The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 could have been the best smartwatch for Android users. Instead, it is merely the best smartwatch for those with a Samsung Galaxy phone. As a non-Samsung user, I had to install a bunch of Samsung apps, use Samsung Pay and Samsung Bixby, while losing features like ECG. It's tolerable, but not ideal. You'll still get the Google Play Store, along with Google staples like Maps and YouTube Music — it is running Google's revamped Wear OS 3 platform, after all. But you may be better off waiting for other manufacturers to release their own Wear OS 3 smartwatches.
- Armour aluminium chassis
- 1.2-inch AMOLED screen (396 x 396 pixels)
- 40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm, 26g (without strap)
- Requires smartphone with Android 6.0+
I tested the S$398 Galaxy Watch 4 base model, which comes in a 40mm size and has only Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You can upgrade to a 44mm version with LTE connectivity. Samsung also sells a higher-end Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (from S$548, available in 42mm and 46mm sizes). It has a slightly larger, stainless steel body that's presumably more durable than the aluminium-clad Galaxy Watch 4. In addition, the Classic has a physical rotating bezel instead of a touch-sensitive bezel. This touch-sensitive bezel on the Galaxy Watch 4 is rather imprecise. As a result, I ended up mostly swiping the circular AMOLED screen. Thankfully, the interface is snappy and responsive.
As mentioned earlier, I had to install several Samsung apps (Galaxy Wearable and Samsung Health), and sign up for a Samsung account to use the Galaxy Watch 4 and its health features. The default system apps are also from Samsung, though you can switch some of them to third-party apps. I personally recommend changing Samsung's T9 keyboard input to Gboard, which has a QWERTY keyboard with swipe-to-type and voice input. Unfortunately, you're stuck with Bixby, which is not quite as capable as the Google Assistant. The latter, though, may be heading to the Galaxy Watch 4 in the future. Finding Wear OS apps like Strava and Spotify is fairly easy — the Play Store on the smartwatch lists apps that are already on your smartphone, as well as show curated apps (featured and essential) on the Store. Alternatively, the Google Play Store on my smartphone has a Wear OS section, too.
The Galaxy Watch 4 has all the features you'd expect from a modern smartwatch. Sleep and fitness tracking are spot-on. In addition to the usual health tracking features (blood oxygen and ECG), it also has some new tricks. For instance, I was piqued by its snore detection detection as I'm prone to snoring. This feature taps your smartphone's microphone to record your snores when you're sleeping. These recordings can be accessed via the Samsung Health app, and automatically deleted after a specified number of days. But ultimately the feature has limited usefulness as the app doesn't actually offer any advice. The smartwatch also has a bioelectric impedance sensor, which like the one found in the Realme smart scale, can measure your body fat. However, you should always take such health readings with a grain of salt, and check with your doctor, too.
Battery life is typical for a smartwatch. Depending on your usage, you'll need to charge it every day or two. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 had 32% battery after wearing it for 24 hours continuously. This was without the Always-On Display feature. I also picked one of the more basic watch faces. The more lively, animated ones are cool, but will probably make a larger dent in battery life. Overall, the Galaxy Watch 4, especially with a Samsung phone, comes the closest to rivalling the Apple Watch in terms of features and performance. It's just unfortunate that Samsung is also following Apple's walled garden model. Get the Galaxy Watch 4 on Shopee and Lazada.
Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.
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