Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs. Galaxy Watch: Should you upgrade?

Galaxy Watch 3 45mm Black
Galaxy Watch 3 45mm Black (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Galaxy Watch 3 41mm Render

It's easy to see that the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 does a remarkable job of building on the foundation of the original version. You still get optional LTE connectivity, two size options, and many other key smartwatch features that made the original such a hit. There are also new color options, trip detection, and improved health/fitness tracking.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

An upgrade for the ages

Built-in GPS
Optional LTE
Rotating bezel
Two size options with slimmer profiles
New sleep, running, fall detection features
Big price jump
Not very different from predecessor
Slightly less battery life

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Samsung Galaxy Watch

There's a reason why the two-year-old original Samsung Galaxy Watch is still a favorite for so many wearable enthusiasts. It comes with built-in GPS, optional LTE connectivity, an efficient rotating bezel, good battery life, and more. This smartwatch may continue to reign over many of the mediocre options on the market.

Samsung Galaxy Watch

A solid foundation

Built-in GPS
Optional LTE
Rotating bezel
Two size options
Good battery life
Chunkier design
Lacks trip detection
Older specs

If you've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Galaxy Watch 3, one of the most anticipated Android smartwatches, the time has finally come. If you were expecting a complete overhaul of the original model, you might be slightly disappointed. There are some great changes, but depending on your needs as a smartwatch user, you might not be willing to spend what Samsung is asking. That being said, if you were hoping for a refreshed design and some health-tracking updates, the upgrade may not be worthwhile to you. Those who are content with the original may feel the opposite.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs. Galaxy Watch: Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is newer than the Galaxy Watch, released in August 2020. The Galaxy Watch, which shares much of the same design lineage, was released in September 2018 and sold millions of units to happy customers.

The Galaxy Watch debuted at $330 for the 42mm Wi-Fi version, which was $70 less than the Galaxy Watch 3, which debuted at $400. That said, it's possible to find the original Galaxy Watch for a lot less, often under $250, at many retailers, and it's still a great buy, though if you want the latest and greatest tech you should go for the newer Galaxy Watch 3.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs. Galaxy Watch: Subtle yet notable improvements

Galaxy Watch 3 Both Sizes

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

You're probably eager to learn about what's new with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. Health and fitness enthusiasts will appreciate the new advanced running analysis and improved sleep tracking. Soon, you can look forward to having SpO2 and VO2 max readings. A SpO2 reading measures your blood oxygen saturation while VO2 max tells you how much oxygen your body is consuming during an activity. These two improvements are expected to arrive with the next software update in the upcoming months.

We're also waiting for the electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood pressure monitoring features to become available outside of South Korea, but it shouldn't be long now. The ECG sensor can detect an irregular heartbeat that may be a sign of a more serious medical condition.

It's also worth noting that you'll experience a new-and-improved version of Tizen OS. It's been fine-tuned to do a better job of automatically detecting and tracking workouts. You'll also have the convenience of built-in run coaching and recovery tools. Users will now have the option to connect to over 120 home workout videos on the Samsung Health app. Select your preferred program, cast it to your television, and view your stats in real time.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy Watch 3Samsung Galaxy Watch
Dimensions41 x 42.5 x 11.3mm, 49.2g45 x 46.2 x 11.1mm, 43g or 53.8g41.9 x 45.7 x 12.7mm, 49g46 x 49 x 13mm, 63g
Display1.2-inch / 1.4-inch AMOLED1.2-inch or 1.3-inch AMOLED
SensorsHRM, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, ambient light sensor, electrocardiogramHRM, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, ambient light sensor
ConnectivityOptional LTE, Bluetooth 5.0 Wi-Fi b/g/nOptional LTE, Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n
Water resistance5ATM+ IP68 / MIL-STD-810G5ATM+ IP68 / MIL-STD-810G
Battery life2 to 3 days, varies by model3 to 4 days, varies by model
ColorsStainless steel: Mystic Black, Mystic Silver, Mystic BronzeTitanium: Mystic BlackStainless steel: Mightnight Black, Silver, Rose Gold
Onboard GPS✔️✔️
Blood pressure monitor✔️✔️
Samsung Pay✔️✔️

You'll also have automatic fall detection on the Galaxy Watch 3, which recognizes falls when engaged in dynamic motion but not when still. Keep in mind that this feature does require a network connection to notify your emergency contact and share your location. You never know when you're going to need help so this is a nice feature to have, but it's hardly a major selling point.

Another difference that's easy to spot right off the bat is the refreshed design of the Galaxy Watch 3. You'll have your pick of either a 41mm or a 45mm model. The smaller version is slightly less expensive, but it's still pretty pricey. The watch is available in a stainless steel or titanium case. The color options include Mystic Black, Mystic Silver, and Mystic Bronze. Both variants boast a slimmer profile than the original Galaxy Watch. Overall, it's a smoother, sleeker feel on your wrist, which is useful when you wear it to bed to take advantage of the improved sleep tracking.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs. Galaxy Watch: Plenty of reasons to love the Galaxy Watch

galaxy watch

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

The original Galaxy Watch might be two years old now, but it's still an impressive smartwatch that caters to a wide range of users. If you want features like built-in GPS, optional LTE, heart-rate monitoring, mobile payments, and decent health/activity tracking, you might not find the successor to be all that interesting. The older design isn't quite as appealing, but you still get the rotating bezel that so many Galaxy Watch owners love to use.

Depending on your personal preferences, small changes to sleep tracking, automatic workout detection, and the addition of fall detection may not be enough to sway you. Eventually, the newer version will have the ECG support as well as SpO2 and VO2 readings. You'll have to decide if these hyper-specific features are important enough for you to make the upgrade.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs. Galaxy Watch: Which should you buy?

If you're a big fan of smartwatches and like to have the latest and greatest model, then you may find that the subtle improvements justify the upgrade. In addition to a sleeker design, you'll also have built-in run coaching tools, better automatic workout detection, improved sleep tracking, and new fall detection. Those who are waiting on the ECG and blood pressure monitoring to become active will have to wait a bit longer. These are the main reasons to upgrade to the Galaxy Watch 3. If your wallet can handle the steep price tag, then go ahead and treat yourself!

Those who aren't moved by the updates that the successor brings may not want to make the upgrade. The original Galaxy Watch is still a perfectly functional and enjoyable wearable. Unless you've been desperately craving a few new health and fitness perks, the predecessor continues to be a tried-and-true favorite.

Courtney Lynch

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.