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Galaxy Watch 4 vs Galaxy Watch 3: Which older Samsung watch is for you?

Which older Samsung smartwatch is the better buy? We take a look at the pros and cons of each option.
By

Published onJuly 14, 2023

A Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 on a leather surface displays the watch face Info Brick.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

We’ve held the Galaxy Watch 3 in high regard for quite some time, naming it as one of the best smartwatches available when it launched in 2020. But the Galaxy Watch 4 series has proved itself as a capable successor, bringing a refreshed user experience and improved hardware. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better in every scenario. You may still want (or require) the old spice for several reasons. Below, we discuss the key differences and similarities between Samsung’s first Wear OS 3 smartwatch and its last Tizen flagship. Learn more in this quick Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs 4 comparison.


Galaxy Watch 3 vs 4: Design

The Galaxy Watch 3 launched in 2020 as the best Samsung smartwatch of that year. Only one model was available, but those seeking a sportier, sleeker, cheaper alternative could opt for the Galaxy Watch Active 2.

The Galaxy Watch 4 preceded the Galaxy Watch 5. It arrived in 2021 and is available in two forms. The standard offering is effectively the spiritual successor of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 and features a cleaner face, an aluminum shell, and a touch-sensitive bezel. The Classic model is the more direct Galaxy Watch 3 replacement and includes a tactile rotating bezel with etched minute markings and a slightly chunkier build.

The Galaxy Watch 4 is available in two dial sizes with similar core internal specs. You’re also getting two screen sizes with the Galaxy Watch 4 series, with the smaller model using a 1.2-inch panel and the larger opting for a 1.4-inch display. The Classic model features slightly larger faces than the Galaxy Watch 3, with 46mm and 42mm options. The standard model features 44mm and 40mm faces, similar to the Galaxy Watch Active 2. Overall, the Galaxy Watch 4 series is thinner than the Galaxy Watch 3, giving the newer watches a more comfortable fit.

Beyond the return of the rotating bezel, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic does feature some aesthetic differences over the Watch 3. The buttons are still located on the right edge but are flatter and elongated — a departure from the protruding nubs that gave the Galaxy Watch 3 a more imposing visage. The standard Galaxy Watch 4 has a cleaner, simpler facade than both and swaps a physical rotating bezel for a touch alternative that is pretty awkward to use. Whether the Galaxy Watch 4 series is a visual improvement depends on your taste.


Galaxy Watch 3 vs 4: Features

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic on wrist showing the all apps screen containing Samsung Health, the Google Play Store, and others
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

What about internal differences? Well, there are plenty. Let’s start with the operating system. The Galaxy Watch 4 series switches from Samsung’s Tizen to Wear OS 3 and One UI Watch — the biggest software overhaul for Samsung’s wearables in years. It was the first watch line to run Samsung and Google’s co-developed OS, bringing several new perks over the Galaxy Watch 3. It’s also expected to gain the One UI 5 Watch upgrade in 2023, with two years of additional software support still to come.

Wear OS opens the door to a wider variety of apps. This includes Google-specific features and apps, like Google Maps integration, onboard Google Assistant support, and more synchronicity with Android devices. One UI is incredibly slick, making it a breeze to gloss through installed apps or study health metrics.

Several Galaxy Watch 4 features are exclusive to Samsung smartphone users, including select health-tracking smarts. This isn’t quite the case with the older smartwatch. Samsung makes plenty of its own apps available on the Galaxy Watch 4. You can use Samsung Pay or Google Pay, while Samsung Health is the health tracking app of choice. Bixby can be used as the default voice assistant, too.

As a Tizen smartwatch, Galaxy Watch 3 gains none of the Wear OS benefits or features. Samsung has no plans to update its Tizen devices to Wear OS and One UI Watch, even though the company has recently pushed surprise updates to the device. If you want new features, purchase one of Samsung’s newer Galaxy Watches.

One of our biggest criticisms of the Galaxy Watch 3 was its health-tracking abilities. We felt heart rate tracking was unreliable, while sleep tracking was hit-and-miss during our review. The Galaxy Watch 4 series improves both while adding new sensors. The BIA sensor, which measures a user’s body composition, is a useful addition and provides valuable insight into body fat percentages, skeletal mass, and water retention. The watch also includes rudimentary and limited blood pressure smarts, an SpO2 sensor with more frequent blood oxygen saturation sampling, and an ECG. The Galaxy Watch 4 line also carries features like VO2 max monitoring and improves automatic workout detection latency.

