QLED vs. OLED TV: What’s the distinction and why does it matter?

When shopping for a new TV, one is bound to be inundated by flashy terminology. That’s everything from HDR and UHD to refresh rate, color balance, smart features, and lighting tech. Specifically, QLED vs. OLED displays.
TV brands like Samsung are big in the QLED arena, featuring all-new 2021 sets like the Neo QLED 4K and 8K models. You’ll also find brands like Sony and TCL producing QLED sets. When it comes to OLEDs TVs, LG leads the charge with this technology. Look for LG’s A1, G1, and Z1 model designations to ensure you’re netting yourself an OLED display.
Let’s take an in-depth look at these two competing TV technologies. We’ll discuss where they come from, how they’re different from each other, and what each one does well (and not so well). We’ll also share which one we think most people will be happiest with. Spoiler: It’s the OLED TV, but there are caveats you need to be aware of.
Once you’ve settled on which TV tech is right for you, check out some of the best QLED TV deals and best OLED sales available now.
What is QLED?

QLED stands for Quantum Light-Emitting Diode. In non-geek-speak, that means a QLED TV is just like a regular LED TV, except it uses tiny nanoparticles called quantum dots to super-charge its brightness and color. The technology was introduced by Sony in 2013, but shortly after that, Samsung began selling its QLED TVs and established a licensing partnership with other manufacturers, which is why you’ll also now find QLED TVs from Sony, Vizio, Hisense, and TCL.
How do quantum dots work? Check out our deep dive into the technology for all of the details.
As cool as quantum dots are, a QLED TV still produces light more or less the same way as a regular LED TV: By using a backlight made up of hundreds (or in some cases thousands) of LEDs, which sits behind a traditional LCD panel. It’s these LEDs that give LED (and QLED) its name.
Curiously, it’s this use of QLED as a marketing term that started a war between LG and Samsung in 2019. In a complaint to South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC), LG claimed that Samsung’s so-called QLED TVs aren’t real QLED TVs at all. That’s because, according to LG, a true QLED TV would use quantum-dot LEDs that emit their own light, and not the quantum-dot-film-over-an-LED-backlight that Samsung uses.
In a retaliatory move, Samsung told the FTC it was unhappy with all of the ads LG had been running, which attacked Samsung’s QLED TVs.
The FTC ultimately took Samsung’s side, but with a stipulation: It must make it clear in future advertisements that its QLED TVs use a backlight. Details, details.
The LCD panel — essentially millions of tiny shutters that open and close too quickly to see — in conjunction with the color filters, creates the picture you see by letting just the right amount of light and color escape and reach your eyes. It’s a clever system, but it relies on a combination of dimming the LED backlights and using the shutters to block the remaining light to produce accurate on-screen blacks, and it doesn’t always succeed. We’ll discuss this more below.
What is OLED?
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. Somewhat surprisingly, the “Light Emitting-Diode” part of that name has nothing to do with an LED backlight as it does with QLED and LED TVs. Instead, it refers to the fact that every single individual pixel in an OLED set is also a teeny, tiny LED light — but one that is incredibly thin and can produce both light and color in a single element. In other words, OLED TVs don’t need a backlight because each OLED pixel produces its own light. If you want to impress your friends, you can use the industry terms for these kinds of displays: “emissive” or “self-emissive.”
There are several advantages to this design, but most would agree that when it comes to OLED TVs, the biggest advantage is the superb black level that can be achieved. Unlike a QLED or LED TV that must dim its backlight and block what remains for dark scenes, an OLED TV simply turns off the pixel. When the pixel is off, it emits no light and no color, making it as dark as when the TV itself is turned off. With no separate backlight, it’s also a lot easier to make an OLED screen flexible, which is why OLED pioneer LG has developed several OLED TVs that roll up (or down) to disappear entirely.
Only one company makes OLED TV panels: LG Display. It sells those panels to its sister company, LG Electronics, which uses them to build some of the very best TVs you can buy. But LG Display also sells OLED panels to companies like Sony, Philips, and Panasonic, which is why you’ll see OLED televisions from these companies, too. Even though the panels themselves are essentially identical, the image processing that Sony, LG, and others do is proprietary, so you’ll still see significant differences in picture quality from one OLED TV to another.
What about mini-LED?
In late 2019, TCL started selling the 8-Series, the very first QLED TVs powered by a mini-LED backlighting system. Mini-LEDs are tiny when compared to regular LEDs. This means that a QLED TV that could normally accommodate hundreds of LEDs can now accommodate tens of thousands of mini-LEDs. The result? Way more control over backlighting, leading to black levels that come far closer to OLED than any non-OLED display has ever achieved.
Mini-LED is still in its infancy, but as TCL and other companies continue to improve it, the technology could greatly improve QLED picture quality with pricing that should be considerably less than OLED.
And let’s not forget about micro-LED. Conceptually similar to mini-LED tech, micro-LEDs are even smaller than their mini brethren. Samsung made big waves at CES 2020 with the announcement of The Wall, a nearly bezel-free micro-LED display available in multiple gargantuan sizes. At CES 2021, Samsung’s The Wall lineup received an even slimmer redesign (24.9 mm thick) and a multitude of new sizes ranging from 32 to 75 inches.
Now that you know what all those letters stand for, and what they mean in terms of display technology, let’s compare QLED to OLED in the categories that matter most when buying a TV: brightness, contrast, viewing angles, and other notable performance considerations, like response time and lifespan — all important factors when you’re shelling out up to $6,000 for a top-of-the-line flatscreen.
Black levels and contrast
Contrast is the difference between the darkest part of an image and the brightest part. If a TV can deliver a truly black dark portion, it doesn’t have to make the bright parts quite as bright to achieve good levels of contrast. That’s why, when it comes to black levels, OLED reigns as the undisputed champion — because of its ability to go completely black when it needs to.

