Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 evaluate: The primary take of a terrific future thought – CNET

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Basic: nice watches, however nonetheless not absolutely Google-ized.

Scott Stein/CNET

I’d like to say the brand new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, which begins at $250 (£249), delivers the last word Android watch expertise. I can’t fairly say that, nevertheless it’s shut. After sporting Samsung’s latest watches for 2 weeks, nonetheless, I’ve preferred it extra over time. It’s the primary to run a complete new Google Put on OS co-designed by Samsung and Google, and whereas I’d say the long run appears promising, the current appears a bit of unresolved. In a way, my last emotions now are nonetheless fairly just like my first few days sporting them.

Samsung makes nice watches. The Galaxy Watch 3 was a robust mixture of health and well being options and loads of smartwatch connectivity. However Samsung’s Tizen OS and app retailer all the time stayed aside from Google’s Android ecosystem. The Galaxy Watch 4 has a lot of the identical design and options as final yr’s watch, however with extra well being sensor tech. The OS is the Large New Factor, although.


  • Plenty of health-tracking options
  • Glorious show, quick processor
  • New Google OS consists of Play apps
  • Nice watch faces thus far

Don’t Like

  • ECG and blood strain options require a Samsung telephone to make use of
  • Samsung Well being nonetheless the default well being app
  • Has Bixby as an alternative of Google Assistant
  • Only one-2 days of battery life

Shifting to Google’s Put on OS, a smartwatch platform that’s been round for years, means the Watch 4 runs Google Play apps and may theoretically be much more hooked-in to Android telephones. I say “theoretically” as a result of, proper now, loads of the important thing issues on the Galaxy Watch 4 occur to run off Samsung apps, which require a Samsung account. It’s a part of the Google ecosystem, but additionally stands aside from it. 

The Galaxy Watch 4 can run Google Match and different health apps, however Samsung Well being is the one place the place well being options like ECG (electrocardiogram) and a brand new bioelectric impedance sensor for physique evaluation measurements may be synced. Some well being options, like ECG (and blood strain in some international locations) want a Samsung telephone to work, too.

Google Assistant, arguably crucial Google characteristic you’d need on a voice-connected smartwatch, can also be a no-show for now. Samsung’s Bixby is the default.

All of it provides as much as a Samsung watch that feels extra like a lateral transfer after final yr’s Watch 3 than a complete leap ahead. Whereas transferring to Put on OS is a giant deal, and will imply this watch lastly feels as built-in to Android telephones as Apple Watches do to iPhones, it feels just like the Samsung ecosystem Band-Support hasn’t been ripped off fully. Based mostly on how Samsung’s Galaxy telephones run Samsung apps proper subsequent to Google apps, that won’t ever be more likely to change. And that makes this primary Samsung-Google watch collaboration a tiny bit arduous to advocate since I don’t know what future Put on OS watches could possibly be like. Is Samsung’s model one of the best? Proper now, sure, as a result of I can’t consider any Android watch that’s as well-made and full-featured because the Watch 4. However keep in mind, once more, you’re actually greatest off utilizing this with a Samsung telephone.

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 evaluate: The final word Android watch?


Google and Samsung: Collectively once more (typically)

The brand new Put on OS-based working system on the Watch 4 is the largest change this time. The Galaxy Watch is Android-only, a shift from earlier Galaxy and Put on watches that might additionally join in a restricted approach to iPhones. The Put on OS expertise feels loads like different Android watches: swiping down for quick-access settings, up for an app tray, proper for notifications, and left for “tiles,” that are like mini-app readouts.

The tile expertise carries over from earlier Samsung watches: health dashboards may be browsed, the climate checked, textual content messages scanned. It’s greatest used, for me, as a approach to get to health features quick. I can rotate the bezel or swipe a few occasions to start out a exercise, or get a physique evaluation, test blood oxygen, get an ECG scan.

Google Play is the one app retailer on the Galaxy Watch 4, so it hooks into present Google apps like Match, YouTube, and Maps. However the remainder of the setup course of feels very Samsung. You’re utilizing a Samsung Put on app to pair the watch, and Samsung Well being because the go-to health/well being app. 


The Galaxy Watch 4 (left) subsequent to the Watch 4 Basic (proper). Be aware the bezel across the rim.

Drew Evans/CNET

Design: The bezel’s again

Samsung’s all the time made watches that really feel good on the wrist, and the lighter-weight Galaxy Watch 4 is nice to put on, for probably the most half. I attempted each the bigger 44mm Galaxy Watch 4 (aluminum physique) and the 46mm Galaxy Watch 4 Basic (chrome steel). The Basic provides the bodily rotating bezel that clicks, the identical because the Watch 3 and former Samsung watches, whereas the Watch 4 depends on dragging your finger across the show edge to for a touch-based “spin” just like the Galaxy Watch Lively and Lively 2 (with some haptics-based suggestions for “click on”).