Despite these issues, the Galaxy Watch 3 does have one ace up its sleeve. It remains the latest Samsung Galaxy Watch that can be used with an iPhone without issues. The Galaxy Watch 4, and its successors, cannot be used with Apple products.

The Galaxy Watch 4 has other flaws, though. Its GPS performance remains sketchy compared to the competition, skewing outdoor tracking data, while heart-rate tracking isn’t as detailed as some would want. Notably, you can only use the ECG and blood pressure monitoring features with an accompanying Samsung smartphone, leaving many Android users in the cold.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 on a wrist showing daily activity.
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Beyond sensors, Samsung has also upgraded the Galaxy Watch 4’s base hardware. The Galaxy Watch 3 offers 1GB of RAM — plenty for a smartwatch running Tizen’s lightweight build. Storage is pegged at 8GB, more than enough for the apps and offline music files. The Galaxy Watch 4 series trumps this by some margin, though. It packs 1.5GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, making for a smooth Wear OS experience.

We see some notable processing power upgrades, too. The Galaxy Watch 4 series includes Samsung’s 5nm Exynos W920 SoC which reportedly brings a 20% faster CPU and 10x GPU performance gains over the Galaxy Watch 3’s Exynos 9110. You don’t need much muscle on a smartwatch, but the Galaxy Watch 4 series feels smooth alongside the new UI.

As for battery capacity, the larger Galaxy Watch 4 models win this battle, too. They feature a 361mAh battery, slightly above the 340mAh available on the larger Galaxy Watch 3. The smaller Galaxy Watch 3 and 4 models share a 247mAh cell. According to our tests, the larger Galaxy Watch 4 device can endure up to 1.5 days per charge. That’s on par with the Galaxy Watch 3. The smaller models don’t last as long, with around 24 hours of use per charge. If you need longevity, we’d recommend the Galaxy Watch 3 or the bigger Galaxy Watch 4.


Galaxy Watch 4 vs Galaxy Watch 3: Pricing

Finally, how do these smartwatches measure up in terms of value? The Galaxy Watch 3 launched at $399. Even three years later, that’s a lot to pay for a smartwatch. Although the device is now regularly offered at a much lower price, it remains a stern investment for a device no longer actively supported by its manufacturer.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
AA Editor's Choice
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Fantastic display and rotating bezel • Thinner, lighter design • Two-day battery life
MSRP: $399.99
Samsung's premium smartwatch is a jack of all trades, master of many.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is one of the more versatile smartwatches you can buy. It's stylish, sporty, comes with plenty of smartwatch features, and has new health sensors that will make the watch better over time.

Samsung seemingly took this pricing criticism to heart with the Galaxy Watch 4 and Classic. The latter launched at $349, shaving $50 off the Galaxy Watch 3’s launch price. Considering its benefits over the older model, it’s an easy choice if you’re budgeting for a ~$300 wearable and own an Android smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 ClassicSamsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
AA Editor's Choice
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Classy, durable designs • Multiple size options • Good value buy
MSRP: $349.99
Even if you aren't a huge Samsung fan, you'll find a lot to like.
If you're looking for a high-end follow-up to Samsung's Galaxy Watch 3, look no further. Now with Wear OS on board, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic will be perfect for your trip to the office or a night out.

Ditch the rotating bezel, and you can expect an even lower price. The Galaxy Watch 4 Bluetooth model launched at $249, and with its sleeker aesthetic and lighter build, it’s an ideal activity watch. It also won’t look out of place in a boardroom, either. Notably, the Galaxy Watch 4 is now even cheaper in light of the Galaxy Watch 5‘s arrival.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
AA Editor's Choice
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Classy, durable designs • Multiple size options • Good value buy
MSRP: $279.99
Even if you aren't a huge Samsung fan, you'll find a lot to like.
Samsung and Google combined forces to improve the software situation with smartwatches on Android. The result is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, running a co-developed Wear OS. The standard Galaxy Watch 4 is for the sportier crowd, while the Watch 4 Classic is for those who'd like a watch they can wear to the office.

