For this Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review, I tested out the Bluetooth only version with a 40mm watch face. I used it alongside my Samsung Galaxy smartphone and the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. To sum up what I found in a sentence: for Samsung Galaxy users this is the best smartwatch yet.
Launched in August 2021 alongside the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is a smartwatch made for Galaxy phone users - whether you’re using one of their foldable devices, their flagship phones or one of their more affordable handsets, like the Samsung Galaxy A52.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is not just restricted to Samsung fans though, anyone with an Android phone will get on well with this wearable because it's powered by Google. Although you will have to bear in mind that there are some features you won't be able to use.
Unsure on whether to splash the cash? You've come to the right place. Here I'll go through everything you need to know - from details about the design and hardware to more information about the shiny new features, as well as how I got on with Wear OS powered by Samsung.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review: price and availability
You can buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 in a few different configurations, depending on what you want or need from the smartwatch.
Direct from the Samsung website, the watch with Bluetooth connectivity starts at $250 in the US, £249 in the UK and AU$400 in Australia for the 40mm watch face, it goes up to $280 / £269 / AU$450 for the larger 44mm face.
If you want 4G connectivity as well, you’re looking at $300 / £289 / AU$500 for the 40mm watch and $330 / £309 / AU$550 for the 44mm.
You can also choose to buy the pricier Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic which is identical in how it works, but it’s made from stainless steel and has a rotating bezel.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review: what’s new
Despite Google's involvement, Samsung One UI Watch means this smartwatch still looks and acts like a Galaxy smartphone. That means all of your settings, alarms and accounts will sync to the watch and you still get all of the usual Samsung apps like Samsung Health, Samsung Pay, SmartThings and Samsung’s voice assistant, Bixby.
As well as that, this new version of the watch has improved health metrics and sleep tracking. There's also a new body composition tool that takes a rough measurement of things like fat percentage, skeletal muscle and body water to give you detailed data about yourself.
While there have been improvements all around, there’s one area where the watch isn’t quite as strong - battery life. It was stated to be 2 days on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and now it’s just 40 hours on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.
There have been a few big changes in Samsung’s new Galaxy wearable for 2021.
Firstly, the new fourth generation of the watch has a much more refined, modern design than the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. The watch face is all screen and there’s no thick frame like there was before (unless you choose to buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic which has a rotating bezel). The watch itself is much thinner and the buttons on the edge are now much more discreet as well, they no longer poke out so much. Unlike the last generation, you also now get a silicone strap which makes it better-suited to sports.
The screen is a higher resolution this time, the watch face is now a 1.2-inch Super AMOLED display with a 396 x 396p resolution in comparison to the 360 x 360p that came before.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 now runs on Wear OS Powered by Samsung, whereas the third generation used Samsung’s own Tizen wearables operating system. What that means is that Google’s suite of apps come integrated into the watch and you get access to the Google Play Store.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review: design and hardware
I have to say I am impressed with the new design of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 - it’s modern, sleek and lightweight. You can buy it in Gold Pink, Black or Silver. I tested out the black 40mm version which measures 40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm and weighs just 26g without the strap.
The screen stretches across the watch face and there are two small buttons on the right-hand side of the frame. One thing that really struck me was how comfortable it is to wear, even overnight.
In the box, the watch comes with a smooth sweatproof silicone strap, it was a little prone to picking up dirt and dust but it does look smart. The watch face itself is made from their tough Armour Aluminium and Corning Gorilla Glass DX+ which makes it feel sturdy and robust. What's more, is that the watch has an IP68 water-resistance rating which means it can withstand dunks underwater up to 50 meters for 30 minutes, so you can keep it on for short swims and showering.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 has a 1.2inch Circular Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 396x396p but you can also buy it with a 1.4inch display. Even with the smaller display, I found it easy to read the screen, everything looks clear and sharp. Admittedly you won’t get quite the level of detail as you would from the Apple Watch Series 6 for example, but it’s not far off either.
Packing the Exynos W920 Dual Core AP with 1.5GB RAM, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 supposedly has a 20% increase in CPU, 50% increase in RAM and 10% increase in GPU in comparison to the previous generation. I don’t have any complaints about the speed and responsiveness of the watch, everything seemed fast and efficient. You also get 16GB of internal storage which was plenty for storing your most-used apps.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review: features and OS
Wear OS powered by Samsung is an incredibly intuitive operating system. When you first switch it on the watch walks you through how to use it and after that, I knew exactly where to go to find the app or widget I needed.
The interface looks and feels like a Galaxy handset to use, with similar colours and styles on each of the apps. Because of that, those who own a Samsung Galaxy smartphone will get on particularly well with it especially given the fact that it syncs up all of your alarms, Do Not Disturb hours, contacts and accounts.
