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Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic 43 mm LTE smartwatch in review - The return of a classic

Stainless steel. Along with the Galaxy Watch6, Samsung brings back the Classic model with a rotating bezel, the Galaxy Watch6 Classic. It features a stainless steel casing and is larger. The siblings are quite similar beneath the surface. This year's gadgets are distinguished mostly by their screens.

After a year's break, Samsung reintroduced the Galaxy Watch Classic in 2023. The Galaxy Watch6 Classic is available in two sizes: 43 and 47 millimeters in diameter. Both sizes are available in black and silver. The black case is paired with a black strap, while the silver model includes a light gray strap.

The Galaxy Watch6 Classic is offered in both WiFi-only and LTE versions. The base model with WiFi and a 43 mm diameter is priced at ~$369 USD. The LTE-enabled 47 mm version costs ~$449 USD. The test device provided for this review is the 43 mm silver model equipped with LTE.

Galaxy Watch6 Classic, 43 mm
Processor
Samsung Exynos W930 2 x 1.4 GHz, ARM Cortex-A55
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
1.30 inch, 432 x 432 pixel, capacitive, AMOLED, glossy: yes, 60 Hz
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 7 GB free
Connections
NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: Gyroscope, Barometer, Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Sensor, Accelerometer, Electrical Heart Sensor, Optical Heart Rate Sensor, Temperature
Networking
802.11a/b/g/n (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/), Bluetooth 5.3, UMTS (Band 1, 2, 4, 5, 8); LTE (Band 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 40, 60), LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 13 x 43 x 42 ( = 0.51 x 1.69 x 1.65 in)
Battery
300 mAh Lithium-Polymer
Charging
wireless charging, fast charging / Quickcharge
Operating System
Google Wear OS 4
Additional features
Speakers: Mono, Keyboard: on screen, charging cable, One UI 5.0, 24 Months Warranty, GNSS: GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou; 5 ATM, IP68, Mil-Std-810H, fanless, ruggedized, waterproof
Weight
77 g ( = 2.72 oz / 0.17 pounds), Power Supply: 29 g ( = 1.02 oz / 0.06 pounds)
Price
469 Euro

 

Case and features – Galaxy Watch6 Classic with rotating bezel

Unlike the standard Galaxy Watch6, Samsung has opted for a stainless steel casing in the Galaxy Watch6 Classic. The surfaces feature a combination of glossy and brushed finishes. The Classic models have noticeably wider display edges than the regular Galaxy Watch6. For instance, the 43 mm Classic version offers the same display size as the 40 mm version of the Galaxy Watch6, and the same goes for the larger models.

A distinctive feature of the Classic model is its rotating bezel, which is grooved on the outside, allowing for easy grip and rotation despite being flush with the rest of the case. However, it's worth mentioning that the test model's bezel has substantial wiggle; it can be shifted in all directions easily. This significantly impacts the perceived quality, especially considering the price point. 

Two buttons with a defined pressure point are placed on the right side, and both seem a bit loose. A microphone may be found behind these buttons and at the top band connector, while the speaker can be found on the left side of the casing beneath the stainless steel surface. 

The display is protected by sapphire glass, and the bezel also provides additional protection. The non-rotating inner side of the bezel is discreetly labeled. In terms of weight, the Galaxy Watch6 Classic weighs 51 grams without the strap and 77 grams with the original strap, making it noticeably heavier than the aluminum Galaxy Watch6.

Samsung equips the Galaxy Watch6 Classic with 20-millimeter-wide straps. The Classic model also features the new quick-release fastener with a central button, allowing users to change the strap swiftly and easily without needing tools. 

"Hybrid Eco-Leather" is the material used for the strap; it is separated into two parts. The underside is made of rubber, while the upper side is artificial leather, clearly recognizable as such. There are a few issues with the strap's finishing, some noticeable irregular spaces between the layers in certain places. Additionally, the way the band is secured is not well-designed; it frequently comes loose from the loops during everyday use.

