Most smartwatch makers are playing fast and loose with thickness specs

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,332   +163
Staff member
TL;DR: Hardware specs from reputable companies are usually taken as gospel but as one YouTuber recently discovered, some have a penchant for stretching the truth (and some more than others).

Samsung last week announced a new line of smartwatches including the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro. Product specifications list the watch's thickness at 10.5mm but some people online noticed that the specs did not seem to pass the eye test compared to other slimmer wearables.

Ray from the YouTube channel DC Rainmaker decided to take a closer look. He started with the Galaxy Watch 5 which has a stated thickness of 9.8mm. In reality, it is closer to 13mm – or about 30 percent thicker than Samsung claims. The aforementioned Watch 5 Pro measured out to a tick over 15mm, or around 43 percent thicker than Samsung stated.

The Apple Watch Series 7 has a depth of 10.7mm according to Apple's website but Ray's tool measured it at around 13.14mm. Garmin's Forerunner 255 is listed at 12.9mm on Garmin's site but in actuality is a touch over 14mm thick. The Polar Pacer Pro is reportedly 11.5mm thick but the digital caliper says it's closer to 12.16mm. Suunto's 9 Peak watch is listed online at 10.6mm thick but measures 12.85mm.

Are you noticing a trend here?

Only two watches Ray measures – the Fitbit Sense and the Wahoo Rival – were within their stated spec. To ensure his measurements were accurate, Ray recalibrated the tool after each measurement and verified them against a measuring mat.

What's going on, you ask? Well it turns out that many smartwatch makers play fast and loose with their wording. On Samsung's site in the fine print, you'll notice it says watches are measured without health sensors. Armed with that knowledge, Ray found that devices from Apple and Garmin do line up with spec when you don't take into account the sensor bump.

While the bump doesn't encompass the entire bottom of the watch, it is physically there and does factor into the overall thickness of the device. To state the spec from any section aside from the thickest point without explicitly saying so (and not just hiding it in the footnotes) feels deceptive.

With the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, however, Samsung is stretching the truth even farther. As Ray highlights, the stated thickness measurement is just for the sidewall of the watch and completely excludes the sensor bump and the entire rear shell.

How does that translate into the real world? Turns out, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is nearly identical in thickness and diameter to a Double Stuf Oreo. Ironically enough, the standard 40mm Galaxy Watch 5 is roughly the same thickness as a regular Oreo.

As Ray concludes, it seems that most major smartwatch makers have an unwritten gentleman's agreement in which they will simply ignore the sensor bump when listing the thickness of their digital timepieces.

Permalink to story.

 

VitalyT

Posts: 6,358   +7,077
What's wrong with the analogue watch? Mine works just fine...
61Xrxh9EuLL._AC_UX679_.jpg

 

p51d007

Posts: 3,306   +2,905
Here come the "slim, sexy, colorful & stylish" type watches.
Sorry, I like a big beefy watch that doesn't look like it will break if you touch it.
Before I switched to a smart watch, I always got the Casio G-shock because it
was big and built to handle banging around.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,088   +8,126
They arn't the only ones ..... I got one that looked "normal" the other day but when it arrived it was thick as 10 quarters ...... whewwwwww, my left arm is getting tired just lugging it around!
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,207   +874
I hate watches , bracelets , necklaces etc- now I understand these are smart have health checking etc - can save your life.
Outside of certain jobs - why have a watch - except as jewelry?
Your house teams with clocks, your car has one .
I can tell the time within less than 15 minute accuracy from sun and body clock - except if woken from deep sleep .
I now lug a phone around.
I don't want notifications pinging

With a phone in my pocket - I have never felt the need for a phone.
Even in my travels - before phones - never felt the need for one - just a small electric alarm for 5am buses , or I must return to camp in an African National park by 6pm or whatever while driving around .
Does anyone here feel at lost if they leave home without a time device ?

