I have to admit: I never really liked connected watches. As a tech journalist it’s quite controversial, but I’ve always gone for a traditional timepiece over a high-tech wearable device.
It’s not that I don’t see the benefits of having what is essentially a miniature smartphone strapped to your wrist, it’s more of a personal preference. On an admittedly posh level, I just don’t think smartwatches look particularly good. The large square face of the Apple Watch in particular strikes me as extremely unappealing.
Plus, while it’s pretty impressive that the best smartwatches can do everything from measuring your body fat percentage to monitoring your blood oxygen levels, these are measurements I just don’t feel. the need to follow from day to day. Granted, some people probably find such a comprehensive fitness tracker motivating, but for me it triggers the obsessive side of my personality.
Although I have deliberately avoided smartwatches for the past five years, I decided earlier this month that it was time to get some proper firsthand experience. After using the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 extensively over the past two weeks, to my surprise, I have been won over by the wearable. Here is how it happened.
A mixed start
One thing that struck me when I unboxed the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 was how slick it looked. Unlike an Apple Watch with its distinctive square dial, the Galaxy Watch 4 fits in perfectly with my existing collection of traditional wristwatches.
Of course, if you give it more than just a glance, it’s very clearly a smartwatch, but I like that the circular face invokes a more traditional watch design. Unlike some wearable products, the Galaxy Watch 4 doesn’t immediately shout “look at me” to passers-by. This gave it a big checkmark straight out of the box for me.
Unfortunately, my initial positive impression quickly subsided when I started the installation process. Granted, it’s an Android-only device and I’m primarily an iOS person which may be partly to blame, but I had a lot of trouble signing into my Samsung account on the Galaxy Watch 4. I have been forced to reset the smartwatch. twice to restart the process before it finally works.
I also think the amount of options and settings Samsung expects first-time users to select during initialization is overwhelming. I prefer a gradual approach. Run the essentials for me right away, then let me tweak the rest as needed.
Once the Galaxy Watch 4 was set up and linked to my Samsung account, I was ready to start acclimating to the device. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the menus were to navigate on the 40mm screen, and really appreciated the clickable side button that instantly takes you back to the main watch face.
In fact, using the smartwatch for fitness tracking turned out pretty much as I expected. It’s nice but personally I find it exaggerated. To be honest, I’m quite skeptical about the quality of the tracking as well. For example, on a brisk ten-minute walk to the theater to see Spider-Man: No Way Home, the watch indicated that I had burned 135 calories, which I think is high.
I’ve grown to appreciate the Galaxy Watch 4’s auto-tracking feature. Not having to manually ask the watch to start tracking before exercise is pretty nifty, especially since I’m notoriously bad at remembering. to trigger the Strava application before a race.
I’ve observed that fitness tracking features generally grab the headlines of not only the Samsung Galaxy Watch line, but most smartwatches in general. While I understand the allure of full exercise and health tracking, what really won me over with the Galaxy Watch 4 is all the other things (often less publicized) that it can. To do.
Excellent for everyday use
I can actually identify the exact moment when I really felt like having a smartwatch on my wrist was worth it. I was out for a Christmas dinner with my partner and once the bill arrived we had a fight over the tip (we both got a little mathematically challenged).
I first turned to the Galaxy Watch 4 for a standard calculator, but with a simple swipe, I was able to access a widget that allowed me to enter the total bill, desired tip amount, and the count. of diners and obtain an instant distribution. It almost looked like something out of a sci-fi movie! Now, of course, the latest smartphones offer this kind of functionality as well, but the convenience of having a tool like this on your wrist shouldn’t be overlooked.
It’s these little features of the Galaxy Watch 4 that really impressed me the most. Being able to use Samsung Pay to make transactions with the flick of the wrist, exchange songs on Spotify without having to take my entire phone out of a pocket, and be able to quickly check my location at a glance via GPS, all have been extremely helpful over the past two weeks.
These everyday features are often not as well promoted as the fitness tracker stuff, but for me, these are the features that justify choosing a smartwatch over a traditional watch. I’m not going to know how many steps I took per day, but I like being able to pay by tapping my watch against a card dispenser.
Not quite essential (but almost)
Even though my overall opinion on smartwatches has changed in general, I still don’t see one that will completely replace my traditional watch.
On the one hand, waking the Galaxy Watch 4 to check the time requires a very exaggerated movement of your whole arm. Which may sound a bit silly in public. Of course, some users will no doubt prefer their watch to wake up only after a clearly intentional movement, but Samsung really should add sensitivity options so that everyone can find their sweet spot.
I’m also not convinced that aggressive fitness tracking is something that anyone except a professional athlete really needs constant access to. At least it’s not something that I personally need. However, the myriad of everyday features offered by the Galaxy Watch 4 certainly add up.
I would still feel pretty comfortable leaving the house without my Galaxy Watch 4, if only because my smartphone can do pretty much all of the same things, but even so, the wearable makes a pretty compelling case for himself. Just two weeks with the Galaxy Watch 4 and I went from being a smartwatch skeptic to something of an evangelist. This is no small feat.