Change for the sake of change doesn't equal progress.
There's been a lot of talk about Samsung's new Galaxy Watch lately — well, at least as much talk as there can be about a smartwatch in 2018. Reviews are mostly positive, and despite its lackluster third-party app support (as is typical for Tizen watches), it seems to be a great overall smartwatch with sleek hardware, polished software, and multi-day battery life.
The biggest criticism it's faced from tech pundits and enthusiasts alike is that it just doesn't change much coming from the previous Gear S3 range of devices. It's visually hard to distinguish from the older devices, and the software doesn't seem to add much to the experience either — but with the Gear S3 already being one of the best smartwatches around, is that really such a bad thing?
Nobody makes smartwatch hardware like Samsung. That isn't to say that Samsung has some untouchably great level of build quality or anything of the sort; it's more that Samsung has its own unique design that directly affects how you navigate through its watches. Like the Gear S3, the Galaxy Watch features a clicky, fully rotating bezel that lets you scroll through the Tizen software with ease — no need to block your view and smudge the screen with your finger. This has long been my favorite way to interface with a smartwatch.
Samsung's rotating bezel remains my favorite way to navigate through a smartwatch.
The software is more or less the same as on the Gear S3 too, simply stepping up from Tizen 2.3 to version 4, but unless you need specific third-party apps that are only available on WearOS, that's not such a bad thing either. Tizen is far more customizable than WearOS, and it's simple and even enjoyable to operate, thanks in part to the aforementioned rotating bezel and the speedy interface.
The similarities don't stop there, and that's because the Gear S3 was already a full-featured smartwatch that still holds up today, nearly two years after its initial release. It wasn't perfect, nor is the Galaxy Watch today; battery life on the Galaxy Watch is severely reduced when you enable the always-on display, and Bixby is … well, if you've seen the end of Andrew Martonik's review video, you know what to expect with a wearable Bixby.
It's hard to get too excited about a smartwatch these days, as the majority of manufacturers have seemingly given up on the form factor. Hopefully that'll start to change with newly announced Snapdragon Wear 3100, but in the meantime, the Galaxy Watch remains one of the best options around, just as the Gear S3 was before it. It isn't perfect, but don't write it off just because it doesn't make changes for the sake of change.