Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch Series 8

Does the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 compete with Apple’s current flagship device?

The recent Galaxy Unpacked event saw Samsung announce the latest in the Galaxy Watch series. How does the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 compare with the Apple Watch Series 8, one of the most popular smartwatches on the market? 

The Galaxy Watch 6 takes over from the Galaxy Watch 5 as Samsung’s flagship device. It’s almost a year newer than the Apple Watch Series 8 (it’s likely that the Apple Watch Series 9 isn’t far away). 

One of the most important differences is that Galaxy Watches are incompatible with iPhones, and you can’t use an Apple Watch with an Android phone. But if you’re thinking of switching from one brand to the other, here’s how the two watches compare 

The Apple Watch Series 8 and three versions of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6Credit: Shutterstock/WartinTech and Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Watch vs Apple Watch Series 8: design

Round or square?

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 has the usual circular face that earlier generations sported, while the Apple Watch Series 8 has a square face with rounded corners. Which one looks nicer will be down to personal preference. 

Advertisement
The Apple Watch Series 8 with a blue watch strapCredit: Shutterstock/agencies

Both watches offer two size options: the Apple Watch series 8 has 41mm (1.6in) and 45mm (1.77in) options, while the Galaxy Watch 6 is slightly smaller, at 40mm (1.57in) and 44mm (1.73in).

The Apple Watch is the slightly heavier of the two, weighing 31.9g (1.13oz) or 38.8g (1.37oz) for the aluminium model with GPS, compared to 28.7g (1oz) or 33.3g (1.17oz) for the Samsung models. 

The devices are evenly matched when it comes to water and dust resistance, with both claiming water resistance to around 50m (55 yards) – although both manufacturers warn that these devices are really only suitable for shallow water activities such as swimming in a pool. 

Both watches offer excellent displays, with the Galaxy Watch 6 offering a significantly brighter screen, going up to 2000 nits (see below), compared to 1000 nits on the Apple Watch Series 8. This will only be needed in extremely bright light, and for most people, 1000 nits will probably be enough. 

What is a nit?

A nit is the unit of measurement that describes how bright a digital display is. The higher the number of nits, the brighter the display. 

One potential area of differentiation is with the protection for their screens. The Galaxy Watch 6 uses sapphire glass, which is particularly scratch-resistant and durable.

The Apple Watch Series 8 does offer sapphire glass on its stainless-steel models, but these are significantly more expensive than the aluminium version, which uses Ion-X front glass, and is less scratch-resistant. 

Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch 8: features and performance

Both watches offer plenty

Five Galaxy Watch 6 watches, each showing a different screen.Credit: Samsung

There isn’t a huge amount to separate these two devices when it comes to features. Both watches have sensors for tracking heart rate, sleep and blood oxygen levels, alongside GPS, altimeters, temperature sensors and compasses. And both devices can track a variety of different exercise types.  

They both offer fall detection, and the Apple watch 8 also offers crash detection, which isn’t on the Galaxy Watch 6. Both offer forms of contactless payment, via Apple Pay and Samsung Wallet, respectively. 

One area of difference is in blood pressure monitoring, which the Galaxy Watch 6 offers, but the Apple Watch Series 8 does not. This function does require a blood pressure cuff for recalibration every few weeks. And you must also own a Samsung smartphone – other Android phones don’t support this feature. The Galaxy Watch 6 also offers a body composition scan, which again, is unavailable on the Apple Watch Series 8. Its accuracy is up for debate though; we tested this feature on the Galaxy Watch 5 and weren’t overly impressed. 

Overall, the two devices are very similar in terms of features.  

When it comes to performance, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is the first to make use of WearOS 4, the newest version of Google’s watch-operating system. It also has a new chipset, which increases the processing speed of the device. And there’s 2GB of RAM, which is double the 1GB of RAM on the Apple Watch Series 8. In theory, this means that the Galaxy Watch 6 should be faster in performance terms than the Apple Watch. But, for most people, the difference won’t be especially significant. 

Finally, the Galaxy Watch 6 comes with 16GB of storage for apps, music and photos. The Apple Watch Series 8 offers double this, at 32GB. This is significant if you plan to download lots of apps, audiobooks or music, for example, when the extra space may come in handy.  

Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch 8: battery

Almost as bad as each other

Battery life is one area where both devices could improve. Samsung says that the Galaxy Watch 6 will give you around 40 hours of battery. To not even last two full days is poor by today’s standards, especially for a flagship device. For comparison, the Garmin Venu 2 – which was released in April 2021 – can go up to nine days between charges. 

Advertisement
Five different versions of the Apple Watch Series 8, each with a different displayCredit: Apple

But that doesn’t let Apple off the hook. The Series 8 advertises battery life of “up to” 18 hours. You may be able to eke it out a little longer, depending on how much you use the Watch 8. But it’s still a poor performance. 

Neither device is remotely impressive in this respect, but at least the Samsung Watch will let you go more than a day between charges. 

Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch 8: price

The Galaxy Watch 6 is a clear winner

There is a significant difference in price between these two watches. For the Apple Watch Series 8, prices start from £419, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 starts from £289. These are for the base versions of each device. 

If you want the 44mm Galaxy Watch 6 with built-in cellular connectivity (which allows the watch to make and receive calls without needing your phone nearby), that will cost £369.  

And if you want the stainless-steel version of the Apple Watch, which also comes with sapphire glass, you’ll be looking at a starting price of £729 (more if you want the cellular connectivity). 

In this category at least, there really is no contest. 

Featured product

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

RRP: From £289

Samsung Galaxy Watch 6

Featured product

Apple Watch Series 8

RRP: From £419

Apple Watch Series 8

Galaxy Watch 6 vs Apple Watch 8: which should you buy?

What phone do you have, or plan on getting?

For most people, your choice of watch is likely to be dictated by what phone you already own. If you already have an iPhone, you’ll need an Apple Watch.

If you have an Android-powered phone, you’ll need the Samsung watch. And with the Apple Watch Series 9 (and potentially even a new Apple Watch Ultra) just around the corner, there may be some new features that are worth waiting for. 

If you’re thinking of switching from Android to iPhone, we’d suggest waiting until September, when the iPhone 15, Apple’s new iPhone, is expected to be revealed. Not only because the new phone may bring features you want, but also because it may make older iPhones cheaper.

On the other hand, if you are planning to swap from Apple to android, you have a far wider selection of phones to choose from. If you want all of the features on the Galaxy Watch, you’ll need a Samsung device.

The current flagship, the S23, isn’t expected to be replaced until February 2024, and there are plenty of other options within the Galaxy range. There’s less reason to delay your switch as a result.  

But it’s worth remembering that while these are two of the best-known smartwatch manufacturers, there are plenty of others out there that will work on both iPhones and Android phones. Devices from Garmin, Fitbit, and many others are compatible with both systems.  

Advertisement
Steven Shaw

Written by Steven Shaw he/him

Updated:

Steven Shaw has been a freelance writer for a variety of outlets, most notably TechRadar. His degree in Medieval History prepared him less adequately for his career than you might expect, but the years spent working in technology focused retail were much more helpful.

Outside of work, Steven is passionate about health and fitness, and particularly enjoys high-intensity interval training, weight training, and increasingly, spending time recovering. Steven loves reading, films and a wide variety of sports. A particular highlight was watching Viv Richards and Sachin Tendulkar batting together in an exhibition match.

He wishes he could travel more. He can also tell you a lot about the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Carolingians. Most of his non-work time is spent with his young children, who are the living embodiment of high-intensity training.