Minimalism combined with elegance – this is how you can characterize the design of the Samsung Galaxy Watch4. But there something else there?
Samsung is one of the leaders in the development and production of smartwatches. Of course, this leads to very good sales of Korean-made wearable devices, especially among Android smartphone users. This year Samsung has made some significant changes and provided its new watch with stunning improvements. The Samsung Galaxy Watch4 is using the Google Wear OS 3.0 operating system for the first time, which sets it apart from almost all competitors.
The fact is that until now, Galaxy smartwatches have relied on their own Tizen operating system. But, thanks to the successful cooperation between Google and Samsung, the new Galaxy Watch4 comes with Wear OS 3.0 and the One UI Watch 3.0 interface. Although, the chip of the watch remains the same, it’s Exynos W920 from Samsung. However, all these changes affected compatibility, and iPhones are, unfortunately, not supported.
For the first time, Samsung decided to release two versions of its smartwatches: Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch4 Classic. I have already talked about the latter in my review. Today we will talk about the Samsung Galaxy Watch4, which has a more sporty focus.
What sets it apart?
We first learned about the model in August 2021 during a special event. This model is the successor to the Galaxy Watch Active 2, however, the Galaxy Watch4 is more focused on health. Some sensors have been updated, thanks to which even the pulse indicators have become more accurate, there are no big jumps when measuring skin temperature, an electrocardiogram is now accompanied by an impedance calculation, etc.
In addition, eight different modifications and sizes have appeared. The Galaxy Watch4 can be equipped with Bluetooth or LTE, have a size of 40 or 44 millimeters. Now the display and the aluminum edge of the watch case represent an almost completely flat and smooth surface. The highlight is here: the edge serves as a “digital front panel”, with which control commands can be performed by touching. And the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (with Bluetooth or LTE, size 42 or 46 millimeters) received a physical bezel for controls, and a steel case.
We reviewed the 44-millimeter Galaxy Watch4 with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS, and a rubberized strap. It is available at the recommended price from 294$, although there are New Year and Christmas discounts, so you can find them even for 252$. If you are interested in the LTE version, it starts at 317$. There’s also the Galaxy Watch4 40 mm, stating from 258$ for the Wi-Fi version and 313$ for the LTE version. Of course, holiday discounts and promotions will help you save a little when buying, so hurry up with the purchase.
Full specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Watch4
For those who are interested in the technical characteristics of the new products from the Korean company, we present them below:
- Display Type: Super AMOLED
- Display Size and Shape: 1.4″, Round, Touch screen
- Resolution: 450×450
- Screen size: 44mm
- Processor: dual-core Exynos W920 with a frequency of 1.18 GHz
- RAM: 1.5 GB
- Storage: 16 GB
- Operating System: Wear OS Powered by Samsung, compatible with Android OS
- Wireless communications: Beidou, Bluetooth, Galileo, Glonass, GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi
- SIM Card Support: None
- Calls and Alerts: SMS, Built-in microphone, Speaker (hands-free), Beep, Calendar events, Social networks, app notifications, Call notifications, email
- Sensors: Accelerometer, barometer, geomagnetic sensor, gyroscope, bioelectric impedance analysis sensor, light sensor, optical heart rate sensor, electric heart rate sensor
- Functions: bioimpedance analysis, Samsung BioActive sensor for determining body composition, 90 types of exercises and workouts, electrocardiogram recording, blood pressure measurement, sleep quality monitoring function, checking the level of oxygen in the blood and features of breathing and snoring
- Battery: 361 mAh with wireless charging support, battery life up to 40 hours
- Band Material: Replaceable Silicone
- Protection: 5 ATM water resistance, IP68 standard, MIL-STD 810G standard
- Case size and weight 44.4×44.4×9.8 mm; 30.3 g.
What’s in the box (not much)
The contents of the box probably won’t surprise anyone. Samsung has packed its watches in a beautiful elongated box, in which the user will find only the necessary accessories.
There is only the Galaxy Watch4 itself, a quick user guide and a charger with a meter-long cable and a USB Type-A connector. Unfortunately, you will not find a spare band .
Elegant design without the interactive bezel
As I mentioned in the introduction, the Galaxy Watch 4 is rather the successor to the Watch Active 2, there is no mechanical rotating bezel (but you can use its digital version). This characteristic detail is present only in the Classic version, the case of which is made of stainless steel. And the base model of the Galaxy Watch4 has an aluminum case. Sandblasted aluminum looks elegant and also makes the watch lighter.
Over the years that Samsung has been creating smartwatches, their design has improved from generation to generation. However, the basic Watch4 is somewhat different from its predecessors. The case does not have such rounded curves of the Watch Active 2. The metal frame is now visible only from the left and right sides. Aluminum replaces glass at the strap attachment point. The glass that covers the display is now completely flat and merges with the beveled edge of the frame.
