Samsung Galaxy Watch: Which size should you buy?

galaxy watch
galaxy watch (Image credit: Android Central)

Galaxy Watch 42mm

Samsung Galaxy Watch

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Samsung managed to get every possible smartwatch feature into a relatively compact package with the 42mm Galaxy Watch. It does everything the larger version does, including optional LTE, but comes up short on battery life if you push it hard.

Galaxy Watch 42mm

Fits most wrists

Fits a wide range of wrist sizes comfortably
Comes in both black and rose gold colors
Battery life isn't great, especially with an always-on watch face

Galaxy Watch 46mm

Samsung Galaxy Watch

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The 46mm Galaxy Watch is very much a successor to the Gear S3 Frontier in that it can do everything you want, for multiple days, without charging. The massive battery and same basic specs as the smaller watch give it impressive longevity no matter how you use it.

Galaxy Watch 46mm

Battery champ

True multi-day battery life no matter what
A little more display to look at
Only comes in one color
Too large for many wrists

Samsung has a Galaxy Watch marketing message of "same watch, two sizes" and that's actually true. There are just a couple of subtle differences to explore here.

What's the difference?

We're going to focus on the few differences below, but the important thing to do know is there are only a few differences — most of the experience is the same for either one. Both watches have the same processor, memory, storage, software, and capabilities. They can both track daily activity and fitness with GPS, have heart rate monitoring and have optional LTE connections.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Galaxy Watch 42mmGalaxy Watch 46mm
Display1.2-inch1.3-inch
Battery270mAh472mAh
Dimensions41.9 x 45.7 x 12.7mm46 x 49 x 13mm
Strap20mm22mm
ColorsBlack
Rose gold
Silver
LTEOptionalOptional

Even the areas where they're slightly different are merely marginal changes. The displays are the same quality and resolution (360x360), with just a 0.1-inch size difference, and have the same rotating bezel for interaction. Both watches have removable straps that are compatible with any standard watch band, the only difference is the size: 20 vs. 22mm.

The price difference is negligible. The larger version is just $20 more, so unless every dollar matters, you should decide based on the other factors instead.

How big of a watch can you handle?

Choosing which size of Galaxy Watch is right for you has to start with knowing how big of a watch you — or more importantly, your wrist — can handle. The 46mm Galaxy Watch is big, particularly if you aren't used to wearing large mechanical watches. This is a pretty big case size, but it's also combined with a 13mm thickness that makes it tough to fit on smaller wrists. If at all possible, go try on the different sizes in a store before buying — you may be surprised by just how large the 46mm is.

If you're worried at all about size, you'll need to just go with the 42mm. It doesn't seem like that 4mm would make a big difference, but it really does. It's still a bit large for people with small wrists, but it's doable — whereas the 46mm can be downright too large for some people to wear. The 42mm also comes in two different color choices, black and rose gold, which kind of acknowledges that women with smaller wrists would prefer the 42mm model anyway.

Battery life matters

If size isn't a concern for you, then the battery life is probably important. This one isn't really a contest: the Galaxy Watch 46mm has a much larger battery and notably longer battery life as a result. You can get multiple days of battery life out of the 42mm model, but you have to be careful and change some settings to accomplish it — the 46mm can give you multi-day battery life no matter what.

If you aren't interested in tracking your sleep and will be charging your watch every night as a result, then this really isn't an issue — even the 42mm can last a full day with every feature turned on. But tracking sleep adds extra stress on the battery and cuts down on charging time, so you'll have to turn off the always-on watch face in order to make it multiple days. The 46mm can do multiple days, including sleep tracking and an always-on watch face.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.