Update: A new report claims the watch will be announced alongside the Galaxy Note 9 on August 9 and be ready to buy on August 24. Plus we've just seen the official Samsung Galaxy Watch logo that was patented by the company. It's even more evidence Samsung may be switching the name to the Galaxy branding for its next smartwatch.
We've been anticipating a device called the Gear S4 for over a year and a half now, but instead Samsung introduced us to the Gear Sport at the tail end of 2017 and it's currently uncertain what the next smartwatch from the company will be called.
Both the Gear S3 and Gear Sport have been impressive Tizen-toting watches but whatever Samsung plans to release next, all we currently know for certain is that we don't know anything concrete.
Some of the rumors suggest Samsung will be focusing on the health, fitness and sleep tracking elements of the watch, plus the company seemingly wants to put a big focus on its internet connectivity too. Then there are several futuristic looking patents point towards features that may be included, but nothing is for certain.
At the moment, most of the recent rumors suggest it'll be called the Samsung Galaxy Watch rather than the Gear S4 or the Gear Sport 2. A trademark application made in May 2018 suggests the company is opting for Samsung Galaxy Watch, plus we've also seen a logo using that name that the company has patented too.
You’ll find information on all of the patents, rumors, leaks and much more below, along with a list of the things we want to see from the next Samsung watch.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Samsung's upcoming smartwatch, but the name is unclear
- When is it out? Some point this year, maybe in end of August at IFA
- What will it cost? More than most other wearables
Samsung Gear S4 release date and price
We don't currently know anything for certain about the release date of the Samsung Gear S4, but leaks heavily suggest it's in development and we'll be seeing it launch before the end of 2018.
The current rumors are split - some claim the watch will come on August 9 alongside the Galaxy Note 9, while others believe the watch will launch at the end of August at IFA 2018 alongside the Galaxy Tab S4.
Considering the Samsung Gear S3 was announced in August 2016, and the Samsung Gear S2 was announced in August of the year before that, an August 2017 announcement for the Gear S4 initially seemed likely. That didn't happen though and instead we got the Samsung Gear Sport.
History suggests we'll see the new watch launch at IFA, but it may be the company wants to get the device out as soon as possible so will announce it on August 9 and release it on August 24.
When the next Gear smartwatch launches, it will probably cost a lot. The Samsung Gear S3 started at $349/£349 (around AU$475) and we’ll likely see a similar price for the new model, especially as it will be positioned to compete with the Apple Watch 3 and Apple Watch 4.
That said, a rumored change to the manufacturing process could result in savings, so there's a chance these will be passed on to consumers.
Samsung Galaxy Watch or Gear S4?
What's less clear than the release date is what the Gear S4 will actually be called when it hits shop shelves.
There's no official news from Samsung yet on whether last year's Gear Sport sits in a separate range to the Gear S line of smartwatches.
Further confusing matters, a trademark application in May 2018 suggested Samsung is considering naming a new product the Samsung Galaxy Watch, which may well be this device that we thought was the Gear S4.
We've heard consistent rumors of it being called that, plus we've now seen the company trademark a logo that sports the Samsung Galaxy Watch title. For most of this article we'll refer to the flagship watch as the Gear S4, but it may be that the branding will change on the final product.
Samsung Gear S4 design and display
Rumors for the Samsung Gear S4 are now starting to pile up ever since we heard word the watch is in development.
One source has said Samsung wants to offer the upcoming watch in two different sizes. According to Samsung blog SamMobile, the company plans to range two sizes and this may be to offer a more appropriate choice for those who have smaller wrists and therefore like smaller watches.
You can buy all versions of the Apple Watch in either 38mm or 42mm versions, so it's likely Samsung has seen that success and will want to replicate it in the Gear range.
We've also heard that the Gear S4 might come in silver, gold and black shades, but that while two versions of the watch will launch, the gold color will only be available on one of them.
