I love watches but my equation with smartwatches has been slightly bumpy. I hated the way they looked, to begin with. But, we are at the fag end of 2019 and things have definitely changed drastically. I’ve grown up and so have smartwatch designs, fortunately. Which means, I have warmed up to using more smartwatches now and, as a result, you are reading more reviews as well.
Anyway, the Galaxy Watch 4G that I’ve had the privilege of using has a palatable conventional design. It is also one of the very few smartwatches in India to come with eSIM support for 4G/LTE connectivity on the move. This makes the Galaxy Watch 4G a very interesting proposition. Now, there are many folks who might feel that the late arrival of the Galaxy Watch 4G in India might make it lose its relevance but that’s far from true. In fact, after using it I am convinced that it is the best smartwatch for Android phones, even today. Let me tell you why in my review.
Galaxy Watch 4G: design, display, and fit
Alright, as I mentioned, the round smartwatch design of the Galaxy Watch 4G is more conventional and appealing. For as long as I remember, watches have mostly all been round. And therefore, the familiarity makes you feel comfortable. What might not make you feel comfortable is if you get the wrong size. The Galaxy Watch with the 46mm dial is massive. It fits well for me, but I am massive too. It is also heavier than most watches out there and could weigh down heavily on your hand. Forget tracking your sleep with this watch even if the option exists. The 42mm is the right size for most wrists but there is one drawback that could make or break your purchase decision. I’ll discuss that in detail in the battery section. Hint!
The immediately recognizable design feature of the Galaxy Watch 4G is the rotatable dial carried forward from the Gear S3 Frontier, which shares a similar design language. The best thing about the dial is that it is not only there for visual flair but has proper utility, which I shall discuss later. The only issue I have with the design is that you only get the Silver variant in India with one strap. I would’ve loved the Black one. Anyway, you can change the straps easily because the watches come with a standard 22mm or 20mm strap, for the 46mm or 42mm watches respectively. You can easily buy after-market strap if you don’t like the bundled Black one.
Coming to the display, you get a 1.2-inch Super AMOLED on the 42mm watch and a 1.3-inch panel on the 46mm variant. You get a screen resolution of 360×360 and a 16M color depth. This is one of the best smartwatch displays that you can find. It is super colorful, gets extremely bright as well. Plus, it is Always On as well. The oleophobic coating also ensures that it keeps smudges from your finger at bay.
All that said, if you compare it directly to the display on the Apple Watch Series 5, it doesn’t look as impressive. Why? Well, because the Galaxy Watch 4G’s display is lodged inside a cavity whereas the Apple Watch Series 5’s display is all glass and curves around the edges. Which is why, the even more nondescript, Galaxy Watch Active 2 looks more like a round Apple watch than the Watch 4G does.
Galaxy Watch 4G: smartwatch capabilities
The Galaxy Watch 4G’s main appeal is the fact that you can activate an eSIM to use it standalone without being tethered to a smartphone. The Watch 4G supports eSIM on Jio and Airtel networks in India. I activated eSIM on my current Airtel number and it was a super smooth process. I did all of it through the Galaxy Wearable app only. Here is an important tip. During the setup process, you need to switch off Wi-Fi for Airtel to recognize your SIM on mobile data and activate eSIM. Once activated, you can make calls with ease and use the in-built speaker to talk or connect your watch to Bluetooth headphones for even better sound quality.
And, trust me…it works like a charm and I can think of situations where using a smartwatch for calls could come in handy. Before using the Watch 4G, I was extremely dependent on my phone for everything. Now, I could walk around the office or head out of the house for small errands without it. And, unlike a phone, a smartwatch is a passive device. This made it easy for me to cut my screen time as well. If you are planning to buy a smartwatch – regardless of whether you buy the Watch 4G or not – ensure that it comes with 4G support. Trust me, you will love it.
Remember how I mentioned the utility of the dial? Well, let’s talk about that now. The dial is integral to the software experience on the Watch 4G. By the way, unlike its phones where Samsung uses Google’s Android platform, it doesn’t use Google’s Wear OS for its watches. Instead, it uses a homegrown experience brewed from the ground up on the Tizen platform. The dial can be used to navigate through the operating system.
As for the UI, you have the Watch Face; swiping down on the display brings up the control center; rotating the dial left brings up all the active actionable notifications; and finally, rotating right brings up all the widgets that can be customized. There are a couple of buttons as well on the right side. The top one is to go back and the bottom one can be used to check all the apps on the watch. All of this is super intuitive and you will definitely not have any problem.
Oh and if you were wondering, performance is smooth through and through. All thanks to the dual-core chipset and 0.75gigs of RAM inside. By the way, you also get 1.5GB of storage space for songs stored on the system. Although, you can use an app like Spotify to stream songs using data connection. I just wish there were more apps, though. On the contrary, a few games on the Galaxy Watch 4G work really well and are super addictive. For example, you guys must try 2048, Monster Galaxy, and Sniper Watch. What is even cooler are the excellent watch faces that are available in the Galaxy Store. Check out the White Gold hybrid watch face that has an excellent always-in alternative. My only problem is that Galaxy Store could be slightly more intuitive with a better design aesthetic. It looks pretty average for now and discovery is cumbersome as well.
Overall, the Galaxy Watch 4G is an excellent smartwatch when it comes to pulling in notifications, making calls, and working as a mini-computer on your wrist.
Galaxy Watch 4G: fitness features
The Watch 4G is also a very sophisticated fitness tracker with a smattering of sensors. I found the step tracking and the heart rate monitoring to be generally accurate. And, the watch can even count steps. Plus, you also get water resistance up to 5atm, which means you can easily take it out for a swim as well. Samsung gives you up to 40 different workouts that you can track. All that is good, but what’s totally messed up is the automatic tracking.
There were times when the Galaxy Watch 4G would track even my daily scooter rides to office as cycling. I am glad that automatic workout-tracking exists but I don’t want on that is so over-zealous. Anyway, when it comes to fitness, I think the much lighter Watch Active 2 could be convenient for most folks.
Galaxy Watch 4G: battery life
More than anything else, the main reason why you should even consider the Watch 4G’s 46mm variant is that it has a massive 472mAh battery. You know what? I pushed the watch to its limits with 4G LTE on, 30 minutes of games, brightness at 10, notifications being pulled from close to 30 apps, Always-ON display, and a lot more. After all this, I got 2 days of battery life! That’s clearly better than the Apple Watch Series 5 and a whole lot of other smartwatches out there.
In fact, Samsung claims 80 hours of battery life, which means a little more than three days. In all honesty, it is quite possible to actually achieve that number. Now, here’s where I come to the smaller 42mm variant. It has a smaller battery, of course. And, resultantly, lower battery life as well. This is why the 46mm makes more sense if you can live with the size.
Should you buy the Galaxy Watch 4G?
The Galaxy Watch 4G is arguably the best Android smartwatch. I cannot genuinely think of a better smartwatch for Android. Yes, the Watch Active 2 looks more like a round Apple Watch but the Galaxy Watch 4G matches the Apple Watch in terms of fluidity in everyday usage. Buy the Watch Active 2 over this one only if you want a minimalistic design. Otherwise, the Watch 4G seems like the better bet, at least in India. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Samsung has priced it appropriately at around Rs 30,000.
I can’t think of one reason why you shouldn’t buy the Galaxy Watch 4G if you have already considered it. Okay, maybe the only reason why you shouldn’t pick one up is if you own an iPhone. For the iOS ecosystem, the Apple Watch is the de-facto option. Period. For everyone else, the Galaxy Watch 4G can do almost all of the things that the Apple Watch can. Sometimes even better.