Update, May 6, 2021 (01:00 PM ET): We’ve updated the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 hub below with new rumors related to the size options for the upcoming wearable. Read on for all the latest!
Original article: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 was among the few smartwatches to challenge the Apple Watch Series 6 in 2020. Now, the Korean company’s flagship wearable is due for an upgrade, likely in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.
Rumors of the forthcoming wearable are gathering momentum. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of all the credible leaks and rumors surrounding the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 so far. Be sure to bookmark this article and check in regularly for the latest.
See also: The best smartwatches you can buy
Name and release date
Samsung has switched up its product naming schemes now and again, skipping numbers or adding errant letters to its smartphones’ titles. We don’t foresee that happening with its Galaxy Watch line, though. As the fourth iteration of its Galaxy smartwatch, we expect the device to be called the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.
As for the release date, Samsung generally launches its wearables in August alongside the Note series. However, no Galaxy Note 21 will debut this year. While the firm might still host an August Unpacked event with alternative products on show, it’s unclear if the Galaxy Watch 4 will be among those.
Tipster Ice Universe believes Samsung could push up the Galaxy Watch 4’s launch date to Q2 2021. The smartwatch may launch alongside the Galaxy Watch Active 4, according to the tipster. There’s no secondary source backing this early launch claim, but Samsung did unveil its Galaxy S21 series much earlier than usual this year.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Design
Samsung’s keeping the Galaxy Watch 4’s appearance under wraps for now. No renders or mockups have spilled just yet. However, Samsung doesn’t usually implement sweeping aesthetic changes to its wearable range. We should expect the Galaxy Watch 4’s appearance to shadow its predecessor.
Our verdict: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review | Galaxy Watch Active 2 review
This would likely signal the return of the circular design and rotating bezel, as opposed to the touch-controlled bezel on the Galaxy Watch Active 2.
As far as sizing goes, a leak of that information suggests we could see two sizes:
- Galaxy Watch 4 (42mm) SM-R880
- Galaxy Watch 4 (46mm) SM-R890
If those sizes end up being true, that means the larger Galaxy Watch 4 would be ever-so-slightly bigger than last year’s 45mm model.
Specs and features
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4’s raw technical specs also remain a mystery for now, but we may see some improvements to the wearable’s longevity and health tracking smarts.
According to an April report by The Elec, the 42mm Galaxy Watch 4 could feature a 240mAh battery — a decrease of 7mAh over the similarly sized Galaxy Watch 3. The 46mm Galaxy Watch 4 may gain a 350mAh cell — 10mAh larger than its predecessor. We doubt these minute changes will result in major real-world results.
As for health tracking improvements, Samsung was tipped in January to add blood glucose monitoring to a future smartwatch. The company developed a system last year that uses lasers to detect the chemical composition of the blood. The addition could be a boon for those who have diabetes. It would certainly add weight to Samsung’s already stellar health sensor arsenal. Speaking of which, expect the pulse oximeter, heart rate sensor, blood pressure monitoring, and ECG to make a return.
Tizen or Wear OS?
There is a huge question mark hanging over the watch’s operating system. Rumors per SamMobile, echoed by tipster Ice Universe, suggest Samsung may switch from its in-house Tizen OS to Google’s Wear OS for a forthcoming smartwatch.
It seems unlikely, though, as Samsung has built a solid foundation with the OS it develops and controls. The move from Tizen to Wear OS would also mean significant changes to the Galaxy Watch 4’s functionality.
While the company has launched wearables running Wear OS in the past, there’s no solid evidence Google’s OS will come to Samsung’s next flagship smartwatch.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Price and availability
Samsung seems acutely aware of its products’ pricing in 2021. This year, it launched the Galaxy S21 series at a lower base price than the S20 line. Arguably, this was necessary, but could this philosophy filter down to the company’s flagship smartwatch too?
Related: The best Samsung smartwatches you can buy
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 pricing started at $399, but the wearable did offer numerous improvements over its predecessor. However, it seems unlikely that the company would sell the new watch for anything less. This might be especially true if it implements additional health-monitoring tech.
As for availability, expect the Galaxy Watch 4 to be available to preorder on announcement day, with general sales commencing a few days later.
That’s all we know about Samsung’s next flagship smartwatch for now.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: What we want to see
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Galaxy Watch Active 2 aren’t perfect. There’s still room for improvement in hardware, and the software could stand a significant overhaul as well. The company has played it safe for a while, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 represents a good opportunity to leap forward.
Just what could the Galaxy Watch 4 bring to the table, though? We have a few ideas for what we’d like to see, including some significant advancements and fixes for things that are, frankly, rather broken.
More processing power and storage
Samsung hasn’t substantially improved the internals of its smartwatches since the original Galaxy Watch from 2018. The Galaxy Watch 3 still revolves around a dual-core Exynos 9110 chip, and the 4GB of built-in storage isn’t exactly spacious. The Galaxy Watch 4 could stand some fresh internals, whether to improve responsiveness or offer headroom for new features.
