Samsung Galaxy Watch FE vs. Galaxy Watch 6: Downgrade or bargain?

Is Samsung's new Fan Edition watch good enough for you? Our Samsung Galaxy Watch FE vs. Galaxy Watch 6 guide will run through every main difference to help you decide.

The Galaxy Watch FE is, in many ways, a re-released Galaxy Watch 4. Typically, Fan Edition devices like the Galaxy S23 FE are minor downgrades on their flagship siblings but with distinct designs. The Galaxy Watch FE isn't identical to the 2021 smartwatch, but it's close.

Does that mean you should skip the Galaxy Watch FE and simply buy the Galaxy Watch 6, which you can frequently find on sale? It's a fair argument, but we'll try to give the Fan Edition watch its fair shake and explain why "fans" might want to buy one—or wait for the Galaxy Watch 7.

Samsung Galaxy Watch FE vs. Galaxy Watch 6: Design and display

Comparing the size and bezels between the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and 6

The Galaxy Watch 6 (left) and Watch 5 (right); the Watch FE display will look comparable to the GW5's. (Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

The Galaxy Watch FE matches the smaller Galaxy Watch 4 or Galaxy Watch 5 with its dimensions (40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm), 1.2-inch display size, and 330 pixels per inch (ppi). Unlike these models, which had a second 1.4-inch option, the Galaxy Watch FE has no size upgrade.

For comparison, the Galaxy Watch 6 has the same 330ppi resolution but a smaller display border, so it starts with a 1.3-inch display that hits 2,000 nits of brightness—plus a 1.5-inch model. Samsung didn't specify, but you can safely assume the Galaxy Watch FE hits 1,000 nits like past-generation watches.

While the Watch 6 weighs 2.8g more than the Watch FE—probably thanks to a more advanced biosensor—it measures 0.8mm thinner. Somehow, Samsung has prioritized a more compact design with its latest watch. That, combined with the skinnier bezel, will make the Galaxy Watch 6 look slightly better.

[A quick side note: Both the Galaxy Watch 6 and FE are thicker than Samsung claims; it always measures without accounting for the sensor array. In truth, the Galaxy Watch 6 is about 12mm thick, while the Watch FE should be about 13mm thick.]

The Galaxy Watch 4 came in four colors; the Watch FE has three of the same colors (Black, Pink Gold, and Silver), missing out on Green. It'll also have new watch bands with "distinct blue and orange stitching," plus a "one-click band" for swapping the default option out for your own 20mm band.

View from the side of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6, showing its thickness

The Watch 6 is slightly skinnier than the Watch FE (Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

The primary Fan Edition design upgrade is to the display: it has Sapphire Glass like the Galaxy Watch 6 and 5 instead of Gorilla Glass DX+ for the Galaxy Watch 4. That makes it better protected against scratches. Otherwise, all recent Galaxy Watches are fully dust and water-resistant.

Samsung says the Galaxy Watch FE passed the MIL-STD-810G testing standard for protection—the same as the Galaxy Watch 4—whereas the Galaxy Watch 6 passed the newer MIL-STD-810H standard. We wouldn't necessarily call the Galaxy Watch 6 "rugged," but it may be slightly more resistant to shock or extreme temperature conditions.

More generally, both watches have Samsung's trademark digital bezel, which lets you rotate your finger around the display to scroll through Tiles. Even though the Watch 6 has a smaller display border, it shouldn't affect the quality of the experience. Instead, the Watch FE could be slightly less reliable because it has an older Exynos chipset, which means a longer response time. 

Only the Galaxy Watch 6 has a "Classic" upgrade with a physical rotating bezel. But this watch starts at $399, twice the starting price of the Watch FE. 

Galaxy Watch FE vs. Galaxy Watch 6: Hardware, sensors, and battery

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategorySamsung Galaxy Watch FESamsung Galaxy Watch 6
ColorsBlack, Pink Gold, SilverGraphite, Gold (40mm only), Silver (44mm or 40mm with LTE)
MaterialsAluminum, Sapphire Crystal glassAluminum, Sapphire Crystal glass
Dimensions40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm38.8 x 40.4 x 9mm OR 42.8 x 44.4 x 9mm
Weight (w/out strap)25.9g28.7g or 33.3g
Protection5ATM + IP68, MIL-STD-810G5ATM + IP68, MIL-STD-810H
ProcessorExynos W920 (1.18GHz)Exynos W930 (1.4GHz)
Memory1.5GB RAM/ 16GB storage2GB RAM/ 16GB storage
Display1.2-inch (396x396, 330ppi) Super AMOLED1.3-inch (432x432) or 1.5-inch (480x480) Super AMOLED
Battery247mAh, wireless charging300mAh or 425mAh, wireless charging
SensorsBioActive Sensor (Optical HR, ECG, BIA), accelerometer, barometer, gyro, geomagnetic, lightBioActive Sensor (Optical HR, ECG, BIA), accelerometer, barometer, gyro, geomagnetic, light, temperature
ConnectivityLTE (optional), Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 2.4/5GHz, NFC, GPS/Glonass/Beidou/GalileoLTE (optional), Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 2.4/5GHz, NFC, GPS/Glonass/Beidou/Galileo
SoftwareWear OS 4 / One UI 5 WatchWear OS 4 / One UI 5 Watch
UpdatesUnconfirmed, but possibly four major OS updates, security through summer 2028Four major OS updates, security through summer 2027

