Another year, another Galaxy Watch. Samsung has made it a habit of taking the most popular feature of its smartwatches away one year and then bringing it back the next. That's also the story with the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, which brings back the much-loved physical rotating bezel.
There's a lot more to this smartwatch than just the bezel, though. Samsung has made subtle design changes and a lot of improvements under the hood. Does that warrant an upgrade, particularly if you purchased last year's model? That's what we'll find out in this Galaxy Watch 6 Classic review.
The Watch 6 Classic has that unmistakeable Galaxy Watch design that has been touched up for a more elevated feel. The brushed metal frame of the Watch 6 contrasts nicely with the glossy chamfered edges of the buttons and the red accents on the power button add a nice pop of color.
The biggest improvement here is the return of the physical rotating bezel, a design element that Galaxy Watch fans swear by. There's just the right amount of resistance in the bezels so it neither feels too rigid or too loose when it's being rotated.
The standard bands that ship with the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic have a nice and comfortable feel. The new spring loaded mechanism for unbuckling the band requires a precise press in the middle. Granted, this takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it's actually quite easy.
Considering the weight, balance, style, fit, and finish of the device, Samsung is simply at its best with the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. It looks great on the wrist, is very comfortable to wear, and feels very well put together. Durability is guaranteed by the IP68 rating for dust and water resistance and MIL-STD-810H shock resistance.
Samsung has upgraded the chipset this year to the slightly faster Exynos W930. It's paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB internal storage. You'll notice the improvement in performance if you're upgrading from the Galaxy Watch 4 or Watch 5, even though the scale of the change isn't too significant.
There's more than enough power here for everything that you'll need the smartwatch to do for you. The operating system feels smooth, the fitness tracking features work without any lag, and the haptics feel nice as well. The optimizations that the new chipset brings also help improve the battery life over the previous iteration.
The displays have received a big upgrade this year. The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is available in 43mm and 47mm variants with a 1.3-inch and 1.5-inch Super AMOLED screen, respectively, that are protected by Sapphire Crystal. We're reviewing the latter and it's a noticeable upgrade. When set to auto max brightness, the panel reaches an impressive max brightness of 2,000 nits, at par with the Apple Watch Ultra. That makes all the difference in visibility when outdoors and it's an absolute game changer.
You'd think that Samsung's marketing claims about the 30% slimmer bezels and the 15% slimmer rotating bezel won't make that much of a difference in real terms, but they do make a huge difference when you're using the device. This combination contributes to a more enjoyable viewing experience and adds to the visual appeal of the device. It's a nice step up from last year's Galaxy Watch.
The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic comes with One UI 5 Watch, which is running on top of the Android-based Wear OS 4, out of the box. By placing its One UI skin on top of the OS, Samsung ensures a consistent user experience across its mobile ecosystem. This also means that the best possible user experience is reserved for those who use it with a compatible Samsung Galaxy phone, even though you could pair it with a non-Galaxy phone.
The updated One UI interface still feels very familiar yet refined so there's not going to be a learning curve if you've already been using Samsung smartwatches for some time now. The gestures are the same, the UI has been neatly organized, and navigating using the physical rotating bezel is as seamless as ever (and it also reduces the need to touch the display too often).
It also has some good software tricks up its sleeve. The camera viewer feature is quite useful when you're paired with a compatible Galaxy phone. You can open the camera viewfinder on the smartwatch and even zoom in and out using the physical rotating bezel, so it's great for taking pictures from a distance. Samsung also provides some nice watch faces and four generations of Android OS upgrades for the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. However, keep in mind that many of the new software features and watch faces will also be coming to the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 5 lineups through software updates.
Health and Fitness
Samsung's smartwatches are known for their great exercise tracking features. You'll find all of them on the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, including but not limited to automatic workout tracking and manual tracking for both strength and cardio workouts. All of that data is synced with Samsung Health where you can track everything your smartwatch monitors.
Samsung has worked with the National Sleep Foundation to improve sleep tracking on the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. We did find that it's better at understanding sleeping patterns and then provides guidance to help users build better sleeping habits. To aid you in creating a better sleep environment, the Sleep Mode can be integrated with the paired phone and other SmartThings-compatible smart home devices.
The sensor package is largely similar to the previous generation so you'll find similar features such as blood pressure monitoring, heart rate monitoring, stress tracking, blood oxygen level monitoring, ECG, body composition, etc. It's safe to say that the Galaxy Watch 6 won't leave you wanting for more when it comes to health and fitness tracking functionality.
The 425mAh battery of the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic provides at best two days of use before needing to be charged. That was our experience with in while having the always on display active the whole time and the screen set at maximum brightness. It's possible to extract a bit more life out of it if you adjust these factors, but by and large, you should expect two days of use before needing to charge it again.
It goes without saying that the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is no battery champ like last year's Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Then again, it's not in the same league as that watch anyway. So for what it's meant to do, the Galaxy Watch 5 Classic's battery life is more than good enough.
The question is simple: are the added improvements and the return of they beloved physical rotating bezel reasons enough to buy the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic? It's a resounding yes from us. The Galaxy Watch 6 is an excellent return to form for Samsung. The company has created a nice blend of everything that has made its smartwatches great over the years.
The Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is an incredibly refined smartwatch with a great design, exceptional build quality, some of the brightness displays in the business, bulletproof software, and more than enough health and fitness tracking features. It does everything that a great smartwatch is supposed to do, and it does it all spectacularly.