Galaxy Watch 3 vs 4: Specs

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 ClassicSamsung Galaxy Watch 3
Display
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
44mm: 1.36-inch Super AMOLED
450 x 450 resolution
330ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX+

40mm: 1.19-inch Super AMOLED
396 x 396 resolution
330ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX+
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
46mm: 1.36-inch Super AMOLED
450 x 450 resolution
330ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX

42mm: 1.19-inch Super AMOLED
396 x 396 resolution
330ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
45mm: 1.4-inch AMOLED
360 x 360 resolution
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX

41mm: 1.2-inch AMOLED
360 x 360 resolution
Corning Gorilla Glass with DX
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
44mm: 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8mm
30.3g

40mm: 40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm
25.9g
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
46mm: 45.5 x 45.5 x 11mm
52g

42mm: 41.5 x 41.5 x 11.2mm
46.5g
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
45mm: 45 x 46.2 x 11.1mm
53.8g (stainless steel), 43g (titanium)

41mm: 41 x 42.5 x 11.3mm
49.2g
Colors and materials
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Aluminum case
Black, Silver, Green (44mm only), Pink Gold (40mm only)
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Stainless steel case
Black, Silver
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
45mm: Mystic Black (stainless steel or titanium), Mystic Silver (stainless steel)

41mm: Mystic Bronze (stainless steel), Mystic Silver (stainless steel)
Battery
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
44mm: 361mAh
40mm: 247mAh

WPC-based wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
46mm: 361mAh
42mm: 247mAh

WPC-based wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
45mm: 340mAh
41mm: 247mAh

WPC-based wireless charging
Processor
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
5nm Samsung Exynos W920
Dual-core 1.18GHz
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
5nm Samsung Exynos W920
Dual-core 1.18GHz
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
10nm Samsung Exynos 9110
Dual-core, 1.15GHz
RAM
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
1.5GB
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
1.5GB
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
1GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
16GB
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
16GB
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
8GB
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
LTE (available in select models)
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4+5GHz
NFC
GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, Galileo
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
LTE (available in select models)
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4+5GHz
NFC
GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, Galileo
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
LTE (available in select models)
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi b/g/n
NFC
A-GPS/GLONASS/Beidou 7
Sensors
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyroscope
Geomagnetic sensor
Ambient light sensor
Samsung BioActive sensor: optical heart rate (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (BIA)
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Accelerometer
Barometer
Gyroscope
Geomagnetic sensor
Ambient light sensor
Samsung BioActive sensor: optical heart rate (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (BIA)
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Barometer
Optical heart rate sensor
ECG
Ambient light sensor
Durability
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810G
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810G
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
5ATM + IP68
MIL-STD-810G
Software
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Wear OS
Samsung One UI Watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Wear OS
Samsung One UI Watch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Tizen OS 5.5
Compatibility
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Android
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Android
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
Android and iOS

Galaxy Watch 3 vs 4: Which should you buy?

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic in a plant.
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Samsung made sizeable strides with the Galaxy Watch 4 series. The revitalized OS provides Google’s services and closer integration with Android. It also brings sprightlier hardware, more fitness tracking highlights and sensors than its predecessor, all at a lower price. It’s a no-brainer to go with the Galaxy Watch 4 series instead of the Galaxy Watch 3.

This doesn’t mean you should discount the Galaxy Watch 3 in all circumstances, especially if you’re an iPhone user. If you don’t need the Galaxy Watch 4 series’ new features, the Watch 3 still has a place at the right price. It remains a solid smartwatch that does everything pretty well.

There’s a new option from Samsung to consider. The Galaxy Watch 5 series builds on the Galaxy Watch 4’s foundation with larger batteries, new health tracking features, and a premium outdoor-orientated Pro model. Realistically, you should set your sights on a Galaxy Watch 5 model if you haven’t yet purchased a Galaxy Watch 4 or are looking to upgrade from the Galaxy Watch 3.

Which Samsung Galaxy smartwatch do you prefer?

1101 votes

That’s it for our Galaxy Watch 3 vs 4 showdown. Which wearable do you prefer? Let us and others know by voting in the poll above.


FAQs

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 runs Tizen OS, while the newer Galaxy Watch 4 uses Wear OS.

Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is worth buying in 2023 if you want a modern Samsung smartwatch that supports iPhones.

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