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The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is barely an upgrade on its predecessor, which came out earlier in 2020 but lacked the rotating bezel that made its beefier sibling, the Samsung Galaxy Watch, such a hit. But the refined version of Samsung’s sporty smartwatch comes with a digital bezel and a few other tricks to become the best wearable in the company’s lineup.
The similarities to its predecessor are probably for the best – the Active 2 retains its predecessor’s slimmer, minimal, modern look. It’s almost certainly a more broadly-appealing setup than the Galaxy Watch’s girthy form, akin to the more 'masculine' style of traditional watches.
It’s manageable and rigorous enough to take on runs, yet packing enough features and capabilities to rival the Apple Watch 6. But the Active 2’s extra features come at a literal cost – it’s nominally pricier than its predecessor, shrinking the watch’s affordability edge over Apple’s watches.
Still, the Active 2 is a solid choice for consumers on the hunt for a smartwatch to take on runs and into the office, especially for Android users outside the iOS ecosystem. Yes, it can be used with an iPhone, but with limited functionality - and for the same price you could pick up the new Apple Watch SE or an older Apple Watch.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is out now, starting at $279.99 / £269 for the 40mm version or $299 / £289 / AU$549 for the 44mm version. The 40mm model isn't available in Australia.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is also available in an LTE model in stainless steel, which in the US is offered through Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon. In the UK and Australia you can buy this version outright, at £399 / AU$749 for the 40mm version and £419 / AU$799 for the 44mm one.
That launch price puts it between the Apple Watch 5 and the now-discounted Apple Watch 3 - which, while not reaching the high cost of the latest Apple smartwatch, still offers firm competition.
But if you wanted most of the functionality of the Active 2 and to save a bit of money, you could opt for...the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. While the extra features - digital haptic dial, LTE availability, and extra workout features - are nice extras, they probably aren’t worth the price jump.
Design and display
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a dead ringer for its predecessor - the 40mm version, anyway, since the new smartwatch is also available in 44mm, which is more manageable than the Galaxy Watch’s hefty 46mm bigger model.
As it stands, both options are pretty light, starting at 26g for the smaller aluminum (without a strap) and 30g for the larger - present but not weighty when worn during a run.
Like the original Active, the basic Watch Active 2 has an aluminum body. It comes in cloud silver, aqua black and pink gold colors. You can also get it in stainless steel (which is what the LTE model comes in) for a higher price, which comes in silver, black and gold.
The cheaper model comes with a rubberized Fluoroelastomer band, which you’ll recognize if you’ve ever worn an Apple Watch - material that felt natural through casual and sweaty activity, and would be fine worn sunup to sundown (and beyond).
If you want a classier look and feel, you can opt for the heavier (by about 11g) stainless steel body with a leather strap - but you can also swap out any Samsung-sold or aftermarket 20mm band if you so desire.
In either case, the watch’s back has a heart rate monitor with eight photodiodes - double the amount of its predecessor. In our tests it gave reasonably accurate readings.
The two side buttons are also the same as before - a ‘back’ button on top, which is now outlined in some case colors, and a ‘home’ button below, which brings up your apps. While double-tapping the latter brings up Samsung’s smart assistant Bixby by default, you can (and should) set it to something more useful, such as a shortcut to a frequent favorite.
The Active 2’s 360 x 360 resolution Super AMOLED screen is slightly (as in, 0.1 inches) expanded to 1.2-inches over its predecessor for the smaller 40mm model - meaning less bezel this time around - while the larger 44mm option has a 1.4-inch screen of the same resolution.
That’s about standard for smartwatches, and it’s enough screen real estate to filter through essential information, though sorting through any text meatier than a notification (like, say, an email) is a chore.
Most of Samsung’s first-party apps are optimized for this tiny display, but some third-party options are as audacious as they are spectacularly unsuccessful. By which we mean: we downloaded a YouTube-watching app on a lark, and it went about as expected.
Thankfully, the new digital dial makes navigating around menus a lot more precise. Yes, it’s not as exact or as satisfying as the tactile bezel wheel on the original Galaxy Watch, but it’s the next best thing, with a vibrating tic every time you switch to the next app or setting.
It’s a lot less loose than swiping on the screen, which you can still do if you prefer. In fact, swiping is the only control method when you boot up the watch, as Samsung bafflingly didn’t turn on the digital dial by default.
