Having tested a number of smartwatches in the past, one of the biggest issues stopping us from fully committing to owning one outright was the inconsistencies when wearing them. Sure all the health data such as heart rate and the total number of steps taken intrigued us. But there were always several major issues stopping those watches from being merely good products into a must-own piece of tech.
Sometimes the build quality felt off. Other times, the interface felt janky and half-baked. The most annoying of all; the (then) best smartwatch available in the market wasn’t fully compatible with our Android device. We are talking about you, Apple Watch. Primarily an Android smart device user, the absence of a wearable device that is on par with Apple’s fantastic Apple Watch irked us. Samsung came close with their previous iterations of the Samsung smartwatches but those were lacking in overall features.
Thankfully, 2021 might be good news for the company, since its new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 has hit the shelves. Samsung and Google have collaborated to release what is, in our books Android’s worthy response to Apple in the smartwatch market.
Watching Me Watching You
To skeptics, a smartwatch can be mostly gimmicky. It doesn’t do much apart from topping up some additional health information instead of just telling the time. As mentioned above, in the past, these additional bells and whistles are cool, but ultimately, easily deemed inessential.
Until now. After a good two weeks worth of wearing and testing the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, we found ourselves suddenly being more health conscious. We started keeping track of our breathing, how physically active we are throughout the day and even have adjusted our sleeping pattern just to eke out that tiny bit of improvement the day after.
This is mostly due to the clever touches Samsung has added into this device. A piece of tech which is able to subconsciously make one to be more aware of their wellbeing will always score high marks in our books.
Navigation-wise, it is intuitive even to the first-time user. It is easy to learn and while it does take a few days to fully acclimatize to it, once you’re fully on board, will find it hard to let go. Swiping left and right opens up either the notification or widgets pages while dragging down the screen takes you to the settings page. Swiping up brings up the App tray and all Galaxy Watch 4 -compatible app will be automatically available on this page assuming you follow all the necessary steps at setup.
Adding to these are several programmable hand movement gestures which can be activated to suit the wearer’s preference such as accepting or declining calls.
We purposely turned off the auto wake when lifted up as we didn’t want to drain the battery. Instead, we picked the option to turn the metal ring or at the press of the buttons. We love tech which accords us the freedom on how to use them. And there are a ton of them in the Watch 4.
In the looks department, we think Samsung managed to hit the sweetspot in releasing a wearable tech which caters to everyone’s taste. We got to test the Watch 4 Classic 46mm version for the duration of this review and even on our relatively flimsy wrists, look pretty darn good. With the default silicone strap out of the box, the Watch 4 Classic should fit in well with your everyday attire. Of course you can always switch it to look a bit more on the elegant side of things by swapping to the leather straps. Even third party brands such as Spigen recently released a rugged case which gives the Watch 4 a G-Shock -like silhouette.
For day-to-day use, pairing the Watch 4 with a Samsung smartphone via Bluetooth brings out the best of this wearable’s potential. Not to say it isn’t doable with other Android phones. It just feels much more smoother and seamless when paired with a same-brand device. Through the Galaxy Wearable app, users are able to customize the look and what trackable data appears on the watch screen with several pre-installed watch face designs or if they wish so, download it from the store.
Text messages are large enough to read without our glasses on, and you can even upload preset replies to quickly respond to a text message. You can even remotely control your phone’s camera when synced with the phone and answer calls – although let’s be frank – only the Power Rangers are able to get away with talking to the back of their palms and not look weird.
A point worth noting would be that, while there are variations of the Watch 4 in the market, the biggest difference setting apart the ‘Classic’ from the ‘normal’ watch is the rotatable ring around the Gorilla Glass screen. As a result, the Classic looks more premium at the price of a slightly weightier watch. Everything else remains the same.
Turning the ring gives similar on-screen navigation of swiping across the pages. For Watch 4 models, swiping your finger along the edges of the round screen produces similar effect.
Personally, we prefer the Classic 46mm. It just looks…cooler.
Winding Up, Winding Down
However, there’s one major drawback which could undone all the great stuff listed above: the battery life.
We struggle to push the Watch 4 beyond two days on a single full charge. When on heavy use, you may find yourselves scrambling for the magnetic wireless charging puck by the end of the first day even. Which is why we were only able to track our sleep using the Watch 4 only on day three of the review. See, Samsung, the watch can’t track our sleep when it is charging at the same time.
Still, the Galaxy Watch 4 is a great piece of tech stymied by its own, battery-induced limitations. It will take a lot to outdo the Watch 4 but if there’s one segment Samsung want to tack onto to improve its next iteration, it better be an improved battery life.
- Brilliant build.
- Intuitive navigation and controls.
- Wear OS is a definite upgrade from Tizen.
- Works seamlessly with Samsung Android ecosystem.
- Competitive price.
- Requires Samsung smart devices to fully access the features.
- Poor battery life.
Final Score: 80/100
A review unit of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (46mm) was sent to us for review courtesy of Samsung Malaysia.