches