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Galaxy Watch 4 vs 3 (2021): Is It Time To Upgrade?

Samsung’s latest iteration of smartwatches comes in the form of the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic. The Galaxy Watch 4, in particular, sports a slimmer form factor and does away with the rotating bezels โ€” a feature emblematic of the Galaxy Watch 3. In a sense, the Watch 4 serves as the direct replacement for the Galaxy Watch Active 2. So how does this new and slightly more affordable Samsung wearable compare with last year’s flagship? Check our review below to find out.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Galaxy Watch 3 Comparison Chart

ModelSamsung Galaxy Watch 4Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
 Samsung Electronics Galaxy Watch 4 44mm Smartwatch with ECG Monitor Tracker for Health Fitness...SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch 3 (45mm, GPS, Bluetooth, Unlocked LTE) Smart Watch with Advanced Health...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Sizes44mm, 40mm45mm, 41mm
DisplaySuper AMOLEDSuper AMOLED
Display ProtectionGorilla Glass DX+Gorilla Glass DX
OSAndroid Wear OS, One UI Watch 3Tizen OS 5.5
Heart Rate MonitoringYesYes
ECG AppYesYes
Blood Oxygen MonitoringYesYes
Body CompositionYesNo
Sleep MonitoringYesYes
BezelTouch-sensitive bezelPhysical, rotating bezel
Contactless PaymentsSamsung PaySamsung Pay
Battery361mAh (44mm)
247mAh (40mm)
340mAh (45mm)
247mAh (41mm)
Water Rating5 ATM, IP685 ATM, IP68
Dimensions44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8mm (44mm)
40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm (40mm)
45 x 46.2 x 11.1 mm (45mm)
41 x 42.5 x 11.3 mm (41mm)
Weight30g (44mm), 26g (40mm)53.8g (45mm), 48.2g (41mm)
Available ColorsBlack, green, silver, pink goldBlack, silver, bronze
Release DateAugust 2021August 2020

Design

If the Galaxy Watch 3 looks like a traditional timepiece, the Watch 4 isn’t afraid to be more forward-looking.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Watch 3 Design Comparison
Compared to the futuristic-looking Galaxy Watch 4 (left), the Watch 3 (right) evokes the style of an analog watch.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 3 both sport a circular form. It’s a design element that has allowed Samsung to differentiate its devices from rival Apple Watch’s iconic squircle. In the process, the round display has become emblematic of the Korean tech giant’s wearables, too.

On the Galaxy Watch 4, however, Samsung pursues a more minimalist aesthetic. The gap between strap and watch case, for instance, has been done away with. The result is a seamless, unibody appearance. Even the side buttons have been refined. Where once there were protruding crowns on the Watch 3, now you’ll find flat, oblong keys on the Watch 4.

You can get the Watch 4 in 40mm and 44mm sizes. On the other hand, the Galaxy Watch 3 is available in 41mm and 45mm variants. As expected, the Watch 4 is a much lighter model. Apart from the trim in its size, the new wearables are crafted from a lighter and more durable Armor Aluminum material. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch 3 comes in either stainless steel or titanium.

Display

All these changes, together with the more svelte form of the watch straps, highlight the Watch 4’s screen. Despite being smaller, the latest Samsung wearables have the same display size as the Watch 3 models. It’s largely due to the Watch 4 replacing the rotating bezel with a touch-sensitive one. Although it’s a cool feature, it’s not as tactile or responsive as the physical component of the Watch 3.

Now, if you get the 44mm Watch 4 model, the 1.4-inch Super AMOLED display offers a better 450 x 450-pixel resolution over the 45mm Watch 3’s 360 x 360 pixels. The Galaxy Watch 4’s screen is also made from a stronger Gorilla Glass DX+. Regardless of the model you get, however, all Watch 4 and Watch 3 sizes support an always-on display.

Fitness

Except for a different UX and additional supported activities, the Galaxy Watch 4 isn’t a huge upgrade from the Watch 3 when it comes to fitness.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Watch 3 Fitness Features
Running, swimming, cycling โ€” these are just some of the activities tracked by both the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 3.

While there are plenty of design changes on the Galaxy Watch 4, the fitness upgrades of the device aren’t groundbreaking. Most of the new stuff will come down to the hybrid Google Wear OS and Samsung One UI. But your usual metrics are present, of course. From steps to calories burned, you’ll get all the data from your daily routines. Both the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 3 are equipped with GPS as well to keep you on the grid.

Samsung shares that the Galaxy Watch 4 does support more exercises โ€” 90 to be exact. On the Galaxy Watch 3, it was limited to 40. Given the numbers, the Watch 4 can also auto-detect more activities, although its usefulness outside of walking is debatable. If you like competition, then the new wearable’s Group Challenges features might be a more welcome addition.

