The (not so) silly reason I stopped wearing Samsung smartwatches |  Digital trends

The (not so) silly reason I stopped wearing Samsung smartwatches | Digital trends

I recently put the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro back on my wrist, eager to see how Samsung’s most expensive smartwatch has held up since the release of the Apple Watch Ultras.

Almost immediately I ran into a problem, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was causing the problem. And when I did Get over it, that seemed a bit silly. However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense and it revealed where Samsung was going wrong with its smartwatches.

The Galaxy Watch has no character

Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has unnecessary watch faces, and this is a problem that extends to the standard Galaxy Watch 5 as well. The pre-installed collection is extensive enough, in the sense that there are many choices, but hardly any of them are appealing. They are not all the same and, taken as a whole, the options available seem to accommodate different people. But much like the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro itself, they totally lack character.

Watch Faces is a demonstration of how to create a watch face collection dictated only by checking boxes on a product plan. Is there a watch face that looks like a traditional watch? Check. Is there one that displays a lot of data and information? Check. Is there one for children? Check. Is there a colored one? Check. It’s what it feels like to scroll through the available faces, and because they’re so clinical, I don’t care about any of them.

This is the point where I can hear the argument that it doesn’t matter, that the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is a smartwatch, and I’ll never care about it the way I do with a mechanical watch. But I don’t see that as a proper argument. A smartwatch is at its best when worn all the time, so why shouldn’t I want to feel something when I look at it? At the very least, I want to look at it and think it looks cool, and even that doesn’t happen with the watch faces available on a Samsung smartwatch.

Why Watch Faces Matter

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The watch face is what makes a watch appealing to people, and watchmakers spend time and money making ones that really grab our attention, with the best ones becoming iconic. From the Audemars Piquet Royal Oak to the Casio G-Shock Square and a basic Swatch, many of the world’s most recognizable watches would be considerably less recognizable if their faces weren’t so memorable. Kinda We would be.

From a business perspective, creating a brand identity like this makes perfect sense, as the overall basic design of a wristwatch is quite established. Frustratingly, every smartwatch maker has the ability to do what traditional watches can’t, and that offers a huge selection of quick-change faces to broaden the appeal, as well as a or two expertly designed faces that people associate with the watch. Samsung, for all its financial might and years of creating smartwatches, has failed to do this.

When I put on the Apple Watch, I have a basic selection of watch faces that I think look fantastic, such as the instantly recognizable Contour dial, the gorgeous GMT, or the Ultra-only Wayfinder dial. Google also offers a great selection of watch faces on the Pixel Watch. On the Galaxy Watch, I can have an animated bear, a hideous emoji face, bubble-style numbers, or choose between several generic and often shoddy analog and boring data options. I don’t like any of them, and the one I ended up choosing doesn’t represent my tastes in any way.

Apps are not the solution

Apple Watch Ultra
Tag Heuer Connected Caliber E4
Montblanc Summit 3

Samsung and Watch 5 owners will say that there are other watch faces available on Google Play, and if I don’t like what Samsung has to offer, I should look there. Sure, I can if I want to pay more for the same thing, but really, I shouldn’t have to. I don’t have to on the Apple Watch or the Pixel Watch, so why should Samsung get away with not offering at least one or two really good free standard options? Providing quality, recognizable watch faces as standard builds the brand, and that matters a lot when the competition is so fierce.

It has nothing to do with technology either. I was spoiled for choice when it came to the stunning, high-resolution, beautifully animated watch faces I wanted to look at when wearing the Tag Heuer Connected Caliber E4 and Montblanc Summit 3. It was like wearing a traditional version of each watch. If these companies can perfectly recreate their amazing watch faces on a smartwatch, what’s to stop Samsung from coming up with something so good?

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If it doesn’t have the design chops (which I find hard to believe), why not leverage its industrial might and collaborate with a watch brand? He regularly collaborates with exciting fashion brands such as Thom Browne and Maison Kitsun, creating watch straps, phone cases and special edition phones. A bit frustratingly, this keeps the watch faces of these editions separate and exclusive. But there just has to be a watch brand with no specific ambitions in the smartwatch space that also sees the value in collaborating on face design.

If the recent ground-breaking Omega X Swatch MoonSwatch partnership has shown us anything, it’s that in the world of watches, two very different types of buyers can be attracted to one well-designed product. How about a special Galaxy Watch in the same spirit, with a thoughtful, attractive and expertly designed collection of watch faces that draws on the design craftsmanship and expertise of the watch industry? I would love to see a Samsung X Edox, Samsung X Rado or Samsung X Bell & Ross smartwatch face, for example.

Samsung watch faces need repair

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The low collection of standard watch faces reveals where the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro loses to the Apple Watch Ultra. Its quite characterless, especially in black with the black strap. I wasn’t sure a smartwatch could have character, but the Apple Watch Ultra started to prove me wrong, managing to truly be its own thing, with its own look and feel. The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro has none of that appeal, and it didn’t make me want to put it on, which is smartwatch death.

It’s a shame, because technically it’s very good; the materials are of high quality and the battery lasts a few days without problems. As a smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro gets it right. I could skip the ordinary design if only there was a really fantastic watch face to use. Instead, I can’t decide because they’re all ugly, cheap, generic, or meant for a kid. Sure, they might look fun in a kinetic ad campaign, but they look silly on my wrist.

We’ve moved past the smartwatch as the least strap option. They really are an alternative to a traditional watch for many people, not just tech fans, and should therefore be treated as a piece of jewelry as much as a piece of technology by the manufacturer. Getting the right collection of watch faces is a very big part of that, and Samsung needs to address what is quickly becoming a glaring problem with its otherwise excellent smartwatches.

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