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Galaxy Watch 2 vs Gear S3 (2021): Should You Upgrade to the New Samsung Smartwatch?

Leaked certification documents of Samsung smartwatches sparked rumors on the release of the much-awaited Galaxy Watch 2. How does the new smartwatch compare with the Gear S3, Samsung’s older but highly successful smartwatch? We unpack its specs and features that we know so far to help you decide whether it’s worth upgrading to the new Galaxy Watch 2.

Galaxy Watch 2 vs Gear S3 Smartwatch Comparison Chart

ModelGalaxy Watch 2Samsung Gear S3
Samsung Galaxy Watch2
PriceComing Soon
Variants40mm, 44mmclassic, frontier TUMI
DisplaySuper AMOLED*Super AMOLED
Screen Sizen/a33 mm
Weightn/a63 g
Storage Size8GB*4GB
Call & Text AlertsYesYes
Water ResistanceUp to 50 meters
5ATM, IP68
Up to 1.5 meters
ECG MonitorYesNo
Calorie Burn TrackerYesYes
Sleep TrackingYesYes
Swim TrackingYesNo
Female Health TrackingYesYes
CompatibilityiOS, AndroidiOS, Android
Battery Lifen/a380mAh Lithium-Ion
Up to 3 days
Earl Gray
Year of ReleaseComing in 20202016

Major Differences

Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch 2 offers significant upgrades from the Gear S3 smartwatch

classic and frontier models of the Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch

As the Galaxy Watch 2 and the Gear S3 are released four years apart, they come with significant differences:

  • Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch 2 is expected to sport a slimmer profile than the bulkier Gear S3 smartwatch
  • Unlike the Gear S3, the Galaxy Watch 2 will have ECG and SpO2 sensors and better water resistance
  • The Galaxy Watch 2’s storage capacity will be 8GB, double the 4GB storage of the Gear S3 smartwatch
  • Bixby is not available in the Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch


The new Galaxy Watch 2 is expected to have a slimmer profile than the Gear S3

deign difference galaxy watch 2 vs gear s3
Many speculate that the Galaxy Watch 2 will follow the slim design of the Watch Active2 (left) and will be lighter than the Gear S3 (right)

Unlike the Galaxy S20 smartphone series whose marketing images were leaked before the February Unpacked event, there have been no images of the Galaxy Watch 2 to date. Whether the upcoming Samsung smartwatch will be a Galaxy Watch 2 or a Galaxy Watch Active3 remains to be known. What the leaked certifications confirm is they will come in 40mm and 44mm sizes.

As the smartwatch trend leans toward slimmer, modern-looking frames, we can expect the new Galaxy Watch 2 to look sleek and lose the heft of the Gear S3 or the Galaxy Watch 1. Meanwhile, the Gear S3 sports a timeless watch design that’s familiar in luxury watches. With its physical rotating bezel, the Gear S3 looks more like a classic, high-end wristwatch than a smartwatch. It comes in classic and frontier variants and interchangeable straps.

Activity Tracking

The new Galaxy Watch 2 will be equipped with ECG and SpO2 sensors and swim tracking, features not available in the Gear S3 smartwatch

activity tracking of galaxy watch 2 vs Gear S3
The Samsung Gear S3 frontier (left) and classic (right) can track steps, heart rate, calorie burn, and more

With new sensors such as ECG and SpO2/pulse oximeter, the new Galaxy Watch 2 can track more data for your health and fitness than what the Gear S3 can. With an ECG sensor, your Galaxy Watch can alert you of any irregularities in your heart’s rhythm or if atrial fibrillation occurs. Meanwhile, SpO2 sensors can measure the blood oxygen levels, a data that’s typically included in sleep quality reports.

The older Samsung Gear S3 is equipped with basic sensors that can track heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and similar basic activities. Both the Galaxy Watch 2 and the Gear S3 are equipped with an onboard GPS so they don’t rely on your phone’s GPS. This means you can track your distances and map your route even without your smartphone with you, as long as you have an LTE connection.

Smart Features

Both the Galaxy Watch 2 and Gear S3 let you pay directly from your smartwatch

smart features Galaxy watch 2 vs gear s3
Both the Galaxy Watch 2 and the Gear S3 (in photo) can receive SMS, play music, and use Samsung Pay

While the Galaxy Watch 2 is expected to have better Bluetooth 5.0 than the Bluetooth 4.2 in the Gear S3, these smartwatches are both equipped with NFC connectivity. This means you can pay contactless using your Samsung smartwatch as long as the establishment accepts Samsung Pay. If you have the LTE model, you can even do so without your smartphone with you.

Among other smart features available in the Galaxy Watch 2 and the Gear S3 are call and SMS alerts, Spotify controls, weather, alarms, fitness apps, and similar applications. A major difference between the two Samsung smartwatches is their voice assistant. The Galaxy Watch 2 works with Bixby, whereas the Gear S3 smartwatch only comes with S voice.

Battery Life and Additional Features

Both the Galaxy Watch 2 and the Gear S3 have long battery life, but the new Galaxy Watch 2 has larger storage and better water-resistance

While they both have IP68 rating, the Gear S3 can only withstand a depth of up 1.5 meters for 30 minutes

To track sleep quality more consistently, the smartwatch should have a long battery life so they can be worn while sleeping. The battery of Gear S3 smartwatch can last up to three days, given the Always-On display is not activated. As for the new Galaxy Watch 2, it’s expected to last longer as the Galaxy Watch 1, its predecessor, boasts up to four days of casual usage.

Both the Galaxy Watch 2 and the Gear S3 have IP68 rating, but their water-resistance is vastly different. Like the Galaxy Watch Active2 and the Galaxy Watch 1, the new Galaxy Watch 2 is expected to be waterproof for up to 50 meters. On the other hand, the Gear S3 can only withstand submersion of up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes, thus the absence of a swim tracking feature in the Gear S3. As for their storage capacity, the Galaxy Watch 2 and the Gear S3 offer 8GB and 4GB internal storage, respectively.


The new Galaxy Watch 2 offers better value for your money

Samsung Galaxy Watch 2

Samsung Galaxy Watch2

Samsung Gear S3 frontier



Both Samsung smartwatches do not come cheap. Even though the Samsung Gear S3 was released four years ago, its current price is almost the same as the expected launch price of the new Galaxy Watch 2. Our favor tips for the Galaxy Watch 2 as it packs more features. In addition, future updates by Samsung can allow the smartwatch to offer more.

As an older model, the Gear S3 cannot have the same updates. Even its voice assistant is still stuck with the outdated S Voice. With that said, the Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch remains a classic, high-quality timepiece with basic activity tracking. However, it falls slightly short compared to the new Galaxy Watch 2. If you want a similar luxury watch look, but with more updated features, you may want to take a look at the Galaxy Watch 1.

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Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Former Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about food, people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.