Best Samsung watch Android Central 2021
Samsung has taken more than a few cracks at different product categories, and smartwatches have been no exception. Every year, there are several attempts at getting it just right through new smartwatches and fitness trackers. We take a look at some of the best smartwatches available, including the latest of the bunch with the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and its foray into the realm of Wear OS. Hint: It's really good.
- Best overall: SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch 4 Classic Smartwatch
- Best for fitness: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Smartwatch
- Most stylish: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 smartwatch
- Best value: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 smartwatch
- Best budget: Samsung Galaxy Fit Tracker
Best overall: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is the culmination of all the hard work that Samsung and Google have been working on to reimagine Wear OS. All of the Samsung Galaxy smartwatches since 2014 have used the company's own operating system called Tizen, and its move to the best Samsung smartwatch OS is a welcomed change for Android smartphone fans.
The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic keeps all of the wonderful features that Samsung smartwatch enthusiasts have enjoyed for years. By switching to Wear OS, users are gaining access to Google Services — including apps. The watch is encased in stainless steel and comes in two sizes, 42mm and 46mm, with both sides featuring the beloved physical rotating bezel for navigating the watch.
Aside from the new software for the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, Samsung also brought in some new health features and a powerful in-house designed processor. The new BioActive sensor offers heart rate tracking, blood oxygen saturation monitoring, ECG readings in fitness tracking. It can now provide BIA readings for taking skeletal muscle and fat percentage in the body measurements.
All of these parts come together to create a beautifully crafted device that will make fans of both traditional timepieces and smartwatch lovers happy to strap the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic to their wrist. Keep in mind that some of the Google Services, like Google Assistant, aren't available yet but should be soon.
- Excellent performance
- Wide breadth of fitness features
- Physical rotating bezel is wonderful
- New Wear OS 3 brings Google Services and apps
- Durable stainless steel build
- Some Google services aren't available yet
Best for fitness: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
When Samsung announced its new smartwatches for 2021, it decided to update all of its previous offerings in one felled swoop. That means not only did the Galaxy Watch 3 get updated, so did the fitness-focused Galaxy Watch Active 2 — the new Galaxy Watch 4 is that replacement.
The watch comes in 40mm and 44mm, and the lightweight yet durable aluminum build of the Galaxy Watch 4 won't weigh you down while getting your sweat on. Plus, with its 5ATM, IP68, MIL-STD-810G durability ratings, whether you are swimming, lifting, running, diving, or any of the other 90 sport modes available on the smartwatch — it can handle it. Not only will the watch keep pace with you, thanks to the advanced BioActive sensor, but it will also keep track of your heart rate, SpO2 levels, along with taking ECG readings, skeletal muscle, and body fat percentages.
Like that Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, this smartwatch is sporting the new Wear OS 3, so you will have access to all of the best Wear OS apps as well as other Google Services. However, unlike the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, you won't have a physical rotating bezel on the Galaxy Watch 4. Instead, it uses a capacitive style to get the job done, but it can be a bit finicky to use at times — especially if your fingers are damp.
- Its lightweight is excellent for working out
- Advanced health tracking features
- Minimal design
- Access to Google Services and apps
- Approachable pricing
- Capacitive rotating bezel can be finicky
- Not all Google Services are available yet
Most stylish: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
After focusing on its more fitness-focused smartwatches in 2019, Samsung pivots back to its more refined design philosophy with the Galaxy Watch 3. The watch isn't radical in sporting any sort of redesign, and it will look familiar to anyone who knows Samsung's smartwatches. But it is smaller, lighter, and thinner, making it more appealing to a greater subset of wearers. The genuine leather band is casual and elegant all at once, and the standard lugs mean you can always strap on another one.
