Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Review: The best Wear OS 3 smartwatch right now

The latest Samsung Galaxy Watch4 smartwatch represents a major leap in terms of both hardware and software from its predecessors.

After years of using its own Tizen OS, Samsung has now adopted Google’s latest Wear OS 3 to create a unified platform called One UI Watch for the Watch4. In essence, it is combining the looks of Tizen OS with the vast app eco-system of Wear OS 3.

PRICE: From S$398 (40mm, Bluetooth) to $548 (44mm, LTE); available in Lazada and Shopee
COMPATIBILITY: Android 6.0 or higher
CONNECTIVITY: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, LTE (available only in LTE models)
WEIGHT: 53g (with silicone strap)

Having reviewed smartwatches from the ill-fated Pebble, the original Moto360 running then-called Android Wear to the first Apple Watch, I was excited to see how Samsung will be able to transform the fledging Wear OS to become a real competitor to Apple’s watchOS.

Apart from the software, the Watch4 comes with plenty of new hardware features. For a start, it uses a 5nm processor – a first in Galaxy smartwatches as well as eSIM technology.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch4 comes in four colours black, silver, green and gold. (Photo: Samsung)

And it features Samsung’s BioActive Sensor that combines three sensors – optical heart rate sensor, electrical heart sensor and bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor – into one.

It also offers body composition measurement tool, so you can check your body fat, skeletal muscle, body water and other data in around 15 seconds.

There are two models in the Watch4 series – Watch4 and Watch4 Classic. Both models are almost the same with 1.4-inch circular display as well as available in Bluetooth and LTE variants. But there is a physical rotating bezel on Watch4 Classic, while the Watch4 has a touch-sensitive bezel instead.

The Watch4 (left) and the Watch4 Classic. (Photo: Samsung)

The Watch4 comes in two sizes of 40mm (available in black, silver and gold) and 44m (available in black, silver and green) and is priced starting from S$398.

On the other hand, the Watch4 Classic comes in two sizes of 42mm and 46mm (both sizes in either black or silver) with a starting price of S$548.

For this review, the black 44mm Bluetooth Watch4 model (S$498) was tested.

Personally, I would have preferred to try the Watch4 Classic to see if there are improvements from previous rotating bezels. I have always been a fan of the physical rotating bezel. Not only it is better to have something solid to touch, it is offers protection for the touchscreen display.

But with the Watch4, the lack of a physical rotating bezel means the surface is flat without any curves. It does look quite sleek and stealthy when matched with the black silicone strap.

The Watch4 lacks a physical rotating bezel. (Photo: Samsung)

That said, the touch-sensitive bezel is no slouch. It lets you scroll through the various screens of the smartwatch by dragging your finger around the bezel. It provides nice haptic feedback and feels intuitive as you are not blocking the display when changing settings.

However, you can always swipe on the Watch4’s display itself to navigate the One UI Watch interface.

In terms of looks, there is actually not much difference from its predecessors Watch3 and Active2. The Watch4 has a round black aluminium watch case with two buttons located on the 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock position – for Home and Back respectively – on its right. But the lugs do look slimmer.

The Watch4 is really lightweight and comfy to wear. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The smartwatch is also really comfortable to wear all day even during sleep, thanks to its lightweight watch case and comfy strap.

For this review, the Watch4 is paired to a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (review coming up!). But if you are using a non-Samsung Android smartphone, it will be more troublesome. You will have to download these apps – Galaxy Wearable, Samsung Health and SmartThings. And you have to connect to the Watch4 via Galaxy Wearable app, not Wear OS app, regardless of your smartphone’s brand.

+ Intuitive Wear OS 3-based One UI Watch interface
+ Sleek design
+ Great fitness and health tracking
+ Lightweight and comfortable to wear

– Works best with Samsung smartphones
– Iffy body composition measurement tool

If you have used the Tizen OS before, you will be familiar with the new One UI Watch interface. It feels exactly the same but now you can download apps like Google Maps, Calm or Strava, from the Google Play Store.

You can also download more watch faces to change them regularly to your heart’s delight. Furthermore, compatible apps will be automatically be installed on the Watch4 when you download them to your smartphone.

In terms of fitness tracking, the Watch4 is really impressive. Its automatic workout sensor accurately sensed whether I was on a walk or jog.

The GPS runs-tracking of Watch4 is pretty accurate. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Its GPS tracker was just 100m short – a negligible difference – in measuring a 4.6km jogging route along a park connector. For step-tracking, it counted 4.3 per cent less steps than my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4. Pretty accurate considering the Watch4 has not been calibrated.

Its sleep-tracking ability is probably the most advanced I have encountered in consumer technology so far. It pinpointed the time I went to bed and woke up, as well as accurately noted the periods when I was in light or deep sleep.

The sleep tracking of Watch4 is superb. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The app will also score you on your sleep, so you can learn more about your sleep patterns to get more rest. In addition, the paired smartphone will detect and record my snores. So, you will know when you snore and how you sound like when snoring.

For the new body composition measurement tool, go to Samsung Health on the smartwatch and tap on Body Composition. During measurements, you have to make sure your ring and middle finger touch the two buttons without making contact with each other and your hand as well as keeping very still. It is a bit awkward to twist your palm and fingers to reach the two buttons.

Getting the body composition measurements can be a tad awkward. (Photo: Samsung)

In 15 seconds, you will get the results of your body fat, skeletal muscle, body water and other data. However, I found the body composition measurements to be a tad unreliable. I repeated the measurements consecutively for 3 times, and I get different results each time.

Granted the difference is only up to 3 per cent, it is still not as accurate as those dedicated body composition monitors. Nonetheless, it provides a good estimate without the hassle of using those bulky body composition monitors.

With the Watch4 constantly paired to the Z Fold3 and Always-on Display (AOD) turned off, it had about 27 per cent battery juice left at the end of two days in which I did a 4.5km GPS-tracked jog.

When AOD is turned on, the battery level dropped to only 30 per cent by the time I went to bed. Not the best in its class, but it lasts longer than my own Apple Watch Series 4.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch4 is probably the best Wear OS smartwatch in the market right now. Actually, it is the only Wear OS 3 smartwatch you can buy, until the rest of the pack catches up or Google springs a surprise.

DESIGN: 9/10
OVERALL: 8.5/10

Trevor Tan

Started out with dreams to become a street photographer, Trevor Tan somehow became a tech journalist with over 16 years of consumer tech experience. Maybe he plays too much video games and buys too many new gadgets.
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