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

QLED TVs by contrast (ahem) are forced to dim their LED backlights and block the remaining light, something that is very hard to do perfectly. It can trigger something called “light bleed,” as the light spills onto what’s supposed to be a black section of the screen.
But is it noticeable? Definitely. If you’re watching an intense action movie and two characters are running through a parking lot at night, for example, you may notice a slight glow on parts of the scene that are supposed to be pitch black, or in the letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the screen while watching a movie that uses a wider-than-16:9 aspect ratio.
As we highlighted earlier, mini-LED backlights are one way QLED TV makers are trying to improve this situation. It has real potential, but we’re not quite ready to declare it an OLED killer.
For now, OLED comes out on top. If a pixel isn’t getting electricity, it doesn’t produce any light and therefore stays totally black.
Winner: OLED
QLED TVs have a considerable advantage when it comes to brightness. Because they use separate backlights (instead of relying on each pixel to create its own light) these LED backlights can be made incredibly, achingly bright. Add a quantum dot’s ability to maximize that light by producing brighter hues in the color spectrum without losing saturation and you’ve got a display that is more than bright enough to be seen clearly in even the most brightly lit rooms.

OLED panels can’t compete on a pure brightness basis. Their light-emitting individual pixels simply can’t produce the same amount of light. In a darkened room, this isn’t a problem. In fact, we’d argue it’s preferable because OLED can achieve the same contrast with less brightness, making dark-room viewing a less retina-searing experience. But in well-lit environments, or where lots of daylight streams in through windows, QLED TVs are more visible — especially if you’re playing HDR content under these conditions.
OLED panels have become brighter over the years, but they still can’t match QLED TVs.
Winner: QLED
Color space
OLED once blew all the competition out of the water in this section, but the use of quantum dots in QLED TVs have allowed it to inch forward in terms of color accuracy, color brightness, and color volume, according to Samsung, which claims that a wider range of better-saturated colors at extreme brightness levels is an advantage.
While there’s no denying the fact that these quantum dot TVs deliver fantastic colors, we have yet to witness better-saturated colors at high brightness levels deliver a real advantage in normal viewing situations — so we’re going to declare it a draw for now. We’ll need to see some tangible evidence to declare QLED a winner.
Winner: Draw
Response time, input lag, and refresh rate