Personally, I have to say that I like this new design, although it makes the watch more sporty. Separately, I will note the excellent build quality. The 44 mm version that I tested is designed more for men, but the 40 mm version is for women, although it’s a matter of taste.
The physical dimensions of the watch are 44.4×44.4×9.8 mm, and the weight is only 30.3 g, which is convenient for everyday use and sports. The smaller model offers a case with dimensions of 40.4×39.3×9.8, and its weight is only 25.9 g. Thus, the new generation is slightly larger, but already much thinner (more than a millimeter).
The weight remained almost the same as that of the aluminum version of the Watch Active2. The watch really feels very light. The 44 mm version is available in elegant silver, green and black colors. The 40 mm version is also available in silver, black and pink.
Excellent build quality
A 20mm wide silicone strap comes with each model. I had it to match the color of the dark green case. The strap is very pleasant and gentle, does not irritate the skin, has hypoallergenic properties. The buckle is made of aluminum, and does not cling to clothes during movement or fitness classes. This is especially useful in the gym. The strap has M/L dimensions.
It is very easy to replace the original straps thanks to special axes. In other words, you can easily buy any other strap of the right size and replace it yourself. The replacement procedure will take you a couple of minutes.
On the right side of the watch case there are two buttons for controlling the system,
and on the left side, under the aluminum edge, you will find a small hole for the speaker. There are also two microphones on the case.
The lower part of the watch case is partially made of high-quality hard plastic and is fastened with four screws. In the middle is a large pulse sensor, which is covered with durable glass and does not protrude above the surface.
To summarize briefly, the watch is very convenient.
Display with automatic brightness adjustment
The Galaxy Watch 4 smartwatch has a perfectly round touchscreen measuring 1.36 inches, or 1.19 inches for the 40 mm model. The panel is, of course, Super AMOLED, which guarantees an absolute black color and excellent display characteristics. The display offers bright colors, excellent viewing angles and readability even in bright direct sunlight.
Finally, the display resolution has increased. For many years, Samsung has used a 360×360 pixel resolution. The 44mm version has a resolution of 450×450 pixels (330 pixels per inch), and the smaller one is 396×396 pixels (330 pixels per inch).
This is noticeable while viewing the content on the display. The image quality is almost perfect, as for such devices. The panel has received protection from accidental scratches, it is covered by a protective Gorilla Glass DX+ glass, like the Watch Active2.
You will also find useful the ability to control the display with thin gloves. In ski gloves, the display can also work, but with a very strong push. However, due to the small size of the display, working in thicker gloves is quite tedious and inconvenient. The Always-on function is also not forgotten, and the automatic brightness adjustment works as intended. To be honest, the Samsung Galaxy Watch4/Watch4 Classic display can rightfully be considered the best on the smartwatch market.
Features and pairing
The hardware of the watch is also at the highest level. The driving force was the new dual-core Exynos W920 processor of Samsung’s own production, based on the 5-nm process technology, with a clock frequency of 1.18 GHz. It has a good 1.5 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. I definitely have to praise the manufacturer for the larger amount of storage, because it has doubled compared to the previous generation and quadrupled compared to the Watch Active2. However, for apps, music, etc. only about 7.6 GB is available, the rest of the space is reserved by the operating system. Let me remind you, it runs on Wear OS Powered by Samsung.
Communication is provided by Wi-Fi 4 (now dual-band), Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC. Positioning systems include A-GPS, Glonass, Galileo and Beidou. I’m little saddened by the absence of ANT+, which was last available on the Gear S3. But, of course, the LTE version has eSIM support.
Among the sensors we find accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, light sensor, optical heart rate sensor, electrical heart sensor and bioelectric impedance analysis sensor.
It is also worth noting that the watch complies with the US military standard MIL-STD-810G, is waterproof and dustproof according to the IP68 standard (can work at a depth of up to 1.5 m for 30 minutes) and water resistant to 5 atm, which means it’s suitable for swimming on the surface, but not for scuba diving.
Battery life and charging
A 361 mAh non-removable battery is hidden inside the 44 mm version of the watch, and 247 mAh is in the 40 mm version. This is 21 mAh more than the Galaxy Watch3 and the Galaxy Watch Active2. In the smaller version, the capacities are identical.
Wireless charging (5 V / 1 A), again, is quite slow – the watch charges from zero to one hundred percent in about two and a half hours. Charging is carried out using Qi wireless technology, so you can use any wireless charger with this standard. The set includes a charging “puck” with a sufficiently long cable, which is easily attached to the watch with a magnet.
The manufacturer claims that the can survive up to 40 hours during normal use, even the cheaper version. Last year’s model was claimed to have a battery life of more than 56 hours. Thus, despite the large battery, the new system will not make any significant improvements to the watch in this regard. And how is it in practice?
