Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 reveal set for upcoming Unpacked event

Samsung MWC 2021
(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung didn’t announce much during its MWC 2021 stream, but it did reveal a few key things we can expect in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 – which is coming ‘this summer’ (July or August, say) at the next Samsung Unpacked event.

Sadly, Samsung didn’t show off anything about the hardware or features in the upcoming Galaxy Watch 4. During the MWC stream, the company just teased some neat software integrations that result from the big reveal at last month’s Google IO 2021 that Samsung and Google would integrate the best parts of Tizen and Wear OS into each other. 

But we finally know more about what that means: Samsung smartwatches to come will run an interface called One UI Watch, which will be overlaid on the new version of Wear OS, and which is debuting on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. So some of what was announced here will likely apply to new Wear OS watches going forward, but other bits will probably only apply to Samsung ones with the One UI Watch skin.

In any case, one thing that is definitely coming to the Galaxy Watch 4: Google Apps, like Google Maps, YouTube Music, and Messages, which Sameer Samat, Samsung VP of Product Management for Android and Wear, confirmed in Samsung’s MWC 2021 video. He explicitly stated that the Google Play app store will be available on the smartwatch, which will be able to get apps like Calm, Strava, and Spotify. 

Samsung also promised stronger integration between its own Galaxy smartphones and smartwatches running One UI – for instance, downloading an app on your phone will automatically put it on your wearable, too. Other refinements are more subtle, like rearranging the settings menu on your paired smartwatch to mirror the order on your phone, as well as transferring over blocked contacts and global time zones.

One UI Watch: lots of little improvements so far 

Some of these Tizen + Wear OS improvements in One UI Watch include apps starting up to 30% faster with smoother transitions. The Galaxy Watch 4 will also get eSIM support with more carriers worldwide, and health apps will get more consistent and accurate sensor readings for wellness and fitness. 

One optimization that may or may not hint at the Galaxy Watch 4’s hardware is in reference to battery: the Tizen and Wear OS improvements will harness smaller, lower-power chipset cores to reduce battery drain when reading heart rates, Samat said. This will allow smartwatches to track heartbeat rates per minute through the day and overnight with “plenty” of battery to spare in the morning. 

The operating system exchange goes both ways: Android app developers will soon get to harness Samsung’s Watch Face Design tool, Samat said.

There’s less good news for owners of older smartwatches, including Tizen-based ones like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. As expected, Tizen wearables won't get this new OS. Instead, the company assured users that they’ll get up to 3 years of software updates and Galaxy Store support for up to 3 years from launch.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.