The dial is worth trying out for ease of use - plus, it keeps your finger on the outer edge of the screen, and out of the way. It’s obviously something that crowns also do (like on the sides of Apple Watches), but it’s nice to see a touch-based alternative method of navigation done well.
Performance and software
The Active 2 has an Exynos 9110 dual-core chipset, the same as its predecessor - and the original Galaxy Watch, for that matter - but at 1.15Ghz, it’s fast enough. The smartwatch’s 768MB of RAM is fine for switching in and out of apps, though that’s upgraded to 1.5GB for the LTE model.
That’s enough power to zoom around the interface, though we still wish Samsung had been able to fit more than 4GB of storage in there - especially since, once the operating system and baseline apps have been loaded up, you’re left with 1.5GB to fiddle with. Enough for plenty of songs and apps (most of which take up barely a megabyte apiece), but not leaving much room for bigger, bolder software.
Like its predecessor, the Active 2 runs on Samsung’s One UI overlay over Samsung’s trusty Tizen operating system, and not much has changed since the original Active. The rotating dial makes it noticeably easier to sift through apps on your home page or notifications on the main ‘watch face’ screen, though it will take a little getting used to for precision navigation (i.e. not zooming past the right stop).
There are other new integrations Samsung is championing - like taking a photo on a phone with the Samsung Wearables app and creating an algorithmically-chosen color-and-pattern watch face design. Ostensibly, this is to sync your Active 2 with whatever you’re wearing, but you could also snap photos of a particular hue or natural color, if you fancy.
Unfortunately, Tizen hasn’t gotten much in the way of third-party app support in the interim since the original Active. Aside from flashlights, calorie counters and run-mapping, you’re likely relying on first-party apps to carry most of your interactivity. Tizen is still behind Apple watchOS and even Wear OS in this regard.
The included apps are still useful, though iOS users still won’t be able to access all the best benefits, like replying to messages or interacting with email beyond notifications. Some things have improved - Find My Phone now buzzes your iPhone even if Do Not Disturb is on - but you simply won’t get the full functionality of the watch without an Android phone.
The Watch Active 2’s fitness apps and features haven’t changed much: there’s still 39 workout-tracking modes, like running, walking, cycling and swimming.
The exercise modes generally work fine for the cardio-related routines, but struggle with those defined by motion.
The ‘Crunches’ mode, for example, only counted reps when the hand (and thus the Active 2) was extended far over the knees...meaning anyone performing a crunch with arms crossed over their chest is out of luck. It’s an odd specificity that extends to other workouts, like Arm Extensions and Jumping Jacks, which were similarly finicky.
But we didn’t have any problems when taking the Active 2 for a jog, where it tracked our runs and gently vibrated when it sensed we’d stopped moving and might be done with the workout (or was just telling us to wrap up our break). The smartwatch also connected effortlessly with Bluetooth headphones, which made it easier to hear the Active 2's occasional vocal updates on our workout progress.
Listening to music was more of a chore, especially when connected to an iPhone, for which adding music is a multi-step process. Syncing up a Spotify account is easy enough, though the frequent alerts and notifications momentarily muted audio, with multiple disruptions per song. It’s odd, especially when a non-interruption feature seems like such a logical addition for a workout mode.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is IP68-rated for water and dust resistance, and can survive being submerged up to 5 meters in liquid and getting a little grimy. There’s even a ‘water lock’ mode that disables touchscreen functionality and vibrates to shake out excess water.
The watch also has an ECG (electrocardiogram), which can be used to detect the electrical activity and rhythm of your heart. It's a feature we've already seen on the Apple Watch 4 and 5 and can be used to detect the likes of atrial fibrillation.
However, while the hardware is present here, the feature isn't available at launch, as Samsung needs approval for its use in each country. As such we haven't been able to test this.
If anything lives up to Samsung’s claims about the Galaxy Watch Active 2, it’s battery life. With typical use, our Active 2 lasted through two full days. While that’s not quite the four days that our original Galaxy Watch survived for, it’s more than can be said of the Apple Watch line.
That battery life diminishes with lots of activity: playing music or running the GPS (through those workouts, say) can drain capacity at a more rapid pace. It all depends how much you use it, and there’s a battery-saving setting (switching on grayscale, switching off Wi-Fi) to eke out more life between charges.