Response time refers to the time it takes for a pixel to switch from one state to another. The faster the response time, the crisper the image, especially during fast-action scenes. Though there is likely a speed of response time beyond which the human eye is incapable of telling a difference, we know from standardized measurements that OLED TVs are way faster — orders of magnitude faster than QLED TVs.
Typical QLED response times vary between two and eight milliseconds, which sounds pretty good until you realize that OLED’s response time is about 0.1 millisecond. Yup, it’s no contest.
Input lag, on the other hand, refers to the delay between taking an action (like pressing a button on a game controller) and seeing the result of that action onscreen. As such, input lag is really only a concern for gamers — it doesn’t have a noticeable effect on passive viewing of content at all.
Moreover, the amount of input lag you experience has little to do with one display technology over another, but more to do with how much image processing is happening on your TV behind the scenes. Both QLED and OLED TVs can achieve very low levels of input lag if you turn off all extra video processing or simply use the TV’s Game Mode, which effectively does the same thing.
Refresh rate is another category that will inherently matter more to gamers than casual viewers. The refresh rate is the number of times per second the TV updates what it’s showing onscreen. It’s closely related to frame rate, which is the number of times per second your TV show, movie, or video game sends a new update to the TV.
As long as these two rates are close multiples of each other, e.g. a frame rate of 30 FPS and a refresh rate of double that (60 Hz), you’ll never notice a problem. And since regular TV content like movies and TV shows are always delivered at consistent frame rates, this is hardly ever a concern.
But some games running on consoles or PCs will change their frame rate from one scene to another. To keep everything looking as it should, TVs need a feature called VRR, or Variable Refresh Rate. This lets your TV alter its native refresh rate to match these changes in frame rate. If your TV doesn’t support VRR, it can cause some unwanted side-effects like screen-tearing when used with the kinds of games that require VRR.
You can find VRR models in both OLED and QLED TVs. Currently, you can find VRR TVs from Samsung, Sony, and LG. If you’re a PC gamer who wants a big-screen gaming experience, VRR support is a key feature to seek.
Given OLED’s unbeatable superiority in response time and refresh rate, it owns this category.
Winner: OLED
Viewing angle
With QLED screens, the best viewing angle is dead center, and the picture quality diminishes in brightness, color, and contrast the further you move side to side, or up and down. While the severity differs between models, it’s always noticeable — despite TV makers’ best efforts to eliminate the issue.
Rich Shibley
OLED screens, by comparison, can be viewed with no luminance degradation even at drastic viewing angles — up to 84 degrees. Some QLED TVs have improved in terms of viewing angle, with anti-reflective layers helping, but OLED maintains a clear advantage. So if you like to arrange family screenings for your favorite movies, and want to make sure there isn’t a bad seat in the house, an OLED TV is best for you.
Winner: OLED
OLEDs have come a long way. When the tech was still nascent, OLED screens maxed out at 55 inches. Today, screen sizes as large as 88 inches are possible, but only at great expense — the $30,000 price puts it out of reach for almost everyone. QLED technology is easier and less expensive to produce at larger sizes. Samsung’s 85-inch Q900TS 8K QLED TV is only $7,000, while its largest consumer model currently measures 98 inches.
Winner: QLED

