The Galaxy Watch 4 is a lot like the Apple Watch 3 was (in all the right ways)

Galaxy Watch 4 and Apple Watch 3
Galaxy Watch 4 and Apple Watch 3 (Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

We've seen a slew of cool new products the past few months, but I find myself fixated on the Galaxy Watch 4 more often than not. It doesn't flip, nor does it fold, and it doesn't use some crazy Google-configured chip. But it is pretty unique and important, which is tough to say about any other Android-powered wearable.

The Galaxy Watch 4 had to be good, or Wear OS would be dead.

I think I find myself fascinated with the Galaxy Watch 4 not because of what it is, but what it had to be. I'll explain: It's a pretty good wearable with pretty good software. But it's also the Hail Mary pass that either saves Wear OS or dooms it entirely. I totally think it does the former.

Admittedly, I was very skeptical when I bought my Galaxy Watch 4. It had been years since I used an Android wearable every day because they didn't offer me enough to put up with all the things that weren't great. I have bought a few devices throughout the years from Fossil, Skagen, and Mobvoi after seeing how everyone agreed they were the cream of the Wear OS crop, but I was still left disappointed.

You're going to hate this part, but what disappointed me the most was that I used an Apple Watch. Yes, Apple came late to the wearable party, and the first couple of devices were really only something a complete Apple fan would want, but when the Apple Watch 3 was released, it seemed like Apple got its act together. Sales seem to back up my assertion, and the Apple Watch 3 became a breakthrough device. After it launched, I noticed more and more people wearing one (at least in North America) because it was genuinely a good product.

Even years later, nothing running Wear OS was as good as the Apple Watch 3 — until now.

Nothing on the Android side of things compared, and that was kind of sad. To make matters worse, Apple kept getting better and better at wearables while Google seemed willing to let the products wither on the vine. I don't use an iPhone every day. I don't want to use an iPhone every day. That means, I can't use the "good" watch and instead, I have to settle. It turned me off Wear OS completely.

This is why I really like the Galaxy Watch 4. It's not only one of the best Android watches you can buy; it's Samsung and Google's version of the Apple Watch 3 — and I mean this in a good way.

I've been using one for 23 hours a day for about a month now, and as much as I want to find one, I don't have any serious complaints. Certainly, no deal-breakers make me want to put it back inside the box and ship it off for a refund. That's already better than I expected. So yes, it wasn't fair to head into a product evaluation thinking I wouldn't like it. But I did just that, and I was totally wrong. So chalk one up for the GW4 because it totally earned my praise.

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Featurewise, I'm good. There are some things I don't particularly love, like needing to use Samsung's app instead of a one-size-fits-all Google app and shipping without Google Assistant integration is just stupid. I still want a tech company to figure out how to promote health and fitness for folks with mobility issues, but that's a whole other issue. In the end, though, the Galaxy Watch 4 does so many things well that I can deal with all of this. I particularly love the integrated sleep tracking and all the sleep data it provides. Insomnia has been a thorn in my side since I was a teenager, and since I'm a nerd, I love to look at any data surrounding mine.

The other health sensors seem to be great — read not exceptionally accurate but consistent, which is the important part — and maybe even a little better than what we see on the Apple Watch 3 in 2021. There may be more or better features on the latest Apple Watch, but I'm not spending all that money to find out because I like what I see here. This is an excellent start on the road to success.

The hardware is good. The software is good enough and getting better. This is the first Android Watch I've wanted to use in a long time.

Most importantly, the user experience isn't broken. The combo of this hardware with this software makes the Galaxy Watch 4 easy and, dare I say, fun to use. The slog of wading through device lag, poorly designed software, and features that never lived up to the hype is gone. The one thing that Samsung and Google had to get right was just this. And they pulled it off.

Saying the newest Wear OS watch is as good as an Apple Watch four iterations old isn't the greatest praise. But, in this case, it's not meant to be. Instead, it's something taken at face value that makes for a promising future for Google wearables. And for everyone who wants to use one.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.