Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic on a table.

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

We’ve held the Galaxy Watch 3 in high regard for quite some time, naming it as one of the best smartwatches available when it launched last year. But a new Samsung pretender is here. The Galaxy Watch 4 series debuted earlier this month, bringing a refreshed user experience, improved hardware, and new hope. But newer doesn’t always mean better. There are several reasons why you may still want to get a Galaxy Watch 3.

Below, we walk you through the key differences and similarities between Samsung’s latest wearable offering and its former smartwatch flagship. Learn more in this quick Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Galaxy Watch 3 comparison.

Our verdict: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review | Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Galaxy Watch 3

The specs

  Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Display 44mm: 1.36-inch Super AMOLED
450 x 450 resolution
330ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX+

40mm: 1.19-inch Super AMOLED
396 x 396 resolution
330ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX+

46mm: 1.36-inch Super AMOLED
450 x 450 resolution
330ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX

42mm: 1.19-inch Super AMOLED
396 x 396 resolution
330ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX

45mm: 1.4-inch AMOLED
360 x 360 resolution
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX

41mm: 1.2-inch AMOLED
360 x 360 resolution
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX

Dimensions and weight 44mm: 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8mm
30.3g

40mm: 40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm
25.9g

46mm: 45.5 x 45.5 x 11mm
52g

42mm: 41.5 x 41.5 x 11.2mm
46.5g

45mm: 45 x 46.2 x 11.1mm
53.8g (stainless steel), 43g (titanium)

41mm: 41 x 42.5 x 11.3mm
49.2g

Colors and materials Aluminum case
Black, Silver, Green (44mm only), Pink Gold (40mm only)
Stainless steel case
Black, Silver
45mm: Mystic Black (stainless steel or titanium), Mystic Silver (stainless steel)

41mm: Mystic Bronze (stainless steel), Mystic Silver (stainless steel)

Battery 44mm: 361mAh
40mm: 247mAh

WPC-based wireless charging

46mm: 361mAh
42mm: 247mAh

WPC-based wireless charging

45mm: 340mAh
41mm: 247mAh

WPC-based wireless charging

Processor 5nm Samsung Exynos W920
Dual-core 1.18GHz
5nm Samsung Exynos W920
Dual-core 1.18GHz
10nm Samsung Exynos 9110
Dual-core, 1.15GHz
RAM 1.5GB 1.5GB 1GB
Storage 16GB 16GB 8GB
Connectivity LTE (available in select models)
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4+5GHz
NFC
GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, Galileo
LTE (available in select models)
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4+5GHz
NFC
GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, Galileo
LTE (available in select models)
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi b/g/n
NFC
A-GPS/GLONASS/Beidou 7
Sensors Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyroscope
Geomagnetic sensor
Ambient light sensor
Samsung BioActive sensor: optical heart rate (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (BIA)
Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyroscope
Geomagnetic sensor
Ambient light sensor
Samsung BioActive sensor: optical heart rate (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (BIA)
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Barometer
Optical heart rate sensor
ECG
Ambient light sensor
Durability 5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810G
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810G
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810G
Software Wear OS
Samsung One UI Watch
Wear OS
Samsung One UI Watch
Tizen OS 5.5
Compatibility Android Android Android and iOS

The design

The Galaxy Watch 3 launched in 2020 as Samsung’s standalone flagship smartwatch. This year, the company is offering the Galaxy Watch 4 in two guises. The standard offering is reminiscent of the Galaxy Watch Active line and features a cleaner face with an aluminum shell and a touch-sensitive bezel. This bezel is a little tough to use, though.

The Classic option is the more direct Galaxy Watch 3 replacement and includes a tactile rotating bezel with etched minute markings and a slightly chunkier build. Both Galaxy Watch 4 options arrive in two dial sizes.