The Galaxy Watch6 Classic is IP68 certified, and Samsung guarantees 5 ATM water resistance. The wristwatch is also expected to meet sections of the MIL-STD-810H standard, although the company does not specify which ones.

Setup and operation - Samsung's app diversity

At least two Samsung apps are required for the full functionality of the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic: the Galaxy Wearable app and the Samsung Health app. The smartwatch is paired with the smartphone via the Galaxy Wear app. The devices immediately identify one another during the test, and the smartphone app is then loaded via a plug-in.  

During the installation, a Google account (mandatory) and a Samsung account (optional) are paired. Apps from the Play Store can also be installed during the setup. The software also suggests regular backups - another app, Samsung Smart Switch, has to be installed for that.  

The descriptions of the features in the smartphone app and the smartwatch instructions are well-written. Both appear throughout the setup process or immediately after it is completed. Setting up an eSIM is possible both during the startup process and later. The software is designed for usage with multiple SIMs. Although an independent SIM card may be set up in the test, the app is constantly sending error messages even though the card is active and works.

Samsung justifies this with the fact that the watch only actively uses its own SIM card when disconnected from the smartphone to save battery. Therefore, the standalone SIM card would often be inactive.

All associated Samsung Galaxy Wearable devices, such as headphones, trackers, and smartwatches, are shown in the Galaxy Wearable app. The current watch face and charge status are displayed on the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic. Furthermore, the app provides a vast number of free watch faces. It is also possible to rearrange the applications on the wristwatch, as well as change the tiles and the quick menu called QuickPanel. There, the contents and order can be altered. 

The Galaxy Wear app can also be used to adjust the smartwatch's settings. For example, which apps are allowed to send notifications, which body data is measured in which interval, or how powerful the vibration motor should be. 

The assignment of the buttons can also be modified here. An emergency contact may be saved, and Samsung Pay can be configured as a payment method. This is also where the eSIM is managed. 

The majority of these options are also available on the smartwatch itself. For more complex apps, the smartwatch launches the matching smartphone submenu. The watch is controlled by two buttons, a spinning bezel, gestures, and the 1.3-inch touchscreen. 

Turning the bezel scrolls through menus. When tapped once, the top button returns to the home screen. Long pressing activates the digital assistant Bixby in its default settings. Pressing it twice launches the most recently used app. The bottom button can only be assigned with one function. Pressing it once takes you back one step to the factory settings. The key assignments are changeable, but not all functions can be stored for all press commands. 

A swipe from left to right opens the notification menu, the messages are listed sorted by app. Swiping from top to bottom brings up the short menu with access to display brightness, data connection, flight mode, etc. Swiping from bottom to top opens the app overview. Swiping left to right navigates between the various cards. Clicking on the respective card opens the corresponding menu or app.

 

Telephony and notifications - Galaxy Watch6 Classic with LTE option

The Galaxy Watch6 Classic comes equipped with speakers and microphones, enabling it to make calls. With its integrated eSIM, the smartwatch can make phone calls even without being paired with a smartphone. However, call quality is superior when paired with a phone compared to stand-alone mode, where transmissions can occasionally be choppy for the other party. At maximum volume, the smartwatch vibrates noticeably on the wrist. 

The phone app on the watch is well-designed, displaying all contacts from the smartphone or Google account, call logs, and a dial pad for number input. Notifications are reliably and completely displayed, including emojis and pictures. Additionally, voice messages can be listened to using WhatsApp.

The watch offers extensive response options. It provides pre-set short responses and allows for individual replies through emojis, voice input, or a full keyboard. However, typing is less comfortable than on the Galaxy Watch6 due to the bezel, especially in the peripheral areas.