Lots of people in developing countries pre-smart phones - lived their lives 99% based on sun etc - I suppose getting kids to school was the exception - but near equator at least you would know school start time to within 10 minutes naturally
 

psycros

Posts: 4,335   +6,334
I hate watches , bracelets , necklaces etc- now I understand these are smart have health checking etc - can save your life.
Outside of certain jobs - why have a watch - except as jewelry?
Your house teams with clocks, your car has one .
I can tell the time within less than 15 minute accuracy from sun and body clock - except if woken from deep sleep .
I now lug a phone around.
I don't want notifications pinging

With a phone in my pocket - I have never felt the need for a phone.
Even in my travels - before phones - never felt the need for one - just a small electric alarm for 5am buses , or I must return to camp in an African National park by 6pm or whatever while driving around .
Does anyone here feel at lost if they leave home without a time device ?

Lots of people in developing countries pre-smart phones - lived their lives 99% based on sun etc - I suppose getting kids to school was the exception - but near equator at least you would know school start time to within 10 minutes naturally

I don't a single person under 35 who has a dedicated clock anywhere in their home. Sometimes they'll have one on a DVD player or expensive stove if they actually own them but that's about it. They don't even have alarm clocks - they all use their phones or smartwatches now. Most people in developing nations now have phones with a clock and those people don't spend money on anything redundant.

I agree that smartwatches really feel like a niche device outside their fitness and medical uses. However, If I was going to wear a watch it would definitely be a smartwatch so it could sync with my online calendar. I need all the help remembering appointments and the like that I can get.
 

TheRealSCDC

Posts: 310   +432
Reminds me of a cheap watch I had years ago that had a bezel that was way too high above the face. Instant pass.

It’s honestly one of the ugliest designs I’ve seen. That indented look for the watch face is horrid. I don’t like bezel and I hate this new design. Loved the mechanical bezel on the classic.
 

Tams80

Posts: 121   +82
Here come the "slim, sexy, colorful & stylish" type watches.
Sorry, I like a big beefy watch that doesn't look like it will break if you touch it.
Before I switched to a smart watch, I always got the Casio G-shock because it
was big and built to handle banging around.

I mean, that wasn't the point of any of this other than manufacturers trying to make their watches sound thinner, but knowing that they can't be and keeping them thicker.

And Ray is really all about the fitness side of them (that the vast majority of reviewers don't even bother touching), not so much the aesthetics.
 

Tams80

Posts: 121   +82
I hate watches , bracelets , necklaces etc- now I understand these are smart have health checking etc - can save your life.
Outside of certain jobs - why have a watch - except as jewelry?
Your house teams with clocks, your car has one .
I can tell the time within less than 15 minute accuracy from sun and body clock - except if woken from deep sleep .
I now lug a phone around.
I don't want notifications pinging

With a phone in my pocket - I have never felt the need for a phone.
Even in my travels - before phones - never felt the need for one - just a small electric alarm for 5am buses , or I must return to camp in an African National park by 6pm or whatever while driving around .
Does anyone here feel at lost if they leave home without a time device ?

Lots of people in developing countries pre-smart phones - lived their lives 99% based on sun etc - I suppose getting kids to school was the exception - but near equator at least you would know school start time to within 10 minutes naturally

Really, you sound like, "I hate X! Why doesn't everyone else hate X?! They're wrong and I'm right!"

And if that's not what you meant, being so condescending and unempathetic, then why did you write a long diatribe?
 

dangh

Posts: 679   +1,070
I'm happy with my mechanical Seiko, thanks. I was considering smartwatch, but tbh I never realised how thick that thing is. For health monitoring I'd probably take some dedicated wrist band, instead of that monster. Funny how they advertise sleep monitoring - how is that healthy to sleep which such a brick on your wrist?
 

acoustis

Posts: 12   +6
What's wrong with the analogue watch? Mine works just fine...
61Xrxh9EuLL._AC_UX679_.jpg
Love the big winding crown but I really don't like the bulbs. Looks like contemporary PC components that all have to have RGB lightning.
Also what does the on/off switch do?
:)
 

Watzupken

Posts: 671   +544
I do wonder if people will sue Samsung or any of the smart watch makers for misleading specs. To me its very clear, if specs says xx height, then I am expecting the watch to be that height. How can they exclude the sensor bump when it contributes to the height? There are reasons why people want to know the specs, so that it fits their requirements.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 671   +544
I don't a single person under 35 who has a dedicated clock anywhere in their home. Sometimes they'll have one on a DVD player or expensive stove if they actually own them but that's about it. They don't even have alarm clocks - they all use their phones or smartwatches now. Most people in developing nations now have phones with a clock and those people don't spend money on anything redundant.

