Samsung is back with its latest round of smartwatches, the first from any maker to run Wear OS 3. The Galaxy Watch4
and the Galaxy Watch4 Classic
are both significant steps forward for Android-focused smartwatches. Unfortunately, there are still some notable limitations.
Additionally, Samsung has released two distinct smartwatches. The names are similar, but the looks (and prices) are distinct. Yet the company thus far hasn’t made it particularly obvious what’s different between these two watches.
This comparison review has two main components. The first outlines what this new release means for the future of non-Apple smartwatches. Then the second gathers all the significant differences between the Galaxy Watch4 and Watch4 Classic Compared.
Wear OS 3 and Galaxy Watch4: A Huge Step Forward, But …
First, the two new watches from Samsung along with the new Wear OS 3 (a collaboration between Google, Samsung, Fossil, and others) represent a massive step forward for Android-focused smartwatches.
However, it’s important to put that step forward in context. Dieter Bohn at The Verge
provides that context, pointing out that this watch/OS combination is the first in a long time to even offer the potential of a credible Android smartwatch experience. After spending a week with both models, he declares them the best smartwatches he’s ever used with a Samsung phone.
Note those last four words: “with a Samsung phone.” This is the first limitation that must be pointed out. These watches are impressive and may be built on a shared OS, but they are Samsung products through and through. Pairing them with a non-Samsung Android phone will either be very frustrating or will require you to download a bunch of Samsung apps.
If you want the “pure” Galaxy Watch4 experience, you must use a Samsung smartphone. (And in case you’re curious, no, it’s not going to work with your iPhone — not even a little bit.)
Wear OS 3 Is Promising
Wear OS 3 is an impressive accomplishment. It’s one that should finally lead to a new wave of actually functional Android-oriented smartwatches. But, for now at least, your only two options for experiencing Wear OS 3 are the Watch4 and Watch4 Classic.
This Samsung quasi-exclusivity is frustrating especially because no competitors are using Wear OS 3 yet. (And none are releasing anytime soon, either.) So, for now, if you want to experience Wear OS 3, you’ll need a Galaxy Watch4. And if you want your Watch4 to be worth using, you’re obligated to step into Samsung’s ecosystem.
Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch4 Classic Compared
If you’re already using a Samsung smartphone you should get one of these smartwatches. Alternatively, you can download their apps and use their services, like Samsung Pay and Bixby, but we don’t recommend it. So which Galaxy Watch4 should you get, and what’s different between them?
The names are a bit curious, but the Watch4 Classic is actually the higher-end model. It starts at $349.99 for the smaller case size Wi-Fi model. The high range costs $429.99 if you choose the larger size with cellular.
The basic Watch4 starts at $249.99, saving you $100 compared to the Galaxy Watch4 Classic. So, what does that extra $100 get you on the Classic? Quite a bit, actually.
Design and Materials
Both phones feature a gorgeous circular OLED display with always-on availability. The Watch4 is made from aluminum and is available in both 40 and 44mm case sizes, with four color options.
The Watch4 Classic is a little bigger, with 42 and 46mm case sizes. It’s made from higher-end stainless steel and comes in just two colors: black with a black band or silver with a white band.
Despite the size differences, the two models have virtually identical screen sizes at both the larger and smaller case size.
The Watch4 Classic has a physical rotating bezel with a nice click to it, mimicking the feel of a classic analog watch. This ring is one of the primary input mechanisms, along with two separate buttons. The Watch4, on the other hand, uses touch-based ring controls around the edge of the display, which aren’t as consistent or as nice to use.
The real bezel on the Watch4 Classic is the single biggest difference between the two models, along with the more premium materials that make up the watch. And the experience is nice enough for multiple reviewers (including Bohn) to declare it worth the extra $100 all on its own.
Performance and Internals
The internals on the two watches are identical in every way. There should be no performance differences between them.
Both watches offer a compelling Android smartwatch experience, with powerful internals and a watch OS that actually works. Whether the Classic is worth the extra cash is a matter of personal preference. Tom’s Guide
points out that all you get by dropping the extra $100 for the Classic is a very nice physical bezel and a watch that looks more like a real timepiece. Still, that extra $100 will be well worth it for quite a few buyers.
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