Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 hands-on

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Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Hands-on
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is here with a sleek design and new Google-backed software. All of that comes in a relatively affordable $249 package that acts as the perfect alternative to the $279 Apple Watch SE and previous-gen $249 Galaxy Watch Active 2. 

Here are our first impressions after seeing the smartwatch firsthand.

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

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Design and Style

As mentioned above, the Galaxy Watch 4 is nice and sleek. It features a circular touch display surrounded by a uniform bezel but no trademark rotating bezel, keeping the bulk to a minimum.

Samsung has paired that screen with a matte aluminum frame, which feels premium. It’s home to two buttons for easier system navigation and attaches to the matching watch bands, but more on those below.

The Galaxy Watch 4 arrives in two sizes: a smaller 40mm version and a bigger 44mm model, each available in Bluetooth and LTE variants. The 40mm weighs in at 25.9g and the 44mm watch tips the scale at 30.3g. Needless to say, both feel extremely light (yet still sturdy) in person.

You’ll be able to pick up the Galaxy Watch 4 in four colors at launch: Silver, Black, and Green, and Pink Gold. Those versions all ship with matching 20mm silicone watch bands, though you’ll be able to purchase extra bands separately.

Specifically, Samsung is selling red, orange, dark blue, olive green, and white watch bands, in addition to the four standard colors mentioned above. If you have several, the bands can be mixed and matched to your liking.

Other noteworthy design features include IP68 and 5 ATM certifications, so you're safe to submerge the watch up to 50 meters. The Galaxy Watch 4 also boasts a military-grade durability rating, making it perfect for outdoor activities. 

Display and Watch Faces

The touch screen found on the Galaxy Watch 4 uses AMOLED technology. The 40mm smartwatch is fitted with a 1.19-inch display and the 44mm model uses a slightly bigger 1.36-inch panel.

Both offer deep blacks, nice colors, and a decent level of brightness. However, we viewed the Galaxy Watch 4 in a well-lit room, so we’ll wait for the review before making any firm conclusions on that front.

What about the watch faces? Well, Samsung has included quite a few of its own, but third-party developers are able to create more options for the Galaxy Watch 4, so you’ll have access through Google's app ecosystem to a long list that’ll continue to expand over time. The downside is that Tizen watch faces won't be transferable. 

Software, Health, and Performance

Beyond its design, the most exciting thing about the Galaxy Watch 4 is its software. Instead of using Samsung’s own Tizen software, the smartwatch runs the Wear OS 3 platform straight out of the box.

It felt smooth and responsive in person, but also familiar thanks to the One UI Watch interface that Samsung has added on top. The biggest change versus Tizen-powered Galaxy Watches is the catalog of apps, which now includes Google’s offerings.

All of that is backed by the new Exynos W920 chipset built on the 5-nanometer manufacturing process. Samsung has also thrown in 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage to ensure you have no performance issues.

On the topic of health features, it’s clear that the brand isn’t cutting any corners. Like most modern smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch 4 can automatically detect several activities and can track even more. Added health benefits like menstrual cycle tracking and stress monitoring are part of the package too.

If that wasn't enough, the Galaxy Watch 4 includes what Samsung is calling a BioActive Sensor, essentially three health features in one package. Specifically, the BioActive sensor consists of an optical heart rate monitor paired with an electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor and a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis sensor, the latter of which measures body fat.

Battery life

The 40mm Galaxy Watch 4 includes a 247mAh battery and the 44mm edition uses a 361mAh cell. We weren’t able to test out battery life during our brief hands-on with the smartwatches, so you’ll have to wait for our full review for those results, but Samsung says that both models can last up to 40 hours on a single charge, with a quick 30-minute charge giving the watch enough to last 10 hours. 

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