Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 is here, and it’s blazing a fresh trail for Google

Samsung has taken the wraps off its highly-leaked Galaxy Watch 4, the first smartwatch to run the version of Wear OS that was built by both Samsung and Google. The watch will go on sale later this month starting at $249 and increase in price depending on which size and model you choose.

It’s been a long time since the Android world has had a truly good smartwatch at its disposal. Apple swooped up a ton of market share thanks to the Apple Watch, and Google with its Wear OS platform have failed to gain any sort of momentum whatsoever. With the Galaxy Watch 4, however, Samsung will help blaze a fresh trail for Google that will hopefully lead to long-term success. Because if it doesn’t, it could spell serious trouble for the future of wearables in the Android world.

Let’s get the specs out of the way. The Galaxy Watch 4 comes in two sizes: 40mm and 44mm. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, a classier version of the standard model with a stainless steel body, comes in 42mm and 46mm sizes. This version of the watch also has the rotating bezel many people like. The two larger sizes come with a 1.4-inch 450×450 Super AMOLED display, while the smaller models have a 1.2-inch 396×396 Super AMOLED. Both come with the same 5nm 1.18GHz Exynos W920 processor, 1.5GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage.

The bigger watches have a 361mAh battery, whereas the smaller ones have a 247mAh cell. Samsung says you can expect all-day battery life (obviously), but that’s likely to go down if you buy one of the LTE models.

There are also plenty of health sensors on the Galaxy Watch 4, and they’re bundled into Samsung’s new BioActive Sensor. The bundle includes Optical Heart Rate, Electrical Heart, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis sensors that let you detect such things as an irregular heartbeat, your blood pressure, your blood oxygen level, and even your body composition. “Our all-new Body Composition measurement tool gives users a deeper understanding of their general health and fitness, with key measurements like skeletal muscle, basal metabolic rate, body water and body fat percentage,” the company writes in its press release. “Now, you can easily check your body composition from your wrist with just two fingers. In about 15 seconds, your watch’s sensor will capture 2,400 data points.”

All of this can be found in Samsung Health on the Galaxy Watch 4, which also includes an array of wellness features like guided workouts, group challenges with your friends, and sleep tracking. Speaking of which, Samsung says it added snore tracking this generation.

Of course, the star of the show is the operating system itself. Samsung is calling it “Wear OS Powered by Samsung” which is some very interesting branding, but it makes a bit of sense. Wear OS 3 on the Galaxy Watch 4 is covered by One UI, Samsung’s interface found on many of its other products. So in a way, the experience is powered by Samsung.

Google has said in the past that Wear OS 3 will deliver a suite of improvements for any smartwatch that runs it such as longer battery life, extended app support, and better synchronization with your phone. All of this is expected to be present in the Watch 4, although it’s hard to say if you’ll notice any of it since not many people have actually used the watch yet.

Samsung says it’ll include its Bixby voice assistant on the watch without an option to switch to Google Assistant. On the contrary, syncing your phone’s settings like do not disturb with the watch will work with any Android phone, not just Galaxies. You’ll also get features like Samsung Pay in addition to all of Google’s own apps like Maps, Search, and YouTube Music.

The Play Store will finally make its way to Samsung’s smartwatches thanks to the Watch 4, so you’ll have a much larger library of apps you can download. You’ll also gain access to more watch faces, if that’s your style.

Take all of the features you used to get in Wear OS, combine them with Samsung’s skin and better performance, and you’re looking at the software experience on the Galaxy Watch 4. That sounds very intriguing, and it’s especially meaningful since it’ll be Google’s first meaningful shot at reclaiming market share from watchOS.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the Galaxy Watch 4. It finally looks like Google is getting serious about smartwatches, and Samsung seems to be providing meaningful help.

The Galaxy Watch 4 starts at $249 and goes up to $379 for a Watch 4 Classic with LTE. It’ll launch on August 27th. Preorders are now live on Samsung’s website.