Released in Summer 2021, the Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch4 Classic are the first watches to run the revamped Wear OS 3. After a slightly shaky release window, Samsung’s made good on its promises to add once-missing features like the Google Assistant through updates. Nearly a year after launch, I’m still regularly using the thing — and thanks in part to Samsung keeping its word, I still love it.
With smooth performance, a great display, sturdy build quality, and a physical rotating bezel for navigating menus, the Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Classic is one of the best smartwatches you can buy today. It does require installing a couple of Samsung apps on your phone, though.
- Display: 60Hz OLED, 1.2" 396x396 (42mm) or 1.4"450x450 (46mm)
- CPU: Exynos W920
- RAM: 1.5GB
- Storage: 16GB
- Battery: 247mAh (42mm) or 361mAh (46mm)
- Connectivity: NFC, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, LTE (optional)
- Durability: IP68 certified, MIL-STD-810G compliant
- Software: One UI Watch 3 over "Wear OS Powered by Samsung"
- Health sensors: Heart rate, EKG, bioelectrical impedance
- Price: From $350
- Weight: 46.5g (42mm), 52g (46mm)
Design, hardware, what's in the box
The Watch4 Classic is hardly a radical departure from older Samsung wearables: it's a pretty traditional-looking watch with two buttons on the right edge and that familiar and well-loved rotating bezel framing its display. Its case is stainless steel (fancy!), and it comes in two sizes: 42 millimeters with a 1.2-inch screen, or 46 millimeters with a 1.4-inch screen.
Both sizes come in a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth version as well as an LTE-connected variety, and each is available in either black or silver. The standard Watch4 also comes in pink or green, so it would've been nice to see more color options here, too — this thing would look great in a bronze finish with a green band.
The rotating bezel is sort of the Watch4 Classic's whole gimmick. That, along with its more conservative styling and steel construction, is what makes it Classic as opposed to the normal Watch4, which is smaller, sleeker, made of aluminum, and bereft of a physical rotating bezel (its bezel is touch-sensitive to mimic the functionality, but that's just not the same). I'm still not entirely convinced those upgrades are worth the hefty $100 upcharge, but I would definitely miss the bezel after getting used to it. Its rotation comes with a delicate mechanical clicking that sounds like a tiny socket wrench, and it's just so satisfying. (We’ve heard that there might not be any Galaxy Watch5 model with a similar rotating bezel, and I’m personally pretty sad about it.)
More importantly, though, the screen inside that bezel is utterly great. The 42-millimeter model I’ve got has a 1.2-inch OLED display with a resolution of 396 by 396, and it's got great viewing angles and vibrant colors. It also gets plenty bright enough to see in even the harshest sunlight, and its 60Hz refresh rate looks excellent next to all the watches that are stuck at 30.
I'm not crazy about large watches, and as a man with what I'd call normal-size wrists (that's not my arm in the photos), I find the smaller Watch4 Classic and the included small/medium band to be very comfortable — although I'm within a couple notches of needing a medium/large, which isn't included with the smaller watch. Bands attach by standard spring pins, though, so any 20-millimeter band you may have around ought to slot right in without much hassle.
The watch can be used to take hands-free calls, and while I can see that being helpful in a pinch, in practice, it feels pretty awkward. I’ve found myself using the mic almost exclusively to talk to the Google Assistant.
In the box, there's the watch, its band, some literature, and a little five-watt magnetic charger.
Software, performance, and battery life
The Watch4 and Watch4 Classic may have gotten first crack at Google’s Wear OS 3, but the experience here is still thoroughly Samsung. The software on the whole looks and behaves a lot like Samsung's old Tizen watch interface, but being Wear OS under One UI confers the benefit of full Play Store access. I'm personally more familiar with Wear OS than I am Tizen, but I had no trouble adjusting.
Navigating the Wear-Tizen hybrid shouldn't be too difficult for anybody who's used either OS. Notifications live to the left of your home screen; quick settings above; app drawer below; and app tiles to the right. Twisting the bezel counterclockwise from the home screen will scroll through notifications, and clockwise, tiles. In views with vertically scrolling content, clockwise twists scroll down and vice versa. The bezel is an intuitive (and even fun) way to get around the watch, but it does occasionally become unresponsive, and I could never figure out why. Still, that probably happens to me less than once a day and it never fails to resolve itself within a few seconds, so it's only an issue in the academic sense.