The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is what we have been waiting for years: a true alternative to the Apple Watch, but based on the Android platform.
It’s not that there aren’t already good alternatives to the Apple smartwatch; Manufacturers such as Huawei , Fossil or Samsung itself have offered their own experiences, sometimes even more complete and advanced. But that’s the problem, right? That each one has gone ‘to his own ball’, with their own platforms, applications and software, without forming a joint front that can offer something different and better to Apple.
That may be close to changing, with the new version of WearOS announced by Google at the beginning of summer and that we can already enjoy, for the first time, in the new generation of Samsung smartwatches.
What WearOS needed
There is no doubt that the new version of WearOS is the great novelty of the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, although it is far from the only one. But the software and platform improvements are so great, they overshadow the rest of the news.
This is an intuitive, fast and very complete operating system , which fits like a glove on the Galaxy Watch 4; It doesn’t really feel like the first of its kind, it’s like Samsung and Google have been collaborating for decades. And the result is exceptional.
If you were always envious of the Apple Watch, but did not want to jump to the iPhone and Apple’s restricted platform, we finally have basically the same thing, but for Android. The integration with Android mobiles is very high, including one of my favorite features: that the same app is installed on your watch as on your mobile .
It is something that I checked when I installed Outlook on my mobile, and it instantly appeared on the clock, as one more app from which I could find out every time I received an email. The Play Store tells me when the apps I install have a version for WearOS , and I can request the installation on the watch automatically; And yes, we also have the Play Store on the watch, and we can install a variety of applications and services.
Another example app is the Spotify app , which was recently updated to be more independent, allowing us to download songs and play without mobile connection; Indeed, we can connect the wireless headphones directly to the watch and go for a run without the mobile phone and enjoying music, for example.
It should be borne in mind that these apps are very limited with respect to their versions for mobile phones, and that most of them serve as an accompaniment; to show notifications, for example. But it really makes you feel that your watch is part of the same platform as your mobile, and that there is no strange barrier in between .
Swipe up, and you will find the apps installed on the watch; Although it may seem like the Apple Watch apps view, it is much easier to use because we can only slide vertically, and we will not ‘get lost’ by many apps we have. Hold down an app, and you can move it to the position that is most useful to you.
The integration with Android apps and services is, without a doubt, the strong point of the new WearOS and a whole reason to choose one of these new watches if we have an Android mobile.
The apps I’m most happy to see are those from Google; After the ‘cold war’ between Google and Samsung, we finally have access to basic apps and some not so basic. For example, we have Google Maps , which allows us to see the map and where we have to go next, without picking up the mobile.
It’s still a Samsung, through the good and the bad
But don’t let this Google app integration fool you: this is still a Samsung and as such, it works better if we have a Samsung mobile and use their services. It is not only that the Wear app is perfectly integrated into Samsung mobiles, instantly recognizing the watch as soon as we turn it on, and offering information in notifications such as the number of steps registered; is that, in some cases, using their services is mandatory.
Samsung may no longer be betting on Tizen in its smartwatches, but that doesn’t mean its ambitions have waned. For starters, the version of the operating system that the Galaxy Watch 4 uses is exclusive to Samsung, and is called WearOS by Samsung; therefore, for now it is a mystery how many of these novelties will reach the rest of smartwatches.
What is clear is that Samsung wants us to continue using its services. The most annoying case is that of Samsung Pay, which is the only payment service that we can use by default; We can install Google Pay, but we will have to start the app separately each time we want to make a payment. Instead, Samsung Pay is launched by holding down a button, quickly and easily.
We will also have to put up with Bixby , Samsung’s personal assistant, which is the only one we can use as it is integrated into the system. Although it has improved a bit, it is still Bixby, and it is still below Google Assistant and Alexa.
But this is still a Samsung also in the good. For example, in the use of the new Exynos W920 processor , manufactured in 5 nm and which makes the system work with an unusual speed.
This is the fastest and most responsive watch I’ve ever tried, catching up with the Apple Watch and outperforming it in some respects. Switching between dials, applications and functions is almost instantaneous and I have not been able to find moments in which it feels stuck or slow. It is really surprising and a whole leap forward for the sector.
It’s also nice that this watch is a Samsung, thanks to the number of features and apps included. One of the great novelties is the analysis of body composition , which tells us what percentage of our body is fat, how much is muscle, and if we suffer from fluid retention; It can be extremely helpful in taking a closer look at our diet and exercise, and seeing how we change. The measurement process is somewhat long (holding down two buttons for 15 seconds while keeping still), but it is worth it for the amount of useful information it provides.
I also really liked the blood oxygen meter, which can now be activated automatically while we sleep and thus check if we have run out of air at some point in the night. Since the rate of respiration falls when we sleep, the goal is not to fall below 90% oxygen saturation in the blood, but if this is our case, the app will tell us exactly how long it has been and how far it has fallen. What has not worked so well for me is the snoring detector, which works in conjunction with the microphone of the mobile; but in my case, it has not detected me snoring even though I have been told that I snored.
Of course, the battery suffers from so many constantly active functions; In my case, I have always fulfilled the two days of use before having to recharge, and the included magnetic charger is not particularly fast, but it is not one of the slowest either.
There are also small software bugs and strange moments, like when the watch insisted on using imperial measurements instead of metric, despite the language and localization settings; something I had to fix manually by digging through the app settings on my mobile. But at least, Samsung seems to be clearly betting on this system, and since its launch it has already launched two important updates that solve several problems and add apps such as the ‘walkie talkie’. Good support seems guaranteed.
Elegant, but without going overboard
Samsung caused some confusion when it announced the names of its new watches. The successor to the Galaxy Watch 3 would be called the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, and the successor to the Galaxy Watch Active 2 would be called the Galaxy Watch 4.
At the moment of truth, it is not so messy if we forget the past. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and the Galaxy Watch 4 have few differences apart from size and colors, especially with the default straps; the big difference from the Classic, which is the one I have been able to test, is that it has a rotating frame , which allows us to control the interface. It’s not much of a difference, as you’ll still be using the touchscreen anyway, but aesthetically it sets it apart from the basic Watch 4. At least, its use is very satisfactory, with a tactile sensation that is appreciated.
Aesthetically, it is a premium and elegant watch , but it is not flashy or cheeky. It can easily go unnoticed, especially in the black color that I have been able to test; but if you look at it, the quality of construction and materials is beyond doubt. The default strap is also very noticeable on the leather, and we have options with leather and other more sporty ones. Personally, this balance is ideal, as it offers the feeling of quality that a device of this level requires, but at the same time it is not so excessive that it can be annoying.
The new reference
The Galaxy Watch 4 is the result not only of Samsung’s work, but of Google as well. The union of both giants is as good as we expected, maybe even more. The result is a great smartwatch, which takes a significant leap in both software and hardware.
We are facing the new benchmark in the sector, although, unfortunately, it seems that we will still have to wait for a true rival to arrive with the same operating system. Alternatives like Fossil’s still use the old version of WearOS, and Samsung seems to have some kind of exclusivity with the new version. Therefore, the alternatives seem to come from the hand of manufacturers that go their own way, such as Apple or Huawei.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is available from 399.91 euros on the Samsung website, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 starts at 299.90 euros.