Wear OS 3 watch ups ante for Android wearables, now faster and feature-packed with body-fat scanner

The Galaxy Watch 4 is Samsung and Google’s attempt to combine efforts and compete with Apple’s smartwatch – and it gets about 80% of the way there. The Android smartwatch comes in two designs and four sizes, starting at £249 ($250) for the Watch 4 and £349 ($350) – as tested – for the Watch 4 Classic. They succeed the £269 Watch Active 2 and £399 Watch 3 respectively. The two designs have the same chips, features and screen sizes, but the stainless steel Classic has Samsung’s jog-dial-like rotating bezel controller, while the standard aluminium Watch 4 has a touch-sensitive ring instead.

The watches are slimmer and have slightly more flare than their predecessors. The 42mm Classic is extremely comfortable and not sweaty to wear with its traditional silicone strap. The AMOLED screen is excellent: bright, pin-sharp and on all the time if you want it to be. The display is covered in scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass DX+ and the watch is water resistant to 50-metre depths so should prove durable. On paper the new Exynos W920 chip in the watches is 20% faster with 10% improved graphics performance than their predecessors.

The Classic certainly feels fast and much smoother compared to most Wear OS watches, on a par with the TicWatch Pro 3, but not quite up to the rapid experience of the Apple Watch Series 6. The battery of the 42mm Classic lasts for just under 25 hours with the screen on all of the time and sleep tracking overnight. The watch typically ends the day with just under 40% battery remaining, falling short of the 36 hours of the Watch 3’s battery. Larger Watch 4 sizes have bigger batteries and may last longer.

A power-saving mode can extend the battery by a few hours, while a “watch only” setting turns everything off except the watch face to last more than nine days. It takes 82 minutes to fully charge using the provided magnetic puck and a standard 2.4A USB power adaptor, reaching 70% in 50 minutes. A power adaptor is not included.