Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Review: Best Smartwatch for Android?

Samsung made significant improvements to their latest smartwatch lineups, including the Operating System.

The Galaxy Watch 4 series comes in 2 flavors- The regular Galaxy Watch 4 and the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. You can get the Bluetooth model which needs to be paired with a phone or buy the LTE model which functions on its own with eSIM tech.

In this review, we will talk about everything in detail, and give our verdict on the Watch 4 series! Let’s dive in.

Different Flavors

As mentioned earlier, the Galaxy Watch 4 comes in 2 flavors- Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.

Galaxy Watch 4

The regular Galaxy Watch 4 is a rebrand of the Active series of earlier Samsung lineups.

The Watch 4 is available in 2 sizes- 40mm and 44m dial.

galaxy watch 4 with s21 ultra

It has an aluminum body and a sporty look to it.

There are 2 buttons on the side- The home and Back buttons.

The regular Galaxy Watch 4 is available in 3 colors- Black, White, and Rose Gold.

Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

The Watch 4 Classic is the continuation of the Watch 3. It is the more premium option and offers a classier look.

The Watch 4 Classic is also available in 2 sizes- 42mm and 46mm.

The steel body has 2 physical buttons along with a rotating dial around the screen which can be used to navigate through the watch UI, along with the touch screen.

The Watch 4 Classic is available in 3 colors- Black, white, and Deep Green.

Now that we’re done with the variants, let’s review them.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Review

My unit is a regular Galaxy Watch 4, 44mm Bluetooth variant. I’ve been using it for about 2 weeks and tinkered with the ins and outs of it.

For your ease of reading, I’m going to break my review into 5 parts:

  1. Build Quality
  2. Fitness features
  3. Specifications
  4. Software
  5. Battery

Build Quality

The Watch 4 has an aluminum build and comes with a sporty band. You can, in fact, choose the style of the strap when buying from the official Samsung store.

The display is made of Gorilla Glass DX+ which claims to have strength close to Sapphire.

watch 4 front

The buttons on the side are also made of metal. There is a microphone hole below the buttons.

On the other side, you get a pair of speaker grills.

speaker grills

The band itself is replaceable and you can get 3rd party ones with different finishes, like leather, metal, and silicon.

The watch has 5ATM and IP68 ratings, which means it’s waterproof to 164 feet for 10 minutes and can withstand dust, dirt, and sand.

It also meets the military standard MILSTD810G, so it has no problem withstanding drops, extreme temperatures, shock, vibration, low pressure or high altitudes.

Fitness Features

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series tracks all the basic health metrics you’d expect. It tracks your steps, daily calories burned, active calories, distance, total active time, sleep, blood oxygen levels (on-demand and during sleep), heart rate at times of rest/activity, and stress. Activity stats are tracked via Samsung Health app.

More than 90 sports modes can be tracked with the Galaxy Watch 4 series.

All the basics are there, like running, hiking, riding cycling, and yoga. There are multiple weightlifting modes to choose from, such as bench press, arm curl, and leg roll. There’s even a snorkeling mode if you fancy that.

During workouts with GPS, you’ll get training data like pace, altitude, cadence, heart rate zone, interval time, and VO2 max.

I really like how Samsung Health presents all the post-workout data. Special speed/altitude graphs make it easy to see how all your data is connected.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 targets runners by providing enhanced running stats.

The Galaxy Watch 4 will track your asymmetry, contact time, flight time, regularity, verticality, and stiffness throughout each of your runs. You’ll get points for each (Improved, Good or Excellent), which can be helpful when trying to figure out your running form.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series has what Samsung calls a BioActive sensor, which includes an optical heart rate sensor (PPG), an electrocardiogram (ECG), and a bioelectrical impedance sensor (BIA).

bioActive sensor

Galaxy Watch 4 uses a combination of heart rate data and heart rate variability to track your stress levels.

Next, on the new bioelectrical impedance sensor. After placing your finger on two physical buttons for just 15 seconds, Galaxy Watch 4 will attempt to determine your body composition metrics such as skeletal muscle, basal metabolic rate (BMR), body mass index (BMI), water retention, and body fat percentage.

The Galaxy Watch 4’s ECG feature is not a substitute for a medical check-up and you should definitely see a doctor if you feel a problem, but the Galaxy Watch 4’s built-in feature can be of use if you feel sick.

ECG recording takes 30 seconds. Once the recording is complete, you can view your results in the Samsung Health Monitor app on your smartphone and export the results directly to your doctor if needed.

Galaxy Watch 4 can also record your blood oxygen saturation on demand throughout the day or overnight while you sleep.

At night, Galaxy Watch 4 collects blood oxygen data in one-minute increments while you sleep.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 tracks your sleep stages (light, deep, REM), time awake, SpO2 (as pictured above) and even your snoring as long as you have your Samsung phone paired.

Specifications

Now coming to the specifications of the watch, both Watch 4 and Watch 4 classic are about the same in terms of specifications except for display size and body dimensions.

Dimensions

Galaxy Watch4 44mm: 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8mm (Excluded the health sensor)
30g (Armor Aluminum, without strap)

Galaxy Watch4 40mm: 40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm (Excluded the health sensor)
26g (Armor Aluminum, without strap)

Display

Galaxy Watch4 44mm: 1.4″ (34.6mm) Circular Super AMOLED (450×450)
Full Color Always On Display
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX+

Galaxy Watch4 40mm: 1.2″ (30.4mm) Circular Super AMOLED (396×396)
Full Color Always On Display
Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX+

Battery

Galaxy Watch4 44mm: 361mAh

Galaxy Watch4 40mm: 247mAh

SoC

Exynos W920 Dual Core 1.18GHz

Memory

1.5GB RAM + 16GB Internal Memory

Connectivity

LTE, Bluetooth® 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4+5GHz,
NFC, A-GPS/GLONASS/Beidou/Galileo *Beidou may not be available in certain regions.

