Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 health features vs Apple Watch health detailed

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 health features
Samsung's Galaxy Watch 3

Samsung has released the new Galaxy Watch 3 to convince fans that it can walk shoulder to shoulder with Apple.

Calling itself an Advanced Health monitoring watch and using the Samsung Health Monitor app, Samsung is positioning as the best alternative to Apple. 

So let’s see if Samsung can live up to that aspiration! 

Related reading

New model, new design, hardware, and features Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 bezel

Samsung skipped Galaxy Watch 2 altogether and instead is showcasing a lighter, thinner Galaxy Watch 3 with a functional bezel.

The new Galaxy Watch 3 comes in two variants, 45mm and 41mm, both made from stainless steel, featuring a more traditional circular design.

The 1.4-inch touch screen on the larger 45mm model makes it easy to read the screen.

The rotating bezel design, similar to that of the original Galaxy watch, makes the interaction real special with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.

You can navigate through lists and circular menus and make selections by rotating the bezel.

On a winter morning run, that makes it really convenient. No more removing gloves and tapping the display to navigate this smartwatch.

Beyond the design specs, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 comes packed with some nifty fitness and health offerings.

This article examines some of the health and fitness offerings and compares them with that of the existing Apple Watch Series 5 and the Apple Watch Series 6 models.

Comparing Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 health features with that of Apple Watch

Overall Sensor Tech on the Galaxy Watch 3

The new Samsung Watch packs all the usual suspects when it comes to sensors.

This includes 3 axis accelerometer, barometer, gyrosensor, and an ambient light sensor. Beyond the motion and ambient light sensors, the new Galaxy Watch 3 now features an optical heart rate sensor with 8 photodiodes and an electrical heart rate sensor.

ECG Monitoring comes to Galaxy Watch 3

Apple introduced an ECG monitoring way back in 2018 with the release of its Apple Watch Series 4.

Finally, Samsung has caught up with Apple by introducing ECG monitoring on its Galaxy Watch 3.Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 ECG feature

The Electrocardiogram monitoring was cleared in May 2020 by the South Korean equivalent of FDA.

The new feature enables users to measure and analyze their heart rhythm for irregularities indicating Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

Related: Apple and German Heart Foundation team up around using Apple Watch for dilated cardiomyopathy

Accessing the ECG monitoring is easy.

  • Open the Samsung Health Monitor app when seated comfortably, and ensure the watch is fitted firmly to your wrist.
  • Next, rest your forearm on a flat surface and lightly place a fingertip from the opposite hand on the top button on the Galaxy Watch for 30 seconds.
  • The app then measures your heart rate and rhythm by using the electrical heart rate sensor, classified as either a Sinus Rhythm (a normal, regular heartbeat) or AFib (when the heart beats irregularly).

For Samsung, the ECG feature will be slowly rolled out to different geographies.

Samsung recently received the FDA clearance for its ECG monitoring, so this feature will be available when the watch rolls out in the US.

Related: Samsung Health introduces Blood Pressure Monitoring for Galaxy Watch Active 2 users

Apple Watch ECG Monitoring

The Apple Watch makes you use the Digital Crown on the watch to take an ECG reading. Both Watches take 30 seconds to spit out the ECG reading.Apple Watch ECG feature

On an Apple Watch, once the readings are out, you have the ability to ‘add in symptoms.’

Assume that you were feeling a little light-headed and decided to check on your ECG.

Once you have got the ECG reading on the Apple Watch, you can add in the symptoms, and it correlates the ECG reading with your entered symptoms.

Related: Apple introduces new Mobility Metrics and other key HealthKit data with iOS 14 and watchOS 7

Why ECG features matter on a wearable

Now that US Federal health department (CMS) chief Seema Verma is pushing for approval of remote health platforms, this could make the Apple Watch a game-changer in the months and years ahead.

The value add-in the case of the Apple Watch is its feature to download ECG waveform data into a downloadable PDF.

Although the Apple Watch ECG display only caught about 41% of aFib cases, the wave-form PDF feature could easily detect aFib in more than 98% of cases.

Cleveland Clinic performed this study with the Apple Watch 4, and the results were published in Feb 2020.

Samsung has a long way to go to prove the accuracy and efficacy of its ECG monitoring feature.

Tie-ups with leading universities and research hospitals will expedite its efforts of matching up to Apple’s lead.

ECG monitoring combined with HRV ( Heart Rate Variability) tracking is going to play a major role in front line detection use cases and personalized disease management and remote health monitoring offerings in months and years ahead.

Fall Detection comes to Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Fall detection is one feature that made the Apple Watch stand apart in a sea full of competitors. Apple Watch fall detection

This feature made the watch appealing to the aging boomer population and found many references in the AARP magazine issues.

  • When it detects you’re immobile for about a minute, it begins a 30-second countdown while tapping you on the wrist and sounding an alert.
  • The alert gets louder so that you or someone nearby can hear it. 
  • If you don’t want to call emergency services, tap Cancel. 
  • When the countdown ends, your Apple Watch automatically contacts emergency services.

And now, Samsung has finally arrived! The Galaxy Watch 3 can now detect automatic fall detection.Fall detection Samsung Galaxy smartwatch

To ensure that help is never too far away in the event of a fall, Galaxy Watch 3 comes with a new feature that detects falls, which identifies a potential fall and can send an SOS notification to your chosen contacts.

Fall detection integration on Apple and Samsung

When it comes to fall detection on the Apple Watch depends on what age you enter when you set up your Apple Watch. 