When we say two versions though we're not talking about the sizes above, rather there's likely to be a sporty and dressy split, as there was with the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier.
Little else is known for certain about the design, but we can guess there will be a 1.3-inch display as the company has used that on its previous iterations of the Gear smartwatch. The strap will likely be comfortable for exercise, but there will probably be other options such as leather for more stylish occasions.
We've seen lots of patents for upcoming Gear smartwatches, so some of these features may be included on the new watch if Samsung is feeling bold and confident in its new tech.
One patent, spotted by Patently Mobile, shows a Samsung watch with a display built into the bezel. The Gear S3 already has a large bezel that can be rotated, so adding a display could be the next step, but again, being nothing more than a patent we wouldn’t count on it appearing on the Gear S4.
We've also seen a patent for an upcoming Samsung watch that suggests it may include battery tech within the strap.
The diagram provided shows the company wants to include batteries in both parts of the strap and has been experimenting with including the tech inside different materials such as leather, polymer and rubber.
On the topic of straps, Samsung has been working on flexible and curved screens for a long time so it’s not surprising that it would extend the idea to a watch strap.
We wouldn’t rely on any of these features being included in the Gear S4 though, as patents very often don’t get beyond the idea stage.
Samsung Gear S4 features
We don't currently know anything for certain about the new features the Gear S4 watch will bring, but there are lots of signposts of what we may see.
One big change could be the battery, as the Samsung Gear S4 is rumored to be getting a 470mAh one, up from 380mAh on the Gear S3, which could make this one of the longest-lasting smartwatches around, given that the Gear S3 can already comfortably last 2-3 days.
There's additional evidence for a larger battery in the form of a claim that the Samsung Gear S4 will use a Panel Level Packaging (PLP) manufacturing process, which means the chip will take up less space, leaving more for the battery.
Both the battery spec and PLP manufacturing have been reported separately by Twitter leaker Ice Universe, who also shared news that the watch may come with a blood pressure monitor too.
A previously filed patent has already suggested the Gear S4 (or perhaps even a future Samsung watch) will come with a built-in blood pressure monitor, so it may be the company believes it's time to include this tech.
LTE is also set to be a big feature of the watch as we've heard Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are all interested in ranging the Gear S4 when it has launched. We don't currently know about any networks or carriers for other markets, but if all three of those US providers are interested, it may be Samsung is including a big upgrade in mobile internet tech.
Back in April this year, SamMobile spoke to a source that confirmed S Health would be getting some big upgrades. One of the focuses for Samsung's improvements will be in-depth sleep tracking, but monitoring your health in general will be one of the main reasons to buy this watch.
Exactly what these upgrades will include, we don't know. One patent spotted by Russian site 3Dnews talks about a camera with an optical zoom, that oddly seems to be built into the middle of the watch face.
The patent also highlights a strap with a screen on it, giving you shortcuts to your apps, rather than having to swipe through the tiny display on the watch face to find them.
One thing we think is very likely in the Gear S4 is the presence of Samsung’s voice assistant Bixby, taking the place of S Voice. One report from SamMobile suggests it'll debut on the next smartwatch, but instead of having a dedicated hardware button (like on the Samsung Galaxy phone series) you'll be able to hold down the main button on the watch to boot up the voice assistant.
Expect to be able to talk to your watch for a lot of the features, but whether you want to do that in public is a different question.
We originally expected Samsung to pack Tizen software onto the Gear S4, but considering the rumored name change to Samsung Galaxy Watch it may be the company will decide to embrace Google's Wear OS for the first time.
Samsung's first smartwatch in 2013 toted the name Galaxy Gear as it ran Android Wear software, but the Galaxy moniker was dropped for the second generation in 2014 when the company used Tizen software instead.
If it's called the Samsung Galaxy Watch, that may mean the company is looking to include Google's software inside.
