The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 may have made waves by ditching Tizen for Google’s revamped WearOS, but that change does come with some serious caveats for non-Samsung owners. And that's particularly true if you use an iPhone.
Samsung admitted as much to Ars Technica, confirming that the Galaxy Watch 4 can not be paired with an iPhone 12 or any other iOS device. It also stated that several health tracking features are Samsung-exclusive and won’t work with other Android phones.
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Despite the fact that the Galaxy Watch 4 runs on Google’s Wear OS 3 this time round, it’s not running a pure version of the software, but rather a modified one called One UI Watch 3. That may go some way towards explaining the Watch 4’s incompatibility issues, particularly since previous Tizen-powered Galaxy Watch models were able to connect to the iPhone.
Then again, since this is a new version of Wear OS, it could be that Wear OS 3 in general is incompatible with iOS. Until more watches launch with the revamped software, we won’t know for sure. Fortunately, existing Galaxy Watches will retain their ability to pair with iOS devices.
The loss of features on Android is a less confusing move, since Samsung has imposed similar restrictions on previous Galaxy Watches. This time around, if you want to use ECG tracking, blood pressure monitoring and body composition, you’ll have to pair the Galaxy Watch 4 with a Samsung phone.
Of course, all of this means Wear OS 3 is off to a difficult start. Android smartwatches have struggled to gain popularity over the years, and there's certainly not been one that's enjoyed the success of the Apple Watch. It hasn’t helped that Wear OS hasn’t been updated as consistently as Apple’s watchOS, and performance has suffered as a result.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is, however, an improvement on previous Wear OS watches, to the extent that we've proclaimed it "the first Wear OS smartwatch worth your money" in our review in progress. The fact that it's not usable on iOS devices and doesn't work as well on some Android phones may not be good news for anyone outside of the Samsung ecosystem, but if you do have a Galaxy S21 or another one of the best Samsung phones, it still looks well worth checking out.
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Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.