I agree that smartwatches really feel like a niche device outside their fitness and medical uses. However, If I was going to wear a watch it would definitely be a smartwatch so it could sync with my online calendar. I need all the help remembering appointments and the like that I can get.
Smart watches in my opinion is really not required. For health? I am not sure if staring at your heart rate and some metrics is really beneficial. Like people still die even if they wear a smart watch, and people back then with no smart watches are not dying without it. In most cases, people never leave home without their mobile phones. Everything that can be done on the watch, can easily be done by their phone as well. I see some people will pay using their Apple Watch, when on that same hand, they are holding their iPhone. And some go running with their smart watch, only to have their mobile phone in their hand as well. So I am not sure how much more convenience does it introduce. To look at calendar/ appt, won't it be easier to look at the bigger screen on the phone?
 

TheRealSCDC

Posts: 310   +432
Really, you sound like, "I hate X! Why doesn't everyone else hate X?! They're wrong and I'm right!"

And if that's not what you meant, being so condescending and unempathetic, then why did you write a long diatribe?
He has a strong point about old school, no smart phones. Even though I rely on mine for work and fitness. Having my AW7 Cell, I rarely ever have a phone with me. Know on my runs I am able to call for help if needed.
 

TheRealSCDC

Posts: 310   +432
Smart watches in my opinion is really not required. For health? I am not sure if staring at your heart rate and some metrics is really beneficial. Like people still die even if they wear a smart watch, and people back then with no smart watches are not dying without it. In most cases, people never leave home without their mobile phones. Everything that can be done on the watch, can easily be done by their phone as well. I see some people will pay using their Apple Watch, when on that same hand, they are holding their iPhone. And some go running with their smart watch, only to have their mobile phone in their hand as well. So I am not sure how much more convenience does it introduce. To look at calendar/ appt, won't it be easier to look at the bigger screen on the phone?
That's funny. I have my AW7 Cellular. Never carry my phone. Whole reason for the AW and running is to be able to do everything on the watch and not lug the phone.

That person may not have a cellular watch, in that case it makes sense to also have the phone.

Adding cellular is an added expense that a budget minded individual would be smart to avoid. I'm not that smart, I guess.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,207   +874
Really, you sound like, "I hate X! Why doesn't everyone else hate X?! They're wrong and I'm right!"

And if that's not what you meant, being so condescending and unempathetic, then why did you write a long diatribe?

Oh I can appreciate watches - fine engineering , lubricated jewels .
I did also preface it - I understand the health benefits of smart watches - chances are sometime in the future I may need to wear some life saving device .
My dislike is not watches per se - I just dislike as I said bracelets etc - things that I feel encumber me - as a kid I preferred to work bare foot to school in the frost than wear shoes .
The moment I'm out of a shop I tear my mask off - still expected here in NZ

Maybe you haven't read my comments on here much - I have a huge curiosity - I love science way more than tech .
So even though you took my preface wrong ( I'm a SJW here , live and let live person ) - I'm genuinely curious as why people people wear std watches - yes I get divers , specialist watches etc .
I did also mention for certain jobs .

It probably is hard to buy a basic boring watch -( actually from my travels - I did have like a basic casio - but just put it in my day bag ) .