The Basic’s recessed Gorilla Glass show protects it from influence, but additionally makes pulling off among the watch’s swipe-based interactions a bit more durable because of that bezel. Additionally, it’s thicker and dearer. I’m torn between Basic and the common Watch 4, actually. I lean in the direction of the essential Watch 4 as a result of it does the identical issues extra affordably and nonetheless appears good, however the extra uncovered glass might find yourself scuffing extra over time. And the touch-based bezel is more durable to show than spinning a bodily bezel, even when it’s a largely pointless motion (you are able to do all gestures you want by means of swipes and faucets on the show, or by clicking the facet buttons). Additionally, if you happen to’re a swimmer, that bodily bezel makes the watch simpler to function when moist.

I didn’t take a look at the smaller Watch 4, however each larger sizes seemed nice on my massive wrists. The 20mm pin-release watch straps may be changed with different bands, extra like a typical watch strap than something proprietary. The straps bulge out a bit from the lugs, although, making the match look a bit of stiff on-wrist.


Mud and all, a take a look at how the show fares in brilliant daylight. (Rather well.)

Scott Stein/CNET

The Tremendous AMOLED show appears nice, brilliant and crisp and colourful. Samsung’s preloaded watch faces are additionally actually beautiful. The animated animals, cute characters, and continuously dynamic results make this watch’s faces really feel like one of the best ones I’ve seen outdoors of the Apple Watch. Most have heaps areas for issues (widgets for apps to indicate knowledge, like climate or health data). Others have none. Google’s personal Put on OS watch faces can be found too, together with lots on Google Play to take a look at.

The redesigned sensor array on the again of the Watch 4 appears sharp, and combines {the electrical} ECG sensor from earlier watches, plus optical coronary heart price and a brand new impedance-based electrical sensor. It’s fairly to have a look at. It additionally feels much less cumbersome than earlier watches did.

Two facet buttons carry up Samsung Pay (or Google Pay) when long-pressed, and Samsung Bixby for voice assistant stuff. Sure, Bixby. Extra on that under. The buttons may be single-pressed or double-pressed for different dwelling/again navigation, and may be assigned a number of different restricted actions within the Samsung Put on app that’s wanted to pair the watches to your telephone.


I’m completely embarrassed by my physique evaluation readings through electrical impedance on Samsung’s latest sensor.

Scott Stein/CNET

Physique Evaluation: A characteristic looking for a superb use case

Samsung’s latest well being sensor on the Watch 4 is electrical impedance, a sensor expertise that’s discovered on some dwelling scales, and even popped up on early wearables just like the Jawbone Up 3. The impedance sensor makes use of electrical present to estimate physique water content material, which is used to calculate physique fats share, skeletal muscle mass, and physique water. The app asks to your each day weight, then after a 15-second scan (which is finished by holding your center two fingers in opposition to the watch buttons whereas staying nonetheless), it spits out a readout of BMI, muscle mass, physique fats and water mass.

These readouts are loads to take care of. Mine have been all dangerous (within the crimson a part of a green-to-red scale), together with numbers (like kilos of physique fats or physique water, or skeletal muscle). How dangerous have been these numbers? Ought to I freak out? Samsung takes the information and imports it into the Samsung Well being app, and charts the outcomes over time. I can see my progress (or stasis), and…what then? Samsung doesn’t actually assist interpret what all of it means, or how involved I ought to be. What exercises ought to I do subsequent?

New sensors are all the time a problem like this. In any case, blood oxygen readings (which aren’t medically correct) have been all the fashion with Apple, Samsung and Fitbit final yr, and I discovered that I mainly began ignoring the information. Fitbit’s electrical-based EDA stress sensor on its Sense watch final yr confirmed potential indicators of stress in spot-check scans, however I by no means discovered myself utilizing it a lot and by no means knew what to make of these outcomes, both. Samsung’s physique evaluation device feels intimidating and, for me, discouraging. I began to keep away from it, as a result of I already know I’m method too obese.


Blood oxygen measurements occur in a single day… not all the time certain what to make of this both (the continual readings aren’t essentially correct, both).

Scott Stein/CNET

Well being: A Samsung world that expects a Samsung telephone

Most individuals I do know who put on smartwatches use them for health, to at the very least some extent. Samsung is aware of this, and has a core give attention to health and well being on its watches. However that world remains to be Samsung app-based.

Samsung Well being isn’t dangerous in any respect. In truth, it’s bought tons of options: sleep monitoring and sleep rating (which isn’t medically correct, identical as all sleep monitoring on wearables, however can do a good job in a single day with sensing how effectively you have been sleeping). Working, and run evaluation. Blood oxygen. Meals and water monitoring. Steps, exercise objectives. Staff exercise sharing challenges. That new physique evaluation knowledge.

I actually appreciated the watch’s sleep monitoring (very similar to Fitbit, the sleep rating stored me considerably conscious of how dangerous my sleep habits are, and inspired me to go to mattress earlier). The automated exercise monitoring, which kicks right into a watch face with a stay coronary heart price readout, is nice for brisk walks and spontaneous exercises. It’s a extremely stable bundle.


