Samsung Galaxy Watch – Productivity Tool or Cool Gadget?

Like all of us I have many roles in life.  I’m a businessman, a techie, a family man, an outdoorsman, and an avid cyclist to name a few.  When I started looking into smartwatches a couple of years ago, I was really intrigued by how one might benefit me in my daily life.  A discreet look at a notification during a meeting, taking a call from my kids when my hands are full, or going for an outdoor adventure without my smartphone were all things I thought would be useful.  Here’s how it has worked out so far.

This is me, in bobblehead form, cycling before I had a smartwatch!

The Hardware – Samsung Galaxy Watch

Let’s start with the hardware.  I purchased the Samsung Galaxy Watch with LTE.  A key feature for me was having its own cellular connection; it can take/make calls and SMS messages entirely independently of my phone.  The watch also has a heartbeat sensor so you can track your sleep, resting heart rate, and workout heart rate.  Mine has 4GB of memory to store things like music and pictures (it does not have a camera).  And it has a clever interface – the watch face has a dial that you rotate to switch between functions plus two push buttons and a touch screen.  The battery lasts about two days, which isn’t bad, and it comes with a wireless charger, so no need to worry about breaking a micro USB connector.  The watch comes in two sizes, 42mm and 46mm.  The smaller is generally intended for women, though I have tiny wrists and bought the 42mm, which my wife has thoroughly enjoyed poking fun at.  It looks nice and feels nice to wear.

Cool Gadget?

It really shines at outdoor activities.  It’s waterproof down to around 50 meters, so I can take it anywhere.  With an integrated GPS you can track your activities.  Strava has an app for it, which I really love.  I can record an activity and have it instantly post to my feed when I finish.  I’ve tested the accuracy of the GPS and find it very good, exceeding my Garmin device.  I’ve taken a number of calls and text messages on it from outdoors and trust it in place of my smartphone.  With my Samsung Galaxy Watch, I’m confident leaving my phone behind whether I’m taking off across the ice bridge to Power Island or enjoying a night ride in the woods.

Productivity Tool?

Probably my biggest frustration is a lack of compatibility with Microsoft Outlook.  If you use Outlook on your Android instead of the built-in calendar app, none of your appointments will sync to the watch.  There are very few productivity apps available.  Though it does have a neat PowerPoint app that lets you connect to Bluetooth-enabled presentation equipment so you can advance slides from your wrist; I can’t see myself using this very often.  I have taken a few calls on it but the audio quality isn’t as good as my desk or smartphone, so I tend to avoid using it on a business call.  You really have to tune down the notifications; I don’t need to be buzzed multiple times per day because I’ve been sitting for too long.

The Verdict

Cool Gadget.  The Samsung Galaxy Watch is great for personal use but pretty weak for business use; you’ll want to keep taking your smartphone to work.