If you own Android phone, you are likely to enviously long for the equivalent of Apple Watch. A smartwatch with a sturdy app store, detailed fitness and health tracking features and a fast and intuitive interface- obviously too much to ask for! Don’t worry, all hope is not lost. It may have taken a little more than seven yearsbut Google’s Wear OS smartwatch platform has woken up and is finally advancing to make it a viable competitor.
The latest version of Wear OS 3 was developed by Samsung, Google and Fitbit (the latest is Owned by Google). The first watch to launch it was Samsung Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch4 Classic. Yes, you heard right. Samsung, which has been perfecting its home operating system Tizen smartwatch for several years – and produces a bunch of well made watches – decided to try a different approach and instead contribute to Google.
The idea is to unite the owners of Android phones into one smartwatch operating system, thus stimulating application developers to create applications for the platform. Both Tizen and Wear OS have suffered from a shortage of apps in their respective stores – and we all know what happens when you don’t have enough of them (sorry, Windows Phone).
It will take you a while to see new Wear OS applications, but the latest Watch4 range already gives me hope. And if you’re a fan of Samsung’s previous Galaxy Watches, you’ll be glad to know that the software feels pretty much the same, with a few new improvements (and some regressions).
There are two models: Watch4 ($ 250), which is available in sizes 40 and 44 mm, and Watch4 Classic ($ 350), which you can get in 42 or 46 mm. Internally, they are quite similar and both have bright OLED displays, but the design is different. Watch4 is minimalist, while Classic is more traditional and sporty. All sizes share 20mm silicone straps, but it’s easy to switch to a design of your choice.
Classic is made of stainless steel, so it is more durable than the aluminum Watch4. It also retains the popular mechanical rotating frame, so you can physically move the edge around the screen to scroll through the clock interface. Watch4 sticks with a digital panel that achieves the same thing as the Galaxy Watch Active series, but there is no satisfactory tactile click as you scroll through the menus.
Both are attractive, round watches and sit comfortably on the wrist, but do the mechanical frame and stainless steel cost more than $ 100? I do not think so. You need to worry more about choosing the right size and whether you want LTE. Smaller wrists will gravitate towards smaller watches, but beware: You will get a smaller battery.
I tested the 40-mm Watch4 and the 46-mm Watch4 Classic. The first barely lasts all day and it’s without a constantly on display (AoD), which sucks energy. It always required recharging before bed if I wanted to track my sleep. However, the larger Classic turned on the lights all day and a half, even after tracking sleep. With AoD it was a little less, but not much. Go for larger sizes if your wrist allows it.
If you told me that the Galaxy Watch works with Wear OS, I would say “liar, liar, pants on fire.” Run the interface and it looks almost exactly like its Tizen predecessors. This is one of the new changes in Wear OS 3 – manufacturers will be able to match the software with their own unique style. On the left are all your notifications, on the right are tiles (also known as widgets), and swiping down allows you to access the clock settings.