Earlier last month, Samsung launched its newest flagship watch series, including the Galaxy Watch4 and the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. I have been quite a collector of smartwatches for several years, including Samsung Galaxy Watches and Apple Watches. Smart Watches have changed the way I interact with my health. I use a Smartwatch every night to track my sleep, measure my exercise performance, and sometimes as a reminder to breathe when I am stressed. I can honestly say I have been more mindful of my health due to wearing a smartwatch.
With that said, user experience and design matter a lot in a smartwatch. With each design iteration of Samsung’s Galaxy Watches, we get more performant systems with new capabilities and features. When Samsung sent me two loaner Galaxy watches to review, I was excited to take the new Watch4 and Watch4 Classic for a ride through my personal use case. I spent several days using both the Galaxy Watch4 systems, and below are my thoughts.
The new Galaxy Watch4 Series come in a couple of different models, the Watch4 and the Watch4 Classic. The Galaxy Watch4 replaces the previous Active2 design, and the Galaxy Watch4 Classic replaces the Galaxy Watch3 design. Although there are only two different models, each model comes in a “small” and “large” variant. I say that with some hesitation because the sizes within the models don’t seem that different. The Galaxy Watch4 comes in both 40mm and 44m models, while the Galaxy Watch4 Classic comes in 42mm and 46mm variants. The Watch4 comes in several different color options, including Black and Silver on the Watch4 Classic and Black, Silver, Pink Gold, and Green on the Watch4. Both of my test units came in the Black color option, which was pleasing because I prefer neutral colors.
The Watch4 replaces the Watch Active line with a more minimalistic and simple touch screen interface and two buttons, one home button, and one back button. The Watch4 Classic is Samsung’s classic Smartwatch look marked in 5-minute increments around the bezel and the same two buttons on the side. It includes the signature rotating bezel for navigating through the watch menu, which is my favorite feature on the Galaxy Watch4 Classic. It allows me to move exceptionally quickly through all my apps, start a workout in seconds, and check my recorded sleep time with ease.
Both the Galaxy Watch4 and Watch4 Classic sport a similar 20mm silicon sport band that is comfortable. I was able to wear both models of the watch throughout the day with little discomfort. I did take both watches to the gym and lifted weights in each. I did feel the thicker bezel of the Watch4 Classic against my wrist in some movements, but it wasn’t a huge hindrance. The two tag ends on the Watch4 Classic that holds the silicone band’s end did slide down my wrist on multiple occasions. I had to tighten the watch tighter than I would like to keep it glued in a good position. The Watch4 is a little lighter, so I would probably side with the Watch4 in more sporty situations. The Watch4 Classic would be my go-to with a button-up shirt and pants or just anything more formal than shorts and a t-shirt.
The 1.4″ AMOLED panels on the Watch4 Series are sharp. The display has a wide range of brightness settings and is very responsive and precise with touch. Samsung, as of late, has done a great job producing high-quality panels for its smartphones and the Galaxy Watch4 seems to reap some of the benefits of that technology.
After I took the Galaxy Watch4 out of the box, my first task was to power it on and sync it with my Galaxy Flip3 5G. As usual, I updated my software version in the Galaxy Wearables app. After that, I downloaded a couple of other apps from the Google Play Store, including Samsung Health and SmartThings. One of the significant updates to the new Galaxy Watch4 is the latest Wear OS. The newest version of the software was a collaboration between Google and Samsung to create a better watch operating system. With Samsung One UI Watch, you can expect a similar look and feel from your smartphone to your watch. One way you might see this is when you download a watch compatible app to your smartphone, it will automatically install on your Watch4 as well.
My most used app is Samsung Health by far. I use it to track my calorie burn, food intake, active calories, steps, sleep, active heart rate, stress, and more. I enjoyed waking up and analyzing my REM sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, and how much time I spent awake throughout the night. I liked that the watch would generate a sleep score based on the data collected the night before. The Watch4 can also detect if you are snoring throughout the night, and thankfully, the watch didn’t pick up any noises from me on this go-around. I used the Watch4 devices on the workout front to track a weightlifting session and several walks throughout the week. There are over 90 sport modes that the Watch4 can track, which means there is likely something for everyone.