LG says you would have to watch its OLED TVs five hours per day for 54 years before they fell to 50% brightness. Whether that’s true remains to be seen, as OLED TVs have only been out in the wild since 2013. QLED is even newer, but its source of backlighting — the LED — has a long and proven track record. For that reason and that reason only, we’ll award this category to QLED.
Winner (for now): QLED
Screen burn-in
An example of screen burn-in on an OLED TV. Note that the visible zebra pattern, known as moire, is caused by taking a photo of a TV screen and is not part of the burn-in. Ian O’Shaughnessy
Both QLED and OLED TVs can occasionally exhibit something called image retention. This is when a TV temporarily continues to display part of an image after the original image has disappeared. It usually presents itself as a kind of shadow — that is when it presents itself at all.
When image retention does occur, it’s usually the result of having the same visual element onscreen for long periods of time. Network logos in the corner of the screen have been known to cause it, as can video games that present the same interface elements throughout gameplay.
Image retention typically goes away on its own once you switch to some other kind of content that doesn’t show the problematic on-screen elements.
Because of their self-emissive nature, OLED TVs are also susceptible to the much rarer permanent version of image retention, which is known as “burn-in.” Burn-in is caused when one or more OLED pixels have their normal brightness permanently diminished to a lower state. The only fix for this is to lower all of the rest of the pixels to the same state, but that’s hardly a good solution.
For an absolute guarantee that you won’t experience burn-in, your best bet is QLED TV.

LG, as the biggest maker of OLED TVs, acknowledges the potential for image retention within its user manuals for its OLED TVs but says that under normal viewing conditions it shouldn’t happen.
So what constitutes “normal” viewing conditions? Well, for one thing, keeping your TV on the same channel for 10 hours a day, two months in a row, is apparently not normal. One of our readers did this by watching MSNBC on his LG C8 OLED TV, which created what he claims is a burn-in shadow of a portion of the MSNBC peacock logo and a portion of the “Live” graphic that often accompanies it in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Should this scare you away from buying an OLED TV? Absolutely not. But if you’re picking a TV for use as a commercial display in a store, or perhaps in a waiting room, or if you think you’ll use it to play the same video game exclusively for months at a time, it’s definitely something to be aware of.
For an absolute guarantee that you won’t experience burn-in, your best bet is QLED TV.
Winner: QLED
Power consumption
As you’re now very much aware, OLED panels don’t require a super-bright backlight. Those backlights consume a fair amount of power, which means OLED TVs are inherently more energy-efficient. They also emit less heat than QLED TVs.
Winner: OLED
Eye comfort

In today’s viewing age, it’s possible to spend hours staring at TV screens with few breaks in between. Eye fatigue is a real symptom of the act, and it’s usually caused by excessive blue light production. LCD-based sets tend to show more intense blue light than anything, and this is true even in scenes that don’t feature gobs of the shade. Go too far, and your irritable eyes could eventually lead to sleeplessness, which itself can contribute to a whole range of health problems. That’s why some OLED makers — most notably LG — are now seeking Ocular Guard certification for their panels.
Created by German safety testing firm TÜV Rheinland and previously marketed under the less-exciting “Eye Comfort Display” moniker, Ocular Guard certification tests a range of elements in TV panels to determine whether they’re too harsh on the eyes.
In theory, OLED TVs should offer better overall eye comfort than QLED and any other LCD-based screen, because OLED produces significantly less blue light than LED-backlit QLED TVs. It’s nothing a special pair of glasses can’t handle, but if you want to ensure you have the safest viewing experience possible that doesn’t require purchasing new glasses, OLED is your champ.
Winner: OLED
Once upon a time, this category would be handily won by QLED TVs, but OLED TVs have come down in cost, and since we’re talking all-premium here, comparable QLED TVs cost about the same (or more, depending on the size). 2021 is already shaping up to be a big year for TVs, especially for the U.S. market. Samsung, Sony, and LG all have new premium TVs hitting shelves, featuring brighter OLED displays, improved image processing, and aesthetic redesigns for Samsung’s The Wall TV.
If you’re shopping around and see QLED TVs for cheap — and some of them are incredibly affordable — keep in mind that, unlike OLED TV, there is a big range in picture quality with QLED TVs because there are far more variables in their design, picture processing, and build. Only the very top-of-the-line QLED TVs are equivalent to OLED in picture quality.
Winner: QLED
The verdict
Both of these technologies are impressive in their own ways, but we’re here to pick a winner, and for the moment, it’s OLED. With better performance in the categories that most people will notice while watching TV shows and movies, it’s the best picture quality you can buy.
QLED comes out on top on paper, delivering a higher brightness, longer lifespan, larger screen sizes, and lower price tags. OLED, on the other hand, has a better viewing angle, deeper black levels, uses less power, and might be better for your health. Both are fantastic, though, so choosing between them is subjective. QLED is the better all-rounder, but OLED technology excels when you can control your room’s lighting.
The fact is, you can’t go wrong with either technology. That is, of course, until the next generation of display technology comes along. Mini-LED technology, for example, is looking like a promising way for QLED TVs to deliver better black levels.