Voice assistant - Great choice thanks to WearOS

Samsung relies on its own voice assistant Bixby, by default. Users have the flexibility to easily download and use other assistants such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa through the Google Play Store. To use these alternatives on the Galaxy Watch6 Classic, they need to be linked to the corresponding accounts on the paired smartphone. 

Bixby and Google Assistant can be activated upon request, whereas Alexa requires manual initiation through a button press or touchscreen interaction. The responses from these assistants are displayed on the screen and conveyed through the smartwatch's speaker.

Health and fitness - Galaxy Watch6 Classic with a variety of sensors

The smartwatch boasts a wide array of sensors and features designed for collecting comprehensive health and fitness data. This data is gathered and analyzed within the Samsung Health app. Within the app's dashboard, users can customize the content and order of various metrics, including daily activity, steps, workouts, food intake, sleep patterns, pulse rate, stress levels, body composition, cycle tracking, water intake, and blood oxygen levels.

Under the Community section, users may compare their beliefs to those of their friends, creating a sense of unity. Under Fitness, Samsung offers a range of exercise videos, covering activities from mindfulness and muscle building to running. These videos are displayed on the smartphone while the smartwatch monitors vital signs. Samsung not only provides its own workout programs but also showcases offerings from third-party providers.

In the Profile section, users can view earned badges and personal best achievements. The software also delivers a weekly summary of active time and sleep duration. It's worth noting that data synchronization with Google Fit is possible exclusively through Google Health Connect.

A standout feature of the Samsung smartwatch is its ability to measure body composition. By placing two fingers on electrodes embedded in the buttons and inputting height and weight, the software provides values for skeletal muscle, fat mass, and body water in kilograms. Additionally, it calculates BMI, body fat percentage, and daily basal metabolic rate in calories.

 
 
 

Activity Objectives - Samsung measures steps, stress and calories

Samsung provides detailed updates on daily goals and current progress, accessible both on the smartwatch and the smartphone app. The system utilizes three different colored hearts to represent completed steps, active time, and activity calories. Additionally, users are informed about the accomplished distance and total calories burned.

The app visually represents activity on a timeline and allows for customized goal setting. It offers insights not just for daily activities but also for weekly and monthly achievements. In the steps section, the app also includes the number of floors climbed. It compares the step count with the averages of all users and users within the same age group.

The smartwatch has the ability to measure stress levels, which are displayed on a colored scale ranging from green to red. While Samsung doesn't provide a numerical value, it presents stress levels throughout the day on a timeline and offers hourly summaries. To manage stress, the smartwatch provides breathing exercises.

During sports sessions, the Galaxy Watch6 Classic measures VO2Max. Additionally, it can remind users to exercise regularly and detect extended periods of sitting, such as when working at a desk.

Heart rate, heart rhythm and blood oxygen saturation

The Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic offers pulse, blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and ECG measurements. However, for blood pressure measurements, the smartwatch requires regular calibration with a blood pressure monitor, unlike the Huawei Watch D, for example. Additionally, blood pressure and ECG measurements can only be conducted with paired Samsung smartphones.

To assess the accuracy of the Galaxy Watch6 Classic's readings, we compared its measurements with those of reference devices. During a bike ride, we used a Polar H10 chest strap as a reference device. For resting pulse measurements, the devices' values ranged by just one beat per minute, equivalent to a deviation of 1.54 percent.

We conducted three performance pulse measurements, and the average deviation from these readings was only 0.09 percent. These values were notably more accurate than those of the Galaxy Watch6. Although the sensors of both smartwatches are supposed to be identical, differences in straps and fit on the wrist could account for the deviation.

The Galaxy Watch6 Classic also performed well in terms of monitoring blood oxygen saturation. As a reference device, we used a Braun pulse oximeter 1. The average variation between the three measures was 2.08 percent, with the watch regularly outperforming the reference device.

For blood pressure measurements, a Braun ExacFit 5 Connect served as the reference device, and we recorded three readings. The systolic values deviated by 4.21 percent, while the diastolic values averaged a 1.3 percent difference.

