The Samsung Galaxy Watch just looks luxe. That’s the first thought this runner had while strapping the rose gold version on my wrist that, honestly, looked like a regular analog watch face because the graphics are so well-done. If you put this watch next to a “non-smart” timepiece, you wouldn’t notice a difference right away. Of course, that’s before you start moving the bezel and realize that not only can you check the time, but also your texts, emails, sleep, training and overall healthy lifestyle as you navigate through the day. After years of wearing different fitness trackers and heart rate monitors, this watch was a stylish upgrade that didn’t disappoint as a runner’s workhorse.
One of the best features of the Samsung Galaxy smartwatch is the ability to leave your phone behind while you head out for a run. But don’t worry, you’re not missing a step — with an untethered GPS and integration with the MapMyRun app, your runs are still perfectly recorded. Simply connect the watch to your phone (via bluetooth) once you’re done with the run, and your workout syncs right into your account. The wrist-based heart rate monitoring is surprisingly close to what an actual heart rate strap measured while on my run, and the resting heart rate was accurate as well.
I’ve tried a lot of smart watches over the years, and this was the first one that didn’t give me a hard time the first few times I tested it: Once synced to my phone and the MapMyRun app, it performed flawlessly.
I also quickly grew to love the health reminders and recommendations that automatically display on your phone. I do admit that, at first, my inclination was to yell at the watch, “You don’t know me!” when it tried to coach me through doing some twists after sitting for too long … but I’ll admit the movement actually did make me feel better.
The ability to use MyFitnessPal from the watch was also hugely helpful. You can’t log your food intake with it, but you can see your daily calorie consumption and — more important — your macronutrient breakdown. I found this particularly great when ordering at a restaurant: At a quick glance, I could see I was a little lacking in the protein department, and was able to switch my order to something with more lean protein and less starchy carbs. It made a healthy decision easier and helped me avoid rudely pulling out my phone to check my macros at the table with friends.
A word about its function as a smartwatch: As someone who used an Apple Watch for a year, I felt like this was actually a better smartwatch. It can do everything I wanted the Apple Watch to do, including sending texts and emails, but it looks like a more traditional watch, so a non-smart watch-wearer could make the shift without feeling awkward. The touch screen was as easy to use as the Apple Watch’s screen, but the addition of the bezel on the Samsung watch made it comparatively easier to navigate.
The battery life also can’t be ignored: It’s easily the longest-running smartwatch I’ve tried, and charges faster than I expected. I was excited to be able to use the watch to monitor sleep using Under Armour’s Record app, and while I’m not usually someone who tracks sleep, it was nice to have the option. (With most smartwatches, charging overnight is the expectation, so the sleep trackers are few and far between.) There were even times where I was able to wear it for a couple of days (not using it at night) without charging, which was incredibly impressive.
The one downside? If you’re syncing your Samsung Galaxy Watch to anything other than a Samsung phone, make sure you have a bit of extra time and good internet or data service, because while it walks you through the steps painlessly, there are a few extra downloads needed to pair it to non-Samsung Android phones. But once it is set up, it works great!
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Watch provides users with a more holistic approach to running fitness and overall health monitoring, bringing a wearable to tracking with MyFitnessPal for nutrition reminders, MapMyRun for actual training, the Record app for sleep and the Samsung built-in health reminders for movement throughout the day. If you’re looking for one device to prompt a whole-body lifestyle change, this watch felt like having a coach strapped to my wrist holding me accountable to be my best self — and letting me know when I had a new text or email!