The actual capacity of the 40mm model is 247mAh, slightly larger than the 230mAh of its predecessor. The 44mm’s 340mAh capacity might give it the edge over its smaller sibling (the only one we tested), though that’s also powering a larger screen.
Who it’s for
Android phone owners looking to pick up a quality smartwatch from a known brand should consider the Active 2 - especially if they’re, well, active. This is especially true for lovers of the original Galaxy Watch who were wary of a dial-less watch. And since we might never get a Samsung Galaxy Watch 2, this might be the closest we’ll get.
Who it’s not for
Anyone locked into Apple’s iOS ecosystem won’t get the most out of this smartwatch, and with a still-competitive Apple Watch 3 on the market, it’s tough to recommend what’s undeniably an inferior wearable OS. Likewise, any serious fans of Wear OS might be unimpressed by the smaller app library.
Apple Watch 3
As we’ve said repeatedly, the Apple Watch 3 is identically priced, proven, and likely discounted even more during deals seasons. watchOS is more robust and beloved for good reason. While you’ll miss out on the Active 2’s haptic dial and demonstrably better battery, the tighter integration with iOS is more compelling.
Read our full Apple Watch 3 review
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
We’ve made the case throughout this review, but the original Watch Active has most of the bells and loses out on few of the new whistles in its successor. You’ll still get a quality smartwatch to take on runs and into the office - but at a lower price (which is primed to drop more during deals seasons).
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review
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Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review: A sleek smartwatch that's better value than the Galaxy Watch 3
It took a year, but Samsung's Galaxy Watch Active 2 finally gets ECG, just like the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Sense and Samsung's latest Galaxy Watch 3. The $249 (£249, AU$549) Galaxy Watch Active 2 launched in 2019 but its flagship health feature wasn't turned on yet. Now the ECG app has received FDA clearance in the US and you can find it in the new Samsung Health Monitor app.
The Active 2 has a bright, circular AMOLED touchscreen, comes in two sizes (40mm and 44mm) and has a Bluetooth or LTE option. It has improved heart-rate tracking over the original Galaxy Watch Active and is compatible with Android and iOS, although you don't get all the features if you pair with an iPhone. The watch also has built-in GPS, so you won't need to take your phone with you on runs to track distance and route details.
Read more:Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Samsung aims for the ultimate Android watch
I've been wearing the smaller 40mm Bluetooth Active 2 to track my workouts and my sleep, and I've been impressed with the results. For anyone new to the world of Samsung smartwatches or coming from the first Galaxy Watch and looking for a slimmer alternative, it has plenty to offer. Thanks to the new aluminum and stainless-steel finishes, plus additional health-tracking features, the Active 2 is much more comparable to the Apple Watch Series 6 than earlier Samsung watches.
The bezel is back
The original Galaxy Watch, released in 2018, had a physical rotating bezel you could turn to change settings. I found it highly addictive because it gave a satisfying "click" when you turned it and it was a faster way to navigate than relying on the touchscreen alone. This year's Galaxy Watch Active lost the bezel and you had to use the screen and buttons instead.
Samsung must have listened to my cries, as the Active 2 gives you the best of both worlds. Instead of a physical dial, you run your finger around the edge of the screen to scroll through menus with the touch bezel. Haptic feedback makes it (almost) feel like a real dial, although sometimes it took me an extra try or two to get it to register my touch. The Active 2 I received for review didn't come with the touch bezel activated, so you may need to go into the settings, find the advanced section and switch it on.
After a few days of wear, I'm impressed with how Samsung has improved the fit and feel of the watch over previous generations. The 40mm version fits nicely on my smaller wrist and the metal finish looks premium compared with the first Galaxy Watch Active. The aluminum version is available in black, silver or pink gold with a synthetic rubber strap, while the stainless-steel version comes in a silver, black or gold finish, with a leather band. The LTE version is only available in stainless steel.
The color AMOLED screen is bright and easy to see in direct sun, as long as you have the brightness cranked up to its maximum. And now the Active 2 uses Gorilla Glass DX Plus instead of Gorilla Glass 3, which means it should stand up to more bumps and scratches than its predecessor. It's rated IP68 or 5ATM for water resistance, the same as before.
Fitness tracking adds finesse
If you've used any previous Galaxy Watch there will be no surprises here when it comes to fitness tracking. You can still track over 39 workouts and see the breakdown of your data in the Samsung Health app or directly on the watch face itself. I still don't think the Samsung Health app presents your data as nicely as competitors like Fitbit do (it's just so much easier to visually interpret your workout data in the Fitbit app, for example).