Samsung also is working on embedding quantum dot tech into OLED panels to create a new kind of TV: QD-OLED, which might create a TV with the best of both worlds. But since that’s likely a few years away still, we’ll have to wait and see. What we do know is that the company is serious, as it doubled down on its plans with an $11 billion investment. We’ll be watching developments closely to see how this technology evolves.

Editors’ Recommendations

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic review: A first-rate smartwatch
MSRP $349.99

“The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is a seriously capable smartwatch with comprehensive health-tracking features, slick One Watch UI software, and a mature, classy design that feels great on your wrist.”

Cohesive, mature design

Rotating bezel is intuitive

One Watch UI is neat and logical

Comprehensive health tracking

Choice of style and size

Battery doesn’t last two full days

Wear OS 3 software lacks polish

Too large to wear at night

Does the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic have what it takes to top our list of the best Android smartwatches? After all, its predecessor, the Galaxy Watch 3, has done so since its release, meaning we have high expectations. Making the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic’s already hard job even tougher is that it also has to introduce us to a new operating system at the same time as wowing us with its hardware.
Just by looking at the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, it’s obvious Samsung has done its job on the design, but what about the new Wear OS 3 software? There’s a lot to go through here, but don’t worry, this is a feature-packed smartwatch worthy of both your attention and your money.
At first glance, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic doesn’t look that different from the Galaxy Watch 3, but examine it more closely and there are subtle refinements that give the new model a more cohesive, mature, and watch-like style. The stainless steel case itself comes in either 42mm or 46mm sizes, and I am wearing the 46mm model on my 6.5-inch wrist. It weighs 52 grams without the strap.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
The ridges on the bezel are smaller and more tightly packed than on the Galaxy Watch 3, the chronograph markings are more subtle, and the lugs flow more directly from the case itself. It’s this, along with the strap and the buttons, that marks the largest design change. The buttons are oblong, more flush to the case, and therefore are less noticeable, but still separated by a button guard for a clean look.
The strap changes the watch the most, due to the ends matching the curve of the case and flowing lines of the lugs. It works really well, making the strap appear to be an integral part of the watch case, plus the shape stops it from bending too far in either direction, helping it sit better on your wrist. Technically it’s a small design change, but an inspired one that really boosts the watch’s comfort and visual appeal. However, if you change the strap for a non-Samsung version, you’ll lose this benefit.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
At 52 grams, the Watch 4 Classic is quite heavy, and you are almost always aware of it on your wrist. This stopped me wearing it overnight for sleep tracking — it was just too noticeable and I found it distracting while trying to fall asleep. The 42mm version isn’t much lighter at 47 grams, and both are significantly heavier than the 37-gram, aluminum-bodied 44mm Apple Watch Series 6.
Despite this, I haven’t found the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic fatiguing to wear during the day, and I really love the balanced, classy, and distinctive design.
The hardware is excellent, but the big change with the Watch 4 is the software. Gone is Samsung’s Tizen from the Galaxy Watch 3, and in comes the joint Google and Samsung platform called Wear OS 3, or simply Wear. Tizen was always the better piece of software compared to old Wear OS, and it made the Galaxy Watch 3 our top Android smartwatch recommendation due to its ease of use, design, and reliability. The concern with the new software for me was, how much of Tizen remains, or has Wear overtaken it completely?
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
The good news is Tizen’s superior design and usability remains through Samsung’s One Watch UI. Wear OS 3 lets companies use a custom user interface, avoiding all new watches looking basically the same as each other. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic has a rotating bezel that helps greatly with navigation. You turn it to the left to view notifications and to the right to see Tiles. Swipe up on the touchscreen to find the app menu, and down for quick settings, then use the bezel to scroll left and right through all the options presented. It’s fluid, natural, fast, and surprisingly enjoyable. The rotating bezel has a very precise action with lovely dampening, and a neat “notchy” feel as it turns.
