While not every smartwatch allows you to switch screen orientation, two of the biggest players — Apple and Samsung — do. For Wear OS, you currently have to use third-party apps to rotate the screen — although Google is purportedly adding the ability to flip screen orientation on future Wear OS watches. Unfortunately, it’s not currently possible on either the Fitbit Sense or Versa 3 or on more recent Garmin devices.
But hang on, you might say, didn’t my smartwatch prompt me during setup to choose the wrist I plan to wear it on? Often, yes — this is something many users are asked to do as soon as they power on a brand new smartwatch. However, keep in mind that this doesn’t always refer to screen orientation. Generally, this prompt is meant to help the watch run the correct fitness tracking algorithms, depending on whether you wear your device on your dominant or nondominant hand.
While it’s a shame that you can’t flip your screen orientation on every smartwatch, here’s how to do it on the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 lineups. We’ll be sure to provide an update if and when other smartwatch makers decide to enable this feature in the future.
Apple has long given users the ability to customize their watch’s screen orientation. You can tweak this setting from your phone or directly on the watch itself.
To flip screen orientation using the watch:
To flip screen orientation using the iPhone:
When Samsung first launched the Galaxy Watch 4 lineup last year, you couldn’t switch screen orientation. That was a big problem if you wanted to use the new body composition feature and wore the watch on your right wrist. That’s because Samsung required you to touch two fingers on the watch’s buttons to create a circuit for bioelectrical impedance analysis. While this was easy enough to do on the left wrist, southpaws would have to reach all the way over in an uncomfortable way to use the feature.
Thankfully, Samsung has fixed this problem. Now, lefties or folks who want to wear their watches on their right hand have the option to use the new feature without having to deal with a less than ideal button placement.
To flip screen orientation:
Hopefully, we’ll see more smartwatches add the ability to customize screen orientation in the future. Not only would it help lefties but also it would be useful from an accessibility standpoint. And, as the saying goes, when you make a design accessible, you benefit everyone else, too.