See also: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review — Solid smartwatch, inaccurate fitness watch

You’re also getting two screen sizes with the Galaxy Watch 4 series, measuring 1.2-inches and 1.4-inches across. The newer Classic model features slightly larger faces than its predecessor, with 46mm and 42mm options. The standard model features 44mm and 40mm faces, similar to the Galaxy Watch Active 2. Overall, the Galaxy Watch 4 series is thinner than the Galaxy Watch 3, making the new watches more comfortable to wear.

Beyond the return of the rotating bezel, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic does feature some aesthetic differences over the Watch 3. The buttons are still located on the right edge but are flatter and elongated — a departure from the protruding nubs used on the Galaxy Watch 3. The standard Galaxy Watch 4 has a cleaner, simpler facade compared to both. Whether this is a visual improvement is down to your personal taste.

The features

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic on wrist showing the all apps screen containing Samsung Health, the Google Play Store, and others

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

What about internal differences? Well, there are plenty. Let’s start with the operating system.

The Galaxy Watch 4 series makes the long-rumored switch from Tizen to Wear OS and One UI Watch — a significant change for the wearable range. It’s the first wearable line to run Samsung and Google’s new co-developed OS and brings several new features over the Galaxy Watch 3.

Wear OS opens the door to a larger app library than Tizen. The Galaxy Watch 4 series also gains access to Google-specific features and apps, like Maps, and more synchronicity with Android devices. Notably, we should mention that the jump to Wear OS doesn’t make the Watch 4 series play any nicer with non-Samsung phones. There are plenty of limitations, too.

While the Galaxy Watch 3 supports iOS devices, the Watch 4 does not. Additionally, several new Galaxy Watch 4 features are still largely reliant on having a Samsung smartphone, including health-tracking smarts. We go into a little more detail later. This isn’t quite the case with the older smartwatch. Samsung also does a remarkable job of loading the Watch 4 with its own apps. For instance, Samsung Pay usurps Google Pay (though Google Pay is available from the Play Store), while Samsung Health, not Google Fit, is the tracking app of choice. Bixby also features as the voice assistant, not Google Assistant.

That said, the Galaxy Watch 3 stands to gain none of the promised Wear OS benefits. Samsung has no plans to update any of its Tizen devices to Wear OS and One UI Watch. If you’re looking for new OS features, you’ll have to get a new watch. At the same time, we’ve heard little from Google or Samsung about Wear OS updates, but we expect both firms to have some development plans.

See also: All of Wear OS 3 watches confirmed so far

One of our biggest criticisms with the Galaxy Watch 3 was its health-tracking abilities. Its heart-rate tracking was unreliable, while its sleep tracking smarts were hit and miss. The Galaxy Watch 4 series improves on both metrics while adding new sensors, too. The BIA sensor, which measures body composition, is a big new addition and provides valuable insight into body fat percentages, skeletal mass, and water retention. It also provides blood pressure monitoring (albeit only in Australia), an SpO2 sensor with more frequent sampling, and an ECG. The Galaxy Watch 4 line also carries over some features, like VO2 max monitoring and improves automatic workout detection latency.

Samsung’s new watch does have its flaws, though. Its GPS performance remains more miss than hit, making outdoor activity tracking unreliable, while heart-rate tracking isn’t as detailed as some would want either. Notably, ECG and blood pressure monitoring can only be used with an accompanying Samsung smartphone.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 on a wrist showing daily activity.

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Beyond sensors, Samsung has also upgraded the Galaxy Watch 4’s base hardware.

The Galaxy Watch 3 packed 1GB of RAM, which seemed plenty for a smartwatch, mainly thanks to Tizen’s lightweight build. Storage came in at 8GB, more than enough for the apps and offline music files. The Galaxy Watch 4 series trumps this by some margin, though. It launches with 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, which should be plenty for Wear OS and a host of offline files.

We should see some notable performance improvements, too. The Galaxy Watch 4 series arrives with Samsung’s 5nm Exynos W920 SoC which reportedly brings a 20% faster CPU and 10x GPU performance gains over the Galaxy Watch 3’s Exynos 9110. You don’t need much muscle on a smartwatch, but the Galaxy Watch 4 series feels smooth alongside the new UI.