It'd be a big surprise as Samsung has spent the last four or so years building up the functionality of Tizen, but stranger things have happened and we've heard word from a known Samsung leaker called Ice Universe who also has also heard the Galaxy Watch will pack Wear OS smarts.
Further evidence for this OS switch came when Gear watches running Wear OS were spotted on the wrists of Samsung employees, however, it turns out these were one-offs, so we wouldn't count out Tizen for now. Stranger things have happened though, so you may be able to buy a Samsung Wear OS watch later this year.
Other features such as the processor specs are unclear right now, but hopefully we'll hear about that in the coming weeks and months.
Samsung Gear S4: what we want to see
The Samsung Gear S4 is likely to be one of the most exciting wearables of 2018, especially if it incorporates some of the following changes.
1. Make it more compact
The Samsung Gear S3 is a well-made and generally good-looking device, but it’s also rather big, chunky and heavy.
So we’d like the Samsung Gear S4 to be smaller and slimmer on the wrist, as well as being lighter. Or for it to come in multiple models, where at least one is more compact. Some people like chunky wearables, but by no means everyone, and there’s a distinct shortage of compact ones.
2. More accurate exercise tracking
The Samsung Gear S3 and Gear Sport are packed full of fitness tracking features, including GPS, a heart rate monitor and automatic workout detection.
But while it can tell when you’re working out, it’s hit and miss at accurately tracking the exercises. In our review, we found that squats were accurately counted but that lunges and crunches weren’t for example.
Similarly, when using GPS it’s sometimes almost spot-on, and other times not, making it unreliable, while the heart rate monitor is utterly awful. We want to see improvements to all of these things for the next model.
3. More apps
One of the downsides of Samsung’s decision to use its own Tizen operating system for the Gear range is the lack of available apps.
We doubt the company will switch to Android Wear for the Gear S4, but one way or another the upcoming wearable needs a much, much larger app selection.
Achieving that while sticking with Tizen might require a major investment from Samsung, to make it worthwhile for developers, so it probably won’t happen, but it needs to for the Gear S4 to truly compete with the Apple Watch and Android Wear.
4. Better battery life with Always On Display
The Samsung Gear S3's battery life is generally quite strong, but not if you make use of the Always On Display.
That’s a feature which, like on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and other handsets, leaves the screen partially lit up at all times so you can always see the time.
It’s vital if the Gear S4 is going to compete with an actual, normal watch, but it’s heavy on the battery, so we’d like to see further optimization done for the Gear S4 to make it use as little battery as possible.
5. A lower price
Although the Gear S3 has now dropped to a reasonable price (especially after the launch of the Gear Sport), it started out as one of the priciest smart timepieces available, rivaling the Apple Watch 2.
There’s a worry that the Samsung Gear S4 will be similarly expensive, but if Samsung wants it to fly off shelves in serious numbers then a lower price would really help.
6. A real selling point
The Samsung Gear S3 has a lot of features, but no real standout USP, especially given what it costs. Most of its features can be found elsewhere, and sometimes either at a lower price or done better. And even if they couldn’t be, they don’t feel truly essential. In fact, arguably no smartwatch does as yet.
That’s a tricky problem to solve, but hopefully the Samsung Gear S4 will be up to the challenge and include some features that convince us it really is worth strapping an expensive smartwatch to our wrists. Especially if the company changes the name to the Samsung Galaxy Watch, the firm will need to prove that name change worthy with some new features.
7. A better bezel
The bezel is one of the best things about the Samsung Gear S3, as it works as a rotatable dial that you can use to navigate menus.
However, there’s no hardware confirm button, so you have to tap the screen once you’ve reached the option you want, which isn’t ideal, as switching between the display and buttons for simple interactions isn’t intuitive.
So hopefully the Gear S4 will offer more seamless interactions using the bezel. But we’d also like to see the bezel become a little less stiff, so you can comfortably operate it with a single finger.
- Later in the year we may also see the Samsung Gear Fit 3 too