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Galaxy Match Evaluation: Samsung's $99 health wearable simply misses the mark

As fans of fitness smartwatches are eagerly awaiting details on the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, it’s easy to forget that Samsung just released another fitness product, the Galaxy Fit. We took some time to get better acquainted with Samsung’s more affordable fitness band in our Galaxy Fit review.

Setup

The most convoluted part of the Samsung Galaxy Fit was getting it set up. If you’re not planning on using it with a Samsung phone, be sure you check that your device can install the Galaxy Wearables app.

This, however, is not the only app you’ll need. Like other Samsung wearables, in order to connect the Galaxy Fit to your phone and make the most of it, you need to install four separate apps.

The base Galaxy Wearable app walks you through installing each app as you attempt to connect to the Fit, but you can save a bit of time by installing them ahead of time.

When first connecting to the Samsung Galaxy Fit for setup, sometimes your phone will show the name of an unrelated, previously connected Bluetooth device. Having gone through the setup multiple times, I’ve seen the Galaxy Fit appear as my car stereo and as my wireless headphones. A simple rename in Android’s Bluetooth settings fixes this, but it’s definitely annoying.

Another important thing to note is that the Galaxy Fit Plugin currently does not work with Android Q. So if you’ve opted into the beta, you’ll not be able to make use of the Galaxy Fit until Samsung pushes out an update.

Comfort

The first couple days with the Galaxy Fit aren’t too great, unless you’re already used to wearing a fitness tracker. Like any other tracker, you need to find the size that’s right for you, which may change often.

For example, to get the most accurate heart-rate reading during exercise, you need to wear the band fairly tight. If you wear it tightly for too long, however, it might irritate your skin. This means, depending on your exercise routines, you may be changing the size a few times a day, which is not an easy process. Even after a month of constant wear, I can’t always get the band undone on the first try.

Also, if you have large or thick wrists, the Galaxy Fit is unfortunately not for you. I don’t consider myself to have large wrists (7-inch circumference), yet I still have to wear the band at three to four notches away from the maximum size. The band itself is replaceable, but it does not yet come in any larger sizes.

Once I got the Samsung Galaxy Fit band to a size I was comfortable with, which didn’t irritate my skin, it was very easy to forget I was even wearing a fitness tracker. I was able to fall asleep while wearing it without issue.

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy Fit doesn’t boast the most powerful hardware in fitness smartwatches, but this is intentional on Samsung’s part to make the device affordable. The AMOLED display, measuring in at just under 1 inch, has thick upper and lower bezels and a low resolution, but it’s more than capable for fitness use.

Samsung has crammed a ton of functionality into the single multipurpose button on the left side of the Galaxy Fit. It can turn on the device, wake the display, mark a lap, signal the start of exercise, and tons more, while remaining fairly straightforward. In this case, less really is more.

The biggest downside stemming from the Samsung Galaxy Fit’s low-end hardware is that the connection range is far too small. If I walk a few feet away from my phone, I’ll very quickly lose connection. Thankfully, the Galaxy Fit works perfectly while untethered, continuing to track your steps, exercise, and sleep. Most likely, the limited range was an intentional decision to increase battery life.

Speaking of battery life, the Galaxy Fit can net you anywhere from three to eight days on a charge, depending on your usage and settings. For example, if you prefer to have the Galaxy Fit constantly check your heart rate, rather than every 10 minutes as is the default, you’ll take a day or two off the battery life. However, even with these considerations in mind, the Galaxy Fit still can only manage roughly half the battery life of its closest competitor, the Xiaomi Mi Band 4.

When the 120 mAh battery does finally die, the included charger can have you back up to full in a few hours. Even a few minutes of charge time should get you enough juice to get through a workout session.

Samsung Galaxy Fit as a Smartwatch

As a smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Fit is very limited in its usefulness by its small display. Notifications from your phone are mirrored to the Galaxy Fit, and fine-grained controls are available to let you pick and choose which apps’ notifications should be mirrored.

For notifications from messaging apps, Samsung has included a customizable list of quick reply responses. These can be handy, but often I found myself choosing not to even bother with notifications on the Galaxy Fit, despite that being my primary use case for a smartwatch.

The watch faces are fairly limited, offering very little in the way of color customization. For example, I prefer the look of the yellow “Big Time” face, but to show my current heart rate on the watch face, I’m forced to use the red shade.

There’s also the occasional head-scratcher in the Galaxy Fit’s software, which hints that not everything was thoroughly tested ahead of release. Thankfully these oddities don’t impact functionality.

Samsung Galaxy Fit as a health tracker

The Samsung Galaxy Fit is, as the name implies, a health and fitness tracker first and foremost. As such, it’s filled to the brim with sensors and tools to help keep track of your daily activities (or lack thereof).

Unfortunately, like every other Samsung fitness product, it cannot natively connect to Google Fit and requires the Samsung Health app. While there are third-party apps that can sync data between the two, Samsung Health has some features that are not yet matched by Google Fit, like caffeine intake tracking.

Out of all the Samsung Galaxy Fit’s features, the stress tracker is easily my favorite, a hallmark feature of the Galaxy Watch series. At any moment, I can look at the Galaxy Fit to get a visual of my current stress level. This is especially useful for me, as I don’t always consciously notice how wound up I can sometimes get.

To help you combat any unwanted stress, Samsung has built a breathing exercise into the Galaxy Fit, just below the stress indicator. This exercise can even be customized to your needs via the Samsung Health app.

By contrast, one of the most annoying features of the Galaxy Fit is the activity reminders. If the band doesn’t detect activity for an hour, it will vibrate and encourage you to get moving. If you ignore this, you’ll get another one every 30 minutes or so.

As a relatively sedentary person, I intentionally left these on, despite their annoying nature, to encourage myself to actually get up and move around throughout the day. If an activity reminder isn’t annoying, it isn’t working.

The built-in step counter is very sensitive, which makes it prone to false positives. I played through a particularly explosive encounter in Destiny 2, and the Galaxy Fit read many of the controller vibrations as though I were on a walk. When actually going for a walk, the step counter is very responsive and satisfying to watch. Sometimes, I’ll pull up the pedometer and just watch the step count tick upward almost instantly with each footfall.

Like many health trackers, the Galaxy Fit has a built-in sleep tracker that claims to show what state of sleep you were in at various parts of the night. However, I find that it often reports far longer periods of time, as it mistakes my early nighttime period of restlessness as “light sleep.”

This information is more than a bit awkward to try and read on-device, but the Samsung Health app offers a clean visual report. These reports also conveniently show your caffeine intake for that day, which can also be logged on-device.

Value

Value is where things unfortunately break down for the Samsung Galaxy Fit, which retails for $99 in the US. For less than half of this price, you can pick up a very similar fitness band from Xiaomi’s Mi Band series, which usually sells for around $40.

Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Fit has advantages over the Mi Band — signature Samsung features like the stress tracker for example — however, I don’t think these can justify a $59 price difference for most.

If you do believe the extra features and the Samsung name are worth the additional cost, the Galaxy Fit is available in black and silver from Amazon and Best Buy. There was originally going to be a yellow variant, to match similarly shaded devices like the Galaxy Buds announced by Samsung earlier this year, but we’ve not seen it available for sale just yet.




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