You should spend a few moments digging through the settings to personalize the way your watch works, as raise to wake isn’t activated by default, meaning you have to tap the screen or turn the bezel to wake the display. This is annoying when an app is running and the screen times out. An always-on screen can be switched on, so the watch always shows the time. There are a lot of watch faces to choose from, ranging from the very simple to the very cute, and all have custom ambient modes.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
It all feels very similar to Tizen on the Galaxy Watch 3 at first, but Wear uses a clearer font that, when paired with the pin-sharp screen — a 1.4-inch 450 x 450 pixel Super AMOLED on the 46mm, or a 1.2-inch 396 x 396 pixel Super AMOLED on the 42mm — makes everything easy to read. I never need to squint at the screen, and the choice of font is more mature than Tizen’s. The most obvious change happens when you swipe up on the screen and find a list of apps that includes the Google Play Store.
Android apps for Wear OS work on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, unlike on the Tizen-powered Galaxy Watch 3, and that includes Google apps missing from old Samsung watches like Google Maps, Google Fit, and Google Pay. Google Pay works normally and you can select either it or Samsung Pay as the default contactless payment system under the NFC setting. Google Fit works alongside Samsung Health, but it’s not immediately obvious how, or if, it can be set as the default.
There are times where Wear OS 3 shows it is still a work in progress, but a small software update arrived during my review that also showed Google and Samsung are working to fix any issues. Initially, Google Maps loaded as usual, but it was hit-or-miss whether you could scroll around the map on the screen, and routes only showed in text form. Both these problems were fixed after the update. However, some apps are still shaky, with Spotify often timing out, leaving me staring at a spinning progress indicator.



Many apps are available through Google Play, including common examples like Spotify and Outlook, but not YouTube Music or Uber. It doesn’t appear Google Assistant is available either as an app to install or as an onboard alternative to Bixby. Notifications are pretty and interactive when they do turn up, but there’s no guarantee of arrival, a problem from the old Wear OS that has sadly carried over into new Wear. However, notifications are grouped together in Tiles, are properly formatted, easy to read, and when you dismiss one on the watch, it disappears on your phone.
On a day-to-day basis, so far, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic with Wear OS 3 has been excellent, although it is an unusual mashup of Wear OS and Tizen. You get the good looks and the sensible navigation provided by One Watch UI and the rotating bezel, plus the frustration of unreliable notifications and apps that don’t quite work properly all the time from Wear OS, along with plenty of duplicate services. Because Wear will look different on other smartwatches running the software (when they arrive), much of what makes it work well here may come down to Samsung’s One Watch UI, but we won’t know for sure until a challenger arrives in the future.
Health tracking
The health and fitness tracking on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is comprehensive, detailed, easy to use, and packed with features. The Samsung BioActive sensor is the standout new hardware addition to the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. The 3-in-1 sensor incorporates a Bio-Electrical Impedance (BIA) sensor, an Electrocardiogram (ECG), and a PPG heart rate sensor, all powered by new software algorithms.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
The BIA enables a body composition measurement showing weight, muscle, fat mass, body fat, Body Mass Index (BMI), body water, and Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) stats. Data like this has previously only been found on some smart scales, and is helpful in understanding weight loss better, as well as seeing the effect continued training has on your body. It takes 15 seconds to perform and all it needs is your weight and height, but is not suitable for those with pacemakers due to it using a small electrical current to take a measurement.
It’s typical of many high-tech health features on a wearable in that it provides lots of stats, but no real information on what they mean and what you can do to change them. The data itself has a lot of variability and results depend on the time of day, when you last ate, and a whole lot more. It’s hard to establish accuracy this way. It’s likely only helpful if you can compare the results with another device with a body composition measurement, and even then, you will need to do your own research in order to know what to do with the data.
Taking a Body Composition reading on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
To use the ECG, a separate app has to be installed on your phone, which takes 30 seconds to complete, and it only advises on atrial fibrillation. The app shows an option to measure blood pressure, but this feature is not active on the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic in the U.K.. On the watch, you also get a stress measurement, SpO2 blood oxygen monitor, heart rate, and a women’s health tracker, plus Tiles to manually input daily water and food intake.
The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is a very strong fitness companion, with all the sensors you need.