Health

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 has upgraded health features compared to the Watch 3.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Watch 3 Health Tools
Both Samsung wearables are designed for smart and holistic health monitoring.

The new Galaxy Watch 4 comes with a 3-in-1 sensor. According to the company, a single chip now runs the following sensors: Optical Heart Rate, Electrical Heart, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis. It’s the last sensor, however, that gives the Watch 4 its edge over the Watch 3. This new feature captures your body composition in real-time, much like smart scales.

Samsung has also beefed up the sleep tracking metrics for the Watch 4. Aside from the usual sleep stages, you can now monitor blood oxygen levels and sleep patterns. The latter metric, however, will require a compatible smartphone.

While these Watch 4 features are great additions, the Galaxy Watch 3 is no pushover. It still boasts extensive health tools, including ECG, SpO2, and heart rate sensors. Both devices also offer blood pressure monitoring, together with stress monitoring and a fall detection safety feature.

Smart Features

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 runs on Wear OS and comes with the One UI Watch platform. The Galaxy Watch 3, on the other hand, runs on Tizen.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Watch 3 Smart Features
New watch faces on the Galaxy Watch 4 (left); smart features on the Galaxy Watch 3 (right).

In terms of smartwatch features, not much has changed. Both the Galaxy Watch 4 and 3 support smart notifications, music controls, and contactless payments. Users can also customize their devices through an extensive watch face catalog.

Perhaps the biggest change from the Galaxy Watch 3 to Watch 4 is in software. Whereas its predecessor ran on Tizen, the Galaxy Watch 4 now runs on Google’s Wear OS. It’s not easy to tell the difference between the two, however. Similar to its Android smartphones, Samsung has put its spin on the Wear OS by also integrating its skin called One UI Watch 3. This gives the Watch 4 a seamless interface without losing its distinct, Samsung identity.

With this hybrid approach, the Watch 4 also continues support for many of Tizen’s apps and features. Samsung Pay and Health, for instance, are still front and center. One UI also makes for better integration with Samsung’s Galaxy ecosystem. With Wear OS at its core, on the other hand, the Galaxy Watch 4 finally gets access to apps from the Google Play Store.

Battery

While the Galaxy Watch 3 has a longer battery life, the Galaxy Watch 4 charges faster and supports quick charging, too.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Watch 3 Battery Life Comparison
A Galaxy Watch 4 being wirelessly charged (left); details about the Galaxy Watch 3’s long-lasting battery (right).

The 44mm Galaxy Watch 4 boasts a larger 361mAh battery over the 45mm Galaxy Watch 3’s 340mAh. However, the latter still has the edge. Samsung shares that the Galaxy Watch 3’s battery is rated for two days. In contrast, the Galaxy Watch 4’s battery life can last up to 40 hours with regular use. While it’s still better than the Apple Watch, the last few iterations of Samsung’s Galaxy wearable have seen considerable dips in battery life.

Charge time, however, is where the Watch 4 makes up for its modest battery life. The wearable takes just under two hours to be fully charged. There’s also a 30-minute quick charge option that already gives the device 10 hours of use. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch 3 takes around three hours to charge from 0% to 100%. It also doesn’t support fast charging.

Verdict

If it’s your first time considering a Galaxy Watch, go for the Galaxy Watch 4. If you already have the Galaxy Watch 3, the Watch 4 is a worthy successor but not necessarily a huge upgrade.

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 offers several upgrades over the Galaxy Watch 3 while still retailing for a lower price point. The switch to Wear OS, for instance, gives the Galaxy Watch 4 access to apps from Google’s PlayStore. By integrating One UI Watch, the latest wearable feels as familiar as the Tizen on previous Galaxy Watch devices, too. The software changes also complement the Watch 4’s sleeker and more seamless aesthetic.

If you prefer the look of a traditional timepiece, however, then the Galaxy Watch 3 does have the edge. Plus, Samsung’s 2020 flagship wearable is still a strong product that offers most of the core and advanced health and fitness features on the Watch 4. This includes the iconic physical rotating bezel, too. Is it time to upgrade? Perhaps not. But if you’re buying a Galaxy Watch for the first time, you’re better off with the Galaxy Watch 4 than the Watch 3.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ Can I take calls on a Samsung Galaxy Watch?

Samsung Galaxy Watch devices with built-in mic and speakers can take calls. If you get the LTE models, you can even answer calls remotely.

๐Ÿ“Œ What kind of bands are available for the Galaxy Watch 4?

Samsung shares that the Galaxy Watch 4 is compatible with a wide selection of bands, including the Sport Band and Hybrid Leather Band.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is there a Galaxy Watch 4 blood sugar sensor?

No, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 does not monitor blood sugar.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Galaxy Watch 4 ECG accurate?

Based on user feedback, the ECG feature of the Galaxy 4 is fairly accurate. Samsung, however, recommends calibrating the watch once every four weeks to maintain accuracy.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.