You'll be able to use it to control other Galaxy devices as well. For instance, if you have the Galaxy Buds 2, you can switch between the noise-cancelling modes from the dedicated app on the watch.
To manage the watch's settings, it's just a case of opening the Galaxy Wearable app on your Android phone. There you can choose a new watch face, reorder your apps or add new tiles to the watch like one dedicated to your step count or water intake. There are tonnes of different watch faces to choose from in the app, and you can find more on the Google Play Store.
One benefit of using Wear OS is having access to the Google Play Store. There are loads of apps to choose from across health, fitness and media including third-party apps like Strava and Spotify. You can even see a list of apps you already have downloaded on your phone to narrow down the search.
For monitoring your health and fitness, the 3-in-1 Samsung BioActive Sensor tracks Optical Heart Rate, Electrical Heart and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis. You'll be able to monitor your blood pressure, detect irregular heartbeats and measure your blood oxygen level. If you don’t have a Galaxy smartphone, you won’t be able to use some of the health tracking features - that includes taking measurements for blood pressure and ECG.
New to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the body composition measurement tool, you get a series of measurements about your body including fat percentage, skeletal muscle, body water and BMI amongst other things. All you need to do is have the watch on your wrist, and your two fingers from the opposite hand placed lightly on the buttons. It takes about 30 seconds to produce your metrics. I can definitely see how it would motivate you to achieve your goals, although the results did vary each time I did it.
One feature I found myself getting a little too obsessed with was sleep tracking. The watch analyses your sleep stages to give you a full report on how long you slept in each sleep stage, those being Awake, REM, Light and Deep. It even provides data on your blood oxygen levels and advice on how to improve your rest. You can access it all from the Samsung Health app on your phone. It seems quite accurate although of course there’s no way of really knowing as I was asleep. at the time.
As you would expect, you can also track your workouts through the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 - there are more than 90 exercises in its library. Not only does the watch cover most bases I could think of, but it was also quite good a recognising when I had started a workout and forgotten to start it on the watch, after 10 minutes it starts tracking it.
Outside of workouts, you can set different modes depending on what you’re doing at the time. For example, Water Lock turns off the touch screen to stop accidental actions when the watch is wet, Bedtime mode turns off the always-on display and activates Do Not Disturb, then there's the Theatre mode which mutes notifications and turns off noises from alarms, timers and other system sounds.
As well as all of the above, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 features a few handy gesture controls like rotate your wrist twice to dismiss notifications or alarms and shake your arm twice to answer a call.
All in all, there are tonnes of useful features to explore - I was impressed at the reliability of the watch and just how much you can use it for.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review: battery life
The only aspect of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 that is quite hit and miss is the battery life. Samsung claims it should last 40 hours, and in my experience, that was sometimes the case and sometimes it was pretty far off from that.
More often than not it lasted about a day, that being around 24 hours but if I used it a bit more for directions, workouts or for messaging then the battery drained much more quickly. Recharging it again takes about 2 hours, and a quick 10-minute charge can give you about 10 hours of juice. The magnetic USB charging pad wasn’t that secure so you’ll have to be sure you’ve hooked it up properly, and it doesn’t come with an adaptor so you’ll need to use one you already have.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review: verdict
If you own a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and you want a new smartwatch then the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is undoubtedly the best choice for you. It’s modern, slim and comfortable as well as having loads of useful features and a really intuitive operating system.
Granted, the battery life isn’t amazing and you will need to remember to charge it quite often - for most that will be fine, but if you’re forgetful like me, then that might be a bigger problem.
So what if you don’t own a Galaxy phone? Well, this watch is fantastic for most people but you won’t be able to make the most of it without owning another Galaxy device. It won’t work at all with Apple iPhones, but anyone with an Android phone can download the Samsung Health and Samsung Wearables apps from the Google Play Store, so you will still be able to use the majority of its features.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review: also consider
One of the best smartwatches for runners and fitness tracking is still the Garmin Venu, it actually costs less than the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and has a much longer battery life, about 5 days of normal use or 3 to 4 days if you activate workouts. It lacks the style and ultra-intuitive operating system you get here but it has impressively detailed fitness and health tracking features.
The Fitbit Versa 3 is also worth considering if you are an Android phone user - for most people, it’s probably the most plausible option because it’s much more affordable. You get all the benefits of a fitness tracker including the heart rate sensor and sleep tracking, as well as some really handy smart features like built-in GPS, smartphone notifications and two available voice assistants. It has 5 days of battery life too!
- Check out the best Fitbits