The Wear OS-powered Galaxy Watch 4 acts as the perfect equivalent of an Apple Watch but for the Android ecosystem. However, although it’s a great wearable that would fit just about anybody, the Galaxy Watch 4 fails to deliver in one key aspect that’s ultimately the most important feature of a smartwatch: battery life. It’s not great, and if you’re looking for a smartwatch that doesn’t need to be charged every day, better look elsewhere. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the second-best smartwatch to pair with a Samsung phone. Interestingly, the best one at the moment is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. If you can overlook the unimpressive battery endurance, then the Galaxy Watch 4 has all the bells and whistles to be an excellent companion for your Galaxy phone.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Design and Display
The Galaxy Watch 4 is one well-designed watch, there’s no denying that. The aluminum case showcases the evolution of Samsung’s smartwatch design, combining the feature set of a sport watch with the sleek, understated appearance of a dress watch that’s suitable for any occasion. No matter if you’re in the gym or at the opera, the Galaxy Watch 4 will look the part. Available in 40 and 44mm size options, the Galaxy Watch 4 is suitable for both male and female users.
With its clean, sleek lines and manageable size, it has been nothing short of a pleasure to use this smartwatch during my everyday shenanigans. The Galaxy Watch 4 tips the scales at just 30 grams, making it extremely comfortable to wear, which should come in especially handy while exercising or taking up your sport of choice. At the same time, the watch is IP68-rated, so it’s water- and dust-resistant to a point.
One major difference with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic that I reviewed more than two months ago is the lack of a mechanical rotating bezel. Instead, the Galaxy Watch 4 comes forth with a touch-sensitive bezel that theoretically emulates the same functionality but lacks one key aspect – it doesn’t give the oh-so-nice tactile feedback of the mechanical rotating bezel. There’s something unique and comforting about the mechanical operation of the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic’s rotating bezel, and the Galaxy Watch 4 certainly fails to capture the same experience.
The display of the Galaxy Watch 4 is spectacular. The OLED display is very bright, with deliciously deep blacks and punchy colors, which has already become a signature feature of the displays of Samsung’s top phones and watches. There’s an always-on display functionality, which sadly greatly reduces the battery endurance of the Galaxy Watch 4 and isn’t as efficient as the always-on display on Samsung phones.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Features and Functionality
The Galaxy Watch 4 is powered by the totally redesigned Wear OS, which has been developed by Google and Samsung and incorporates the looks and general functionality of Samsung’s Tizen with the underlying framework of Google’s popular operating system.
The new Wear OS just makes sense, and I regard it as a major success: long-time Tizen fans will feel right at home, while Wear OS users will be pleased with the abundance of compatible Android apps available for the Galaxy Watch 4. Indeed, you have access to the Google Play Store and can easily download Wear OS versions of your favorite Android apps. There aren’t millions of apps available on Google’s Wear OS, but the most popular ones have versions for the smartwatch, for example.
For example, there’s Google Maps, Google Pay, Spotify, Strava, Messages, VLC Mobile, Viber, Shazam, Lifesum, as well as many watch face apps.
However, the compatibility is a major flaw of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. Indeed, you can’t use the Galaxy Watch 4 with an iPhone (though an Apple Watch is a much better fit for an iPhone), and its best and most intriguing features, like the electro-cardiogram reading and the blood pressure measurement, are only available on a Samsung phone. Yes, you can use the wearable with any Android device, but pairing it with a Samsung phone is definitely the best way to use the Galaxy Watch 4.
You can use Google Pay on the Galaxy Watch 4 with no hassles, though the smartwatch really wanted me to use Samsung Pay instead. At the end of the day, both payment systems work great.
The same applies to calls: you can receive and make calls on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. To my surprise, hearing the other party was great, and the on-board microphone relayed my voice clearly to the receiving party.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Health and fitness
When it comes to sport and activity, the Galaxy Watch 4 and the refreshed Wear OS offer a pretty well-rounded package. There are tons of available sports and activities to choose from, and all of these can be later tracked on in Samsung Health on your phone. While the data you get is pretty comprehensive, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 activity tracking isn’t as complex or detailed as with those dedicated multisport smartwatches coming from the ranks of Garmin, Coros, or Polar.
Indeed, Samsung Health acts as a hub for all things fitness and wellness, giving you a rundown of your daily steps, exercise, consumed calories, hydration, stress, heart rate trends, blood pressure, cardio data, blood oxygen, women’s health, and more. Sleeping with your watch on will give you pretty insightful sleep tracking insights.
Another cool feature is the body composition metric, which uses the new Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Sensor and gives you an estimate of your body-mass index, as well as a breakdown of body fat percentage, skeletal muscle, and so on. Definitely one of the more interesting features of the Galaxy Watch 4, but somewhat gimmick-y.
As mentioned, Galaxy Watch 4 ECG and blood pressure readings are only available on a Galaxy smartphone. The reason for that is the Samsung Health Monitor app, which is only available on the Galaxy Store. Thankfully, Samsung Health app can be installed on any Android device right from the Play Store.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Performance and battery
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 performs well for a smartwatch. With a dual-core 1.18GHz chipset, 1.15GB of RAM, and roughly 7GB of available storage, it’s a pretty well-rounded smartwatch as far as performance is concerned. Yet, this probably isn’t so important for a smartwatch.
There’s a 361mAh battery inside the Galaxy Watch 4, and while Samsung cites up to 40 hours of usage, the watch never lasted me more than a day, which is a pretty middling battery life all things considered. Mind you, you probably won’t get a much better battery life out of an Apple Watch either, but Samsung’s previous Tizen-powered smartwatches used to squeeze three to four days of battery life. That’s definitely one of the bigger drawbacks of the new Wear OS-powered line of Samsung watches.
While the battery endurance of the Galaxy Watch 4 isn’t impressive, the charging speed is nothing to write home about as well. It takes under two hours to fully charge the smartwatch.