In our second episode of “Which Gadget Should You Buy?” our consumer technology experts help a reader choose a full-fledged smartwatch that is not only capable of tracking fitness, but also productivity tasks.
Tyler, a Gizmodo reader, works in government relations and wants a smartwatch that can improve many workflow. It should be a device that will allow Tyler to leave his phone on a desk while he adjusts music controls, sends emails, reads and responds to text messages. The max budget is $350, enough to buy most high-end options on the market short of amateur-grade fitness trackers (which wouldn’t be the best choice anyway).
The popular choice among, well, everyone is the apple watch. But he’s thrown off the table for several reasons: First, Tyler already has a foothold in Samsung’s ecosystem with the Galaxy S21 and indicated a preference for Google devices. And second, there is ultimately a powerful alternative on the market.
Tyler should buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 or the Watch 4 Classic. Full stop. That’s what Florence Ion, our resident wearable/smart home/streaming expert recommends, and I couldn’t agree more. In the words of Flo, “The Galaxy Watch 4 is the de facto Android-based smartwatch to get right now. Until the rumor Pixel Watch materializes, if it ever materializes, you are taking a risk by buying something else.
It was easy! So why the Galaxy Watch 4? Largely because the new Wear OS is heavily influenced by Samsung, which was already selling the best non-Apple Watches before switching from Tizen OS. The newer watches are sleek, performance is generally excellent, and the ecosystem of third-party apps is finally taking shape. The Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic aren’t perfect: battery life is only decent and the lack of a Google Assistant (for now) is a bummer. On this last point, Samsung has not committed to a timetable for added Google Assistant, saying only that it would arrive in the “coming months”. Still, Samsung’s latest flagship smartwatch is the clear favourite.
This brings us to what is arguably an even trickier decision: whether to buy the Galaxy Watch 4 or the Watch 4 Classic. The Classic 42mm is $309 (on sale from $349) while the Watch 4 40mm is just $209. Is the classic worth the extra money? It depends.
One of the main differences between the two is the size: the standard model is available in 40mm and 44mm while the Watch 4 Classic is available in 42mm and 46mm. If you have a beefier wrist, the Classic might be the literal best fit. The Classic also has stainless steel construction, and perhaps more importantly, a physical rotating bezel that works better than the Watch 4’s touchscreen one. The designs of these two are similar, although the Watch 4 is meant to be more active -y while the Classic looks more like a traditional watch. That’s about it: the functionality of these two watches is largely equal.
Before you add the Watch 4 to your cart, Flo has a sage advice: don’t get the 4G LTE option unless you really need that. This eats away at battery life, and you might have to turn off battery features like location services to get a full day’s charge.
And to answer a question Tyler asked us: yes, the Watch 4 can help you be more productive. You can use Google Keep to save important notes, the Calendar app to avoid missing meetings, and keep your notifications open to read emails and texts. In conclusion, the Galaxy Watch 4 is the favorite of Tyler and anyone looking for a full-fledged smartwatch to pair with an Android phone (at least until the Pixel Watch arrives).
Would you recommend anything else? Let us know in the comments! And if you need help deciding which gadget to buy, fill out our simple survey.