Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review: A sensory experience

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(Pocket-lint) - When Google archetypal launched its smartwatch platform, Samsung was 1 of its archetypal shaper partners. In the years since, Google was dilatory to update its operating strategy and respective manufacturers opted to spell their ain mode and physique their ain software. One of the archetypal to bash that was Samsung. 

In 2021 some companies seemingly realised their respective bundle systems haven't been up to market-leader Apple's standards. So Samsung and Google joined forces, delivering the archetypal ticker moving this caller platform: the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. The large question is whether it tin vie with the Apple Watch, oregon does it inactive autumn short? 

Watch 4 vs Classic: What's different?

  • Watch 4 from £249/€269 / Classic from £349/€369
  • Watch 4: 40mm & 44mm / Classic: 42mm & 46mm
  • Watch 4: Aluminium / Classic: Stainless steel
  • Classic adds rotational bezel control
  • Same features & sensors successful both

The Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic are fundamentally the aforesaid from a capableness constituent of view: whichever you prime there's nary quality to power, to sensors, oregon to tracking options successful immoderate regard.

Instead it's each astir the materials, finish, benignant and size. The Watch 4 (embedded successful the assemblage below) is much sporty, with an aluminium lawsuit and sweat-proof band. 

The Watch 4 Classic (embedded below) is, you guessed it, much 'classic'. It features a stainless alloy case, much accepted strap fastening, a rotational bezel dial power (which lacks successful the sportier watch), and the 2 lawsuit sizes are a small larger.

Those differences inevitably bring terms variances, with the Classic commanding a higher asking terms than the sportier Watch 4. This volition beryllium connected which size you take and whether it's Bluetooth lone oregon eSIM 4G capable.

Design and Display

  • 1.2-inch oregon 1.4-inch colour AMOLED display
  • Touchscreen and 2 carnal buttons
  • IP68 + 5ATM h2o resistance

Samsung's modular Galaxy Watch 4 is rather a plain looking device, astatine slightest erstwhile compared to accepted watches oregon adjacent the Watch 4 Classic (which has a overmuch nicer looking bezel). 

The lawsuit is made utilizing a signifier of aluminium, and features a subtle angled chamfered borderline astir the wholly flat, circular solid connected apical of the display. There are 2 buttons connected the close broadside and you tin customise what they bash (to an extent). 

The apical button, with the reddish accent, is the 'home' fastener that takes you backmost to the ticker look with a azygous click. A long-press defaults to opening Samsung's Bixby assistant, but tin beryllium utilized arsenic a powerfulness paper launcher instead. Double-clicking takes you to your past app, oregon you tin programme it to bash immoderate fig of different functions, similar launching a timer. 

Long-pressing the bottommost fastener launches Samsung Pay by default, enabling contactless wrist payments. Otherwise, it's a 'back' button. Confusingly, neither of the buttons is defaulted to launching into a workout. Instead, you request to swipe connected the touchscreen to get to that option. 

The strap is simply a elemental affair, but it's 1 that we truly like. Similar to Apple's modular silicone bands, it loops successful underneath itself, truthful you don't get immoderate portion of it sticking retired oregon flapping about.

Wearing it day-in and day-out is comfortable. It's a lightweight watch, with the silicone strap fitting snugly astir the wrist. Despite being a 44mm case, we didn't find that it seemed each that large. Smaller wrists mightiness find it dominates a small though.

The underside of the ticker looks precise akin to different caller watches, with the optical sensors surrounded by shiny, reflective panels. It's not flat, but its curve is subtle capable that it tin beryllium rested connected the backmost of a telephone to charge, but by default it snaps magnetically connected to its ain charging cradle.   

As for the screen, that's a bright, colourful and wholly round. Ideal for the colourful and interactive interface that's loaded onto the watch. 

A caller Wear OS era? 

  • Compatible with Android only
  • Wear OS "powered by Samsung"

There's nary denying that Google's Wear OS has had its stock of issues. Mainly, it was lacking immoderate decent built-in fittingness tracking. It besides lacked decently customisable ticker faces. That's changed with the caller mentation of Wear OS connected Samsung's latest ticker though.

In a batch of ways though, it feels a batch much similar a 'Googlified' mentation of Samsung's erstwhile Tizen level than a caller mentation of Wear OS. Samsung's power is heavy. 

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Galaxy Watch 4 photograph  8

Being a Samsung watch, it defaults to Samsung Health for its fittingness and wellness tracking. But due to the fact that it's Wear OS, you besides person the enactment to download third-party apps from the Play Store - similar Strava oregon Google Fit, oregon whichever takes your fancy. It besides defaults to Samsung Pay alternatively than GPay for contactless payments. 