Workouts are started quickly with Samsung Health through a Tile, plus you can add Google Fit Tiles to the watch, along with a handy overview of your main stats. I tracked various workouts including those with GPS. The measurements were in line with those I got from an Apple Watch Series 6 linked to an iPhone 12 Pro. The workout mode’s autopause feature is notable for its zealousness, and always paused even when I just stopped to take a photo, then resumed when I restarted.



Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Samsung Health app presents its data neatly, and there’s enough information for the casual fitness fan, including all the data gathered from the body composition tests, plus heart rate, stress, sleep tracking, step count, and historical exercise tracking data. I didn’t feel the need to swap from Samsung Health to Google Fit, indicating it provides a similar level of information and usefulness. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is a very strong fitness companion, with all the sensors you need (plus some you probably won’t need very often), accurate data collection, and a well-presented app.
Performance, battery life, and charging
The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic uses the new dual-core, 1.18GHz Samsung Exynos W920 processor with 1.5GB RAM. It has not disappointed, with more than enough energy to keep the operating system moving along swiftly. Wi-Fi range is quite short though, and the watch doesn’t always maintain the connection or automatically activate it, such as when you open Google Play. I’ve had to manually connect to Wi-Fi to kickstart some apps, but this may change with another software update. Using Bluetooth headphones is easy and, provided they are already paired with your phone, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic doesn’t require them to be paired for a second time.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
The 46mm Galaxy Watch 4 Classic has a 361mAh battery inside and, so far, after a week of using the watch, it lasts for two working days with a single workout tracked and the always-on screen active, provided you turn it off overnight. It doesn’t have the guts to last two full days when showing the always-on time, and certainly not if you also use sleep tracking and track a workout.
There is a power-saving mode that activates when the watch reaches about 10% battery remaining. It adds another couple of hours of use by turning off nonessential features like the always-on screen. Charging is performed using a supplied magnetic charging disc, and it takes about 80 minutes to go from 10% to full. The display helpfully shows an estimation of how long a full charge will take.
Price and availability
The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic starts at $349, in black or silver, and will be released on August 27. The 42mm model is the cheapest, while the 46mm is $379. Add 4G LTE and the price climbs to $399 for the 42mm or $429 for the 46mm version. Buy through Samsung’s online store and you can customize the watch with different straps.
Our take
The Galaxy Watch 3 is a tough act to follow, and any new operating system is always going to be hard to implement perfectly the first time, but Samsung has successfully navigated around any issues and delivered a superb follow-up to what was the best smartwatch for Android phones from the last year. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic expertly mixes a smart design with extensive health-tracking ability, and offers it in not only two different styles, but various sizes as well. It is absolutely worth your money.
Samsung’s use of One Watch UI is key to the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic’s usability, as the interface is slick, logical, and fast. It’s fun to use due to the rotating bezel, and the smartwatch’s comfort and toughness mean you can wear it all day long without a problem. I did find it too large to wear overnight, and would like the battery to provide two full days of use, but these are not issues exclusive to the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.
Wear OS 3 shows plenty of promise, but it’s disappointing to still see the old problems of not all notifications arriving and not all apps being available or always working properly on the watch. It’s better than before due to One Watch UI, but still not as reliable or as app-packed as Apple’s WatchOS. However, due to its newness, it shouldn’t be judged too harshly just yet. Where does this leave the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic? Samsung has definitely made a superb successor to the Watch 3.
Is there a better alternative?
If you own an iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 6 or Apple Watch SE are still the smartwatches to buy. They integrate perfectly with your phone, while others miss out on certain features, and WatchOS is fast and logically laid out. Apple Health is great, and the battery will last you a couple of days.
If you have an Android phone, the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic are the only two with the latest Wear OS 3 software, and that may end up being crucial for speedy updates over the next year. Mobvoi’s TicWatch Pro 3 and TicWatch E3 are scheduled to get Wear OS 3 this time next year, and although both are still good choices today, Samsung’s watches are a better bet as you get the new software without an extensive wait.
It’s Samsung that offers the Watch 4 Classic’s biggest challenger. The Galaxy Watch 4 has all the same features and performance as the Watch 4 Classic, with a different design and a touch-sensitive bezel. It’s cheaper as well, and your preference will likely come down to which design you like better.
How long will it last?
The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic’s case is water-resistant to 5ATM and has an IP68 rating, plus it meets the MIL-STD-810G toughness standards. The strap on my review model is made of thick rubber, and feels very hard-wearing. The Wear OS 3 software is right up to date now, and will likely continue to be ahead of the competition for some time, due to no other smartwatches with the software being available yet. There’s a 4G LTE option for anyone wanting to add cellular connectivity using an eSIM. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic will last for two years at the minimum.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic’s design and on-wrist comfort is top-notch, there are tons of health-tracking features, and performance is excellent. It’s a great smartwatch to buy.

