I have been wearing the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 for a few months now and here I review it as a full smart watch option. Packed with features it is certainly a nice to have.
An issue with smart watches is whether they emulate watches or go futuristic. Apple went for a square design – so not like a real watch. That works to a degree as it tells the world you are not wearing a watch but an Apple smart watch. Samsung have gone round.
Watches in general became less of a commodity when people started using their phone for the time and instead wearing watches as jewellery when out and about. In this gap stepped the band that people use purely as a health and activity tracker. My first smart watch was a Xiaomi smart band. Ridiculously low priced for a watch that really worked, was backed up with a few features and tracked my activity.
I then graduated to a Huawei GT smartwatch – its own propriety OS but looked like a watch, lots of basic faces, and linked to my phone apps so I had my messages on the phone, and tracked my activity. It was also competitively priced.
So making the jump to a full Wear OS watch at the price of a basic phone needed a strong argument.
The new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the Apple Watch competitor, it’s the flagship Android watch, it’s the latest Samsung iteration. There is a lot of expectation. It comes in two flavours and I chose the slightly smaller version – the larger more expensive version comes with a larger battery.
I have the black version – the strap is standard plastic. The watch is thin with a bezel. There are two buttons – back and home, but no crown. A neat feature is how the bezel can be used to scroll through the horizontal tiles.
I have no experience of the Apple Watch this is not a review that compares the two. Android Wear OS does not have a good reputation and Samsung have skinned this version. It comes with two phone apps – Galaxy Wear – I set up Watch and have not used it since; Samsung Health which I use daily. There are additional health apps on the watch which I cannot use because the app is not available in the UK.
The function is straightforward I prefer to tap to wake up the screen than the raised hand. The functions are to slide down for settings, slide up for apps, slide right for tiles, and slide left for notifications. Everything works smoothly, The look is clearly Samsung.
The main uses for me are reducing the need for the phone – having my morning alarm on the watch, notification of a phone call, notification of emails and messages, easy access to the weather, and tracking my exercise.
I have added Google Pay which is excellent on London Transport and paying in stores, Spotify to make it easier to manage music. Google maps is also useful, again for not needing to take my phone out. But little else.
Tracking health activity
Samsung have an excellent health tracker app. Xaomi’s app was average, Huawei’s was excellent, Samsung’s is even better. Again, the point here is that for this Watch over others is that it is an incremental step up. A big advantage is that this Watch has its own GPS which the others did not. A disappointment is that certain parts of the app (e.g. ECG) do not work as the phone companion app is needed but not available in the UK on my non-Samsung phone.
Apple are currently advertising how the Apple Watch has an SOS feature if you have a fall – well it is here on this Samsung Wear OS app too. As a runner this is something I have set up.
As a walker the automatic walking function in the health tracker is helpful – saving me from needing to do it.
The reality is that the step up from a basic smartwatch like the Huawei (that was a propriety OS with no access to Wear OS store) is not huge. The Huawei still accessed the apps. With Samsung I get an updated Wear OS and access to the store.
There are bonuses to the Samsung watch. speaker for the phone call. This is a novelty – I simply would only use it at home. The calculator (again negating to use one on the phone) has a tip calculator.
But if you don’t want to be charging your phone daily then pay more for the larger phone.
Compared to my previous Huawei phone it actually looks more like a smartwatch a clean minimalist design– the Huawei emulated a watch design. I am a clumsy person and knock in to doors and stuff – after a couple of months the black surface already has a scratch on it.
Finally the watch face. There are a limitless number on offer and the quality can be very high. I use the excellent Facer app which has a production line of new faces, both paid and free.
Enhanced health tracker
Smaller version has a smaller battery
Some Samsung health tracker features do not work in UK on a non-Samsung phone.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is a quality smart watch at the edge of what smartwatches can do. Many people are still not convinced at the much higher cost for a full smartwatch to manage the activity and health compared to a standard fitbit. The cost of an Apple or Samsung smartwatch is still steep for the incremental gains compared to a basic watch such as my Huawei.
This is a great companion for my exercise regime, not needing to take my phone out for notifications, and little tricks such as Google Pay. But like the Apple smart watch it is a nice to have compared to cheaper options.