It's also feature-laden, though a few key ones will need more time before they get a green light stateside. SpO2 and VO2 Max monitoring have a bigger impact on the improved sleep tracking performance available here. It runs on Tizen, which fits so well with the physical rotating bezel that has become such a signature part of Samsung's best smartwatches. Plus, a newer update brought SmartThings Find to the Galaxy Watch 3, making it possible to locate it if it's been misplaced or gone missing.
Unfortunately, while ECG (electrocardiogram) finally made its way to the watch, the blood pressure monitoring is still missing — currently only available in South Korea. App support, generally speaking, is still a thorn in Samsung's side, as it keeps trying to woo more developers.
The watch does run on the older Exynos 9110 processor that was originally used in the previous Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Active 2. It does come in more expensive than the others, but the full gamut of what's available helps punctuate why this watch is the best Samsung has.
- Refined look and feel
- Lighter and smaller
- Trip Detection when falling
- Improved sleep tracking
- Home workout routines
- SmartThings Find compatibility
- Blood pressure not in the U.S. yet
- Older Exynos processor
- Needs more app support
- Still pricey
Best value: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is Samsung's value smartwatch because you get all of the software and fitness features of the Galaxy Watch 3 at a much lower price point. Coming out only six months after the original Galaxy Watch Active, the differences between them aren't especially stark, except for one key tweak: the touch-sensitive bezel.
Physical rotating bezels have been staples of Samsung smartwatches for years, and by removing that in the first Active model, the company veered away from a standard navigation input method. Instead, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 brought it back in a unique way that gives haptic feedback as you touch it. As nice as it is, Samsung also updated the previous Galaxy Watch Active to gain the same functionality.
With 2.5GB of free onboard storage, the watch's Spotify integration is really useful because you can go to the gym or out on a run by playing music offline stored on the watch, paired with Bluetooth headphones.
Built-in GPS comes in handy for those outdoor runs, though it becomes a battery drain, which is why this watch may not always last longer than two days tops. It's also worth noting that this watch was supposed to include both blood pressure monitoring and an ECG, but only ECG is currently available in the U.S.
- Lighter and smaller
- Sweat and water-resistant
- Touch bezel with haptic feedback
- Exercise and workout tracking
- Spotify offline playback
- Blood pressure not available
- Battery won't last as long
- Minor upgrades over the older model
Best budget: Samsung Galaxy Fit
If the Galaxy Watch is too bulky and the Gear Fit2 Pro too pricey, then you can consider the Galaxy Fit as an alternative. Sporting a full-color AMOLED display on a band that carries less of a footprint than other models do, it's something that could fit well on anyone seeking functional minimalism.
This is far more a fitness band than a smartwatch, but it's not without some crossover merit. You could take it for a dip in the pool (but watch out for swimming) or maintain daily activity tracking to stay on top of how much you move. Basic phone notifications will get through to the screen, but this device will not integrate with every app you use. In keeping things simple, however, it removes distractions and sticks to its focus. If that's your jam, then you may like this combination.
While the band itself is relatively small, it's also somewhat deceptive. Women and children might balk at the thickness, which is far more noticeable on smaller wrists. The software is not as deep as Samsung's other models, though that does benefit battery life with a good few days of use per charge.
- Sweat and water-resistant
- Exercise and workout tracking
- Good battery life
- Band is thick for small wrists
- No real app integration
- Not ideal for swim tracking
Samsung used to fall behind other smartwatch/fitness tracker brands like Apple and Fitbit, but it's caught up with some intriguing devices over the past couple of years. So whether you want something that'll just let you track basic fitness stats or allows you to leave your phone at home, there is something in Samsung's lineup.
If we were forced to make a choice, then the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is the best option available. This smartwatch still has a slew of bells and whistles while looking a bit more stylish and professional. Of course, you get a little more heft with either size due to the stainless steel build. But with that, you get top-notch design and performance.
If you still really want some of those health and fitness benefits but are looking to save a little cash in the processes, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 would be a great option. It's a very capable smartwatch on its own, and with a decent price tag and feature set, it's an excellent choice as an alternative.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.
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