Editors’ Recommendations

The theifs to supply one of the best trade-in worth to help a Samsung Galaxy Z Tuck 3

If you can’t wait to get a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, you’re in luck: Samsung is eager to put one in your hands as long as you’re willing to part with your old phone.
Samsung is offering up to $800 credit toward the Galaxy Z Fold 3 which we’ve already gone hands-on with and are currently testing (fair warning, we’re very impressed). They’ll take up to four devices, allowing you to offload your old phones, tablets, and watches to reap the maximum trade-in benefit. They’ll even take cracked devices, albeit for a lower price, so you may be able to mix-and-match your junk drawer for $800 in credit.
Ajay Kumar/Digital Trends
Last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the only device that will fetch the full $800 credit, but phones released in the past couple of years will get you almost as much. The Galaxy Note 20 5G Ultra is worth $750, and you can get $650 for the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the iPhone 11 Pro Max, or the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
T-Mobile is offering up to $1,000 in credit for a long list of devices, but there are more conditions. You’ll need to open a new line on Magenta MAX, Magenta Plus, or T-Mobile One PLUS plan, and the credit is applied toward your bill on a 36-month contract. The trade-in list has several tiers and price points. You’ll want to look at this offer if you have a Samsung Note or Galaxy device released in the past few years, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (released in 2018). Apple iPhone 12 users can’t take advantage of this offer, but T-Mobile is offering $1,000 for many other Apple devices, including the Apple iPhone 8 (released in 2017).
If you have an old device, then Verizon is willing to take it off your hands. All you have to do is open a new Unlimited line. The iPhone 6 (released in 2014) and the Google Pixel 2 (released in 2017) are both worth $400 in trade-in credit toward a Galaxy Z Fold3. Unlike with T-Mobile, you can take advantage of this offer even if you buy the device outright. It will accept a long list of devices, but your trade-in needs to be in good condition, without a cracked screen or battery damage.

Editors’ Recommendations