Samsung Watch 4 gives Android a huge shot in the arm

Price: €279

Samsung Watch 4

Pros: better-looking than previous models, can access Android apps

Cons:  some features only work with Samsung phones

Remember Android watches? Those gawky-looking circular strap-ons that always felt more like shrunken phones on your wrist than watches?

For the last five years, they’ve been all but dead with most manufacturers dropping out of supporting them. But they’ve just got a huge shot in the arm. Samsung has pivoted from its Tizen operating system to Android in the latest Galaxy Watch 4 model. Overall, it works fairly nicely. It is definitely the best Android watch you can buy, even if there’s not much competition.

For what you’re paying, this is a fairly loaded piece of kit. It has a large number of fitness features, including an ECG sensor. Its Amoled screen is one of the brightest and sharpest around. And it’s quite comfortable to wear. I also appreciate that it’s a little more subtle-looking than some previous Samsung watches, which I didn’t especially care for, aesthetically. Instead of looking like a plastic chunk on your wrist, this is a lot smoother and understated. I’ve said this a thousand times: looks matter hugely when it comes to something like a watch.

The basic operation of the 44mm circular Watch 4 is a combination of the touchscreen, buttons and a touch-sensitive watch rim. This latter element is supposed to digitally mimic one of Samsung’s main design features from all of its previous Watch models, a rotating dial to select between menus. I have to say that it doesn’t work especially well — I stopped using it after a day or two.

Battery life on the Galaxy Watch 4 is reasonable for a full-featured touchscreen smartwatch. I typically got two to three days from a single charge, depending on how much I was using it. That’s a little better than an Apple Watch, but is nowhere close to what you’ll get (7 to 14 days) from more niche fitness smartwatches from the likes of Garmin.

Swimmers and runners needn’t worry about it getting damaged as it’s waterproof and somewhat shockproof.

So what’s the advantage of the Watch 4 using Android rather than Tizen, the operating system used on previous Samsung smartwatches? Mainly, it’s access to more apps.

Still, some of the features here don’t work unless you use a Samsung phone. This includes the ECG feature. So while this can be paired to an Android phone, Samsung is making it clear that it’s still mainly for Samsung handsets.