So I guessing most people wear a watch for form rather than function.
Always happy to proved wrong .
Given that even the best best Swiss watch is less accurate than $2 electronic watch .
I'm not hating on any one - I understand people like their belts, hand stitched leather shoes , fine wool suits etc .
I get smart watches do a lot .
But most be out and about with a mechanical watch have a phone in their pocket . to boot many guys who like watches seem to have more than one - unless they have one that has great meaning .

anyway another long diatribe to find out if the main purpose of a watch is to tell the time - or you just like having one.
No ones killed my curiosity or tendency to spout random stuff yet - I chat to random people everywhere - some ignore , stare blankly at me with my forever child like wonder at the world
 

Watzupken

Posts: 671   +544
That's funny. I have my AW7 Cellular. Never carry my phone. Whole reason for the AW and running is to be able to do everything on the watch and not lug the phone.

That person may not have a cellular watch, in that case it makes sense to also have the phone.

Adding cellular is an added expense that a budget minded individual would be smart to avoid. I'm not that smart, I guess.
I don’t deny the use case, but as you mentioned, you don’t just pay a substantial extra for the cellular version, but you also have a running cost for the cellular plan using e-SIM. And I don’t believe that many people actually buys the cellular version as a result. And just for the sake of running or workout, not sure if it is worth buying a separate device for it. I am not saying it’s useless by the way, it’s just a good to have. And for AW, the biggest problem with it is the terrible battery life. So if you are going to count on it for urgent use, you better make sure the battery health is ok and fully charged at the start of each day. While iphones may last a bit longer, ie, close to 2 days on a charge, at least I can easily charge it when I take it out of my pocket. Versus a watch that you strap to your wrist, it may be inconvenient to charge since you also need a proprietary charger for it.
 

TheRealSCDC

Posts: 310   +432
I don’t deny the use case, but as you mentioned, you don’t just pay a substantial extra for the cellular version, but you also have a running cost for the cellular plan using e-SIM. And I don’t believe that many people actually buys the cellular version as a result. And just for the sake of running or workout, not sure if it is worth buying a separate device for it. I am not saying it’s useless by the way, it’s just a good to have. And for AW, the biggest problem with it is the terrible battery life. So if you are going to count on it for urgent use, you better make sure the battery health is ok and fully charged at the start of each day. While iphones may last a bit longer, ie, close to 2 days on a charge, at least I can easily charge it when I take it out of my pocket. Versus a watch that you strap to your wrist, it may be inconvenient to charge since you also need a proprietary charger for it.
Hi Wutz,
I'm pretty heavy into fitness. My average day is a 5-6 mile run, then hit the stair climber for 30 minutes, indoor bike 30 minutes and lastly swim laps for an hour. My AW still has about 40% battery which lasts through the night. I charge it the next morning while in the shower and while at my desk. That takes about 45 minutes.

I also have a new Garmin Epix 2 which I've sidelined. While it's a great fitness watch, Garmin doesn't have true connectivity, and the bugs in the software are a real PITA.

Most people I know do not have such a rigorous workout routine, thus don't really need to be worried about having cellular on the arm to be able to contact someone in case of emergency. I do! I'm 56 years old, things tend to start failing later in life. Needless to say, injuries take longer to heal as well.

No way I could carry my iphone with me throughout those activities, it's just too much. I don't like belts or arm bands, they are uncomfortable and always have to be adjusted. And, just no need when the little watch on my hand can handle everything I need.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,306   +2,905
I didn't think I would keep my smartwatch, when I got it in 2018. (yeah, I"m in my 60's, have worn a watch since the early 70's...feels strange without one).
The first day, not having to reach for my phone to see who's calling, texting, emailing made it worth it.
Then I noticed it tracked sleep, so I started wearing it to bed. Noticed just about every night, my heart rate would jump up into the 90 beats per minute range...WHILE SLEEPING. Didn't think too much about it, until my yearly checkup, mentioned it to my doctor. Wanted to know if I snore. I said I live alone, but I've been told I do. Sleep study, and yep, sleep apnea. Been on a CPAP ever since. Heart rate stays in the 50 range now.
Then, about 3-4 months ago, I had this strange feeling, no pain, just weird feeling. HR was in the 105-110 range. Ran the ECG and it showed a-fib.
Didn't think too much of it, but about a week ago, I noticed it again and it showed a-fib again. Just got back from the doctor who's going to have me hooked up to some thingy that will monitor my heart a few days.
Pretty cool technology.