Apple Watch 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: which is the best smartwatch?

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Apple Watch 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: which is the best smartwatch? The Apple Watch 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 are arguably the two most prominent smartwatches on the market. They could also be the best two.

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Apple Watch 7 (left) vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 (Image credit: Apple, Samsung)

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They are also made by two companies that are both staunch rivals and frequent collaborators. Apple and Samsung have been fighting for years, whether they admit it or not.

Basically, when it comes to smartwatch showdowns, it doesn't get any tastier than this. We even gave four out of five reviews in 2021, indicating that it is a close battle.

So which smartwatch is better of the two, the Apple Watch 7 or the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4? Let's take a closer look.

Apple Watch 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: price and availability

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The Apple Watch 7 in a range of shades (Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch 7 hit shops on October 15, 2021. Prices start from $399 / £369 / AU$599 for the non-cellular 41mm model, while $429 / £399 / AU$649 will secure you the non-cellular 45mm model.

For the cellular models, the 41mm model will cost you $499 / £469 / AU$749, and the 45mm model costs $529 / £499 / AU$799. You’ll need to factor in the price of a data plan on top of that.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is available to buy now in the US and UK, where it went on sale on August 26, 2021, and September 10 in Australia. There is also a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic model that gives you a more premium design with a physical rotating bezel.

The smaller 40mm non-cell phone version of the simple Galaxy Watch 4 costs $ 250 / £ 249 / AU $ 399, while the cellular version costs $ 300 / £ 289 / AU $ 499. The 44mm non-cellular model costs $ 2809 / £ 269 (around AU $ 500), while the LTE unit costs $ 330 / £ 309 (around AU $ 580).

Finally, the top-end Galaxy Watch 4 Classic starts at $ 349 / £ 349 / AU $ 549 for the 42mm Bluetooth model and $ 399 / £ 389 / AU $ 649 for the 42mm LTE model. Moving to the 46mm model comes in a Bluetooth version for $ 379 / £ 369 / AU $ 599, or an LTE variant at $ 429 / £ 409 / AU $ 699.

If you can get a different flavor from that model soup, well done. All you really need to know is that the Apple Watch 7 is the more expensive of the two lines and that the Galaxy Watch 4 gives you more options to suit your particular budget.

Apple Watch 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: design & display

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The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (Image credit: Future)

Apple and Samsung took fundamentally different approaches to smartwatch design. The Apple watch is square, while the Samsung watches are round.

Yes, Samsung has two different iterations of the Galaxy Watch 4. They are very similar, which is why we will refer to them in the singular for much of this feature.

Essentially, the Galaxy Watch 4 is smaller, lighter, and has a capacitive touch sensing band, while the thicker Galaxy Watch 4 Classic has a physical rotating bezel for navigation. The Apple Watch 7, of course, wears a much more discreet crown that is worn to a similar effect.

In terms of size, the Apple Watch 7 comes in 41mm and 45mm shapes, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 comes in 40mm and 44mm. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is even bigger at 42mm and 46mm.

Both Samsung and Apple portable devices are dust and water-resistant up to 50 meters.

When it comes to available colors, the Apple Watch 7 gives you Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Green, and Product Red.

With the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung divided the color options between the two sizes. The 40mm model comes in black, gold, and silver, while the 44mm model comes in black, green, and silver. They are all relatively off.

It is difficult to compare the screens of these two devices since one is square and the other circular, but we will try. The 1.9-inch screen of the Apple Watch 7 is 20% larger than that of its predecessor and is also larger than the 1.4-inch equivalent of the Galaxy Watch 4.

They do have a similar pixel density though, at 326ppi for the Apple Watch and around 330ppi for the Galaxy Watch 4. Both are stunning AMOLEDs and are two of the clearest smartwatch displays on the market.

Another difference is that the Apple Watch 7's screen curves around the edges, while the Galaxy Watch 4's is much flatter and more utilitarian.

Apple Watch 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: fitness & features

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The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 (Image credit: Samsung) 

With its stronger body, the Apple Watch 7 is better equipped for physical use than previous models. Despite this, something is still missing in some key areas.

