Review of Galaxy Watch 4: Still the best Android smart watches around.

W.Chicken Google and Samsung have announced that they have worked together on the latest version of Wear OS, with many hoping that it will eventually bring a smartwatch for Android users to compete with the Apple Watch. Will With a relatively robust third-party app library from Google and Samsung’s intuitive interface, the platform was promising. The Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic are the first devices to run the new Wear OS powered by Samsung.

But software is not the only interesting feature. Samsung has upgraded its biometric sensors to include, among other things, a body composition scanner and better sleep tracking. Throw in the new 5nm processors and sharp screens and the Watch 4 Series looks like a refreshing meat. Has the Apple Watch finally finished its match? Maybe not, but one can hope.

Profession

  • Comprehensive health care.
  • Bright and crisp screen.
  • Improved third party app support.
  • Touch sensitive rotating bezel.

Before we go any further, it is worth noting that apart from the classic body spinning bezel and the stainless steel case, there is no big difference between the two Watch 4 models. They have the same upgraded sensor, battery and screen size, so what I’m going to cover in this review applies to both models, unless I explain otherwise.

David Imel for Engadget

Wear OS and a UI.

Let’s start with the most interesting change in both watches: Wear OS. Honestly, if I didn’t know the Watch 4 was using a brand new OS, I’d probably assume it’s a minor Tizen update. You can still side swipe or rotate the physical bezel over the classical so you can scroll through all your widgets and use touch sensitive colors around the regular Watch 4 screen. But instead of all the apps being one of the right pages, they are now at the bottom of the home screen. There is also a custom quick settings panel at the top of the main page.

Of course, the deadline is that something else is happening here that you can now download apps from the Play Store directly from your wrist. A section in the Play Store shows all the apps on your phone that have Wear counterparts and I easily added Telegram and Spotify from this page. This seamless installation of apps, which is already present on your phone on your watch, is one of the features that Samsung said will enable its OneUI software. I was expecting them to appear on the watch automatically without any work, but I guess that’s how you decide what you want on your wrist.

One UI also allows you to sync your watch and phone settings, so that when you enable Do Not Disturb on one, the other enables it as well. When you play a song on your phone, a media controller appears to be wearable. It only works with Samsung phones, however, it does not apply if you are using another Android device. Oh and while we’re at it, the Watch 4 series doesn’t work with iOS unlike its predecessors. But if you own an iPhone, you probably weren’t considering an Android watch.

Close a black Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic with two fingers on the body rotating bezel.

David Imel for Engadget

One last thing Samsung added via OneUI: gesture control. Ideally, this will allow you to answer or delete calls by shaking your wrist or raising your arm. I enabled the setting and managed to answer the call by extending my wrist as instructed, but twisting my fist did not help. This could possibly make the watch easier to use with one hand or when my arm is full, but they don’t work very well at the moment and are limited to answering calls or messages.

New sensors and new features.

In addition to the brand new (yet familiar) software, the Watch 4 Line also received a serious hardware upgrade. Samsung has used a new 3-in-1 biometric sensor that not only allows for faster and more consistent reading, but also enables bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA) to offer body mass scans.

The watch will first ask for basic information such as your gender, age and weight. Then, it tells you to place your middle and ring fingers on the two buttons on the edge. It will instruct you to stay still and keep your arms away from your body while it scans, which takes about 15 seconds. Once this is done, the system makes a comprehensive breakdown of your body, stating how many pounds of water, fat and skeletal mass it contains.

Read body composition on Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

David Imel for Engadget

I’m excited about this new feature, as body composition is generally a better way to understand your overall health than BMI. I was using Amazon’s camera-based system in its Hello app to determine my body fat percentage and although this has been an easy and seemingly accurate method, BIA is a more traditional and common tool. ۔

The problem I noticed a few days later was that the watch might not be the best place to have a BIA sensor. Since the scan requires you to be quite still and not touch other parts of your body, it can be very strange to do so. It would be nice if the only problem was standing in an uncomfortable position for 15 seconds at a time, but small changes in your currency can affect your results.

I did two scans just two seconds apart, one lifted farther from my arms and the other away from my body. The first time, I got 26% fat scan result, and the next I got 30%. I wasn’t expecting complete accuracy, and I know that the time of day and how you stand can affect consistency, but so far the results have been incredible.

I will need a few more weeks or months to test the BIA system, measured at the same time of day, to see if this aggregate trend data is helpful. After all, it can take time to register changes in your body composition.

Black Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 screen anatomy results.

David Imel for Engadget

Another thing I need more time to realize its usefulness is to constantly detect oxygen in the blood. This is one of the new features of sleep tracking that enables upgraded sensors, and this data is included in Samsung’s Sleep Score algorithm, which considers other things like duration and comfort. In older Galaxy watches, you can read your Blood Oxygen Saturation (SPO2) at will, but the Watch 4 is able to make permanent measurements overnight. When I woke up, Watch4 told me that my SPO2 was between 93 and 97%, which is a little less than I would like, but I can explain why I am so tired.

Blood oxygen is one of the five factors that go into Samsung’s sleep score, which the company says it considers a variety of metrics. Snoring is another new feature of Watch 4 this year. If you want to detect snoring, you will need to not only watch the clock sleep but also place your phone on a stable surface near your head two feet away from your person. You can choose to detect snoring always or just for one night, and you can also choose to record audio to hear the sound of your sleep the next day. Samsung also gives you the option to delete the recording after one day, 31 days or 100 days. I don’t snore but the potential medical benefits here can be useful for those who do.

One thing I want to fix for Samsung is very simple: I can’t find the sniffing sequence in the health app until I record a night’s sleep. It was very easy to do – I added an entry manually.

The rest of the updates that the new sensor brings are less prominent, such as faster heart rate monitoring and updated calorie counting algorithms that take into account continuous and discrete pulse readings. It’s mostly under the hood, who knows if it’s hard to tell the meaningful difference even though I’ve spent a lot of time with the equipment.

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