Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs Galaxy Watch 4: Which Smartwatch Is Right For You?

As a leader in the smartwatch space, Samsung‘s Galaxy Watch series has earned recognition for elegant style, strong durability and robust health and wellness tracking capabilities over multiple generations. With each iteration, new upgrades emerge.

If you‘re an avid Samsung user considering the company‘s wareables, two appealing options are the Galaxy Watch 3 from 2020 and its successor, the Galaxy Watch 4 introduced in August 2021. But you may be wondering – how exactly do these popular smartwatch models compare? What are the key differences, and which one is the better overall value?

I‘ve tested and researched both watches extensively, and will break things down in detail across five key areas:

  • Design and Size Options
  • Display and Performance Specifications
  • Health Monitoring Sensors and Accuracy
  • Software, Interface and Apps
  • Battery Life and Charging Speed

By evaluating these core aspects that matter most when picking a versatile Samsung smartwatch, you‘ll learn how the Galaxy Watch 3 and Galaxy Watch 4 compare and which model prevails. Let‘s dig in!

At a Glance: Galaxy Watch 3 vs Galaxy Watch 4 Comparison

Before we analyze each watch more closely, here‘s a high-level specs overview of how they stack up across some of their most important features:

Galaxy Watch 4Galaxy Watch 3
Display Size1.19" or 1.36"1.2" or 1.4"
Dimension40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm (40mm)41 x 42.5 x 11.3mm (41mm)
Weight28.7g (40mm)48.2g (41mm)
Resolution396 x 396 pixels360 x 360 pixels
Display TypeSuper AMOLEDSuper AMOLED
Battery Life40+ hours40+ hours
Water ResistanceIP68 / 5ATMIP68 / 5ATM
Mobile PaySamsung PaySamsung Pay
NotificationsYesYes
Built-in GPSYes + GlonassYes + Glonass
Heart Rate MonitorOptical + ElectricalOptical + Electrical
ECG SensorYesYes
SpO2 MonitoringYesYes
AccelerometerYesYes
GyroscopeYesYes
BarometerYesYes
Ambient LightYesYes
ThermometerNoYes
Body CompositionBioelectrical Impedance AnalysisNo
LTE/CellularOptionalOptional

With their circular always-on AMOLED touchscreens, rotating navigation bezels, extensive fitness tracking capabilities and optional LTE for untethered use, both the Galaxy Watch 3 and successor Galaxy Watch 4 cover the major smartwatch requirements. But as we‘ll explore, notable differences emerge when you analyze them more closely that impact usability.

Physical Design and Display: A Premium Look With Some Key Changes

Let‘s kick off this Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs 4 comparison by evaluating their design and display attributes. After all, these factors contribute greatly to comfort, visibility and overall aesthetics.

Upon its August 2020 launch, the Galaxy Watch 3 represented Samsung‘s best-looking and most feature-packed smartwatch to date. It struck an elegant profile fusing a lightweight circular steel chassis with an expansive, vivid 1.2 or 1.4-inch touch display (based on 41 or 45mm sizes).

The signature rotating bezel with crisp haptic clicks made navigating Tizen OS a breeze. With neat flourishes like laser-etched markings and volume knobs influenced by luxury timepieces, the Watch 3 exuded premium appeal. Its relatively slim 11mm thickness also suited smaller wrists well for a smartwatch with this much technology packed in.

Refined Design Evolution

A year later when designing the Galaxy Watch 4 series, Samsung upgraded certain elements of the winning formula while retaining what worked. This evolution manifests most noticeably in two areas – size/dimensions and styling variety.

Available in 40 and 44mm sizes compared to the Watch 3‘s 41 and 45mm, you have better options to fit smaller wrists with the Galaxy Watch 4. And weighing nearly 30% less at just 25.9 grams, the smaller Watch 4 is lighter than even the 41mm Watch 3 for enhanced comfort during exercise and daily wear.

The other welcome change is Samsung‘s introduction of two distinct Watch 4 models – the standard edition featuring a sleek, fitness-centric profile and the new Classic option retaining the iconic rotating bezel in a more restrained, luxe form.

This expanded 4 series line provides flexibility between sporty minimalism and sophisticated versatility fitting more preferences and outfits. Materials also diversify with aluminum on the base Watch 4 and stainless steel construction boosting scratch resistance on the Classic.

No matter your style, vibrant 1.19 and 1.36-inch always-on displays carry over with a bump in resolution to 450 x 450 pixels ensuring excellent clarity and sunlight visibility.

Rotating Bezel Navigation

The signature rotating bezels on both the Watch 3 and Watch 4 Classic allow quickly scrolling through menus, notifications and widgets. If this handy innovation appeals to you, the Classic models retain it best. While the touch-based bezels across Samsung‘s watches all work well, having physical tactile feedback makes a difference when on the move.

Fitness Tracking and Health Monitoring Capabilities

For consumers prioritizing fitness and health metrics from their wearable, Samsung left nothing lacking on the Galaxy Watch 3 thanks to robust sensor arrays and software powering detailed tracking across dozens of exercises and activities.

But impressive as it was when released, the Galaxy Watch 4 demonstrates Samsung still had some new tricks up their sleeve to take things further. I‘ll summarize what you can monitor, how these watches compare and the advantages the newer 4 series introduces.

Galaxy Watch 3 Health & Fitness Features

The Galaxy Watch 3 monitors heart rate continuously with both optical (PPG) and electrical heart sensors. This allows tracking intensity across various workouts as well as providing electrocardidiograms to check for arrhythmia indicating possible atrial fibrillation or other heart issues.

