Samsung is currently rolling out an update to the Galaxy Watch 3 that will make using the SpO2 sensor a more reliable experience.
The R840XXU1BTK1 firmware update is being pushed out in Korea with a view to offering more stable measurements from the biometric sensor, promising better accuracy and improve the speed in which those blood oxygen measurements are generated.
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While measurements with the SpO2 sensor in our testing were generally accurate compared to a dedicated pulse oximeter, we did experience problems getting readings on the first attempt.
However, we’ve also encountered similar issues with the same sensor on watches from the likes of Huawei Watch GT2e.
Unlike taking a heart rate measurement from the wrist, it is recommended that you place your hand on a table and make sure the watch is near your heart.
A variety of things can impact on getting a good reading, like making sure the band sits tight enough on the wrist, making sure you’re not talking during the reading and that the watch is sitting on top of the wrist.
It looks like this update is Samsung’s way of acknowledging it didn’t work great at launch and hopefully it’ll work much better now.
As a reminder, SpO2 sensors have found their way onto a host of smartwatches and fitness trackers with the promise to measure blood oxygen levels with on the spot tests or by continuously monitoring those levels during the day and night.
There are multiple benefits of tracking that metric including helping to detect whether you have any breathing issues when sleeping that could provide evidence of a disorders like sleep apnea.
For fitness folk, it can also be useful to have the ability to check blood oxygen levels when you’re training at altitude to assess you ability to train comfortably in more challenging environment for the body to perform.
On Samsung’s smartwatch, the readings are used for fitness and wellness purposes and it doesn’t suggest you use them for more serious health monitoring right now. We imagine that could change over time when it feels comfortable to recommend it.
Aside from the SpO2 improvements, the new update also introduces a voice coach for exercise activities such as running and cycling if you need some added guidance when you’re burning those calories.
You can also expect some general bug fixes and stability improvements to make that Samsung smartwatch work as it should do.
It sounds as if the update land on Galaxy Watch 3 devices outside of Korea. You can check if the update is available by heading to the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app on your phone.