I tested the watch for three weeks, during which I got different results. At full load with the AoD and increased sports activity, the watch can last only one working day. If you exercise frequently with GPS turned on, battery life can quickly decrease. Battery life is one of the few disadvantages of the new watch from Samsung. But one week I decided to experiment and in a normal situation I got two (in rare cases three) days without recharging. Automatic brightness was on, AoD was turned off, automatic exercise detection, sleep monitoring, automatic GPS and Wi-Fi, heart rate monitoring every 10 minutes, periodic launch of applications (navigation, music player, etc.), and Bluetooth were all enabled. In addition, I received notifications, including calls.
In other words, battery life directly depends on the way the watch is used. Most of the apps and functions lead to a decrease in endurance. The watch does not have a strict sleep mode with no notifications and most of the functions.
The watch has a power-saving mode that reduces processor speed, as well brightness by 10%, limits network usage, geolocation and background synchronization, and disables gestures. This mode extends the battery life by several hours. Unfortunately, there is no stricter saving regime.
However, you can also enable the “time only” function, which disables all functions, and after pressing the Home button, only the time is displayed. After that, the battery should last up to 30 days without charging. Unfortunately, I was not able to test this in practice during testing. There is also a very useful battery optimization function, in which the watch would suggest how best to optimize the settings in order to achieve the longest possible operating time.
The Galaxy Watch 4 for active lifestyle
The Galaxy Watch 4 smartwatch is not only a beautiful accessory. It can help active, sports-minded users to conduct training and other sports activities more efficiently. It supports more than 90 types of sports activity (mainly fitness exercises), seven of which can be activated automatically. These include running, walking, cycling, rowing, elliptical machines, dynamic training and swimming. This way, you will no longer forget to turn on monitoring of your workout, your watch will do it on its own.
Most often, my watch detected walking, while measuring the number of steps, calories burned, heart rate, distance and speed. You also have the option to set a workout goal – for example, the number of steps taken, the number of floors passed, heart rate, calories burned, etc.
If you are not active for more than an hour, the watch will offer at least to stretch. In addition to the pre-installed Samsung Health app, you can download Google Fit, Diet, Nike Run and others.
Samsung BioActive sensor
The watch has a built-in stress monitoring function and can continuously measure your heart rate. At the same time, they will immediately warn you about any deviations from the norm. The Samsung BioActive sensor measures ECG and blood pressure in real time. However, to measure blood pressure, you first need to calibrate the watch using a standard tonometer.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch4 is so far the only watch that can measure body composition, like a smart scale. You will find out how much water you have in your body, how heavy your bones are, or how much fat and muscle you have in total ratio.
Just place your middle finger on the top button and your ring finger on the bottom, and the sensor measures all the necessary data. The whole measurement takes about 15 seconds. Of course, there will not be much accuracy, but it will be enough for basic information purposes.
Good for swimming
The Galaxy Watch 4, just like the watches of previous generations, is suitable for swimming. You can turn off the touch screen in the top panel of quick settings, or it will turn off automatically when swimming begins. When the function is disabled, high frequencies will also start playing to remove water from the speaker.
Two basic exercises will be available to you – swimming in the pool and outdoors. In the first case, the training time, pace at a distance of 100 meters, calories burned, length and type of pool and pulse rate are recorded. In addition, when swimming outdoors using GPS, you will receive information about the distance covered, which will be recorded.
It’s a pity that the app can’t record the pace, recognize the swimming style, or set SWOLF scores. You will need to turn to third-party applications to better control the swimming process. For example, Endomondo or Swim.com – more advanced tools for learning to swim. The latest app makes it easy to track values such as the number of swims, time spent in the pool, swimming style, pulse rate, calories and much more.
Unfortunately, I was not able to try it, as the pool in my fitness club was under reconstruction.
If you want to have a more complete report on your health status, the Watch 4 will also record your sleep parameters. Sleep activity is divided into four phases (wakefulness, light, deep sleep and rem sleep phase). Sleep efficiency or the number of calories burned is also monitored.
The watch also allows you to check your blood oxygen levels and snoring patterns. Yes, you can even measure your snoring. However, I could not record my snoring. Snoring detection works when there is a smartphone nearby (on the bedside table) that listens and detects it while you sleep.
You can view all the measured data in your watch and on your phone in the form of a graph and clear statistics. You can also install the popular Sleep as Android app on your watch.
Wear OS powered by Samsung
Samsung initially relied on its own Tizen operating system for its smartwatches, but the Galaxy Watch 4 changed everything. Samsung has started working with Google to develop Wear OS, and interestingly, the full name of the Watch 4 platform is Wear OS Powered by Samsung. The system is accompanied by the One UI Watch 3 add-on.
