Wearables Week in Review

Report Type: 
Week In Review

Samsung launches Galaxy Watch 6

Samsung’s Seoul-based Unpacked event took place last week and with it came the latest iteration of the Galaxy Watch. Two variants were launched: the Watch 6 and the Watch 6 Classic. The latter, as rumored, re-introduced a fan-favorite feature: the rotating bezel. It is a smaller bezel than previously (estimated to be 30 percent slimmer). Smaller is always a theme – or should be – with each iteration of a watch, as the manufacturers look to squeeze more into a more wrist-friendly form factor. And the smaller bezel means that the actual watch display is 20 percent larger than the previous model. It should be clarified that Samsung never really got rid of the bezel, but with the Watch 5, they moved from a physical device to a touch-sensitive “bezel-like” edge.  That touch-edge remains on the Watch 6 (as opposed to the Classic version) so consumers can now choose their bezel of choice, although there is a $100 premium if you want the physical bezel.

Other key enhancements include a one-click band, which makes switching out the strap a fast and easier operation. This is clearly aimed at driving the accessories market, allowing consumers to quickly switch straps to match their outfits or mood. Notably, these new straps are compatible with previous versions of the Watch too, as the innovation is really in the strap, not the watch itself. 

The new watch will come with Wear OS 4.0, and looks set to be the first Android-based smartwatch to benefit from the new OS – potentially even before the Pixel Watch. That’s a clear benefit of the partnership that Samsung has with Google on developing the latest OS iterations and helps to cement Samsung’s leadership in the Android space. The watch also has an updated processor and a larger battery. Samsung claims that you can get eight hour of battery life from just eight minutes of fast charging, which is key for consumers that never really want to take the watch off due to sleep tracking.

And talking of sleep tracking, Samsung worked with the National Sleep Foundation to build individualized sleep messages, recognize sleep patterns and wake times to track sleep consistency and even give you a Sleep Animal Symbol to represent your style (I hope there’s a Sloth for me). There were also a slew of improved health and fitness features, such as improved heart rate alerts. 

The Circana Take:

  • Pricing starts at $300 for the Watch 6, and $400 for the Classic (with the physical bezel) but we’re already seeing pre-release discounts such as a $50 discount via Amazon.
  • This is a key launch for Samsung, aimed at boosting sales of its watch (and more importantly, keeping consumers in the Samsung device ecosystem). The company has come under more competitive pressure in the Watch business with Pixel Watch in particular being viewed as a competitive alternative. And consumers looking at the Pixel Watch will also, instinctively, consider the Pixel phone series.
  • While there were some non-health/fitness updates (such as a new Samsung Wallet) we still have a nagging worry that smartwatches remain a one-trick pony focusing almost exclusively on this category. We need to see a greater diversity in use cases beyond fitness to drive interest among the 63 percent of the US population that have yet to purchase a smartwatch.


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