The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 ECG app asking to download the Samsung Health Monitor app

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority
  • Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 and 4 Classic don’t support iOS.
  • Only Samsung smartphone users can access some health data.
  • Google Assistant is MIA.

Last week, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, marking the debut of the new Wear OS, Google’s operating system co-developed with Samsung. These watches boast a boatload of impressive features, but a closer look shows exclusivity that will leave some shoppers out to dry. Samsung’s latest flagship smartwatches pack a few disappointing limitations, including compatibility limits and missing features.

The devices aren’t compatible with iPhones

This is a bit of a departure for Samsung. In the past, Galaxy Watches worked with iPhones, as did previous Wear OS watches. And while most iPhone users will probably buy Apple Watches, the lack of iOS support eliminates these watches as an alternative. It also raises the question of whether future Wear OS 3.0 watches will work with iPhones or if it is just Samsung’s watches (with the Samsung One UI overlay) that aren’t compatible. What’s more, these watches won’t work with smartphones that don’t have GMS. This means most recent Huawei phones are also out of luck.

Unfortunately, the limitations don’t end with non-Android phones.

Read more: The best smartwatches you can buy

Android users also face Galaxy Watch 4 limitations

Unless you own a Samsung phone, or you’re tossing a Galaxy S21 into your shopping cart, you might want to pump the breaks. Not all of the Galaxy Watch 4 health tracking offerings will be available to every Android user.

In our Galaxy Watch 4 guide, we hype Samsung’s BioActive sensor combining an optical heart rate sensor (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), and a bioelectrical impedance (BIA) sensor. However, some of these health tracking features only work if the watch is paired with a Samsung smartphone. Other Android users will not have access to measurements, including the ECG, which requires the Samsung Health Monitor app. Blood pressure measurements are also exclusive to Samsung smartphones and are currently extremely restricted.

Some of the most anticipated health features will, in fact, be available on all Android phones. The new BIA sensor, a device highlight, offers users the ability to determine body composition metrics (including basal metabolic rate (BMR), water retention, skeletal muscle, and body fat percentage). These measurements, as well as SpO2 and VO2 max, are available to all Android users.

Google Assistant is not available on Galaxy Watch 4 (yet)

While the Galaxy Watch 4 is a product of the Google/Samsung dream team, it seems Google wasn’t made an immediate priority. Early reports call out a lack of preloaded Google apps and features. Users will find Google Maps and Google Play Store, but Google Assistant has yet to make an appearance. This leaves us with Samsung’s default assistant, Bixby. Bixby has yet to gain traction like other voice assistants and can’t compete with Google Assistant in terms of popularity. Samsung says it is working closely with Google to onboard Google Assistant and other popular Google services. Google Assistant will be available later on, but we don’t know when.

Still an exciting pick for Samsung phones, and probably other Androids too

If you have a Samsung phone, the Galaxy Watch 4 is a no-brainer. For iPhone users, it’s not even an option. For other Android users, minor annoyances may add up. Whether the Galaxy Watch 4 limitations above combine to call the device’s price tag into question is up to your budget. For now, it seems two companies combined forces to create an Apple Watch competitor, and the result is rather impressive. It’s just not as accessible as we may have hoped.