Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic vs Galaxy Watch 3: A well-timed upgrade

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic vs Galaxy Watch 3
The new Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is all the rage on the smartwatch scene right now, introducing the new Wear OS-based Tizen-like platform and improving almost all the features and functionalities of Samsung’s health and wellness suite.

As such, it should be a generational leap improvement over its predecessor, the Galaxy Watch 3, but is that really the case? With that in mind and both wearables tested in real-life scenarios, it’s time to draw the line and see if the new smartwatch is a noteworthy improvement over its predecessor.

Overall, the improvements are more than noteworthy, but don't necessarily invoke for a day-one upgrade. If you have a Galaxy Watch 3 and it does the job, you probably wouldn't benefit that much from a Watch 4 Classic. At $449, it's a fairly affordable smartwatch, but the fact that you can only pair it with Android phones and its best features are reserved for Samsung's own Galaxy phones make it a bit of a hard sell when compared to the similarly-featured Galaxy Watch 3.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 (40mm)

Cellular model w/ $40 instant discount and extra band
$259 99
$299 99

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (46mm)

46MM Cellular model of the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
$429 99

Galaxy Watch 3 vs Galaxy Watch 4 Classic Design

The new Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is lighter and slimmer than the Galaxy Watch 3, though the difference is almost invisible to the naked eye. Both wearables are available in two different versions: the Watch 3 comes in 41mm and 45mm sizes, whereas the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic exists in 42 and 46mm versions.

As far as the design is concerned, there’s the ever-useful and intuitive rotating bezel on both watches, which makes the interface navigation so much easier. Granted, the move to Wear OS has required some software accommodation to take place on the new smartwatch, but overall, the bezel is a great signature feature of this Samsung wearable lineup.

The Galaxy Watch 3 was mostly a stainless steel affair, though later on Samsung released a more premium titanium version of the wearable. Meanwhile, the successor relies on a lightweight aluminum frame, but if history is of any indication, we might see a titanium version in the near future as well.

Both watches have military-grade durability as well as IP68 dust and water-resistance up to 5ATM, or 50 meters underwater.

Galaxy Watch 3 vs Galaxy Watch 4 Display

One thing that stands out is the much denser and pixel-rich display on the Galaxy Watch 4, which looks phenomenal when viewed side by side with the Galaxy Watch 3. The reason is the nearly 50% more pixels on the new smartwatch, which has a 450 by 450-pixel resolution, whereas the overall display size remains 1.4-inches.

This might seem like a humble number, but on such a small scale it is actually a dramatic improvement that greatly improves the clarity and legibility of the display. As such, using and viewing content on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is a more pleasant affair. Even customizing your watchface is quite a pleasant activity thanks to the extra sharpness.

Aside from the sharpness differences, both wearables sport Samsung’s excellent AMOLED displays, which are bright and vibrant as it gets. They have a decent maximum brightness that I’ve had no issue making out text or images even in the bright sunlight.

Galaxy Watch 3 vs Galaxy Watch 4 Health and Monitoring Features

The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and Watch 3 have pretty similar health-based loadout, with heart rate, ECG, and blood pressure monitoring along with the regular step counting and activity tracking.

What’s new on the Watch 4 is the BIA sensor (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis), which analyses your overall body composition and gives you a rundown of your skeletal muscle and body fat, which is essential when developing a new workout regime or trying out a new dieting plan.

There’s also the improved sleep analysis, which now more accurately tracks your sleep cycles, detects if you’ve been snoring, and even measures your blood oxygen levels throughout the night.

As far as activity tracking, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic does a pretty good job of automatically detecting what workout you’ve taken up. With running and swimming, the watch quickly detects and starts tracking the workout, and I can only assume the experience is as fluent as with the rest of the supported activities and sports. The same generally applies to the Galaxy Watch 3 as well.

Galaxy Watch 4 Classic vs Galaxy Watch 3 Interface and functionality

The big thing here is the software difference between the two smartwatches. In with the new, out with the old - Galaxy Watch 4 is powered by the new and refreshed Wear OS, a lovechild of Samsung and Google’s collaboration. Although it has a distinct Wear interface underneath it all, the interface is pretty reminiscent of the good old Tizen. The big differences are the lack of a circular app switcher, which was a feature of the old interface, as well as the abundance of apps in the Wear OS version of the Play Store, which is also full of custom watchfaces and apps. There’s apps on the Galaxy Watch 3 as well, but the variety can’t match the new Wear OS.

However, a big downside of the new smartwatch is its incompatibility with iOS and limited functionality with any other Android phone that’s not a Galaxy. This greatly limits the usability of the Galaxy Watch 4 and narrows its potential user base as an entry point into the Samsung ecosystem. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch 3 connects nicely with both iOS and Android phones, though it definitely works best with Galaxies.

Galaxy Watch 4 Classic vs Galaxy Watch 3 Performance and Battery

With a new processor on deck, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic should technically be much faster and efficient than its predecessor, but the reality of the situation is that you can’t really tell. What’s more, despite the fresh silicon on deck, the Watch 4 is still prone to showcasing some hiccups here or there. This also applies to the Galaxy Watch 3. Still, both are very usable in regular everyday scenarios.

Battery life is a bit underwhelming on both. Despite Samsung’s claims, real-life usage on both wearables yields around a day of usage, so you better charge them up every night. With some more conservative usage you could probably squeeze out two days, but generally, a day of usage is what you’d get. With always-on display and constant heartrate monitoring, this battery life could decrease further.

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