[Galaxy History ③] Evolution of the Galaxy Watch Series: Reimagining the Watch

on July 8, 2024
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Before smartwatches, there was only one reason for anyone to look at their watch. Now, telling time is just one of a myriad of smartwatch functions. People use smartwatches to check time, keep track of important health markers, communicate with friends, choose watch faces for the day and enjoy various content from their wrists.



Samsung Newsroom traced the evolution of the Galaxy Watch series over the past decade — as the device transcended its traditional role and redefined what it meant to be a watch.




Thinking Outside the Box: Opening a New Era of Smartwatch


Unveiled in September 2013, the revolutionary Galaxy Gear brought the Galaxy experience closer to everyday life. The wearable featured a 41.4-millimeter display that allowed users to make and receive calls, schedule events, set alarms and check the weather with their voice. Photos and short videos could be captured in the moment without smartphones, thanks to the 1.9-megapixel camera attached to the strap and the ingenious Memographer feature. More than a wristwatch, the Galaxy Gear set the stage for a new era of smartwatches.



Samsung launched the second-generation Samsung Gear2 in February 2014. Lighter and thinner than its predecessor, this device was equipped with a longer-lasting battery and packed with more features that could be used without a smartphone. Users could monitor their heart rate and track their exercise in real time with the heart rate sensor or turn the watch into a standalone music player with the embedded file storage. The Samsung Gear2 Neo was introduced at the same time, offering consumers an additional option with all the same features of the Samsung Gear2 except the camera.



Released in 2014, the Samsung Gear S was Samsung’s first smartwatch to feature a large, curved Super AMOLED display that wrapped around the user’s wrist — supporting 3G and Wi-Fi without a smartphone connection. The Samsung Gear S2, its 2015 successor, was Samsung’s first smartwatch with a circular display and the rotating bezel that is now a hallmark of the Galaxy Watch Classic lineup.



In 2016, Samsung launched the Samsung Gear S3 which turned heads with an elegant design inspired by traditional timepieces and more innovative functions that improved daily life. The Always On Display feature continuously showed the time on users’ wrists with the Super AMOLED display that supports 16 million colors. Featuring a built-in speaker and microphone, the device allowed users to take calls on speakerphone without a Bluetooth headset. Meanwhile, the GPS helped users record exercise history or check routes on maps without a smartphone.



Samsung Gear Sport, the last model in the Samsung Gear series, offered a sporty design for those with an active lifestyle. Boasting 5 ATM water resistance, the watch could be worn while swimming. Improved water resistance functions included Water lock mode which prevents unintentional activation of the touchscreen in strong currents.



Galaxy Watch: A New Partner for Balanced Lifestyles


In August 2018, the Galaxy Watch series was born. This rebrand reflected the diverse and ever-expanding functions of a smartwatch in today’s world — as a health tracker, personal assistant, fashion accessory and much more. To enhance the user experience and highlight Samsung’s smartwatch identity, the wearable maintained the signature circular bezel from previous models but added an hourly alarm and ticking sound of the second hand for the first time. Available in three colors and 42- and 46-millimeter sizes, this versatile device offered stress management and sleep management features to enhance users’ health and wellness. Users could keep track of workouts from 39 different kinds of exercises as well, more than any other watch on the market at the time.



Samsung launched a new lineup of smartwatches in February 2019 with the Galaxy Watch Active, specifically designed for users with active lifestyles. Boasting a 28.1-millimeter Super AMOLED display, this watch retained the signature circular shape but eliminated the bezel and used aluminum to decrease the weight by 25 grams. The 20-millimeter watchband made of flexible fluoroelastomer offered fashion-conscious users a variety of options to express their individuality. On the other hand, health-conscious users could track their exercise, sleep, stress levels and blood pressure in real time — they could even check how long they spent in rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep versus the other three sleep stages.



In August 2019, the Galaxy Watch Active2 took personalized health and wellness management to the next level for people seeking healthier lifestyles. Apart from the rotating bezel and other user experience enhancements, the My Style feature provided more stylish, customized watch faces to users. The wearable was the perfect partner in helping users adopt healthier and more balanced lifestyles through the upgraded stress and sleep management functions as well as the exercise feature that could track more than 39 different types of workouts. Moreover, the upgraded Galaxy ecosystem improved connectivity and everyday convenience.



A New Era: Integrated Healthcare Is Here


After two years, Samsung brought health seekers the Galaxy Watch3 in August 2020. Maintaining the circular bezel made of stainless steel, users could choose from a larger 41- or 45-millimeter display with a lighter, thinner body. For the first time in Galaxy history, Samsung added an even lighter, stronger and more premium model made of titanium. The device provided an integrated healthcare experience from the wrist with health, fitness, sleep management and blood pressure monitoring. In addition, Samsung introduced electrocardiogram (ECG) readings and a blood oxygen feature to track oxygen saturation over time.


The Galaxy Watch4 series redefined the smartwatch experience in August 2021 — with two models, the modern and minimalistic Galaxy Watch4 and the more traditional Galaxy Watch4 Classic featuring the signature rotating bezel. Launched for the first time, the BioActive Sensor measured various health indicators such as blood pressure, ECG and blood oxygen saturation levels more accurately than the previous watch. Users wanting more holistic health insights could measure their body composition by simply placing two fingers on the smartwatch to learn how to manage and achieve their health goals. The wearable was equipped with the new Wear OS, developed jointly with Google, so that users could access a larger variety of applications. Meanwhile, the new One UI Watch update significantly enhanced the user experience by seamlessly connecting the watch with Samsung smartphones, wireless earbuds and other devices.



Above Wrist: A Partner To Better Know Yourself


In August 2022, Samsung opened the next chapter of smartwatches with the Galaxy Watch5 series. Optimal for outdoor sports, the Galaxy Watch5 Pro was newly introduced in this lineup. The more advanced Samsung BioActive Sensor improved the accuracy of body composition, heart rate and ECG monitoring measurements. Notably, a newly equipped temperature sensor on the Galaxy Watch5 provided skin temperature-based predictions to help women conveniently track their menstrual cycles.


Samsung once again stood by its health-seeking users with the Galaxy Watch6 series, unveiled in July 2023. This wearable offers holistic health features to provide more personalized, innovative health solutions to users who want to better manage their health. Complete with a slimmer bezel, the display is about 20% larger than its predecessors to help users see more information at a glance. Galaxy Watch6 is designed with the signature circular design, whereas the Galaxy Watch6 Classic features a rotating bezel reminiscent of analog watches. A new button replaced the spring-bar structure, allowing users to easily switch their watchbands with one click.


With an even more sensitive BioActive sensor and a high-performance processor, health metrics became more specialized — ranging from sleep management and fitness coaching to heart health monitoring.



An AI-Based Galaxy Health Experience and the Next-Generation Watch

Samsung unveiled One UI 6 Watch in May 2024. With this, the company has successfully transformed the Galaxy Watch into a total digital healthcare assistant that measures indicators such as heart rate, sleep patterns and more. Health insights are more comprehensive and detailed than ever before, and users now receive personalized messages powered by AI to motivate them to reach their health goals. Moreover, the upcoming Galaxy Watch series to be released in the second half of this year will measure Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) with an updated BioActive Sensor that features light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in more colors and newly designed photodiodes.


Samsung is constantly expanding its horizons and will continue to do so. Each new wearable not only offers basic watch functions but also delivers services that younger generations have come to expect. Striving to become the closest partner that values every exciting and precious moment in each user’s life, Samsung has pushed the boundaries of the smartwatch for more than a decade — and the best is yet to come.

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