It should be noted here that the watch can only be connected to smartphones running Android 6 and above (with a minimum RAM of 1.5 GB). Pairing with an iPhone is no longer possible. The connection is possible via Bluetooth and remotely via Wi-Fi.
The Galaxy Wearable smartphone app has been slightly redesigned and now provides full control of the watch. This means full customization, performing updates, installing apps, changing faces, and positioning widgets or quick launch panels.
If you want to use sports features and sleep monitoring, you also need to install the Samsung Health app. In addition, you need to download Samsung Health Monitor to monitor ECG and blood pressure.
The environment is almost always the same, but the One UI add-on has become a little closer to smartphones. There is still no way to edit the watch faces, the notification center opens to the left of the face, and useful widgets/helpers open to the right. If you swipe down anywhere in the system, you will see a quick setup menu.
You can respond to notifications, delete them, view them on your phone, etc. You can reply to messages, emails using emoticons (now divided into categories), quick replies, drawing or text using voice input or keyboard.
You can install an app directly from your watch thanks to the Google Play app. All apps are located in the menu, which can now be accessed by swiping up. Personally, however, I prefer the original access via the button.
The first item in the list is the menu of running apps. This menu can also be started using the bottom button. You can always go back by swiping from the left edge of the screen.
The top button is the so-called Home button, so after pressing it, you will always go to the home screen. Double tap to open the last running application so that you can conveniently switch between the two running applications. However, you can also configure other functions or launch the selected application. Holding down the top button, you will launch the Bixby Assistant.
Gestures for answering a call and ending a conversation are also new, but I personally have not used them. At the beginning of the review, I mentioned that there is no rotating bezel in the watch, but it is possible to include a so-called touch bezel. However, it is not the same thing we’ve seen with the Watch Active2. If you remember, there the black edge of the display was sensitive to touch, but not here. By rotating the edge of the screen, you can control the system, but this is not convenient.
All the necessary tools are basically installed in the watch, and during their initial setup, you can install all the apps that are in your phone (assuming, of course, that they have the adapted app).
There is also a calculator, calendar, answering machine, camera controls, Google Maps or the News app. However, there is no new Samsung email client, as well as an Internet browser. You also can’t install Gmail or Chrome. There is only Outlook, or you can install a third-party mail client.
Other popular apps include Telegram, Viber, Stocard, YouTube Music or Google Keep. I also missed the GoPro or Messenger, which wouldn’t be out of place.
I really liked Google Maps during the testing process. I find my destination on my phone, start navigation, then put it aside and can follow all the turn notifications and route descriptions on my watch.
Payments using a smartphone with NFC or a smartwatch are becoming increasingly popular. But there are quite a few such watches, especially when it comes to devices with the Wear OS system.
During testing, I managed to try Google Pay on my watch. Activation happens exactly the same way as with the smartphone app. You enter the card details, after which you need to perform verification from the bank (in my case via text code).
In order not to enter your PIN code on the watch before each payment, you can configure the application so that it does not require it while you are wearing the watch.
Before paying, you need to launch the Google Pay app on your watch. This is a bit discouraging, because with smartphones, all you have to do is turn on the display or unlock the device. I put the Google Pay icon in the application menu so that I didn’t have to search for it. It is also possible to bind the application to double-clicking the top button.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch4?
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is without a doubt one of the best smartwatches for Android. This year’s model has one indisputable advantage – the Wear OS system, which supports contactless payments. Many watch owners have turned to Samsung for this feature. The new system also includes Google Maps and many other apps, but some of them are still missing.
The Galaxy Watch4 has one serious drawback – battery life. However, the new Wear OS compensates for this disadvantage to some extent by providing new features. Personally, I really like the design of the watch, it is original, restrained and elegant. It will definitely appeal to both active and sporty users, as well as those who care about style. The classic strap attachment is also an advantage, as it makes it possible to buy any other strap with suitable dimensions. And the bundled strap also left a very good impression, especially during the training process. The watch is very comfortable to wear, it is thin, light, and the underside follows the shape of the wrist very well.
There’s a speaker that is suitable not only for calls, but also for sound notifications, voice navigation or Bixby Assistant (and Google Assistant should appear in the future).
I want to emphasize the quality of the display, it has beautiful colors, high brightness and its big plus is that it can be used even with gloves. The watch records all sports activities, heart rate, stress, blood pressure, body composition, ECG, and also boasts water resistance up to 5 ATM.
Don’t forget Gorilla Glass DX+, which is more scratch-resistant than the Gorilla Glass DX in the classic version, however, there’s a much less premium-feeling aluminum case. The Galaxy Watch4 is an obvious choice for the owners of Samsung phones, as well as most Android smartphones in general.
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