Heart rate measurement with the Polar H10 chest strap
Heart rate measurement with the Polar H10 chest strap
Heart rate measurement with the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic
Heart rate measurement with the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic

Sleep tracking - Samsung measures sleep cycles and detects snoring

The sleep tracking feature on the Galaxy Watch6 Classic offers a comprehensive analysis. It records the total sleep duration in hours and minutes while providing detailed information on REM, light, and deep sleep stages. The watch accurately detects waking times, and these sleep phases are graphically represented on a number line.

The sleep monitoring tool in the Samsung Health app displays sleep cycles as well as percentages for awake, physical recovery, and mental recovery. Overall, sleep data is analyzed, providing users with both numerical  values and descriptive insights. Users can also choose to monitor their blood oxygen levels and skin temperature while sleeping. These numbers are available for single nights as well as weekly and monthly trends.

While the smartwatch does not measure breathing like Huawei's Watch 4 Pro, it does allow snoring detection when paired with a smartphone. The software also includes sleep coaching features. It is worth mentioning, however, that this gadget currently lacks a smart alarm clock function.

Training recording - Galaxy Watch6 Classic customizable

The Galaxy Watch6 Classic boasts the capability to track 90 different sports activities. Users can set specific goals for each sport, such as duration, calorie consumption, or sets. Moreover, the display of training metrics can be tailored according to individual sports preferences. For certain sports like jogging, users can establish target heart rate zones, aiming for peak performance or optimal fat burning.

The smartwatch provides comprehensive information tailored to the selected sport. It offers real-time updates on training progress within each segment and can provide heart rate information at specific intervals or distances during the workout. For running, the device even offers advanced analysis metrics like asymmetry, contact time, flight time, and regularity.

After training, the smartwatch generates a summary of the workout data, available both on the device and in the companion smartphone app. During outdoor workouts, the watch records the route, allowing users to export it. Additionally, it can complete imported routes on a sport-specific basis.

The Watch6 Classic excels at automatically recognizing and tracking activities like walking, running, and cycling, providing reliable and accurate data. The manually initiated workouts offer more extensive data compared to automatically recognized activities.

GPS and navigation - Accurate localization and Google Maps on the Galaxy Watch6 Classic

The smartwatch supports all common satellite systems, ensuring fast and reliable tracking without any connection interruptions noted during our testing. To assess its tracking accuracy, we conducted a bike tour alongside a Garmin Venu 2, and the results were impressive. The route was consistently and accurately recorded, displaying excellent performance in recognizing curves and turns.

Thanks to various navigation apps available in the Play Store, including Google Maps, and its integrated eSIM, the smartwatch can function as an independent navigation device without the need for a paired smartphone. This functionality performed admirably throughout our tests. The route is clearly visualized on the screen, both on a map and with directional arrows.

It allows for the importing and exporting of training routes, supporting the GPX format. Notably, Komoot operates seamlessly on the Galaxy Watch6 Classic through its dedicated app. However, the device lacks a return path navigation feature, a functionality that is still exclusive to Samsung's Galaxy Watch5 Pro.

GNSS, around the lake
GNSS, around the lake
GNSS, turning point
GNSS, turning point
GNSS, summary
GNSS, summary

Display - Samsung panel with enormous luminosity

Subpixel
Subpixel

The Galaxy Watch6 features a 1.3-inch OLED panel, matching the size of the display in the standard Galaxy Watch6 with a 40-millimeter diameter. In comparison to last year's models, the displays have significantly improved in brightness, reaching a maximum brightness of 1906 cd/m². This brightness level is approximately twice as bright as the Google Pixel Watch or the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 Pro.

Even when compared to devices like the Huawei Watch 4 Pro and Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5, the Galaxy Watch6 Classic outshines them. This makes the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic highly readable in all lighting conditions. Additionally, the always-on display functions smoothly and adjusts its style to match the selected watch face. It automatically deactivates during sleep mode

The display can be activated by rotating the wrist or tapping the screen, although there might be a slight time delay when doing so. During testing, we observed a screen flickering frequency of 60 Hz.