If you entered your age when you set up your Apple Watch or in the Health app, and you’re aged 55 and over, the fall detection feature automatically turns on.

The fall detection feature is not turned on by default on the Galaxy Watch so you need to turn it on manually to use it. Find Detect Falls in the Galaxy app’s SOS settings.

Detect Fall limitations

Both Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch have similar limitations when it comes to fall detection.

They can only detect a fall when the user is in motion, not while the user is stationary.

Blood Oxygen Level Monitoring

Samsung beats most Apple Watch models (which became available on the Series 6) on this feature with the release of Galaxy Watch 3.

The new Samsung Watch can now monitor your SpO2 levels and provide you with a blood oxygen level.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 blood oxygen level

It is easy to measure your blood oxygen levels using the watch. The Samsung health app keeps track of your SpO2 readings.

Apple Watch Respiratory tracking study

Apple is engaged with a leading university in Germany to explore how the Apple Watch can help detect respiratory issues.

Related: Amazfit adds new features for Stress and SpO2 readings to its app.

This study called ‘CoronaWatch’ is currently using the Series 5, but with the addition of the SpO2 feature with Series 6, it is easier for the watch to monitor respiratory-related issues.

Blood Pressure Monitoring on Galaxy Watch 3

This is another important win for Samsung.

The new Galaxy Watch 3 features a cuffless built-in blood pressure monitor to help you get a BP reading. 

To get a cuffless reading, you must complete an initial calibration with a home blood pressure cuff.

According to WHO, An estimated 1.13 billion people worldwide have hypertension, most (two-thirds) living in low- and middle-income countries.

In 2015, 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women had hypertension.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Blood pressure monitor
Image credit: Samsung

Fewer than 1 in 5 people with hypertension have the problem under control.

This provides an opportunity for Samsung to position Galaxy Watch 3 as a system that can help patients with hypertension.

Management and monitoring go hand in hand.

If you can’t monitor or measure your blood pressure without going to your doctor’s office, it becomes hard to manage the issue.

Samsung’s Blood pressure monitoring feature is going to be a major help for patients suffering from hypertension.

Having said that, the Samsung blood pressure monitor has some limitations. It requires quite a bit of calibration using a home blood pressure cuff.

Currently, there are no rumors around the Apple Watch featuring any blood pressure-related capabilities.

Related: Is Apple’s approach to Blood Pressure monitoring via Apple Watch different than that of Samsung’s

Based on approved Apple patents around this feature, it appears that Apple may be approaching to solve the problem to overcome the constant calibration handicap.

Integrating Blood Pressure, Activity, location, weather, and more

Did you know that shoveling snow is a known cause for heart attacks – the increase in blood pressure combined with cold air constricting arteries creates the right environment for it to happen?

Snow shoveling is particularly strenuous because it uses arm work, which is more taxing than leg work.

Straining to move wet and heavy snow is particularly likely to cause a surge in heart rate and blood pressure.

Now, take a minute and think about it…

How difficult do you think it is for the Apple watch to calculate an activity risk indicator based on your blood pressure readings, current weather of the location, and your arm movement/activity and heart-rate?

We are pretty sure when Apple releases its Blood pressure. It is going to be integrated into some interesting algorithms that will perhaps spit out life-saving notifications.

Apple Blood pressure metrics
Blood pressure metrics are a key part of the ‘Vitals.’

The basic systolic and diastolic metrics and metadata are currently available in the HealthKit under ‘Vitals.’ Generating inferences based on the Vital metrics will be the key.

James Nestor Book “Breath – The new science of a lost art” has some fascinating insights. Different breathing methods do affect your physiology.

One can envision new ‘Breathe’ app features on Apple Watch that help you lower your high blood pressure and more. We highly recommend the book!

It remains to be seen how Apple works out, but this is one area where Samsung wins hands down for now!

Sleep Tracking on Samsung Galaxy Watch

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 can now detect and track your sleeping patterns.

Samsung’s enhanced sleep analysis algorithms help you work toward healthy sleep patterns (through the four sleep stages), aiding recovery at night, and getting you ready for the next day.

Samsung Galaxy watch 3 sleep tracking

Much like the Apple Watch, the Samsung Galaxy watch uses its accelerometer to notice the subtle movements associated with breathing and differentiate between sleeping and waking states.

Apple Sleep tracking and monitoring

Apple unveiled showcased its sleep tracking features with watchOS 7.

Users interested in learning details of their sleep stages and other metrics find Samsung’s sleep metrics more informative and useful than Apple.

Fitness and Exercise support via Samsung Galaxy Watch

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 incorporates Running analysis.

For runners, this new feature offers real-time feedback during your runs, as well as six-factor post-workout reports, which are aimed to help improve form, boost performance, and reduce injury.

Exercise programs such as Baby steps to 5K, Run 5K and more are available via the Samsung Health app to take your running to the next level. Voice prompts guide you during the workout.

To track your cardio progress as you go, you will be able to easily access VO2max readings, which offer insight into your oxygen uptake.

Apple Watch currently provides users with VO2 max readings but delegated the heavy lifting around running to popular third-party apps.

The built-in Running tracking feature is somewhat basic but actually works pretty well for regular runners.

Both the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Apple Watch Series 6 are available now.

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Sudz Niel Kar
I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products, have a BS in Computer Science and an MBA specializing in emerging tech, and owned the popular site AppleToolBox. In my day job, I advise Fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health and fitness-tech evolution and keeping a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships, and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Watch and closely monitor my HRV and other recovery metrics.


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