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Apple Watch 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Which smartwatch will win?

Apple Watch 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
(Image credit: Jon Prosser & Ian Zelbo/Tom's Guide)

We’re anticipating a hot-ticket Apple Watch 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 showdown in the coming months. With rumors about both next-gen smartwatches heating up, you might be wondering which is destined to win.

The Apple Watch 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 are expected to replace two of the best smartwatches you can buy right now. Although each caters to different users, innovations in wearable computing are usually determined by the new features both companies can bring to customers' wrists.

But will Apple or Samsung produce the better device? This preliminary Apple Watch 7 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 face-off covers everything we know about how the two upcoming smartwatches stack up.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Price and release date

We know neither the price nor release date for the Apple Watch 7 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 yet. That said, we can make some guesses based on how Apple and Samsung have handled their smartwatch launches in the past.

The Apple Watch 7 will probably start at $399, which is how much the 40-millimeter Apple Watch 6 with GPS costs now. Apple releases a new version of its popular smartwatch every September, and we expect it to do the same this year. It could launch alongside the iPhone 13 series or see its own keynote event.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 could also start at $399, like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 did (now you can find the latest Galaxy Watch on sale.) Samsung is less consistent in its pricing approach, though. As for release date, the next Galaxy Watch will probably arrive at a late summer Samsung Unpacked event, perhaps headlined by the Samsung Galaxy Note 21.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Design

The Apple Watch’s design is pretty much the same six years in, but this year could mark the product’s first major appearance change. Recent Apple Watch 7 render images tease a flat-edged redesign, as well as a slew of new color options. While the Apple Watch 6 introduced Product Red and navy Blue versions, the next Apple Watch could add on brighter color options in addition to the standard Silver, Gold and Space Gray.

Apple Watch 7 leak

(Image credit: Jon Prosser & Ian Zelbo)

We expect the Galaxy Watch 4 to look more like a traditional watch. Both the original Samsung Galaxy Watch and last year’s Galaxy Watch 3 strike a good balance of fashion and function, complete with a physical rotating bezel you can use to navigate menus. We haven’t seen any leaks pointing to a drastically different design.

Galaxy Watch

(Image credit: Evan Blass)

But it will be interesting to see if the Galaxy Watch 4 ships with luxurious leather-like bands like the Galaxy Watch 3. We’re betting the next Apple Watch will ship with sportier silicone bands again. You can replace the straps on either device with any Galaxy Watch-compatible band or any of the best Apple Watch bands, though.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: New features and software

The marquee internal upgrade of both the Apple Watch 7 and Galaxy Watch 4 could be a blood glucose reader. To the benefit of those with diabetes or health-conscious folks who like to monitor their blood sugar levels, the next generation of flagship smartwatches could gather glucose readings through non-invasive methods.

This report says that the Apple Watch 7 will offer blood glucose monitoring via skin contact, and the prospects look likely. We’re less certain whether the Galaxy Watch 4 will get the feature, too. One report says yes, while another says it’s not happening.

Additional upgrades to both smartwatches will likely come via software update. The Apple Watch 7 will ship with watchOS 8, which we expect Apple to unveil during WWDC 2021. We don’t know much about the new software version yet, but we should learn more ahead of the Apple Watch 7’s debut.

Google IO 2021 WearOS

(Image credit: Google)

Meanwhile, the Galaxy Watch 4 will be the first smartwatch sporting Wear, the evolution of Google’s Wear OS that absorbs Tizen and introduces some of Fitbit’s health tracking features. If Wear truly offers the best of all three platforms and lives up to its promise of expanded developer tools, it could be the most convincing Apple Watch rival to date. See our Wear OS vs. watchOS face-off for more on how the two softwares stack up.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Battery life

The new Wear software could also bring improvements to the next Galaxy Watch’s battery life. Based on our usage, we found the Galaxy Watch 3 lasted just over a day with the always-on display and frequent activity tracking. The Fitbit Sense, by comparison, lasts an epic six days, so it would be great if the Galaxy Watch 4 gains some battery life back. The original lasted 4-to-5 days.

We're used to the 18-24 hour stamina of current Apple Watch models, but we'd welcome an Apple Watch that can last longer between charges, too. We haven’t seen any evidence supporting a longer battery life for the Series 7, though.

Apple Watch 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Outlook

In a couple of months, this Apple Watch 7 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 could have a clear winner. Usually, the Apple Watch is the top choice for iPhone users, while the Galaxy Watch 4 is the top choice for Android users. But now that Samsung has teamed up with Google, it could appeal to existing Fitbit customers, too.

We’ll need to see both these smartwatches in action to know whether Samsung’s new software is all it's cracked up to be, and whether Apple has done enough this time around to maintain its edge.