The rear sensor is redesigned, combining ECG, impedance and optical coronary heart price. It appears sharp.

Drew Evans/CNET

However Google has its personal pair of fitness-tracking apps: Google Match, and the just lately acquired Fitbit. Google Match apps may be loaded onto the Watch 4 for monitoring alongside Samsung Well being, however Samsung nonetheless expects your knowledge to movement by means of Samsung Well being as effectively. Fitbit doesn’t have any Put on OS apps but, however is predicted to have some later this yr…even so, there received’t be an opportunity of getting Fitbit’s full monitoring capabilities operating on this watch anytime quickly.

And there’s one other wrinkle: you’ll want to pair this watch with a Samsung telephone to make use of the well being options which have precise medical clearance. Why? I do not know. The separate Samsung Well being Monitor app that collects knowledge from ECG and blood strain readings is simply obtainable on Samsung’s Galaxy App Retailer proper now, which suggests different Android telephones can’t entry it. It’s weird, since ECG wearables like Fitbit Sense simply pair with regular Google Play apps.

An ECG is {an electrical} check for coronary heart arrhythmia, just like what’s on the Apple Watch Sequence 4 and later, or the Fitbit Sense. It’s FDA-cleared, however doesn’t detect coronary heart assaults or different coronary heart illness, and isn’t a alternative for seeing a heart specialist. In the meantime, Samsung has a blood strain characteristic that makes use of the optical coronary heart price monitor to get readings, as soon as the watch has been calibrated utilizing a bodily blood strain cuff. That blood strain characteristic nonetheless isn’t cleared to be used within the US but, and in different areas of the world you’ll nonetheless want a Samsung telephone to make use of the Well being Monitor app.

Google Assistant: MIA. Hello, Bixby

As I mentioned earlier: Google’s wonderful voice-based Assistant isn’t on the Galaxy Watch 4. As an alternative, you’re caught with Bixby as the one assistant for now. That’s extremely irritating contemplating how good Google Assistant is, and the way Samsung’s Google Put on OS partnership appeared to be lining up particularly to permit issues like Assistant. Google Assistant ought to be coming someday, I believe, nevertheless it’s unclear. It’s arduous to vow what isn’t there.


Bixby works effectively for voice responses! Significantly.

Scott Stein/CNET

Bixby does some helpful issues: it may possibly deal with voice dictation effectively sufficient to answer notifications on Slack once I get a message noon. It could actually set timers and deal with fundamental features. Nevertheless it received’t hook into the remainder of Google. With out Assistant, this watch doesn’t actually really feel very Google-like in any respect.


The Galaxy Watch 4’s snap-on magnetic charger. You’ll want it each couple of days.

Scott Stein/CNET

Efficiency: Quick. Battery life: Two days (or much less)

The Galaxy Watch 4 feels very quick, and masses apps sooner than any Android watch I can keep in mind. It’s not all the time as lightning-quick as the most recent Apple Watch, nevertheless it nonetheless feels nice. The watch’s new chipset appears to be an excellent signal of the place different Google watches might go so far as feeling extra responsive.

Battery life? Not as nice, alas. I swapped the Watch 4 and Watch 4 Basic on my wrist for weeks, placing one on when the opposite ran out of batteries, sleeping with the watch in a single day. Battery life by no means was higher than two days. And that’s with the always-on watch face turned off. When it’s on, I solely bought a few day of use earlier than needing a cost. And the smaller watch might have even shorter battery life. Additionally, if you happen to get an LTE-equipped mannequin that doubles as a telephone (which I didn’t get to check and prices additional), anticipate battery life to be even much less. Similar with utilizing the look ahead to GPS-enabled exercises.

Charging within reason quick, although: About half an hour gave me sufficient top-off battery to put on for the remainder of the day if wanted.

My impressions for now: Promisingly incomplete

Right here’s the actual query looming over the Watch 4: it’s the primary of a brand new line of Google Put on OS-enabled watches coming down the highway. Others might not get the brand new OS till 2022: Fossil’s subsequent watches, Mobvoi’s newer TicWatch fashions, and a promised Fitbit Put on OS watch.

Samsung is main the pack with the primary effort, and the Galaxy Watch 4 has loads going for it. Nevertheless it nonetheless doesn’t really feel like One Unified OS to make me really feel like I’m solidly in a single ecosystem. That’s as a result of I’m not: it’s nonetheless Samsung’s watch world, with a Google layer beneath.

Possibly that was the concept all alongside. Possibly the watch will get even higher over time. However will the subsequent Put on OS watches be related, and even higher? I can’t inform. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 could also be the most suitable choice for now, and it doesn’t really feel as absolutely perfected as I anticipated.

It is probably not the last word Android watch, nevertheless it’s one of the best Android look ahead to now.

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