The 1 diagnostic that truly ups the acquisition is being capable to customise the installed ticker faces. There's acold much granular power implicit the elements that marque up the design. You tin take the scale style, alteration the complications (there are dozens to take from), positive alteration the accent colours and manus styles. In this regard, Samsung's effort virtually matches the Apple Watch. 

You bash get the prime to alteration an always-on display, too, truthful if you privation to spot the clip each the clip past you can. That volition drain the artillery a small much though. 

When messages travel through, whether successful SMS signifier oregon done a messaging app similar Telegram oregon WhatsApp, you tin reply to it from your surface utilizing a enactment of speedy replies, oregon utilizing your voice, oregon adjacent typing connected a small fiddly keyboard connected the screen. The past of those is simply a large mode to get flustered, and often, it makes much consciousness conscionable to unfastened the app connected your phone. 

The 1 happening you volition announcement coming from older Wear OS watches is however antithetic the interface is. For instance, swiping up from the bottommost of the surface reveals the app grid, which we deliberation volition disagreement opinion. Still, we're fans of the caller arrangement. It's quicker to find the app you're looking for than the aged benignant method of having to scroll done a agelong database of icons and text. 

Swiping down from the ticker look reveals the speedy settings shadiness (as it does with astir astute watches) portion swiping close to near gets you to widgets. (and determination are a batch much of them than what is accustomed for Wear OS). The mains widgets, however, are the regular enactment tracker which shows your advancement 'rings' successful a bosom shape, steps, calories burned, and progressive time. 

To get to notifications - present that swiping up has been changed - you person to swipe from near to right. It's akin to however Samsung has done it for a while, and seems a accordant method among different manufacturers with their ain interfaces too. That means there's nary Google Discover surface anymore. At slightest not connected Samsung's flavour of Wear OS. 

Despite the changes for anyone coming from older Wear OS versions, it doesn't instrumentality astatine each agelong to get utilized to it. And if you're coming from older Samsung watches, it'll consciousness precise familiar. There's conscionable a small much nutrient connected the bones this clip around. 

Battery and performance 

  • Exynos W920 processor
  • 1.5GB RAM and 16GB storage
  • 247mAh oregon 361mAh battery
  • Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi and NFC
  • LTE connected circumstantial model

In our regular investigating of the 44mm Galaxy Watch 4 we recovered the artillery would comfortably marque it done 2 days connected a afloat charge. Sometimes a small more. It's worthy noting this is with the always-on show switched off. It's besides worthy noting this is the larger exemplary of the 2 sizes, and features a considerably larger artillery capacity. You whitethorn conflict to get the aforesaid results if you opt for the 40mm model. 

Regardless, it ne'er gave america the artillery anxiousness we'd acquisition connected immoderate erstwhile Wear OS ticker models. Two days per complaint is comfortable, which it could unrecorded up to adjacent if we utilized it to way slumber astatine night. 

Its modular method for refilling is simply a magnetic disc that easy snaps connected to the backmost of the watch, but if you privation past you tin usage your phone's reverse wireless charging diagnostic to complaint it (well, if you person a telephone with that feature). As an example, we were capable to complaint the Watch 4 disconnected the backmost of our Galaxy S21 Ultra

Fitness and wellness tracking

  • Heart complaint and question sensors
  • ECG and assemblage creation measuring 
  • GPS, Glonass, Beidou, Galileo
  • Fitness plans and workouts
  • Sleep and accent tracking

When it comes to tracking your regular movements, sleep, workouts and wide health, the Watch 4 is precise accomplished. It has each the sensors you need, and much that you don't but are nice-to-haves anyway.

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For wide wellness and question it has the accustomed tracking capabilities. It tin measurement however overmuch you determination during the time and - similar immoderate bully fittingness tracker - incentivises you by offering 'visual rings' to close, astir similar a mini-game that you'll request to usage your assemblage to complete. These are for steps, calories burned and progressive time. Each clip you adjacent one, you get a colourful and vibrant animation to archer you so. If you beryllium inactive for excessively agelong it'll besides promote you to get up and bash immoderate stretches oregon squats. 

Samsung is attempting to beryllium much holistic successful its attack to wellness by offering much precocious sensors for your bosom health. As you'd expect, the Watch 4 volition way your bosom complaint passim the day, measuring your averages. But - similar Apple Watch - it has a built-in ECG diagnostic designed to look retired for irregularities that could bespeak wellness issues. With the close accessories you tin adjacent get it to measurement your humor pressure. 

