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Sports tracking on the GalaxyWatch 4 - the good and the bad

(Topic created on: 30-12-2021 11:05 AM)

One of my main uses of a smartwatch is sports tracking - I love the outdoors, and I find it intensely satisfying to see where I was on a detailed map.

The Suunto 7 excels at it, and the entire package (smartwatch app and matching Android smartphone app) is extremely polished. 

To my surprise, Samsung Health is a close second. Tracking cycling is very ergonomic: a twist of the bezel (assuming you activated the tile), one touch, 3 beeps, and you are tracking. To stop the exercise, you need to push the lower button and then touch the screen. Very easy to do and very safe - I never stopped an exercise accidentally. Very informative plots in the phone app. Heart rate corresponds to my previous measurements with a Polar H10 pulse belt. Very good!

Now the bad: Kayaking, rowing, cross-country skiing all lack GPS.

Today I tried "Hiking" on the outward leg of my customary kayaking trip. 

Screenshot_20210919-131820_Samsung Health.jpgThis went very well. I used Strava in "Nordic skiing" mode for the return leg. GPS tracking was slightly more accurate but I actually prefer Samsung Health. 

Why not have a similar setup for kayaking?

I realise that it is very challenging to develop optimal sports tracking for 50+ sports, but why not open up sports tracking for contributions from the community?

Last week, I programmed my first watchface, and I am still very happy with it -

I think it will be cheaper and more cost-effective if athletes can develop their own exercise tracking configurations for their own favourite sports and then share them with the community. 

Galaxy Watch4 Classic 

Galaxy Watch4 


This is a screenshot from today's sea paddling - the hiking activity is working well. Only: Why can't it be called "paddling"?  (Incidentally, I put the watch in battery saving mode before starting tracking as I don't need a display when I wear my watch under my drytop.)

Screenshot_20211009-215128_Samsung Health.jpg

My suggestion: Have a generic exercise like "Outdoor exercise" which contains all features of "Hiking" but plus step count/stroke cadence (useful for paddling, rowing,nordic skiing, skating) and a selection of options like the existing ones for cycling AND the name of the sport and maybe a custom icon. That would solve my problem. I love this watch, sports tracking is essentially sound, it just needs a little bit of tweaking. 


Hi @Marty313, good suggestions you have. For me I do outdoor rowing and I miss stroke rate and 500m times. GPS tracking is missing as well, but I don't need that soo much (only if it is needed for measuring speed). If I want the speed I better use cycling, but then I still miss the stoke rate. So it is not optimal.

Why you marked your question as "solved". I think you found yourself a workaround, but it does not sound like a real solution to me.

I am aware that there are many sports, but Samsungs market (not only the watches) is huge as well. So I think there is enough funds and therefore I think Samsung should take this serious, otherwise I better buy a real sport watch like those from Garmin.


I agree with you that Garmin offers state of the art exercise tracking, however I would not call a Garmin watch "smart". I like being able to reply to SMS using voice recognition, I like having 2-factor authentication on my watch - things a Garmin cannot do. Tracking for cycling and running on the Galaxy Watch 4 is state of the art - why not for the other sports as well?


My swimming has progressed to the degree that I have taken up open water swimming. The Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is surprisingly accurate:

Screenshot_20220729-110534_Samsung Health.jpg

I verified the distance in the Norwegian topographic map: Tracking was spot on:


Since I did not quite swim in a straight line 880 m as reported by the watch is probably correct. This is excellent!

Tracking pool swimming is also pretty much correct when compared with my Form swim goggles (, however the watch is not good at detecting rest when swimming intervals. Since the touch screen is locked there is no way of telling the watch I am resting (swim watches use buttons).


Even though the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic offers the best exercise tracking under Wear O/S with very accurate sensors and an excellent phone app, there are a number of drawbacks that prevent me from using the platform now that I have started with triathlon (I finished as 39 of 44 men at yesterday):

  • The watch cannot be paired with external sensors such as a heart rate strap or a cadence meter on a bicycle. These sensors can be paired with the Samsung Health app on the phone but NOT the watch.
  • When you train for triathlon you need heart rate alarms on your watch with a specific threshold per activity. 
  • Maximum heart rate is individual and cannot be calculated by a simple formula. You must be able to set your personal maximum heart rate.
  • There is no triathlon activity. You can populate the 3 buttons in the activity tracking widget with open water swimming, cycling and running, but then you won't get times for your transitions that are just as important.

I regret to say that I re-entered the Garmin ecosphere for the said reasons. The Forerunner 955 is not a "smart" watch, but it can be tweaked so that the next calendar event and the number of unread notifications appear on a watch face. However much I miss voice recognition for answering text messages and certain apps (such as for 2-factor authentication), I go for triathlon specific activity tracking.