How well does the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 perform in the test?

Samsung does a few things differently with the latest Galaxy Watch. Among other things, the manufacturer relies on a new system and even more health functions. Is that enough to convince in the test?

Have you always wanted to know your body fat percentage? Or your muscle mass? Samsung has something there, and it’s in the form of a smartwatch. The two new Galaxy Watch 4 and 4 Classic allow self-measurement down to the last corner. But how does the new Galaxy Watch 4 perform in the test?

Google is in there, but you hardly notice it.

The shape of the smartwatch is classic. Both models are round and have an easy-to-read OLED display. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 – available in sizes of 40 and 44 millimeters – is designed for pure touch and swipe operation. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (42 and 46 millimeters) also has a rotating bezel for navigating menus. Both models have two switches for navigation, voice control and Samsung Pay in addition to the circular display.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 in test
Want a new watch face? It’s available in the Samsung Wearable app. The selection ranges from colorful to informative. Photo: Franziska Gabbert/dpa-tmn

Samsung now takes a different approach with the operating system and no longer relies on Tizen for the Galaxy Watch 4. Instead, the company now works more closely with Google and has equipped both smartwatches with Wear OS. However, the interface remains 100 percent Samsung. In addition, users still need Samsung’s Wearable app to pair with the smartphone.Positive: The switch from the in-house Tizen operating system to Google’s Wear OS means that there is now no longer a lack of apps, but a huge range of apps and watch faces.

Samsung smartwatches get new user interface

Setting up the Galaxy Watch 4 is quick and easy via the app. However, adapting it to one’s own daily usage scenarios takes some time. Too many tiles can be placed there, you have to select well so that the swipe menu for quick selection does not get too crowded.

Operation of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 takes some getting used to

It is a bit difficult to get used to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4’s operation at first. Swiping down, up, left, right and turning or swiping on the bezel takes time. Then there is the upper button. It always takes a step back with it, and a long press opens the voice assistant Bixby. Pressing the lower button activates Samsung’s payment service Samsung Pay. At first, all this is a bit confusing.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 in test
Swipe and tap, if it’s okay. The settings menu can be accessed by swiping from top to bottom, for example. Photo: Franziska Gabbert/dpa-tmn

According to Samsung, the watches are supposed to help you get to know your own body better. To do so, they can measure a whole range of vital data. Pulse, blood pressure, ECG, blood oxygen and body composition. These include water content, skeletal muscle, body fat, muscle mass and BMI. All of this is accomplished by placing one or two fingers on the watch’s switches and holding still for a fairly long time during the measurement.

Smartwatch monitors comprehensive health data

All measured data is synchronized with Samsung’s Health app. The measurements are also directly classified on a color scale. Thus, you can quickly see whether there is too much body fat, too little water or too little muscle.

The measurement data is accurate. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 does not have to shy away from the comparison with a pulse oximeter from a specialist shop – pulse and blood oxygen are measured precisely. Blood pressure measurements are also useful once calibrated with a cuff device. Step counting is somewhat less accurate. If the hands are on the stroller during a jog, the count is no longer accurate.

If you like, you can also take the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 to the pool. According to the manufacturer, it is waterproof – but only for fresh water.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 in test
The Galaxy Watch 4 can also measure a small ECG – but currently only with Samsung smartphones. Photo: Franziska Gabbert/dpa-tmn

Compatible devices

However, the Samsung smartwatch also has a few limitations. For example, it does not work at all with iPhones. If you want to use functions like blood pressure measurement and ECG, you need a Samsung smartphone. With other Androids, the watch only prompts you to install the “Samsung Health Monitor” app. However, this is only available in the Galaxy Store – only Samsung devices can access it.

The integration of some Google services could also be better. Bicycle navigation with Google Maps, for example, unfortunately fails because the screen saver constantly pops up. If you unlock the screen again, the navigation disappears – all things that you do not want to worry about while cycling.

The battery life is another – small – drawback. Samsung specifies a battery life of just under 40 hours. This is no problem if you only wear the watch as a watch. However, additional functions like the always-on display eat away at the battery charge. And if you train a lot, you can follow the battery display like a countdown.

Conclusion: Elegant, practical, a bit complicated

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 and 4 Classic are sleek and beautiful watches with a bunch of handy features. Those who like to collect and evaluate a lot of data on their daily workouts will find the smartwatches a powerful tool. The classic watch look makes the Galaxy Watches 4 look pleasantly discreet on the wrist.

Thanks to Google’s Wear OS, there are heaps of apps. However, those who do not own a Samsung smartphone should also look at the competition and compare well. The Galaxy Watch 4 only fully exploits its potential with a Galaxy smartphone.

And if you don’t like the price or size of the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (369 to 449 Euros), you can also choose the cheaper Galaxy Watch 4 (from 269 to 349 Euros upwards).