Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Review: The Tides Are Changing!

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The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 marks the beginning of a new era, and quite literally. If you see, up until now, Samsung has launched a plethora of Galaxy smartwatches, but these devices have long struggled to capture a significant pie of the smartwatch market. And this can partly be attributed to the company’s software Tizen OS (as promising as it was), which wasn’t up to the mark to compete with the likes of watchOS. On the other hand, there’s Wear OS, which is Google’s vision of software for Android smartwatches. However, as huge as Google is, Wear OS while having all the backing in the world has clearly lacked direction over the years. 

Fast forward to Galaxy Unpacked 2021, and we finally saw the two giants, Samsung and Google team up in what possibly could be the biggest reunion in the world of Android smartwatches. The result is two new products — The Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and these smartwatches feature the all-new Wear OS powered by Samsung. But beyond the hype and excitement, do these new Samsung smartwatches have what it takes to compete and finally topple the mighty Apple Watch? Well, I have been using the Galaxy Watch 4 as my main smartwatch for the past couple of weeks, and I think it’s about time the tides had changed! 

Galaxy Watch 4: Specs at a Glance

— Size: 44mm, 40mm
— Weight & Thickness: 30g, 9.8mm (Without Strap)
— Colours: Black, Green, Silver and Pink Gold
— Display: 1.4” (44mm) or 1.2” (40mm) Circular sAMOLED (450×450), Always-on
— Protection: Gorilla Glass DX+ (Front & Rear)
— SoC: 1.18 Ghz Dual-Core Exynos W920
— Battery: 361mAh (44mm), 247mAh (40mm)
— Memory: 1.5GB RAM + 16GB Storage
— Software: Wear OS Powered by Samsung
— Connectivity: LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4+5GHz, NFC, A-GPS/GLONASS/Beidou/Galileo
— Durability: 5ATM+IP68/MIL-STD-810G
— Compatibility: Android 6.0 or higher, RAM 1.5GB above

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Galaxy Watch 4: Price & Variants

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 comes in both 4G and Bluetooth options. As for sizes, you get to choose between two — 40mm and 44mm. Colour options include Black, Green, Silver and Pink Gold. Samsung sent me the 44mm Bluetooth variant of the Galaxy Watch 4 in Black colour. To know about all the pricing and details of other variants, visit Samsung’s website. 

Galaxy Watch 4: Display & Design

One thing you can always bet with Samsung is that they can never do wrong when it comes to the display! My 44mm Galaxy Watch 4 features a superb 1.4” circular Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 450×450 pixels. This is a gorgeous colour panel, that also features Always-on functionality, is protected by Gorilla Glass DX+ and gets plenty bright, be it indoors or outdoors. And when I say plenty bright, I mean the sunlight legibility is excellent, and I didn’t face any issues whatsoever, even while using it on a bright sunny day.

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Moving on, and many would call me crazy for this, but design-wise, I think the Galaxy Watch 4 looks better than the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, despite being the more affordable model. Of course, I understand that the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic has a rotating bezel, and stainless steel build, and I am sure it might be a better overall product than the regular Galaxy Watch 4. But I feel, because of the aluminium build, the Watch 4 is significantly lighter, slimmer and more manageable. Just by the way, this is Armor Aluminum I am talking about here, the same material that Samsung has used on the Galaxy Z series phones. On top of that, the touch bezel is also a decent alternative to the rotating bezel, and quite frankly, its implementation has been pretty well.

Apart from this, I would also applaud the company for the interchangeable silicone strap that comes with the Galaxy Watch 4. Now personally, I am not a huge fan of silicone straps, or say, if given a choice, I would rather go for a mesh band or a leather band. But with the Galaxy Watch 4, I never had this urge of getting a different material strap, because one, the Watch 4’s silicone band is comfortable and never did I feel that it was causing irritation on my wrist. And second, it is arguably the best looking silicone strap that you get on any smartwatch, i.e. if you can judge silicone straps on looks. 

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The Galaxy Watch 4 also has two buttons on the right side — home and back, i.e. if you prefer wearing your watch on the left wrist. And by the way, both of these buttons can be customised from the watch settings on your phone. On the left is a speaker, which sounds fine for a watch, I won’t call it the loudest. Finally, at the back is where you find all the health sensors. 

Galaxy Watch 4: Software, Performance & UI

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is powered by a 1.18Ghz Dual-core Exynos W920, which is a 5nm chipset. This is coupled with 1.5GB RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. As for the software, I have already mentioned it above, and but I’ll say it again — It is OneUI Watch Version 3.0 atop Wear OS. 

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Performance-wise, the Galaxy Watch 4 gave me a lag-free or say stutter-free experience. In the past, I have used a bunch of Wear OS powered smartwatches, and frankly speaking, stutters have been quite prominent with Google’s software. But all of a sudden, with the Galaxy Watch 4, Google’s software feels a lot polished! OneUI is smooth and responsive, apps open fast, touch response is great, and on a whole, when it comes to the speediness of the Galaxy Watch 4, it didn’t disappoint me. 

