Smart Watch

Review Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic : A Stellar Smartwatch In 2023

The only big problem I’ve had with Samsung’s wearables over the past few years is that they haven’t changed much from one version to the next. As with a lot of tech these days, each new model is better than the last, but not so much better that you should run out and buy it right away.

Samsung is really shaking things up with the Galaxy Watch 4 series. It has a new processor and Samsung-made Wear OS software instead of the company’s own Tizen software. But even though the new Galaxy Watch is a very impressive smartwatch, it may be more limited than ever.
The Watch 4 Classic is a bit bigger at 42mm or 46mm and has a rotating bezel and a stainless steel case. The plain Watch 4 comes in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm, and has a low-profile touch bezel and an aluminum case like the Galaxy Watch Active Series.

So, what’s up?

The big news here is that the Galaxy Watch 4 uses Google’s Wear OS software instead of Samsung’s own Tizen OS, but this isn’t Wear OS as you might know it. In fact, this version “powered by Samsung” feels very different from Wear OS on other smartwatches made by Google.

As with previous Galaxy wearables, rotating the bezel clockwise opens a series of “tiles”, which let you do everything from starting workouts to checking your activity levels, pulse or sleep score. Also, swiping down on the touchscreen brings up a quick settings menu that looks just like the one on the Galaxy Watch 3. The main difference is that apps no longer have their own tile. Instead, you can find them by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

What do we like?

This is the best Galaxy Watch to date in terms of how quickly it can do things. Apps load quickly and are fun to use, and the interface works exactly as you’d expect it to, but faster than before. Spotify is still installed by default, and you can listen to music when you’re not connected to the internet. This is great news, since this has been a big selling point for Samsung’s wearables in recent years.

The graphics capabilities of the Galaxy Watch 4 are also much better than those of its predecessor. This is especially clear in some of the watch faces that move, which look great. A quick tap on one lets you switch between fun, colourful, graphical animations of a cat, rabbit, sheep and monkey. On the screen of another, lots of little “hundreds and thousands” are moving around. There isn’t a huge practical benefit, but in terms of looks, it’s the closest I’ve seen any smartwatch come to an Apple Watch.
As I’ve already said, the Google Play Store is a huge plus because it gives you more apps to choose from. You basically get the Tizen user experience plus a much bigger app store, which makes the Galaxy Watch 4 much more full-featured than any of its predecessors. If the lack of Google Maps or Google Pay has always been a deal-breaker for you, the Watch 4 might be the right Samsung smartwatch for you, but I’d still recommend reading this review all the way to the end before making a decision.

How about those new things about body composition? I’m not sure if they would be enough to get me to upgrade from my Galaxy Watch 3, but other than weight, which you have to add by hand, the Galaxy Watch 4 gives you most of the information you’d get from a smart scale like the Garmin Index S2, and it recorded measurements that were surprisingly similar. I would always take such readings with a pinch of salt, but if you want to keep an eye on general trends in your body fat and water composition, it’s certainly a handy addition.

How can it be improved?

The switch to Wear OS isn’t a resounding success, though. You’d hope that a Samsung watch powered by Wear OS would enable faster, easier setup on any Android device, but that’s simply not the case. On the other hand, you still need to install a lot of Samsung apps, like Galaxy Wearable, Samsung Health, and Samsung Pay, on your Android phone in order to use the Galaxy Watch 4.

Even after you install these, you won’t be able to use the watch’s best features to their fullest. For example, if you want to use the ECG app, which is a big selling point, you need to have a Samsung Galaxy phone. At the start, the option to track blood pressure is also not available in the UK.
The Galaxy Watch 4 is also the only smartwatch from Samsung in the past few years that doesn’t work at all with an iPhone. Apple itself is notoriously restrictive but with Samsung moving to Google’s Wear OS, you’d hope it would become more accessible, not less.

There are other frustrating aspects of Samsung’s version of Wear OS, too, including the fact that Google Assistant is not present. Instead, you have to use Samsung’s own virtual assistant, Bixby. This is a bit strange, since Bixby has become much less important on Samsung’s most recent phones. Not only that, but there aren’t a lot of ways to change how the buttons work. For example, you can only use Samsung Pay by holding down the back button for a long time.

Finally, there’s the issue of battery life. In this way, Samsung’s Gear and Galaxy smartwatches used to be much better than Apple’s wearables, but now it’s much closer. Samsung says that the Galaxy Watch 4 will last an average of 40 hours, which is pretty close to what I’ve seen, since it usually lasts between 24 and 48 hours with moderate use.

All View

All of this puts the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic in a strange position, which is a shame for a device that works so well in so many ways. If you always buy a Samsung phone, this is the best smartwatch you can buy. Besides the Apple Watch, nothing else comes close.

It’s a little more complicated for everyone else. Even though iPhone users might not be able to use Samsung’s latest wearable, they don’t have to worry because the Apple Watch starts at just £197. People with Android phones that aren’t made by Samsung, on the other hand, will have to install Samsung’s “bloatware” and won’t be able to use the ECG function if they want to use what is arguably the best all-around smartwatch for them.

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