As for battery capacity, the larger Galaxy Watch 4 models win this battle, too. They feature a 361mAh battery, up slightly from the 340mAh available on the larger Galaxy Watch 3. Notably, the smaller Galaxy Watch 3 and 4 models share a 247mAh cell. Nevertheless, the more efficient chipset should result in some battery gains. Samsung claims 40-hours of use per charge is achievable.

This claim isn’t entirely accurate, though. During our tests, the larger Galaxy Watch 4 device can endure up to 1.5 days per charge. That’s about par with the Galaxy Watch 3. The smaller models pack even less power, with around 24 hours of use per charge. If you need longevity, we’d recommend the Galaxy Watch 3 or the bigger Galaxy Watch 4.

The price

Finally, how do these smartwatches do in terms of value? After looking at its specs sheet, it’s tough to dismiss the Galaxy Watch 4 series. It gets even tougher when considering its price, too.

The Galaxy Watch 3 launched at $399. At the time, it was a steep premium for a smartwatch that does everything relatively well. It didn’t quite have a specific killer feature, though. And although the device is now regularly offered at a lower price, it remains a stern investment.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
The latest and greatest smartwatch from Samsung
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is one of the more versatile smartwatches you can buy. It’s stylish, sporty, comes with plenty of smartwatch features, and has new health sensors that will make the watch better over time.

Samsung seemingly took this criticism to heart with the Galaxy Watch 4 and Classic. The latter starts at $349.99, shaving $50 off the Galaxy Watch 3’s launch price. Considering its benefits over the older model, it’s an easy choice to make if you’re budgeting for a ~$300 wearable.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
The classiest smartwatch Samsung has to offer
If you’re looking for a high-end follow-up to Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3, look no further. Now with Wear OS on board, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic will be perfect for your trip to the office or a night out.

That’s still plenty to spend on a smartwatch, but that’s where the standard Galaxy Watch 4 comes in. The Bluetooth model starts at $249.99 — the same launch price as the Galaxy Watch Active 2. You can now find the latter below $200.

The Galaxy Watch 4 is also our favorite of the two new smartwatches. Its sleeker aesthetic and lighter build makes it an ideal activity watch. It also won’t look out of place in a boardroom, either.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Samsung’s best smartwatch, now with Wear OS
Samsung and Google combined forces to improve the software situation with smartwatches on Android. The result is the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, running the new, co-developed Wear OS. The standard Galaxy Watch 4 is for the sportier crowd, while the Watch 4 Classic is for those who’d like a watch they can wear to the office.

For LTE support, you’re looking at a $50 premium for both Galaxy Watch 4 models.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Galaxy Watch 3: Which should you buy?

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic in a plant.

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Samsung has made big strides with the Galaxy Watch 4 series. It now includes a revitalized OS that provides Google-backed support and the hope of further development. It also brings sprightlier hardware, more fitness features and sensors, and a lower price. It’s a no-brainer that you should go with the Galaxy Watch 4 series.

This doesn’t mean you should discount the Galaxy Watch 3, though. It’s regularly available as a sale item, and we won’t be surprised if a permanent price drop lands soon with the new model in the fray. If you don’t need the Galaxy Watch 4 series’ new features, the Watch 3 still has a place at the right price. It remains a solid smartwatch that does everything pretty well. Also, it’s your only pick if you’re an iOS user.

We shouldn’t forget about Samsung’s other smartwatch offerings, either. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is worth a mention here. It is much cheaper than both contenders and makes for a solid basic fitness tracker with smartwatch style.

Beyond Samsung, there are plenty of other contenders. Options from Garmin, Fitbit, and Apple are available to those wanting more intuitive fitness trackers. That said, few smartwatches on the market can challenge the Galaxy Watch 3’s feature coverage, but the Galaxy Watch 4 will seemingly build on and continue this trend.

Source: Android Authority