Image source: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs 4 Classic vs Watch 3: detailed specs comparison

Samsung has released into the wild yesterday the much anticipated Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic – in this article we look at how they compare vs Watch 3.

Not surprisingly, generation 4 is even more of a beast of a watch than generation 3. The timepiece manages to bring improvements in a number of different areas. But there are some caveats to be aware of. It is not all good news.

Galaxy Watch 3 was originally unveiled in August 2020. Could it already be time for an upgrade? Should you trade your old device in for a new one? Is the added expense worth it?

Read on to find out exactly how the timepieces compare.


Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs 4 Classic Watch 3: Design

Look and feel

Apple is not the only company with a trademark watch design. Samsung has this as well. But unlike the square form-factor that can be found on Apple-made timepieces, Samsung has stuck with the more traditional round look. It seems the company has no plans to change this – and there’s no need to.

While the square design might be slightly more functional, the round one is arguably better looking. Not to mention that there would be an uproar from the Galaxy crowd if Samsung suddenly started imitating Apple!

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Here’s a front view showing how Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, Watch 4 and Watch 3 look. As you can see there’s not much in it. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is obviously an updated version of Galaxy Watch 3, while Galaxy Watch 4 can be considered an updated version of Active 2.

The company will most likely drop the Active line now. There would be no point continuing it.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Galaxy Watch 3: here’s how they compare
Galaxy Watch 4 Classic vs Watch 4 vs Watch 3

Apart from the overall appearance, what is common to both Watch 4 Classic and Watch 3 is the physical rotating bezel for scrolling through lists and screens. But this is lighter and more functional than on the previous models. Watch 4 has a digital bezel. Plus there are two buttons (a top button home key and a bottom button back key), which have benefitted from a redesign. But all of this means that the basic functions and navigation remain unchanged.

The non-Classic variant of Watch 4 is obviously meant for the active types. Hence it packs a more sporty, streamlined form-factor and aluminium case. As indicated by its name, the Classic version appears more like a conventional watch and sports a stainless steel case. It is also heavier.

Different case and display sizes

One thing to be aware of are the different case sizes. Both iterations of Watch 4 along with Watch 3 sport a large and small option. But Watch 4 offers a 40mm and 44mm, Watch 4 Classic a 42mm and 46mm and Watch 3 a 41mm and 45mm. It is not a huge difference but the devices are thinner now thanks to more streamlined internals.

Interestingly, the size of the screen has come down a little. The large Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic both have a 1.36 inch display. The smaller variants have a 1.19 inch one. For comparison purposes, last year’s Watch 3 has comes in a 1.4 inch and a 1.2 inch option. The resolution is slightly improved, though, in the 2021 generation as detailed in the technical specs comparison below.

Under the hood

The upgrades don’t end with aesthetics. Under the hood the Galaxy Watch 4 variants have a Exynos W920 (5nm). This is said to be a 20% faster CPU than the Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15 GHz of the predecessor version. Plus there’s 50% more RAM this time around and double the internal memory – 1.5GB RAM + 16GB Internal Memory.

Samsung says the GPU is 8.8 times speedier than before and the processing times are 1.25 times quicker. And there’s no reason not to believe them. Operation and browsing through menus should be a more seamless experience.

As far as sensors, the main new addition is the BioActive Sensor. It combines three sensors into one unit – heart rate, ECG and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) sensor. The last of these three is new but more about that later.

Other than that you get NFC and an optional LTE variant. No change there.

Battery life/water resistance

Moving on to the all important battery life. Fully featured smartwatches are still struggling with this and Samsung is no different.

Both the new variants sport battery life of around 40 hours. That is not much different from Watch 3 so no upgrade there. The fact that battery life has stayed pretty much the same is not really a surprise considering the watch runs now on a more power-hungry Wear OS-based operating system.

You’ll have no worries, though, as far as water-resitance. The devices are stamped with a fantastic 5 ATM water-resistance rating and will monitor your swim sessions with appropriate statistics. What’s more, all of these have snagged a MIL-STD-810G rating so can take quite a beating.

Here are the most important technical specs.

Galaxy Watch 4
Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Galaxy Watch 3
Sizes
40mm and 44mm
42mm and 46mm
41mm and 45mm
Material
Aluminium case
Stainless steel case.
Stainless steel 316L case. Also a titanium iteration.
Durability
MIL-STD-810G
MIL-STD-810G
MIL-STD-810G
Dimensions
44mm (44.4 × 43.3 × 9.8mm)
40mm (40.4 × 39.3 × 9.8mm)
46mm (45.5 × 45.5 × 11.0mm)
42mm (41.5 × 41.5 × 11.2mm)
45mm (45 x 46.2 x 11.1 mm)
41mm (41.0 x 42.5 x 11.3 mm)
Display size
44mm (1.36 inch)
40mm (1.19 inch)
46mm (1.36 inch)
42mm (1.19 inch)
45mm version (1.4 inch)
41mm version (1.2 inch)
Display resolution
44mm (450 x 450 pixels)
40mm (396 x 396 pixels)
46mm (450 x 450 pixels)
42mm (396 x 396 pixels) 
360 x 360 pixels
Display
Circular Super AMOLED
Full Color Always On Display
Corning Gorilla DX+
Circular Super AMOLED
Full Color Always On Display
Corning Gorilla DX+
Circular Super AMOLED
Full Color Always On Display
Corning Gorilla DX
Battery
44mm version (361 mAh)
40mm version (247 mAh)
46mm version (361 mAh)
42mm version (247 mAh)
45mm version (340 mAh)
41mm version (247 mAh)
Battery life
40 hours
40 hours
45mm version (over 56 hours)
41mm version (over 43 hours)
Water resistance
up to 50 metres (5 ATM)
up to 50 metres (5 ATM) 
up to 50 metres (5 ATM)
Weight
44mm version (30.3 grams)
40mm version (25.9 grams)
46mm version (52 grams)
42mm version (46.5 grams)
45mm version (53 grams)
41mm version (48 grams)
Sensors
Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro, Geomagnetic, Light, Samsung BioActive Sensor (PPG, ECG, BIA)
Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro, Geomagnetic, Light, Samsung BioActive Sensor
Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro, Optical Heart Rate, Ambient Light
GPS
GPS,Glonass,Beidou,Galileo
GPS,Glonass,Beidou,Galileo
GPS,Glonass,Beidou,Galileo
Processor
Exynos W920 (5nm)
Exynos W920 (5nm)
Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15 GHz
Operating system
Android Wear 3.0; OneUI Watch 3.5 overlay
Android Wear 3.0; OneUI Watch 3.5 overlay
Tizen OS 5.5
Memory
1.5GB RAM + 16GB Internal Memory
1.5GB RAM + 16GB Internal Memory
1GB RAM + 8GB Internal Memory
Connectivity
Bluetooth 5.0,
Wi-Fi b/g/n
Bluetooth 5.0,
Wi-Fi b/g/n
Bluetooth 5.0,
Wi-Fi b/g/n
LTE
Optional
Optional
Optional
NFC
Yes
Yes
Yes
Colours
Silver, Black, Pink Gold
Silver, Black
Stainless steel: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic Silver
Titanium: Mystic Black
RRP
 $294 and up
$349 and up 
$275 and up