Samsung Galaxy Watch6 ClassicGoogle Pixel Watch LTESamsung Galaxy Watch6 44mmSamsung Galaxy Watch5 ProHuawei Watch 4 ProMobvoi TicWatch Pro 5
Response Times
PWM Frequency
60
60
0%
60
0%
72
20%
108
80%
Screen
-44%
0%
-57%
-65%
-75%
Brightness middle
1906
1066
-44%
1897
0%
813
-57%
660
-65%
472
-75%
Black Level *
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-44% / -44%
0% / 0%
-29% / -29%
-23% / -23%
3% / 3%

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 60 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 60 Hz (worst case, e.g., utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 60 Hz is very low, so the flickering may cause eyestrain and headaches after extended use.

In comparison: 53 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 18161 (minimum: 5 - maximum: 3846000) Hz was measured.

Performance and runtime - Samsung's Exynos beats its predecessor

Samsung has incorporated its own System-in-Package (SiP), the Exynos W930, into the Galaxy Watch6 Classic. Our benchmark measurements reveal a significant performance boost compared to the previous Exynos W920 used in the Galaxy Watch5 Pro. However, the Exynos chip is inferior compared to the current Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1.

In terms of memory, the Galaxy Watch6 Classic has been increased to 2 GB of RAM, a 0.5 GB improvement from its predecessor. The internal storage capacity is 16 GB, with approximately 7 GB available for immediate use. This space can be utilized for apps, music, and route storage. While the smartwatch's performance is generally solid, occasional minor stutters and waiting times are experienced in everyday use. 

Octane V2 - Total Score
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5
Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1, 2048 (samsung browser 2.2.0)
3710 Points +43%
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic
Samsung Exynos W930, 2048 (Samsung Browser 3.0)
2587 Points
Average Samsung Exynos W930
  (2575 - 2587, n=2)
2581 Points 0%
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 44mm
Samsung Exynos W930, 2048 (Samsung Browser 3.0)
2575 Points 0%
Samsung Galaxy Watch5
Samsung Exynos W920, 1536 (Samsung Browser 1.2.)
1990 Points -23%
Google Pixel Watch LTE
Samsung Exynos 9110, 2048 (Odd Browser 1.0.5)
1981 Points -23%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score
Google Pixel Watch LTE
Samsung Exynos 9110, 2048 (Odd Browser 1.0.5)
2903 ms * -101%
Samsung Galaxy Watch5
Samsung Exynos W920, 1536 (Samsung Browser 1.2.)
2730 ms * -89%
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 44mm
Samsung Exynos W930, 2048 (Samsung Browser 3.0)
1484 ms * -3%
Average Samsung Exynos W930
  (1444 - 1484, n=2)
1464 ms * -1%
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic
Samsung Exynos W930, 2048 (Samsung Browser 3.0)
1444.1 ms *
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5
Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1, 2048 (Samsung Browser 2.2.0)
1251.7 ms * +13%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total
Samsung Galaxy Watch5
Samsung Exynos W920, 1536 (Samsung Browser 1.2.)
20047 ms * -28%
Google Pixel Watch LTE
Samsung Exynos 9110, 2048 (Odd Browser 1.0.5)
19381 ms * -23%
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic
Samsung Exynos W930, 2048 (Samsung Browser 3.0)
15698.2 ms *
Average Samsung Exynos W930
  (14711 - 15698, n=2)
15205 ms * +3%
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 44mm
Samsung Exynos W930, 2048 (Samsung Browser 3.0)
14711.3 ms * +6%
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5
Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1, 2048 (samsung browser 2.2.0)
10917.6 ms * +30%
Speedometer 2.0 - Result
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5
Qualcomm Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1, 2048 (Samsung Browser 2.2.0)
11 runs/min +26%
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic
Samsung Exynos W930, 2048 (Samsung Browser 3.0)
8.7 runs/min
Average Samsung Exynos W930
  (8.4 - 8.7, n=2)
8.55 runs/min -2%
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 44mm
Samsung Exynos W930, 2048 (Samsung Browser 3.0)
8.4 runs/min -3%

