We didn’t get to a traditional review for the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic, since it came in at the same time as the Galaxy Z Fold 5 (review here) and I only have two hands. However, I didn’t want to leave anyone hanging who may have been hoping for Droid Life’s opinion on the Wear OS-powered device. Opinions we do have, and as everyone knows by now, we give them away absolutely free of charge.
I’ve been using the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic (43mm) for over a month now as my daily smartwatch. Let me fill you in on my time with the device.
What I’ve Enjoyed
Hardware and Size – I originally received the 47mm model of the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic for review. As soon as I opened the box I messaged Samsung and requested the 43mm model. While the 47mm is gorgeous and has that amazingly large display, it’s freakin’ massive on my wrists. It wasn’t going to work for me.
After receiving the 43mm unit, it’s the sweet spot. While still much larger than the slim Pixel Watch, the Watch 6 Classic has a certain bulkiness to it, but not in a bad way. It’s the type of heft/bulk that one wants to feel from a premium smartwatch that starts at $399. For example, I’ve whacked this thing a couple of times already and I have zero scuffs or marks to show for it. I can’t say what would have happened to my Pixel Watch under the same stress, but I’m nearly certain that it wouldn’t have been good with its domed glass design.
Watch 6 Classic in 43mm’s weight comes in at 59 grams, which is way beefier than my Pixel Watch’s 36 grams. It’s a bigger watch. Period. For those in need of something more substantial than the Pixel Watch or standard Galaxy Watch 6, then the Classic is a fantastic choice in terms of hardware alone. And unless you’re the Incredible Hulk, I’m not sure anybody needs the 47mm option. It’s gargantuan.
Design – Last year, Samsung gave us the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, featuring a capacitive ring around its display. That design only lasted one year and now we’re back to the Classic design with the turn dial. In terms of function, I much prefer this option over the capacitive ring. Each click to the right and left feels very smooth, but at the same time, there can be a slight stutter from time to time when sliding through different screens. Given Samsung was quick to revert to this style, they must have heard from many Samsung fans that they missed the ring. Personally, I didn’t much care for it aesthetically in past years, but on the Watch 6 Classic line, I think it looks rather nice.
For bands, Samsung supports all 20mm options and replacing bands is as easy as it is on any other non smartwatch thanks to quick release pins/posts/springs or whatever you like to call them. I still struggle with Google’s need to make a proprietary band system, so Samsung’s continued use of the industry standard here is very welcomed. I have only used the new fabric band with the Watch 6 Classic and I love it very much. It is very easy to fit it just right on my wrist, while a lot of times, bands with pre-cut holes don’t quite allow for that Goldilocks feeling. You can get this new fabric band just right and I like that very much.
Specs – Galaxy Watch 6 Classic in 43mm features a 1.31-inch (432px x 432px) sapphire crystal glass display, Exynos W930 chipset, 2GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 5ATM/IP68/MIL-STD-810H durability ratings, stainless steel case, a large suite of sensors (ECG, skin temp, blood oxygen), and comes with a 300mAh battery. If you opt for the larger model, you’ll get a 1.47-inch display and 425mAh battery.
At the price of $399, it’s not a cheap smartwatch to get into, but thankfully, should you choose to buy one, you’re getting a lot of good specs that have the ability to hold up for a long time. However, if I had a request, I suppose I’d like see more RAM. While 2GB is already a lot for a smartwatch, smartphones are shipping with 12GB and up to 16GB of RAM, so I don’t think tossing in 4GB RAM would be insane on these watches that have lots of apps and features to utilize. If anything, it could be a way to further futureproof the device? The more power the better in my book.
For a bit more insight into the display, it’s a Super AMOLED panel that does support always on display, but for those who need more battery juice, I’d recommend leaving that toggled off. For brightness, it gets plenty bright, easily readable in direct lighting and when outside in the sun. I’ve had the watch in all sorts of lighting conditions over the past month and haven’t had any issues. Even its adaptive brightness setting is quite good. And thanks to the display being covered by sapphire glass, it should be relatively scratch resistant, which is a great thing.
What Could be Better
Battery Life – Last year’s Galaxy Watch 5 Pro blew my mind with its battery life. It was my first time with a Wear OS device that would actually last for multiple days off of a charger, so I named it the “Battery Life God.” I didn’t think that was an overstatement at all. With the Watch 6 Classic, it is not a god, not a demigod, or really any sort of special battery experience. It’s very average, lasting me only a full day plus a few hours into the next morning if I forget to charge it. Samsung claims up to 40 hours of usage, but I’m not getting that.
