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3 surprising features that sold me on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic

One is quite obvious. Two are game-changing for me. All three will make you wonder how you've been living without them for so long.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic with a white background.
June Wan/ZDNET

I've been testing the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic for a little over two weeks now, and while I was initially expecting to just write my review, ship the thing back to Samsung, and move on to the next best gadget, I'm going into week three ready to put down my preorder.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic vs. Watch 5 Pro: Which is best for you?

The reason for what is one of my more sensible buying decisions of the year is threefold, with each of the three features benefiting me in ways that I've yet to (or rarely) experience on a smartwatch. Let me explain.

View at Samsung

1. Switching phones no longer resets the watch

Person wearing the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
June Wan/ZDNET

I'm not wearing five different smartwatches each week like my ZDNET colleague Matthew Miller, but I do switch phones quite often. That means whenever I move my SIM card from one device to another, all of my apps need to be re-downloaded and logged into again, and the wearables that I typically carry with me need to be re-paired.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 series: Price, release date, best features

It's not that big of a deal with wireless earbuds and headphones because all it takes is a press-and-hold of the pairing button and voilà. On both Apple and Android smartwatches, however, a complete factory reset is required, meaning unless you back up your profiles and system settings -- which is a whole mess in and of itself because each manufacturer has its own means of local/cloud storage -- you're left a fully wiped wearable.

That's not ideal if you've spent minutes, if not hours, tailoring your watch settings, panel orders, and complications to your needs. On One UI 5, the Galaxy Watch 6 Classic's WearOS-powered software, you no longer need to reset the watch when switching between phones. This was especially handy when I recently moved from the Z Flip 5 to the S23 Ultra ahead of a weekend road trip, where the lack of outlets made the foldable the less reliable choice.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: 3 features I love (and 2 that I still wish for)

The pairing process was as simple as sifting through the watch settings and tapping Transfer watch to new phone. You'll have to be logged into the same Google account on the new phone for this to work. And it did so very seamlessly.

2. Sleep-friendliness makes a night-and-day difference

Sleep metrics on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Watch 6 Classic
June Wan/ZDNET

I've always had one common problem with smartwatches that tout sleep-tracking features: the battery life is often too weak for a day and a night's worth of active measuring. By bedtime, my smartwatch is often at around 20% to 30% battery, which is never enough to get through a normal sleep session, between six to eight hours.

Not only have I been able to squeeze at least two and half days of battery per charge on the Watch 6 Classic, but Samsung's implemented sleep-friendly settings with One UI 5 to make the wearable less distracting at night. 

Also: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Series vs Apple Watch Series 8: Which should you buy?

That includes switching from the bright green LED that typically blinks underneath the watch when it's measuring your body to a less aggressive infrared sensor. This shift happens automatically when the watch detects that you're in deep sleep.

I've also come to appreciate Sleep mode, which mutes incoming notifications and forces you to wake the wearable via side buttons instead of the usual lift arm up to wake gesture. That makes it less likely for you to accidentally blind yourself with the watch when you're doing a midnight arm stretch or shuffling to the colder side of the pillow.

3. Every watch should have a rotating bezel

Person turning the bezel of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic
June Wan/ZDNET

I've always been a fan of the Galaxy Watch's physical rotating bezel and, like many others, was disappointed when Samsung replaced it with a less-tactile, digital version last year. 

Also: Serious about fitness? This new Garmin is a near-perfect sports watch

For how sophisticated browsing a smartwatch can be -- with swipe gestures, taps, buttons, and long presses in play -- and all the vertical-scroll menus and settings, having an intuitive and seamlessly designed feature like the rotating bezel makes using the Watch 6 Classic an absolute joy. 

There's more precision when setting timers and sifting through settings, as you always know that the next value or tab is a tick away. And for the smaller 43mm size, navigating with the outer bezel means your fingers are not blocking the watch display or leaving smudges that diminish the visibility further.

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