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs 4 Classic Watch 3: Functionality

New operating system

Samsung Galaxy watches are pretty comprehensive fitness devices. There’s no point in detailing everything they can do – but rest assured they will cover you as far as 24/7 activity and sleep monitoring. All the standard fitness sensors are there, along with built-in GPS (Glonass,Beidou,Galileo).

The obvious difference is that this now runs on an operating system developed jointly between Samsung and Google. Previous editions of Samsung watches run on Tizen OS.

The new system is a fused platform. More precisely, there’s a One UI Watch skin that overlays the Wear OS 3.0. This type of platform provides the familiar feel and functions of the Tizen system while offering benefits that are to be had from Google Play Store. For example apps such as Google Maps and Google Pay.

Better activity and health tracking

The differences don’t end there. There are some health and activity tracking improvements.

One of these is to do with the SpO2 sensor. Galaxy Watch 3 has the ability to track blood oxygen levels – but only on demand. Generation 4 can do this along with passive SpO2 tracking. This should make the sensor much more useful as the metric is monitored for you automatically in the background.

Another difference is to do with the BioActive Sensor. As mentioned, it combines PPG, ECG and BIA into one device. So your watch can still measure blood pressure and ECG with the addition now of BIA.

The last of these allows you to take quick measurements (15 seconds is all it takes) from your wrist that estimate body composition metrics. This includes things such as your body’s water retention, bone density, skeletal muscle and BMI. The accuracy is probably not comparable with what you would get on a smart scale but it is useful functionality, nevertheless. A measurement can quickly be taken by pressing both physical keys after tapping the “Measure” in the new Body Composition app.

Sleep tracking has also been upgraded. Plus the watch on your wrist now has the ability to track snoring.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Galaxy Watch 3: here’s how they compare

Samsung Galaxy Watch Classic
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Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3: which to get?

Unfortunately, it is not all good news. Some of these upgrades are only reserved for those with Galaxy smartphones. Here we’re talking about the BioActive health sensor. It works with the Samsung Health Monitor app which you can only download from the Galaxy Store. So those with Samsung-made watches are the only ones that can monitor blood pressure, ECG and SpO2.

To make things even worse, Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 classic will not work with iOS. So if you have a iPhone you are out of luck. The device does not pair to the fourth Generation Galaxy watch. You can read more about that on this link.

Galaxy Watch 4
Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Galaxy Watch 3
BIA analysis
Yes
Yes
No
Snoring detection
Yes
Yes
No
SpO2
on-demand and passive
on-demand and passive
on-demand
More accurate sleep logging
Yes
Yes
No
Snoring detection
Yes
Yes
No
Faster auto-detection of workouts
Yes
Yes
No
iOS compatible
No
No
Yes
All health features available on non-Samsung phones
No
No
Yes

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs 4 Classic vs Watch 3: The bottom line

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and 4 Classic are worthy upgrades on the previous generation. They manage to bring enhancements across many different areas.

The new timepieces come with a faster processor, more internal memory and the new Google/Samsung Wear OS 3.0-based operating system. This provides for a more seamless and richer experience thanks to access to apps on the Google Play Store.

In terms of fitness tracking the main upgrades include body composition measurements, better sleep detection (that includes snoring) and faster auto-detection of workouts. Plus you still get all the great functionality of the predecessor devices.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Galaxy Watch 3: here’s how they compare

Samsung Galaxy Watch
Gadgets & Wearables may get a commission

Fitbit Ionic or Garmin Vivoactive 3: which to get?

The caveat is the best health functionality will only work with Galaxy phones. So unless you opt for a jailbroken version of the Health Monitor app you will not have access to this. And iPhones are useless as they will not pair with the watch at all.

If you have a Samsung phone and are in the market for a new watch it is a no-brainer. Go for Galaxy Watch 4 Classic or the more budget friendly Watch 4. Those that have Watch 3 or Watch Active 2 will need to assess whether the new features are worth trading in the old device for a new one. There isn’t really too much that is new in terms of health functionality but there are upgrades across the board – the most important of which is the new operating system.

The watches can be picked up on Amazon. Delivery is scheduled for August 27th.

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