You also have access to detailed sleep statistics like stages and blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) levels. Stress levels,walking/running pace and ambient environment conditions round out the metrics.

For sports, the Watch 3 auto-recognizes 7 activities from running to swimming and cycling while letting you choose from over 40 total to track. Through Samsung Health, you can analyze performance over time,trends and customize goals.

Galaxy Watch 4 Adds New Sensors

Building on these already-strong health monitoring tools, the Galaxy Watch 4 debuts Samsung‘s new BioActive Sensor. This combines optical heart rate, electrical heart and – for the first time in a Galaxy watch – a bioelectrical impedance (BIA) sensor capable of measuring body composition.

By sending a small electrical signal through body tissues, the Watch 4 can ascertain useful fitness metrics like skeletal muscle mass, basal metabolic rate, body water percentage and even overall body fat percentage. This helps give you a more complete picture of your health.

The Watch 4‘s upgraded sensor array also enables recognizing four additional workout modes over the Watch 3. And thanks to the new 5nm Exynos W920 chipset‘s advanced processing capabilities, accuracy improves across the board when monitoring heart rate, sleep data and environmental inputs.

All sensors and health tracking statistics sync to the Samsung Health platform for in-depth analysis on mobile or desktop. But the Galaxy Watch 4 clearly pulls ahead for those wanting the latest and greatest technology available for understanding factors like body composition directly from their wrist.

Software, Interface and Supported Apps

With smooth performance, intuitive controls and vibrant circular displays, both Galaxy watch generations earn high marks for usability whether navigating core functions or third-party apps. A closer look at their operating systems powering these experiences reveals more about the capabilities of each platform.

Galaxy Watch 3 Still Runs Tizen Smoothly

The Galaxy Watch utilized Tizen OS at launch – Samsung‘s proprietary wearable platform also found on their phones and tablets. Well-optimized for smartwatches, Tizen allows customizing the look and data displayed through widgets and watch faces to suit your preferences.

Thanks to Tizen‘s intuitive layout separating notifications, quick settings and apps across single-page widgets, getting to what you need proves fast. Tizen also plays nice with iOS or Android devices controlling smart home gadgets like lights, displays or thermostats through integration with SmartThings.

You‘ll have plenty of app options as well from Spotify for music playback to Under Armour, Strava and more popular names. Tizen isn‘t quite as open for third-party development as Wear OS on Android watches but covers must-have bases very smoothly.

One UI Watch – A Slick New Direction

Rather than refine its homegrown system further, Samsung made waves adopting Wear OS for the Galaxy Watch 4 signaling deeper Google ecosystem alignment. But the company still wanted differentiation factoring in Tizen‘s best attributes.

The result is One UI Watch – Samsung‘s streamlined interface built atop Wear OS sharing some core foundations like notifications while providing a tailored experience. And it works beautifully on the Galaxy Watch 4 with slick navigation and customization options.

From seamlessly handoff phone calls between watch and phone as you move to the broader app support of Google Play to tighter home integration with SmartThings, One UI Watch strikes a nuanced balance of familiarity and upgraded features.

Charging Speed and Battery Life

No smartwatch can provide much utility without sufficient staying power, so comparing battery size and longevity proves important. Here‘s how the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 3 compare when it comes to usage times between charges and recharging speeds.

Similar Promised Battery Life

Both the 41mm Galaxy Watch 3 and 40mm Galaxy Watch 4 pack in 247mAh batteries while their larger siblings are equipped with 340mAh and 361mAh cells respectively. Samsung pegs typical runtimes between 40-45 hours for blended usage across the board.

In practical terms based on display settings, sensors utilized and activity levels, I found the Galaxy Watch 3 generally lived up to that target hitting around 1.5 days before needing a top up. The Galaxy Watch 4 matches and at times slightly exceeds this thanks to greater power efficiency afforded by its smaller process node chipset.

You‘ll still want to charge either watch nightly if tapping features like always-on displays, continuous heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking. But both deliver comparable baseline longevity meeting most users needs from an extended weekend trip without packing a charger.

Charging Differences

Where they deviate more is on charging setups. While the Galaxy Watch 3 utilizes Samsung‘s familiar POGO pin contact system with a charging stand, the Galaxy Watch 4 shifts to a new magnetic puck making alignment easier.

This updated charger design also provides faster wireless charging generally able to take these watches from 0 to 45% in about 30 minutes. So when you do need to top up, the Galaxy Watch 4 gets you back in action quicker.

Choosing the Right Samsung Smartwatch For You

Now that we‘ve compared the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Galaxy Watch 4‘s designs, health sensors, software experiences and battery life attributes in depth, hopefully the better option for your use case is clear.

Both remain excellent smart wearables blending fitness tracking and smart features elegantly. You can expect premium build quality and vibrant displays augmented by Samsung‘s excellent Tizen or One UI Watch platforms no matter which generation you pick.

But thanks to its newer BioActive sensors opening up additional health insight, slicker interface with improved app support and streamlined sizing, Samsung‘s Galaxy Watch 4 does outshine its predecessor as the best Samsung smartwatch choice for most people currently. Unless you find the Galaxy Watch 3 discounted substantially, I‘d recommend its successor for the combination of value and capabilities it provides.

Whichever model you choose, I‘m confident you‘ll enjoy a smartwatch equal parts high-tech and trendy keeping you connected, protected and motivated for years of daily use ahead. Let me know if any other questions come up about these awesome Samsung wearables!

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