Samsung gave the Galaxy Watch FE the same last-gen Exynos W920 chip as the Galaxy Watch 4 and 5. The chip in the Galaxy Watch 6 hits a slightly higher clock speed, and the watch has an extra 0.5GB of RAM. 

In my Galaxy Watch 6 review, I noted that the last-gen Exynos felt fast at the time, but the new Exynos and memory boost make "apps open ever-so-slightly faster" and that "things look less jittery because it properly shows the transition as one app leaves the screen and another appears." That's why using the capacitive bezel is "much easier" on the Watch 6.

The gap between Exynos chips is much smaller than, say, the gap between Snapdragon 8 generations in flagship Android phones. But you'll notice a difference here, especially after Wear OS updates add new, more demanding features. 

Blood oxygen monitoring on the Galaxy Watch 6

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Samsung hasn't made many health sensor upgrades in the past few generations. The Galaxy Watch FE will track heart rate, sleep stages, irregular heart rhythm, blood oxygen, and other passive data. You can actively check your heart health with the ECG or your body composition with the BIA sensor. And Samsung will calculate personalized heart rate zones based on your workout data.

Only the Galaxy Watch 6 offers body temperature data overnight, which can contribute to sleep data. If you really want that information, the Galaxy Watch FE isn't the watch for you.

Samsung hasn't yet shared the Galaxy Watch FE's battery life estimate or charging speed. We assume it'll last about 40 hours out of the box, as the past few generations have. From the Galaxy Watch 4 to 5, Samsung doubled the wireless charging speed from 5W to 10W, cutting the charging time from 2 hours to 75 minutes. We hope the Galaxy Watch FE has the newer standard, but we fear it has the former.

Either watch lets you pay $50 to upgrade to an LTE cellular version, and both have NFC tap-to-pay, Wi-Fi, and built-in GPS. The Galaxy Watch FE uses an older Bluetooth 5.0 standard instead of 5.3, which can offer better connection stability and requires less power to transfer data. 

Galaxy Watch FE vs. Galaxy Watch 6: Price and software updates

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Hands On

The original Galaxy Watch 4, which loses support next year (Image credit: Android Central)

We've run through a ton of minor-but-notable differences between the Galaxy Watch FE and Galaxy Watch 6. So, what's the point of buying the Galaxy Watch FE?

For starters, it costs $199 to the Galaxy Watch 6's $299; with LTE, it'll cost $250 to the Watch 6's $350; unfortunately, the LTE Galaxy Watch FE won't ship until October.

Price aside, Samsung typically gives its new watches four OS updates and four years of security updates. Since the Galaxy Watch 4 came out in 2021, it'll lose support next summer. The Galaxy Watch FE essentially lets you buy that watch and have it last you until the summer of 2028 instead, with several more Wear OS upgrades.

We've reached out to Samsung to confirm that the Galaxy Watch FE will get the typical four years of support; it's difficult to recommend without that guarantee, but we'll assume it for now.

Samsung promises that the Galaxy Watch FE will have "customizable new watch faces."

Galaxy Watch FE vs. Galaxy Watch 6: Which should you buy?

One of the new watchfaces on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

The Galaxy Watch 6 has several upgrades over the Galaxy Watch FE: a brighter display with a smaller border, a faster CPU with more RAM, a temperature sensor, a thinner design, better Bluetooth connectivity, and upgrade options with larger displays or Classic design. It's easily the best Android watch available today.

On the other hand, the Galaxy Watch FE has nearly all of the same sensors, has the same Sapphire Glass and IP68 protection, weighs slightly less, and (we assume) four years of Wear OS updates. It's not the worst compromise for a $199 watch, and technically, a new Galaxy Watch FE would have more software support than the Galaxy Watch 6 since that came out last year.

Samsung is releasing the Galaxy Watch FE now so that the upcoming Galaxy Watch 7 and rumored Galaxy Watch 7 Ultra don't steal its thunder. You may want to wait until Galaxy Unpacked to check what this new generation brings to the table since the Watch FE is based on hardware that will be four years out of date by that point.

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, Wearables & AR/VR

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on wearables and fitness. Before joining Android Central, he freelanced for years at Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, and Digital Trends. Channeling his love of running, he established himself as an expert on fitness watches, testing and reviewing models from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, Suunto, and more.