Samsung just narrowed the smartwatch gap on Apple Watch

With Google's Wear OS, Samsung has finally created a two-horse race with Apple Watch.

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Samsung's switch to Google's Wear OS instead of Tizen this year appears to have been a winning move, with Wear OS's marketshare skyrocketing in the past two quarters from just 4% in Q2 2021 to 17% in Q3 2021, according to new data from Counterpoint Research

Most of that growth in Wear OS is due to hardware from Samsung, which launched the Wear OS-powered Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic this summer. The devices struck a chord with Android owners, most of whom own a Galaxy phone. 

The new Galaxy smartwatches run on Samsung's Exynos processor and include a BioActive sensor for optical heart rate, ECG measurements, blood oxygen levels, and body composition.

See also: Best smartwatch Black Friday deals 2021: Add style to your wrist.

From Google's side, Wear OS brought Google Pay and Google Messages support, giving it a stronger appeal against the Apple Watch which is mostly aimed at iPhone and Mac owners. 

The Galaxy Watch 4 starts at $249 , with the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic with a physical rotating bezel starting at $349 .  

Apple Watch still dominates the smartwatch industry, but by a significantly smaller margin according to the research. Counterpoint says smartwatch shipments increased by 16% year over year. Apple's share of the category dropped from 28% to 21% over the period. While Samsung is the biggest player on Wear OS, others include the Moto 360 , Huawei Watch 2 , and Fossil Sport .

On a device basis, Samsung now has a 14.4% market share, up from 9.9% a year ago. Huawei's share dipped from 13.6% to 5%. 

"Samsung performed better than expected in the third quarter. Although the Galaxy Watch 4 series shipments were much higher than expected, more than 60% of the total shipments were sold in North America and Europe, where the share of mid-to-high price range models is high," said Counterpoint Research senior analyst, Sujeong Lim. 

See also: 8 Best Android smartwatches for 2021.

"To further increase its market share, Samsung is expected to launch affordable models within 2-3 years to target the fast-growing Asian market. One-third of smartwatches sold in Q3 2021 were priced under $100."