Samsung and Google have become closer partners than ever before, working together on the new Galaxy Watch 4 series. Samsung was previously on its own, selling Galaxy Watches running its in-house TizenOS. Google on the other hand, has been trying to help manufacturers take on the Apple Watch with its Wear OS. Now, the two efforts have been combined. So does the Galaxy Watch 4 series bring out the best from both Google and Samsung? Or should you continue waiting for an Apple Watch equivalent in the Android world? Here’s my review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 price in India
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series is split into two models, the Galaxy Watch 4 and the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. Each of them comes in two sizes, and all models are available in Bluetooth-only and LTE variants. The 40mm Galaxy Watch 4 is priced at Rs. 23, 999 and Rs. 28,999 for the Bluetooth-only and LTE variants, respectively. The 44mm Galaxy Watch 4 is priced at Rs. 26,999 and Rs. 31,999 for the same variants respectively.
You can get a 42mm Bluetooth-only Galaxy Watch 4 Classic for 31,999 while an LTE variant of the same size would set you back by Rs. 36,999. Finally, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic 46mm is priced at Rs. 34,999 and Rs. 36,999 for the Bluetooth and LTE variants respectively.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 design and specifications
The Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic have completely different design approaches. The former will appeal to active people looking for a compact device for tracking fitness, whereas the Watch 4 Classic looks more like a traditional timepiece. I had the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic with me for this review.
The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic looks premium and has a stainless steel case that also gives it a nice weight when worn. It has a rotating bezel which reminds me of its predecessor, the Galaxy Watch 3 (Review). This rotating bezel has a satisfying clicky feedback and I never had to second-guess the input I dialed in.. That’s not all, you can also use it for navigating around the watch and within different features as well, which is convenient.
You get a 1.4-inch AMOLED display on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, and it sits slightly lower than the rotating bezel. You won’t need to worry about the display getting scratched since it has Gorilla Glass DX for protection. There are two buttons on the right; the upper one has a red colour on it and acts as a home button, while the other is the back button. You can long-press the home button to summon Bixby on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
The case has lugs that extend outwards to hold the watch’s fluoroelastomer strap. The included strap has an excellent feel and did not irritate my skin during the review period. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic uses 20mm straps and you can switch to any standard one of your choice. The supplied strap has quick release pins, and is easy to remove.
The underside of the Watch 4 Classic has a Samsung BioActive sensor. This can measure heart rate and SpO2. It also works with electrodes in the side buttons to compute body composition. Internationally, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is capable of tracking blood pressure as well as taking ECG readings, but these features are not available yet in India. Samsung told Gadgets 360 that it is working with relevant stakeholders to bring these capabilities to India. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic has a mic at the top while the speaker is on the left. It packs in the biggest battery in this series, at 361mAh, and charges wirelessly using the bundled charger.
Without the strap, the Watch 4 Classic weighs about 52g. I found this to be noticeable, especially when wearing the watch to bed. I reckon the Galaxy Watch 4 might be more comfortable for sleep tracking, and its smaller size might just make it more convenient while working out.
Samsung has gone with new hardware for the Watch 4 Classic. It is powered by the company’s own Exynos W920 dual-core processor clocked at 1.18GHz. It also has 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, of which about 7GB is available to the user. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic has support for Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, and four satellite navigation systems. Samsung has also managed an IP68 rating for this watch and it is claimed to be water resistant up to 5ATM.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic software
This is where the Samsung-Google partnership comes in. Samsung has merged its homegrown TizenOS into Wear OS, and that’s what you get running on these new wearables, with One UI customisations as well. My Galaxy Watch 4 Classic unit had the August security patch. Unlike other Wear OS smartwatches that pair with your smartphone using the Wear OS app, the Galaxy Watch 4 requires the Galaxy Wearable app. This is the first hint of Samsung’s control over Wear OS on this smartwatch. The Galaxy Watch 4 can only pair with Android smartphones running Android 6.0 or higher. Unlike previous Galaxy Watch models, there’s no support for iOS, at least not yet.
I found the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic to be highly customisable. You get multiple watch faces to choose from and can download more. That’s not all, you can also customise these watch faces by choosing the dial colour and watch hands of your choice. Some faces also let you add certain complications to show more information.
The UI on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is slightly different compared to a typical Wear OS smartwatch. You need to swipe down from the top of the screen to access quick toggle, and swipe up to see your installed apps. Swiping right from the lockscreen shows your notifications, while swiping left brings up “Tiles” which are widgets for most of the features of the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. You get stock Google apps such as Contacts, Calendar, and Messages, among others, and they seem to be reskinned to match OneUI. Google Maps is available on the Watch and it also has the Play Store so you can download Android apps that support Wear OS.