The new body composition measurement tool is an excellent health feature addition. By placing two fingers over the two external buttons, you can measure your skeletal muscle, fat mass, basal metabolic rate, body water, and body fat. I used it and it had me reading in a matter of seconds. I am not sure how accurate this measurement method is compared to a medical scan, but it is helpful nonetheless.
When I used the watch for other miscellaneous tasks like switching songs on Spotify, sending a text message via voice, or just as a traditional watch, it was seamless for the most part. I often used my phone to manage app permissions that couldn’t be adjusted on the watch. I assume most of those issues would go away after some use, but it was inconvenient either way. There was also some lag between Google maps when I prompted a trip on my watch and took over 10 seconds for it to populate on my phone screen.
Both of my Galaxy Watch4 devices came with 1.4″ displays, 1.5GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and a dual-core “5nm” processor. Each model is protected by Samsung Knox security as well. The smaller variants of the Watch4 come with the same hardware but with 1.2″ displays instead. The whole experience is running on the Wear OS that Samsung has co-developed with Google. I learned that Wear OS 3 devices could not pair with iPhones, which is a bummer. Although, I don’t know many iPhone users purchasing a Galaxy Watch.
The outer case is made from Armor Aluminum and pairs nicely with the Sport Band strap. The Watch4 weighs in at 30.3g and the Watch4 classic at 52g. I know gram is a tricky metric to quantify to an end-user, but I will say the Watch4 Classic feels noticeably heavier than the Watch4. Although there are many sizing and connectivity options, I see this approach as Samsung covering all its bases with a watch that fits everyone’s needs. Each Galaxy Watch4 can support LTE for an additional fee with coverage available from AT&T and Verizon.
The larger watches have a 361mAh battery, while the smaller variants come with a 247mAh battery. One of the most impressive pieces of the Watch4 is the Samsung BioActive Sensor which includes an optical heart rate sensor, electrical heart sensor, and bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor. As you can see, there are many complexities to the health sensors that Samsung packed into the Watch4. Some other sensors include Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, and a light sensor. These are many of the typical sensors you would see in other smartwatches. Within the box, you will also find a wireless USB charger and a quick start guide.
Both of my Watch4 units were the larger size models with the bigger 361mAh battery. I can’t speak to the difference in battery life between the larger models with 361mAh battery and the slightly smaller versions with a 247mAh battery, but I imagine similar battery life is Samsung considered the same battery life to display size ratios. Samsung claimed around 40 hours of uptime on each of the Galaxy Watch4 models.
I was using my Galaxy Watch4 to track my sleep, stress, and workouts on any given day. I was also using it a lot to check whether and as a secondary navigation system. I enabled the always-on display, heart rate, stress recording, and auto-brightness, so I didn’t take it easy on the system. On average, I was getting around 30 hours of battery life on a single charge. I am sure I could extend that by turning off some of my health trackings or lowering my display brightness, but I value a better experience over a few more hours of battery life. Although the battery life was below Samsung’s claims, I got over 30 hours of uptime in a real-world use case.
The new Galaxy Watch4 is available starting at $249.99 and ranging up to $299.99 depending on size and LTE connectivity. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is also available now, starting at $349.99 and ranging from $399.99 depending on size and LTE connectivity. I think Samsung’s pricing structure here is spot on, given the current competitive pricing in the Smartwatch market.
After extended use with both the Galaxy Watch4 and the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, I think Samsung is doing a great job with its new flagship watches, primarily through the lens of an Android user. I like that Samsung focused on a premium design, health and wellness features, performant hardware, and offering many different flavors of a similar design to fit most different user preferences.
The designs aren’t perfect, but the user experience is top-notch in the realm of Smart Watches, thanks to a combined software and hardware effort. Hopefully, we will see continued support from Google and Samsung on improving user experience through Wear OS 3 going forward, which I think we will as Google has many developer resources at its fingertips. If Samsung can keep improving its hardware and software with each design iteration, the Galaxy Watch4 could have a permanent place on my wrist. My daily is the Apple Watch, and I would have to keep using the Galaxy Watch4 if I were to make the complete switch. If Samsung can get the blood pressure capabilities working, I’d likely switch.
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