It's still missing things like interval sessions and heart rate alerts, for example. What it does provide is a blood oxygen sensor, an electrical heart sensor, a third-generation optical heart sensor, GPS, and a barometric altimeter. Its GPS and heart rate monitoring accuracy is on par with some decent dedicated trackers.

However, the Apple Watch 7's Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Blood Oxygen (SPO2) monitoring facility is not medical grade and therefore of no particular value.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 sports a new bioactive three-in-one sensor that allows the watch to monitor heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and body composition. The latter is done using a unique bioelectrical impedance (BIA) sensor, and it allows you to monitor things like skeletal muscle mass and body fat percentage.

It's this body composition tracking feature that sets the Galaxy Watch 4 apart from the Apple Watch 4 on the health tracking front.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch 7 star card here is Apple Fitness +. Apple's trainer-based workouts have been expensively put together and give you a distinct advantage over your rival if you need a little extra motivation to stick with a workout routine.

We found that the GPS tracking capabilities of the Galaxy Watch 4 are similar to the Apple Watch 7.

It's worth noting that the fitness facilities of these two smartwatches only work to their full potential when you also own a smartphone from the same manufacturer. We're used to Apple's walled garden approach, but the Galaxy Watch 4 similarly cordons off its ECG and blood pressure monitoring facilities for Samsung smartphones.

Apple Watch 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: OS, power and battery

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The Apple Watch 7 charges fast (Image credit: Apple)

Apple equipped the Apple Watch 7 with an S7 chip, which is apparently a new custom processor. However, it is actually the S6 chip from the Apple Watch 6 with a slightly different design.

We'd love to complain more about this somewhat deceptive move, but the truth is that the Apple Watch 7 is fluid enough. You don't get any of the hassles you usually get from minor smartwatches.

Of course, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is not one of those lesser smartwatches. It also uses custom silicon in the shape of the Samsung Exynos W920, and we found it to be one of the smoothest and most responsive wearable devices we've ever used.

One way the Apple Watch clearly wins is onboard storage. At 32GB, it's twice the capacity of the Galaxy Watch 4, giving you much more free space for offline apps and music.

Both watches have very powerful software, at least compared to other smartwatches. Apple's WatchOS 8 is probably the best smartwatch operating system out there, but Samsung has provided a strong rival. It got rid of its own Tizen operating system and went back to Google's WearOS, albeit with its own user interface clearly similar to Tizen.

Both are a joy to use, with finely honed interfaces and richly populated app stores. If you are a fan of typing full messages from your watch, in the meantime, both watches will provide the installation with full keyboard functions.

When it comes to stamina, the Apple Watch 7 regularly helped us get through a full 24 hours on a single charge. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 performed even better, with two to three full days between charges, depending on the frequency and intensity of your exercise regimen.

We must bear in mind that this ties in with the 44mm model of the Watch 4, with its larger 361 mAh battery. We have not yet tested the strength of the 40mm model, so it may not do as well. The Apple Watch 7 has a 309 mAh cell, but direct capacity comparisons don't mean much given they use completely different operating systems.

Takeaway

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The Apple Watch 7 is the top choice for your iPhone (Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch 7 packs a wide variety of impressive features and provides an excellent second screen for iPhone users. It's not a huge improvement over the Apple Watch 6, but it is the best smartwatch for iOS users.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is a more impressive upgrade than its predecessor, with a superior Wear OS-based operating system and excellent battery life.

Both watches provide strong fitness features and silky performance, as well as comfortable settings. The Apple Watch 4 has a more premium design, but you will have to pay a little more for the privilege. Really, they are very close when you pile up the pros and cons.

It sounds obvious, but it really comes down to this: if you have an iPhone, the Apple Watch 7 is the best smartwatch. If you have a Samsung phone, the Galaxy Watch 4 is better.

Both have compatibility issues with non-branded phones, although the Galaxy Watch 4 stands out in terms of Android smartphone operability. For that reason, it's safe to call the Galaxy Watch 4 the best option for most people, even if the Apple Watch 7 can be said to be the best smartwatch all things being equal.

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