Long-press the home button and Bixby pops up; yet another sign of Samsung calling the shots here. Bixby is the only assistant on the watch, and requires you to sign into your Samsung account before it even listens to you. Bixby hasn’t been my favourite digital assistant, and. I missed Google Assistant on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. At this point I can only hope that Google Assistant makes its way onto this watch with a future software update.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic performance and battery life
The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is one of the best Wear OS smartwatches I’ve used so far. The UI feels responsive and the hardware never felt like it was running out of steam. Turn the bezel quickly, and the UI manages to keep up and react. I could access my notifications on the watch itself, and it’s possible to type or dictate a reply to the watch, or choose from a list of predefined quick replies.
While the Galaxy Wearable app is used to manage settings on the Galaxy Watch 4, all health metrics show up in the Samsung Health app, which you’ll need to download if you pair this device with a non-Samsung smartphone. I used the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic for tracking my workouts, and was happy with the watch’s ability to track specific exercises. However, I needed to select each exercise every single time instead of simply selecting Traditional Strength Training like I can on an Apple Watch. Still, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic does track indivividual exercises rather well. Automatic tracking is available for a few types of activities and the watch did detect them during the review period.
Step tracking on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic was fairly accurate, with this smartwatch tracking 1,003 steps for the 1,000 that I counted manually while walking. In terms of distance, the Galaxy Watch 4 measured 1.02km for a distance that was 1km. Heart rate tracking on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic was in the same range as a treadmill readout and an Apple Watch SE (Review). However, I did find the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic occasionally failing to register a heart rate while tracking a workout.
Sleep tracking on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic was accurate too, and the watch did record the time I went to bed and the time I woke up correctly. In the Samsung health app, you get a complete breakdown of the different stages of your sleep. It also has the ability to track blood oxygen levels while sleeping; a setting that needs to be enabled in the Samsung Health app. Samsung has introduced a snoring detection feature, which uses your smartphone’s microphones to record you as you sleep. I did enable it but the watch failed to detect any snoring during the review period.
SpO2 readings on the watch were always above 95 percent which is the right range for a healthy individual. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic can also display a reading of your stress level. A body composition analysis requires you to touch and hold the two buttons on the side. These buttons have tiny electrodes which enable the Watch 4 Classic to calculate metrics such as BMI, muscle mass, fat mass, and a lot more in conjunction with the sensors on the bottom. I compared the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic’s reading to that of my weighing scale, and found a difference in water weight, while the other metrics had minor deviations. While you shouldn’t treat the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic as medical equipment, it does allow you to keep track of a wide range of health metrics fairly accurately.
There is a speaker on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, so you can take calls on the watch itself. Callers did not have issues when I received their calls on the watch, and the speaker volume was adequate when I raised it to my face. You can also play music using the speaker but it definitely isn’t loud or good for battery life.
The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic ran for just about a day and a half with my usage. This involved tracking workouts every morning and then receiving WhatsApp notifications through the day. The watch would also track sleep at night. I had to charge it by the evening of the second day. I didn’t measure SpO2 and body composition on the watch often. Also, SpO2 tracking and snoring detection were disabled by default. If you enable all these along with the always-on display, expect lower battery life from this watch. I haven’t tested the standard Galaxy Watch 4 but I reckon it’ll run for a little over a day with similar usage because of its smaller battery.
Charging the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic was a slow process. It only got to 23 percent in 30 minutes and to 43 percent in an hour. Charging the watch completely took more than two hours. You might have to plan when to charge it accordingly.
The Galaxy Watch 4 models are the first products to launch as a result of the Samsung-Google partnership. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is easily one of the best Android wearables I have used but it does have shortcomings that you need to be aware of before taking the plunge. First, the UI feels a lot more Samsung than Google, and you will have a better experience if you pair it with a Samsung smartphone. The use of Bixby feels odd, and Google Assistant would have been better. Finally, charging is slow and quicker charging would have definitely helped.
If you are in the market for a premium, feature-rich Android smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 4 series is your best bet. These models are expensive compared to some of the competition, but their capabilities are pretty much unrivalled. For active individuals, I would recommend the Galaxy Watch 4 over the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
Catch the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show on Gadgets 360, at our CES 2022 hub.