We won’t have a definitive answer until we get our hands on the Series 7, which is now available for pre-order and slated to arrive in stores on Friday, Oct. 15. In the meantime, we can compare Apple and Samsung’s current smartwatch lineups based on specs and features.
Models and Similarities
Let’s start with your options. Both Apple and Samsung offer two strong models to accommodate different budgets. On Samsung’s side, you have the $349.99 Galaxy Watch4 Classic and the $249.99 Galaxy Watch4. On Apple’s end, there’s the $399 Series 7 and the year-old $279 Watch SE. Apple didn’t announce a new lower-cost model this year, but the SE remains in its lineup as a more wallet-friendly alternative to the Series 7. For a detailed comparison of Apple’s current smartwatch lineup, head here.
Debates about squares and circles aside, all of the aforementioned Apple and Samsung watches are well designed, with robust fitness tracking features, calling and texting capabilities, mobile payments, music and smart home controls, and a large selection of third-party apps. They all feature colorful touch screens, fast processors that allow for smooth scrolling, and are pretty evenly matched when it comes to battery life.
In our testing, the Watch4 lasted almost 24 hours with the always-on display enabled. The Apple Watch Series 6 similarly lasted around 25.5 hours in testing with the always-on display enabled; we expect similar results from the Series 7, since Apple says its latest wearable offers the same battery life as its predecessor.
Now let’s dig into how Apple and Samsung’s latest smartwatches differ to help you decide which is best for you.
Consider Your Phone
The biggest factor to consider when choosing between the Series 6 and the Galaxy Watch4 is your phone.
In other words, if you have an iPhone, you can’t use the Galaxy Watch4. And if you have an Android smartphone, you can’t use the Series 7. Since both watches are specific to either Android or iOS phones, the choice is easy to make.
Flagship or Budget-Friendly?
Now that you’ve settled on whether you need an Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch, let’s help you decide which model to choose.
One of the things we love about Samsung’s current smartwatch lineup is that the more affordable Watch4 sports a different design, but all the same internal features as the pricier Classic model.
The standard Watch4 has an aluminum case and a simpler, more streamlined look than the Watch4 Classic, which features a shinier and more durable stainless steel case and a physical rotating bezel to more easily navigate the interface. Aside from those design differences, the Watch4 and the Watch4 Classic have the same battery, connectivity, internal memory, operating system, processor, sensors, and user interface. Out of the two, the Watch4 ultimately earned our Editors’ Choice award.
With Apple’s lineup, you make some design concessions and forego some important features if you opt for the more affordable Watch SE. On the design side, the Series 7 offers 20% more screen area and a much slimmer bezel than the SE. It’s also more durable, charges faster, and features an always-on display option. On the health tracking front, it offers sensors for blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) and electrocardiogram (ECG) readings, two more features that aren’t available on the SE.
When it comes to health tracking, Samsung’s latest smartwatches have a slight advantage over Apple’s. Most notably, the Watch4 boasts body composition and snore-tracking features that aren’t available in the Series 7.
When you wear the Watch4 to bed and place your smartphone on your nightstand, the watch will let your phone know when you’re sleeping, then your phone will use its microphone to listen for your snoring and record it for proof. In the morning, you can visit the sleep tile on your watch, or the Samsung Health app to view your data.
And thanks to its new BioActive Sensor, the Watch4 can assess your body composition using a process called bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA). You place your middle and ring fingers on the Home and Back buttons, then after a 15-second scan, the watch displays your skeletal muscle mass, fat mass, body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI, a measure of body size based on your weight and height), body water mass, and basal metabolic rate (BMR, or the minimum necessary energy needed in an inactive state). A graph below each metric indicates whether your results fall within the low, normal, or high range.
That said, the Series 7 and Watch SE boast many useful health-focused features, including fall detection, high and low heart rate notifications, irregular heart rhythm alerts, Emergency SOS, international emergency calling, and noise monitoring. They also offer handwashing reminders, and an automatic 20-second countdown timer when you’re scrubbing up, two particularly useful features in light of COVID-19. You can download similar handwashing apps on the Watch4, but they don’t come preinstalled on the device.
Third-Party App Selection
In terms of third-party app support, Apple has a leg up on Samsung (and all other smartwatch makers).
Running the new unified Wear OS platform, the Watch4 delivers more in the way of apps than its Tizen-based predecessors, but the selection still lags behind what you can get on the Apple Watch. In the Google Play store on the Watch4, you can find some big name apps like AccuWeather, IFTTT, iHeartRadio, Lifesum, Nike Run Club, Kamoot, Pandora, Shazam, and Telegram. Samsung and Google are also promising new and improved versions of Spotify, Calm, Strava, adidas Running, Swim.com, and Flo Period Tracker in the near future. They say YouTube Music and Bitmoji will also be coming to the platform.
Still, some popular apps available on the Apple Watch are missing from Wear OS, including Audible, CNN, Facebook Messenger, ESPN, Runkeeper, Starbucks, The Weather Channel, and Uber. At this point, Apple’s watchOS has the widest selection of third-party apps.
Ultimately, the choice between the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch will likely come down to what phone you have. But if you’re willing to switch teams, stay tuned for full review of the Apple Watch Series 7 as soon as it’s relased this fall.