In terms of software performance, at first glance, the UI did remind me of Tizen OS, but no, this is a totally different ball game. The new Wear OS powered by Samsung brings the company’s OneUI with the backing of third-party apps found in Wear OS. And the result is finally a smartwatch that can pretty much go head to head with Apple’s latest and greatest. Because, honestly, Tizen OS was not bad, it just lacked the variety of apps. And that seems to be fixed now since Samsung and Google have partnered up. 

A few of the additions that I really found useful on the new Galaxy Watch 4 powered by Wear OS is the ability to now use Google Maps for turn by turn navigation. There’s Google Keep, to take a quick glance at my notes, and all this without having to open my phone. As I just mentioned about how Tizen OS lacked a variety of apps, Wear OS seems to have fixed it. The best example of it is the ability to download a bunch of third-party apps for custom watch faces from Google Play. Don’t get me wrong, the watch faces you get pre-loaded are pretty good, but again, having the freedom to choose from a mixture of options, is good to see. 

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Although not all is good and dandy. And so, speaking of cons, I did spot a couple of them. The First would be that I couldn’t find Google Assistant, so my sole choice was Bixby, which I immediately disabled. And strangely enough, I was also not able to connect the Galaxy Watch 4 to my iPhone, so that was weird considering all the previous iterations of the Galaxy Watch powered by Tizen OS have supported iPhones. 

In terms of watch operation, getting around the Galaxy Watch 4 is pretty straightforward and easy. A swipe up from the bottom takes you to the app drawer, a swipe down brings you the quick toggles. Keep swiping from the left edge to see the notifications. And finally, keep swiping from the right edge to reveal tiles, Samsung’s fancy word for widgets. Besides this, a long-press on the homescreen lets you choose between the different watch faces on offer. 

Galaxy Watch 4: Health & Fitness Features

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is every bit capable of tracking a slew of health features. At the back is where you can find the 3-in-1 BioActive sensor, that lets you record heart rate, Body composition, blood-oxygen levels, ECG and Blood Pressure. Out of which, the last two are currently not supported in India, with no confirmation on when these features will be available for the country. But despite this, the Galaxy Watch 4 excels in all the other departments. 

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While it has been doing a fairly accurate job of keeping track of my heart rate, SpO2 levels, and stress, I was also able to measure my body composition in a jiffy by placing my middle finger and ring finger on the two side buttons. And in a matter of seconds, the Galaxy Watch 4 showed me the readings for my body fat, skeletal muscle, fat mass, body mass, BMI and BMR. In fact, this time around, the Galaxy Watch can also do sleep tracking with snore detection. 

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For comparison’s sake, the health readings on both the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and my Apple Watch Series 6 were pretty much the same. But I did find Samsung do a better job with sleep tracking, as it was more accurate somehow, even when I wore both the watches to bed on different wrists. As obvious as it is, all the health readings were accessible via the Samsung Health app, which isn’t the most detailed when it comes to analysing your data, but it gets the job done. 

Samsung Health 1

Now when it comes to the fitness bit, well honestly, I am not much of an exercise guy, but if you are one, the Galaxy Watch 4 has got you covered here as well. By default, the basic running, walking, cycling, hiking, swimming etc. are of course present, and the Watch 4 also has the ability to automatically detect these. But even if you are into hardcore exercises like weight training, pilates, yoga, strength training and so on, you also have those options at your disposal. It is just that you’ll need to dive deeper into the options to select these. 

Galaxy Watch 4: Connectivity and Battery Life

In terms of connectivity, the Galaxy Watch 4 features Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4+5GHz. As for the battery performance, there’s a 361mAh battery under the hood which takes about 2 hours to fully charge from 0-100% using the magnetic puck charger that comes bundled in the box. 

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I used the Galaxy Watch 4 paired with my Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G, and I faced zero issues when it came to the connectivity. In terms of endurance, with all the automatic health tracking features turned on, AOD turned on, and my watch connected to my phone at all times, I was getting about a day and a half worth of battery backup. This is again better than my Apple Watch Series 6, which strictly offers only a day worth of endurance, and this is not after a year of using it, it has been like this from the start. So basically, when it comes to battery performance, you can rest assured that the Galaxy Watch can easily last a day with enough charge left to track your sleep overnight. With that said, as I earlier mentioned, it takes about two hours to fully top up; so charging times are definitely something that Samsung needs to work on. 

Galaxy Watch 4: Verdict

So, who should buy the Galaxy Watch 4? Well, all those Android phone users who have always thought of having a refined smartwatch experience, similar to the way how Apple Watch provides for iPhone users; for all those people, consider buying the Galaxy Watch 4. In fact, come to think of it, did Samsung deliberately didn’t add support for the Galaxy Watch 4 series on iPhones’? I mean I am not sure about that, but if that’s the case, then the scores are level I guess. If iPhone users have the Apple Watch powered by watchOS, then Android users now have the Galaxy Watch 4 powered by Wear OS. By the way, even when it comes to the pricing, I won’t call it cheap but the Watch 4 is definitely more reasonable and offers much better value than its prime competitor. 

Thank you for reading, have a pleasant day ahead! 🙂

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Aman Rashid
aman.rashid@u2opiamobile.com

Aman is the Video-Head for Mr Phone's YouTube channel, based out of New Delhi. He's a true blue sneakerhead, is an avid WWE follower, loves all things tech, and is a huge DragonBall fanboy. He follows a simple mantra in life — Live, Laugh, Love! 💛