Unfortunately, it’s not clear just what Samsung might do next. There aren’t any follow-ups to the Exynos 9110 as we write this. The simplest option might be an Exynos 9110 built on a newer manufacturing process (say, 7nm instead of 10nm), but that might not lead to a major leap in speed. There’s a real chance that any CPU upgrade for the Galaxy Watch 4 will be iterative unless Samsung introduces a genuinely new design.
There are still ways the company could boost performance, though. More RAM could help the Galaxy Watch 4 juggle more tasks at once, not to mention enable tasks that might require more memory. And a storage upgrade is both simple and frankly overdue — Apple has had smartwatches with 32GB of storage for a while, so there’s no excuse for Samsung to stick with 8GB.
More (and better) sensors
The best smartwatches are valuable health and fitness tools. Samsung already knows this and has features like ECG readings and blood oxygen monitoring, but there’s clearly room to grow for the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. For that matter, it could improve the sensors that are already in place.
The most likely addition is a blood glucose monitor. Rumors have already swirled of such monitors in both the Galaxy Watch 4 and the Apple Watch Series 7. Moreover, it simply makes sense. About 10.5% of the US population has diabetes, according to the CDC. If those people with diabetes can keep track of their blood sugar levels without drawing blood or wearing more than the Galaxy Watch 4, that could greatly improve their quality of life.
However, we’d most like to see Samsung fix existing sensors. The GPS and heart rate sensors in the Galaxy Watch 3 are inaccurate at times. While the failures aren’t usually extreme, they’re enough to skew your fitness and health data. More accurate measurement could help the Galaxy Watch 4 compete against both conventional smartwatches and (in some cases) dedicated fitness watches.
Before anyone asks: no, we don’t expect Samsung to bring back MST. The company is clearly shying away from its magnetic card stripe emulator, having dropped it with the Galaxy S21, and you’re unlikely to see a change of heart by the time the Galaxy Watch 4 is available.
A better software ecosystem
Samsung’s version of Tizen is considered one of the best wearable software platforms outside of the Apple Watch, and for good reason. Its circular interface is generally easy to understand, responsive, and even pleasing to use if you have a rotating bezel. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Galaxy Watch 4 included little more than a slight refinement of the experience you see today.
Tizen hasn’t evolved much, though, and the cracks are starting to show. The app selection is still modest, most notably. You’ll find useful apps like Spotify and Strava, but you can’t count on finding niche apps as you can with Apple — and Google’s Wear OS at least has Android underpinnings to make app conversions easy. No matter how much the Galaxy Watch 4’s hardware improves, it might struggle if people can’t find the utilities they want. Samsung could do more to court developers or at least pay to make certain apps available.
Read more: Why Samsung should ditch Tizen for Wear OS (and why it shouldn’t)
Will Samsung switch to Wear OS, however? Not necessarily. However, there are rumors of the company releasing a Wear OS watch that might not be the Galaxy Watch 4. And while we’d like to see Samsung shake things up with fresh software, it might need to heavily customize Google’s platform if it’s going to preserve the rotating bezel and other features you know from the Galaxy Watch line. We’re ultimately interested in Samsung refining its experience and widening the app selection — it doesn’t particularly matter how the company gets there.
This does include better support for non-Samsung phones, mind you. While you can certainly use existing Samsung smartwatches with non-Galaxy phones and even iPhones, it’s cumbersome to pair with those handsets. No, we wouldn’t expect the Galaxy Watch 4 to work as well with an iPhone as the Apple Watch (Apple’s own policies prevent that), but it would be great to use the wristwear with a Pixel or Mi phone without feeling like we’ve taken a step backward.
More design choices
Ask an Apple Watch owner about their favorite design feature, and they might well point to the sheer amount of case and strap choices. You can get a wide range of case colors and materials along with many, many official straps. If you’re adventurous enough, there’s a real chance you’ll never run into another person with a similar look. You don’t get that variety with Samsung. There are only three effective Galaxy Watch colors, two material choices, and a handful of official bands.
The Galaxy Watch 4 deserves a wider selection. Samsung doesn’t need to match Apple, but it would be appreciated if there was enough choice that you could get a watch that’s as extroverted or reserved as you are. Why not offer a full range of colors across materials and case sizes and first-party bands in more than just a few styles? Your watch would ideally coordinate with your wardrobe, not just your phone.
There have been nods in this direction with a create-your-watch Samsung Design Studio feature for current watches. However, we’d really like to see this come alive for the Galaxy Watch 4 with the chance to create a highly individualized timepiece. The ingredients are there — Samsung simply needs to follow through.
Of course, we can’t possibly cover every feature you might wish for here. What would you like to see in the Galaxy Watch 4? Please let us know in the comments!