Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review: Our new favourite smartwatch for Android
- Bright, crisp display
- Impressive health features
- Body composition measurement support
- Looks good
- Compatible only with Android
SensorsGPS, Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate, barometer
Over a little more than a year, I've been an Apple Watch user shifting only to other smartwatches for reviews. Most other smartwatches have fallen short when I would compare them with Apple's wearables, except for where fitness features were concerned. Companies like Garmin and Amazfit, with Fitbit following in close, offer some excellent fitness features on their devices that are quite detailed and handy. At least with Garmin and Amazfit, I found their fitness offerings to be more in-depth than what the Apple Watch offers. Then there is the issue of overall usability, UI, features, and looks. In that department, I've found Fossil's devices to be particularly impressive.
Essentially a good smartwatch should be something that ticks a lot of boxes, and these boxes differ from person to person. Personally, I obviously want the watch to look good, I want to be able to take calls and reply to messages from my wrist, and I also want detailed health and fitness features. Fitness and health cannot be an afterthought with some basics being thrown in simply because every other smartwatch in the market has it.
What smartwatch you should buy depends greatly on which ecosystem you are on - Android or iOS. While most of the smartwatches are compatible with both platforms, on Apple you will find a lot of features restricted if you are going to not use the Apple Watch, and the Apple Watch itself is not compatible with Android devices. The reverse is not true for WatchOS devices, they work on both platforms, but they work better on Android. And in this area of non-Apple wearables, we have a new favourite - the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. Samsung's latest smartwatch ticks almost all the boxes for us and we're impressed. I used the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 to experience all its features fully and it's safe to say that if I shift back to Android any time soon, this is definitely the smartwatch I am going to get.
Samsung has made some significant changes to its smartwatches this year the first being the exit of Tizen and the entry of Wear OS. The company also launched two smartwatches this year - the Galaxy Watch 4 (starting at ₹28,999 for the 40mm) and the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (starting at ₹36,999 for the 42mm). You get the Galaxy Watch 4 series in LTE and Bluetooth-only variants.
This is like Apple launching the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 6 together.
However, the Apple Watch SE, while it might look just like the Apple Watch Series 6, it lacks some of the key features. Samsung on the other hand has given the Galaxy Watch 4 and the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic all the same features, but the latter is made of stainless steel and has a physical bezel instead of a digital one.
When it comes to features, there is a lot that the Galaxy Watch 4 can do. It has a nice, bright display, scrolling and animations are smooth, there is ample memory for music and apps, it has a new sensor that can measure your body fat, and it can track your snoring. Unlike Samsung's older offerings in the smartwatch space, the Galaxy Watch 4 series work only with Android.
The design on the Galaxy Watch 4, the one we got for review, is quite neat and minimal. There are two physical buttons on the right side of the dial (a Power/Home button and a Back button) and you need the Samsung Wear app for this and the Samsung Health app to understand the data. We were sent the 44mm Galaxy Watch 4 for review, personally, if I was to buy one I would pick the smaller 40mm device since I have thin wrists. There is also no physical bezel on this which is nice. You do get a digital bezel on this one and you can run your finger along the side of the screen to activate the digital bezel.
The Galaxy Watch 4's watch faces need to be picked, changed, or customised from the Samsung Wear App, and you can also rearrange the apps, add or delete tiles, use the Find My Watch feature, etc, from here. Given all that the Galaxy Watch 4 can do, be prepared to charge the device at the end of every day, especially if you want to wear it to sleep. Since our review unit was paired with my secondary device so there weren't as many calls or texts dealt with on the Galaxy Watch 4, the battery (361 mAh cell) on it lasted us for more than 24 hours. The health sensors are all on the back and the Galaxy Watch 4 is pretty light and comfortable to wear through the day, and even to bed.
The display on the Galaxy Watch 4 is a 1.4-inch one on the 44mm watch and a Super AMOLED. It is bright and vibrant and we faced no issues reading anything off it even in most situations. Scrolling is smooth and responsive powered by the Exynos W920 processor and the wearable comes with 1.5GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The Galaxy Watch 4 has an IP68 rating and 5ATM rating so it is waterproof to a depth of 164 feet for 10 minutes. It can also withstand dust, dirt, and sand. The device also meets the MIL-STD-810G military standard so it should be able to survive drops, low pressure, high altitude, shock, extreme temperatures, etc.
The fact that the Galaxy Watch 4 is on Wear OS and not Tizen gives this wearable (and the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic) a better selection of apps to pick from right from the Google Play Store. In my time with the watch, I did not need to download any additional app. Google Maps is one of the main additions to the Galaxy Watch 4 and it comes pre-installed. It can provide turn-by-turn walking, driving, and even cycling directions on your wrist. However, when it comes to smart assistants, you get the Bixby on the Galaxy Watch 4 series and no Google Assistant. Also, there is no integration with Fitbit yet.
The best feature of the Galaxy Watch 4 is its set of health and fitness offerings. The BioActive sensor on the watch can read your heart rate, take an ECG, and also assess body composition. There is SpO2 tracking as well. Samsung uses something called bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA) to measure your body composition. BIA is something you'd find on smart scales and it involves sending a low-level electrical current through your body to measure fat and other metrics. If you have a pacemaker or are using other internal medical devices, don't use the BIA on the watch, the current levels are almost imperceptible but they can affect these devices. You also should not use this feature if you are pregnant.
The body composition check on the Galaxy Watch 4 takes only 15 seconds and you need to place two fingers (middle and ring fingers) on the two buttons and make sure the watch is not touching your wrist. The scan displays fat mass, body fat percentage, BMI (body mass index), skeletal muscle mass, basal metabolic rate (BMR), and body water mass. It also tells you if your results for each metric fall within the low, normal, or high range. This is a fun, exciting feature to have but what you can do with the data depends upon your understanding of the metrics. Ideally, we'd recommend speaking to a doctor or a certified fitness trainer to understand the metrics and make necessary changes for better health. Just by itself, this data is intriguing but it doesn't tell you what you need to do next.
If you wear the Galaxy Watch 4 to bed, it tracks your sleep duration, stages of sleep, and calories burned. You can enable overnight blood oxygen saturation tracking from the Samsung Health app and if you have a compatible smartphone, you can also track your snoring. We used the SpO2 tracking on the Galaxy Watch 4, but didn't get to try out the snore tracking.
The Galaxy Watch 4 supports 95 different workouts and can automatically detect certain types of workouts. I wore the Galaxy Watch 4 while working out at the gym and the fitness metrics were pretty close to what I get off my Apple Watch 6.
I took a few calls on the Galaxy Watch 4, while it wasn't as clear as what I experience on the Apple Watch, it was not too bad.
Should you buy it?
With the Galaxy Watch 4, we honestly found nothing to complain about. It comes suited with an impressive host of health features, the UI is smooth and snappy, it looks good, and also does not cost a bomb. If you are on Android, this is definitely a smartwatch you should consider, without a doubt.