* ... smaller is better

Battery life - The Galaxy Watch6 Classic barely makes it through the day

Similar to its predecessor, the battery life remains a significant drawback for the Galaxy Watch6 Classic, especially in the smaller version. While the larger Galaxy Watch6 can last between 24 to 36 hours, the Galaxy Watch6 Classic often needs to be partially recharged during the day to ensure it lasts until the evening.

When all features, including continuous measurements and the always-on display, are enabled, the smartwatch can barely make it through a day, especially if used for activities like training, phone calls, or using apps. In such cases, the watch might need to be charged again before tracking sleep.

These are minimum estimates; without the always-on display, the Galaxy Watch6 Classic can generally last a full day under similar usage conditions. Achieving multiple days of use is only possible with significantly limited usage of its features.

The smartwatch supports wireless charging via the Qi standard, allowing it to be charged using a compatible smartphone's charging pad during the day. Samsung includes a charging pad but no power adaptor. The watch is magnetically attached to the pad. A complete charge from 0 to 100 percent takes about 80 minutes.

During charging, the smartwatch adjusts the display's orientation, making it convenient for placement on a desk or nightstand. The software provides an estimate of the expected charging time, although this value may fluctuate.

Pros

+ wide range of functionalities
+ very bright display
+ exact measurement of vital functions
+ exact GNSS localization
+ wide range of apps

Cons

- Akkulaufzeit
- EKG- und Blutdruckmessung nur mit Samsung-Smartphones
- Ruckler in der Bedienung

Verdict - The battery is a buzzkill for the Galaxy Watch6 Classic

Testing: Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic. Test device provided by Samsung Germany.
Testing: Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic. Test device provided by Samsung Germany.

Samsung has reintroduced the Classic model to its smartwatch lineup, although the differences to the standard Galaxy Watch6 are minimal. The major differences are seen in the materials and design of the casing. The Classic version features a stainless steel casing and a rotating physical bezel, whereas the standard version uses aluminum and lacks the rotating bezel.

The essential features like the display, battery life, memory, software, and sensors remain identical across both models. This continuity is a positive aspect as both versions excel in these areas. The smartwatch offers a diverse range of apps due to its integration with WearOS, and it accurately measures various body parameters. Additionally, the satellite tracking capabilities are impressive. The display stands out with its exceptional maximum brightness, ensuring readability in all lighting conditions.

Samsung charges an additional ~$100 USD for stainless steel and a rotating bezel.

We were less impressed with the quality of the test device. The bezel moves, and the synthetic leather strap lacks luster in terms of bonding and buckles. The battery life is likewise merely adequate. In order to use the smartwatch during the day and night, users will need to charge it more than once.

For those considering this device, we recommend opting for the larger case variant, which comes with a larger battery. It's also essential to weigh the importance of stainless steel and the rotating bezel, especially given the 100 Euros premium compared to the standard Galaxy Watch6. An alternative to consider, offering similar operating system benefits and longer runtimes, is the TicWatch Pro 5. However, it is not yet available with eSIM. 

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic is sold at various retailers like Amazon or Best Buy. Samsung also has it listed in its own online store.

Transparency

The present review sample was made available to the author as a loan by the manufacturer or a shop for the purposes of review. The lender had no influence on this review, nor did the manufacturer receive a copy of this review before publication. There was no obligation to publish this review.

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > Reviews > Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic 43 mm LTE smartwatch in review - The return of a classic
Benedikt Winkel, 2023-10-30 (Update: 2023-10-31)