My typical day starts around 7am and then ends at 11pm. By the time I go to bed, the watch is nearly always around 20-25%. That’s clearly not going to be enough to get me through a second day, so onto the charger it goes every night. During the day, it’s not as if I’m using the device all that much either. I allow the device to track my heart rate throughout the day, but I don’t use it for workout tracking (unless it starts itself automatically), and I also don’t use always on display. In reality, the watch acts as a fancy notification viewer and that’s it. Due to this rather tamed usage, I’m not entirely sure why my battery life is so average, but here we are.
The battery itself isn’t massive at 300mAh, but aren’t these new wearable chipsets supposed to sip power and be extremely efficient? I don’t see that on this watch and it’s concerning. There are many fitness-oriented devices that can easily last for days, so if you’re someone who cares more about battery life versus features, it would be hard to recommend this smartwatch.
Software Annoyances (It’s Not All Samsung’s Fault) – Wear OS, while much better than it used to be, still has little things that annoy me. It’s not Samsung’s fault all of the time, but two things really grind my gears on this watch in particular. First, the YouTube Music app is not good. This is obviously a Google thing and not Samsung as the app is bad regardless of which watch I use. Hell, the app is bad even on smartphones. On a watch, though, it feels unusable at times, constantly lagging when trying to get to the playback controls or entering into a premade playlist. Why Google thinks someone needs literally four different “workout mixes” is beyond me. What the hell is even in there? There’s a workout supermix, followed by workout mixes 1, 2, and 3. It’s just odd. For the poor sap who chooses to have their supermix downloaded, it constantly forces the app in attempting to download updated playlists from the cloud, meaning you’ll have a constant notification that tells you it’s waiting for a WiFi signal to download the latest music onto the watch. Again, this isn’t a Samsung Galaxy Watch thing so I’m sorry to bring it up, but damn, Google. Fix this thing.
The other annoyance I have is with the Tiles. Every day the watch will notify me that there is a new tile to add to my home screen. Even when you go into your tiles menu and view the “new” tile, which is typically Outlook (I’ve since uninstalled that bloat nonsense), the notification keeps returning. It’s so obnoxious, and frankly, it triggers me.
Now, it’s not all bad by any means. Like I said, Wear OS has come a long ways, especially in the notifications section. When notifications come in they are easy to view and respond to right from the watch, which has been extremely useful. Additionally, system toggles from the pulldown are very beneficial, though, I do wish these toggles were universal in a way. For example, the Pixel Watch has a couple different toggles than the Watch 6 Classic, so if you get used to your toggles on one watch, there’s no guarantee you’ll have the same toggles on another. This is just like a smartphone, but when you switch from phone to phone frequently like I do, it can be frustrating at times.
Much of your software experience on the watch is controlled via Samsung’s Wearables app. It works fine, allowing for plenty of customization not just on the UI (watch faces), but notifications, and other menu layouts. As a pro tip, I recommend diving deep into the Advanced Features menu from the Watch settings menu inside of the app. This is where you can tweak physical button commands, gestures, and more. It’s a great menu to master.
Should You Buy It?
Galaxy Watch 6 Classic is a fantastic watch, designed to make happy the fans of older Galaxy Watch Classic models from past years. For them, it’s a perfect upgrade. For someone who may be switching from a Pixel Watch, you may lose that sleek piece of glass and metal on your wrist, but you’ll be picking up a heavy duty device that has the same (if not more) capabilities and features. Like most things in the Android world, it would be hard to justify having a Galaxy phone and a Pixel Watch and vice versa. Each device pairs better with its own ecosystem, so if you’re invested into Pixels, you’re probably best sticking with Google’s stuff. If you’re a big time Samsung fan, well then I probably don’t need to convince you to stick with Samsung’s own hardware.
If you’re entirely new to smartwatches, the Watch 6 Classic is a great pick up, unless all you’re looking to do is track fitness data and have long battery life. As much as Samsung would want this device to be able to do it all, it’s battery life simply doesn’t allow for it. This may be addressed at some point, but there’s only so much you can do with a 300mAh battery I suppose.
Prefer a numerical value? I give it a 7.3/10 rating.