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Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: Which should you buy?

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

Wondering what's the difference between the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic? If you're going to get a new Galaxy smartwatch, you'll want to decide which version is right for you.

These two smartwatches are follow-ups to Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. The standard Galaxy Watch 4 ditches the 'Active' branding while maintaining a slim, sporty-looking exterior. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic tries a bit harder to pass as a traditional timepiece, complete with leather straps and a rotating bezel.

But the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic are identical on the inside. From the new Wear OS software and Samsung’s One UI skin to the 3-in-1 health sensor and expansive watch face collection, you’ll get the same software experience. Instead, the differences stem from the exterior — and from the price tag.

Here's everything you need to know about how the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic compare. Keep in mind we haven't conducted full reviews of the new watches, so the below analysis is designed to help early shoppers with their buying decision based on specs and hands-on impressions. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: Specs compared

Galaxy Watch 4Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
Starting price$249.99$349.99
Size options40mm/44mm42mm/46mm
Dimensions40mm:40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8 mm; 44mm: 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8 mm42mm: 41.5 x 41.5 x 11.2 mm; 46mm: 45.5 x 45.5 x 11.0 mm
Weight40mm: 0.91 ounces 44mm: 1.06 ounces42mm: 1.64 ounces 46mm: 1.83 ounces
Battery capacity40mm: 247mAh; 44mm: 361mAh42mm: 247mAh; 46mm: 361mAh
Battery life40 hours40 hours
ProcessorExynos W920Exynos W920
ConnectivityBluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE (optional), NFC Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE (optional), NFC
Memory1.5GB RAM + 16GB1.5GB RAM + 16GB
Smartphone compatibilityAndroid 6.0 or higherAndroid 6.0 or higher
Durability5ATM + IP68 / MIL-STD-810G5ATM + IP68 / MIL-STD-810G
Color optionsBlack, Silver, Pink Gold, GreenBlack, Silver

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: Price and availability

Both the standard Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic will become available on August 27. If you pre-order yours between August 11 and August 26, you’ll get $50 credit to the Samsung store.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

(Image credit: Samsung)

The standard Galaxy Watch 4 starts at $249.99 for the 40mm Bluetooth model and $299.99 for the 40mm LTE model. The 44mm model costs $279.99 for Bluetooth and $329.99 for LTE.

The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic starts at $349.99 for the 42mm Bluetooth model and $399.99 for the 42mm LTE model. The 46mm version is priced at $379.99 for Bluetooth and $429.99 for LTE.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: Design

Both the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic have redesigned frames that create a gapless transition from the smartwatch chassis to the straps. The uniform crown buttons also sport an oblong shape, rather than one protruding round crown accompanied by a flat side button.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 (Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Watch 4 pays homage to the Galaxy Watch models of the past, too. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic gets the rotating bezel, which is both a handy navigation tool and excellent fidget spinner. Since the original Samsung Galaxy Watch debuted the bezel, it’s become the device's iconic design element. This version of the smartwatch makes a stronger fashion statement than many other popular wearables on the market.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic features fancier materials such as a stainless steel case and leather straps. Think of it like the Apple Watch’s ‘Edition’ line, except the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is far more affordable than the Apple Watch Edition models, which are typically made from high-end materials like ceramic and titanium. Though it costs $100 more than the standard Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, it’s starting price is still less expensive than the entry-level Apple Watch 6.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 (Image credit: Future)

For something more subtle, the standard Galaxy Watch 4 opts for a capacitive bezel and lightweight, aluminum case. The included silicone straps make this version of the smartwatch look and feel more athletic. The Galaxy Watch 4 sits more flush on your wrist than the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, too. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: Features

There's no difference in features between the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. You'll experience the same user experience, no matter which smartwatch you go with.

Still, here's what new with the Galaxy Watch 4 Series. Most notably, Tizen has been absorbed into a unified Google Wear OS, which is now called Wear OS 3. The home screen and your favorite apps are navigated by swiping through tiles, while the greater collection of apps exists in a cloud menu. Samsung's own programs like Samsung Pay and Samsung Health still take priority, but the smartwatch is loaded with Google’s programs, too.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 (Image credit: Future)

Complementing Wear OS, Samsung's One UI Watch skin better integrates the Galaxy Watch 4 with the rest of Samsung device ecosystem. The settings from a Galaxy smartphone transfer to a Galaxy smartwatch, and vice versa, automatically. One UI Watch also leverages an expansive watch face library with bubbly numbers, animal animations and color-coordinated complications that might remind you of Android 12.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 color options (Image credit: Future)

As for health and fitness features, the Samsung's new health sensor for the Galaxy Watch 4 combines heart rate monitoring (PPG), an electrocardiogram reader (ECG) and bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA).  Similar to what you’ll find on the best smart scales, BIA sends a weak electric current through your body to analyze body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI), muscle mass, bone mass, body water percentage and more. You take a reading by holding your fingers against the crown buttons for about 15 seconds.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung improved sleep tracking metrics for its latest smartwatches, too. Blood oxygen is measured once a minute overnight on the Galaxy Watch 4, compared to once every 30 minutes on the Galaxy Watch 3. More SpO2 readings could mean more insight on rest quality, especially for those with conditions like sleep apnea. When you sleep next to a compatible smartphone, the sounds of your snores get tracked, too.

Lastly, let's talk about battery life. Samsung estimates both smartwatches will last up to 40 hours on one charge. But with GPS, activity tracking and the always-on display enabled, it could be less.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic: Outlook

We still need to conduct a full review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series before offering advice on whether it's a good purchase compared to other smartwatches in the market. But when it comes to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, the choice comes down to price and design.

For a starting price of $249.99 the standard Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the versatile Android smartwatch most shoppers should consider. It's not as eye-catching as the Classic model, but it's fit for the gym yet sleek enough for everyday wear.

But if you're all about that bezel, and prefer a smartwatch that looks more like a traditional timepiece, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is your gadget. And while you're essentially paying an $100 premium for flashier wrist candy, it's still less expensive than the Apple Watch.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.