It's nary replacement for going to the doc and getting yourself checked retired properly, but it's a utile diagnostic that could assistance spot the signs of thing that you bash request to beryllium investigated. 

What is an absorbing diagnostic is the caller assemblage measurement tool. So alternatively than conscionable usage the app to inquire you however overmuch you measurement and however gangly you are, it besides has a diagnostic that measures your assemblage composition. By launching the diagnostic past holding your mediate and ringing fingers connected the buttons it sends a awesome done your assemblage and attempts to workout however overmuch fat, h2o and musculus you are made up of. 

Of course, again, a wrist worn instrumentality this tiny isn't apt to beryllium ace accurate, but we did find it to beryllium consistent. We measured a fewer times and the results were akin each time. So chances are, if you're moving to alteration the magnitude of assemblage abdominous you person oregon summation your musculus mass, the ticker volition beryllium capable to prime up connected improvements. 

Samsung's holistic attack adjacent spreads to slumber and accent tracking. You tin deterioration it astatine nighttime to way the prime of your sleep. Sadly though, we recovered it astir arsenic close arsenic astir different wrist-worn slumber trackers. If you're inactive - either successful furniture watching a movie oregon speechmaking - it mightiness way that arsenic sleep, adjacent done you're not asleep. This leads to rather severely skewed results. 

It's strength, we think, is really arsenic a workout tracking watch. Or much specifically, arsenic a moving watch. For that, it's superb. 

We tested it connected a fig of antithetic moving sessions alongside our trusty Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire and recovered it was beauteous overmuch bang-on with that. In 1 rather agelong 80-minute league it measured astir precisely the aforesaid region utilizing its GPS sensor arsenic the Fenix did. It was wrong 10 metres. On a league implicit 10km, that's beauteous impressive. 

Comparing cadence, the mean was with 2 to 3 steps per infinitesimal of the Garmin, and it was a akin communicative with bosom rate. That, also, was astir 2 to 3 beats per infinitesimal different. Elevation, likewise, was a metre oregon 2 out. And this was the aforesaid connected each the tally sessions we wore it on. It compared good capable to the Fenix that we'd person nary occupation recommending the Samsung arsenic a smartwatch for runners. 

It adjacent adopts immoderate of the much experimental moving features from the erstwhile procreation Galaxy Watch model. As good arsenic your accustomed pace, distance, cadence, and truthful on, the ticker tracks what it calls "advanced moving metrics". These see things similar asymmetry - to marque definite you're not landing heavier connected 1 ft than the different - interaction time, formation time, regularity, vertical question and stiffness. All of these to assistance you amended your moving signifier to go a much businesslike runner and trim the accidental of injury. 

It's hard to archer however close it is compared to utilizing shoe-based sensors, but it's inactive an absorbing acceptable of metrics to have, particularly if you consciousness yourself aching aft a tally much than usual. You tin cheque those metrics and see, perhaps, whether you were bouncing up and down excessively much, oregon landing excessively heavy connected 1 foot. 

While experienced runners mightiness find that each they request is to way and log data, others mightiness not cognize wherever to commencement and Samsung Health has those radical covered too. The 'Fitness' conception of the Samsung Health app has a load of video guides and grooming plans to take from. So whether you privation to find a speedy workout to amended your halfway spot oregon commencement a 5K grooming plan, you tin do. 

Verdict

Whether you're looking for an all-singing, all-dancing smartwatch oregon conscionable a smart-looking fittingness tracker, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 bid seemingly does it all. These watches are slimmer and much almighty than their predecessors - and much affordable too. It's rather the showcase for however acold Wear OS has travel successful a abbreviated play of time.

That doesn't mean it's a cleanable ticker though. The regular exemplary is rather dull-looking with its flat, featureless plan and the deficiency of iPhone compatibility means it's truly lone for Android users - but it's the astir implicit bundle successful presumption of features that we've seen yet.

As it stands the Galaxy Watch 4 is astir apt the champion smartwatch for Android users now. It's got beauteous overmuch everything you could inquire for. Whether you request customisable ticker faces, large fittingness tracking, interactive notifications, wrist-based payments oregon music, this Samsung does each of it. And does it well. 

Also consider

Huawei Watch 

What it lacks successful interactivity and features, the Huawei much than makes up for successful benignant and artillery longevity. It's a large fittingness watch, and it'll past for days. 

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Apple Watch SE

If you're an iPhone user, the Galaxy Watch 4 isn't disposable to you yet, but your champion instrumentality is ever going to beryllium 1 of Apple's own. It offers the astir implicit acquisition for iOS users. 

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Writing by Cam Bunton and Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 11 August 2021.

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