*LTE connectivity only available in LTE models

Software

Samsung has abandoned the Tizen software platform (except on TVs) and has now partnered with Google to develop Wear OS 3.

The Galaxy Watch 4 comes with One UI Watch on top of Wear OS 3. Most of the apps and UI elements resemble the One UI skin on their phones.

Setting up the Watch

To set up the watch, I had to use the Galaxy Wearable app on my phone. I have set up my watch with my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra so I had the app pre-installed but for other manufacturers, the app is available on the Play Store.

As soon as you turn on the watch, you will get a prompt to open the Wearable app on your phone. Once you open the app, you can click on ‘Add a device.’

Once the watch is paired, it’ll pull your Google account and Samsung account from your phone on the setup screen. After the setup, you will be greeted with this screen on the Wearable app and your watch will be ready to go.

galaxy wearable

Tiles

Like the older Galaxy Watches, you have a tile-based UI wherein you swipe left from the watch face to reveal pages of information or quick actions, much like Android widgets.

Samsung has its own version of tiles which can be accessed with left-or-right swipes. The tiles include information such as weather, calendar, media controls, and health information.

You can add/remove or change the order of tiles from both the watch itself and the wearable app on your phone.

There are also 3rd-party tiles available from Google Play Store which you can add to the watch.

tiles on wear os

Quick Settings

Samsung’s version of Wear OS resembles their phone skin a lot. You can swipe down from the watch face to reveal your quick settings screen. You can toggle most of the watch settings from this screen like wifi, DND, Sound mode, Always on Display, and so on.

You can choose to add/remove these buttons from the watch itself or use the companion app to customize it to your liking.

quick panel on wear os with watch 4

Notifications

Notifications are displayed on the left side of the watch face, with each alert being its own page. Just like on Wear OS, tapping the notification brings up the entire message (or the message thread, if it’s a conversation).

You can then choose to reply or dismiss the message. For input, you can use pre-configured messages, voice typing, or a full-sized QWERTY keyboard.

The pre-configured messages can be changed and edited on the phone app.

weather notification

Apps

Swiping up from the watch-face reveals your app drawer. The apps are listed as round icons. The order of the icons is customizable from the phone app.

apps screen

Out of the box, the watch comes with a selection of apps from Samsung and Google.

The apps that stand out are Samsung Health, the camera controller, and the Samsung web browser. That’s right, you get a web browser on your watch!

Samsung also offers dialer, contacts, and messages apps. You also get the standard clock apps like timer, stopwatch, and alarms. The compass app, the weather app, voice recorder, and calculator look a lot like their One UI counterparts on Galaxy smartphones.

You can also view pictures from your phone in the Gallery app, or sync calendars and notes from their respective apps.

Samsung also adds a Camera controller, which acts as a tiny viewfinder for your phone. Although, this feature is only available for Samsung Galaxy S-series and Note series phones.

camera controller

Being a Wear OS watch, you have access to Google Play Store right on the watch. You can download 3rd party apps, and watch faces from Play Store. It also comes with Google Maps as the only navigation option.

Because it is an android based Operating System, you can switch an app to its alternative quite easily. The Samsung Pay app can be replaced by Google Pay for easy NFC payments.

The Galaxy Watch 4 comes with Bixby as the voice assistant however Samsung promised a Google assistant update coming soon.

Samsung has also promised to offer 4-5 years of software updates for the Watch 4 series.

Android Integration

The most important reason for buying a watch for me was to keep my phone out of my hands as much as possible.

The Galaxy Watch 4 offers me seamless integration with my Galaxy S21 Ultra and my wireless buds.

For example, if I get a call on my phone while I’m listening to music on my buds, I can check and answer it right from my watch, and also choose the output/input device.

The camera controller allows me to use my watch as a viewfinder to take selfies or group photos.

I can add reminders and notes on my watch and they sync to my phone and my computer via Google Keep. I use a Samsung phone and as a result, I get a lot of exclusive features in the Health app as well.

android ecosystem

Battery Life

The Galaxy Watch 4 has a decent battery life from my heavy usage. I get a lot of notifications, which I mostly reply/dismiss from the watch itself. I keep Always on Display turned on during the day.

I also take most calls from the watch directly when my phone is out of reach of my hands.

I manage to kill the watch in 2-3 days mostly. But the best part is charging it is quite easy.

You can either use the magnetic charger that comes bundled or charge wirelessly using your phone (if supported).

wireless charging

The watch also offers ways to squeeze extra juice out of your watch with a Power Saving mode and a Watch-only mode that disables everything except the watch face.

Wrapping Up

The Galaxy Watch4 and its more expensive sibling, the Watch4 Classic, are the best Android-compatible smartwatches on the market.

Starting at $249.99, the Watch4 offers more apps than previous Samsung watches thanks to the switch to Wear OS.

It can monitor your snoring in addition to your blood oxygen saturation. And it has a body composition scanner that can help you track your body fat percentage.

Design-wise, it has a slim and sleek aluminum case with a functional digital bezel, which are its only differences from the $349.99 Classic model.

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