Most smartwatch makers are playing fast and loose with thickness specs

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.