Review: Inaccurate period tracking in Galaxy Watch6

TechTruster's reviewer Laura Holst has tested the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 with a focus on temperature tracking. The measurements need to be more precise, she concludes.

Samsung Galaxy Watch
Photo:TechTruster

Samsung’s new smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch6, measures body temperature at night, so you can use it to predict ovulation and menstruation. Data from the watch is transferred to Samsung’s app, Cycle tracking.

This article in Danish

Samsung points out that “Cycle tracking” estimates are just estimates. If you want to use the watch as a contraceptive, you need to purchase a subscription to the Natural Cycles app.

Natural Cycles is an EU-approved contraceptive. The app collects data to predict menstruation and ovulation by estimating the body’s core temperature.

Women demand data accuracy in femtech

App giver dig prævention uden hormoner og spiral

Low accuracy

I use a Natural Cycles thermometer to measure the temperature in my mouth every morning and am familiar with my temperature fluctuations during my menstrual cycle.

Samsung Galaxy Watch6
Screenshot from Cycle tracking with purple flowers and notes that you must not use data as contraception – you have to pay for that function.

Technically, the Galaxy Watch6 measures with 0.1 degrees Celsius accuracy compared to the thermometer. This is a lower accuracy than Natural Cycles advises its users to use.

There are uncertainties in measuring temperature in the mouth and via a wristwatch.

But neither I nor the algorithm have been able to use the measurements from the Galaxy Watch6 for meaningful predictions.

If you don’t have the opportunity to measure your temperature with a thermometer every morning, the watch can be an attractive solution.

On the other hand, I do not trust that my data from the watch can represent my menstrual cycle and would not recommend using the watch for temperature tracking.

However, Samsung and Natural Cycles promise a higher accuracy if you track temperature for longer. We have not been able to verify this during a six week’s test period.

Anmeldelse: Sådan tracker du din menstruation med en Fitbit

Insight into sleep

In a natural extension of temperature tracking during the night, the watch also allows monitoring sleep.

Samsung Galaxy Watch6
Photo: Samsung

The Samsung Health app gives a good insight into the different phases of one’s sleep.

It rewards one with a ‘sleeping animal’ and a sleep score, which should indicate how well one sleeps.

The watch can be used for payment, to keep up with notifications, and to follow various daily goals in the number of steps, calories burned, and active minutes.

The watch creates training events if it detects that you are moving when walking or running. It provides an almost unmanageable amount of options if you manually enter training.

If you do not use the watch for sleep and menstrual tracking, it is a regular smartwatch with many functions.

Feminine symbolism

With a dial over 4 cm, it felt less like I was wearing the watch and more like it was wearing me. (The watch is designed in a 43 mm and a 47 mm version).

At the same time, Samsung chooses to use hyperfeminine symbolism in their app, which I think is inappropriate.

I want my menstrual cycle to be taken as seriously as my daily steps, heartbeat, and exercise habits.

Good option

The watch can be a good option if you are not already following your menstrual cycle and sleep.

But if you want to trust your data and use it for analysis, you should invest in specialized cycle tracking solutions instead of Samsung’s attempt to be ‘one-size-fits-all’ – which by the way doesn’t suit my small female wrist.

Laura Holst is an electronics engineer and research assistant in the Visual Analysis and Perception Lab at Aalborg University.

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