Galaxy Gear —
New watch won’t support iPhones; key features are exclusive to Galaxy phones.
Samsung just wrapped its 2021 Unpacked event, and in addition to releasing a few high-end foldable phones, the company announced new Galaxy Watches. The watches’ designs have been updated moderately, as have their innards, and they will be the first smartwatches running Google and Samsung’s new Wear OS.
For the first time—and perhaps as a result of the Google/Samsung collaboration—the new Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic will not be able to pair with iOS devices. Samsung told us that it currently has no plans to stop legacy support for previous Galaxy Watches that were compatible with iOS devices.
Google’s revamped Wear OS platform was first announced at Google I/O earlier this year as a collaboration between Samsung and Google. The new Galaxy Watches give us our first glimpse at the software since the announcement. For now, it seems that slightly wider app compatibility is the main feature on the software front. Hardware may be the biggest advantage, though, as Samsung’s chips, like the new Exynos W920 in the Galaxy Watch 4, will be available to all future Google wearables, which desperately need hardware upgrades.
Samsung’s skin, One UI Watch, overlays the new Wear OS on the Watch 4. The aesthetics have been overhauled and appear more minimalist and simple, but the basic functions remain the same. The Watch has a back and home button, as well as a digital bezel for scrolling through lists and screens throughout the UI. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic will have a physically rotating bezel for the same functions. Both watches are 5ATM and iP68 rated. Samsung says the watches have up to 40 hours of battery, presumably due to low-power modes that limit functionality.
Samsung Health Experience
As was the case in previous Galaxy watches, two premier health features—ECG and blood pressure monitoring—are only available to those using compatible Samsung Galaxy phones. Blood pressure monitoring is still unavailable in the US, and some countries won’t get ECG readings. The Galaxy Watch 4 uses a new, proprietary sensor for tracking these health metrics; it monitors optical heart rate (blood pressure, heart rate), electrical heart rate (ECG), and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA).
Body composition measurement and the related BIA sensor are new additions to the Galaxy Watch series. Samsung says the Watch 4 will measure skeletal muscle mass, basal metabolic rate, body water, and body fat percentage—all in about 15 seconds. The company says the measurements come to within 98% accuracy of DEXA bone density scans, the current gold standard. SpO2 monitoring is also on-board and will help with sleep tracking in particular. Blood oxygen levels are checked once every second during sleep, in tandem with a new audio snoring detection feature for your phone. All of your health information is logged in the Samsung Health Monitor app, where you can also participate in team-based challenges with friends and family.
The Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic come in aluminum and stainless steel watch cases, respectively. The Watch 4 offers 40 mm and 44 mm sizes, while the Classic comes in 42 mm and 46 mm sizes. Both versions have Bluetooth and LTE-equipped versions, which start at $250 for the Bluetooth Galaxy Watch 4 and $350 for the Classic. Pre-orders are available now, with shipping starting on August 27. Those who pre-order between August 11 and August 26 can get a $50 Samsung credit “while supplies last.”
Listing image by Samsung