The Active 2 gets an updated running coach, which gives you audio and visual cues through seven different running programs, from light jogging to endurance running.
It sounds great in theory. But on my run I was surprised at how well it worked, as long as you can get past hearing the robotic Bixby voice. Connect some Bluetooth earbuds and you'll be able to hear the guide in your ear, alongside any music you might have playing, or you can use the watch speaker to hear the prompts.
The coach tells you to speed up or slow down based on your current pace and it even gives you semimotivational comments ranging from, "How are you feeling?" to, "Try to smile if you can," which was equally infuriating and hilarious during the home stretch of my run.
Would I use it more than once or twice? Probably not in its current state. What I liked most was being able to hear my average heart rate and my pace after every mile, but I would want to be able to change the voice and customize the prompts it gave me to make it really helpful.
While the running coach may be a take-it-or-leave-it feature, I found the most useful fitness feature was actually the improved heart rate monitor. With a total of eight LEDs on the back to measure your pulse, the heart rate monitor is now more accurate during workouts than the original Galaxy Watch Active, which only had four LEDs. I'm a big fan of monitoring my heart rate during cardio-based exercises such as spin class or running and found the readings on the Active 2 updated much faster during a workout than the previous version. I haven't yet tested the watch against a chest strap monitor to compare results.
As of September 2020, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has received an update to give it some of the same features as the newer Galaxy Watch 3: advanced running metrics, a measure of VO2 max and trip detection.
On top of the existing exercises the previous watch could autodetect, like running and cycling, the Active 2 adds swimming to the mix, bringing the total number of workouts it can autodetect to seven. Like the first Active, it does stress tracking and sleep tracking. The Active 2 also now has menstrual tracking and you can log your cycle from the Samsung Health app. And to help motivate you to meet your exercise goals each day, the Active 2 encourages you to close each segment of a heart graphic, like the ring-based system used on the Apple Watch.
It's difficult to avoid comparisons to the Apple Watch when it comes to other heart-related features. Not only does the Active 2 now have high and low heart rate detection like Apple's smartwatch (you'll need to have the HR monitor set to continuous measurement for this to work), it also has a built-in ECG to detect potential signs of atrial fibrillation (aFib). The ECG has finally received FDA-clearance as of September 2020 and I'll be updating this review once I've had a chance to test it out fully. Note that the ECG app is only available if you tie your Active 2 to a Samsung Galaxy phone. Sorry, iPhone users, you'll have to stick to the Apple Watch or a Fitbit Sense if you want ECG.
Like its newer sibling, the original Galaxy Watch Active launched with a feature that wasn't turned on at the time of release, the blood pressure monitor. Although it is now available through the company's My BP app, it's not yet FDA-cleared. Blood pressure monitoring results are still currently in beta and these measurements are used as part of a study with the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.
A fully fledged smartwatch with some quirks
Now that the Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers an LTE version (from $379, £249 or AU$799) you'll be able to get calls and send messages on the go. Just like with the earlier Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Active, you can customize which notifications come through from your phone, regardless of whether you have a Bluetooth or LTE version.
All the versions of the Active 2 now offer closer integration with third-party apps like Twitter and YouTube, so you can interact with tweets or watch videos. Although I'm not quite sure of why you would ever want to watch videos on such a small screen, it's definitely a party trick. Subscribers to Spotify's premium tier can also store songs on the watch for offline listening, or stream over LTE. A built-in speaker means you can now listen to music or take calls without needing Bluetooth earbuds.
I really like the wide variety of watch faces available in the Galaxy Wearable app and you can download more from the Galaxy Store. But being able to snap a photo of your outfit and match your watch face to the colors of your shirt using the My Style feature is probably my favorite way to customize the look of the Active 2.
Samsung's Tizen OS, which the watch runs on, also feels slightly more responsive than on previous versions. You can still customize placement of apps and widgets.
It still did take me time to work out where some features are hiding, like the running coach for example, and I think the largest font size on the watch might still be too small for some people. I also found that the Bixby assistant started up of its own volition a few times, without any voice prompts or any button presses. It's a mystery as to why this happens -- sometimes it's during a workout, other times it's when I've been using the touch bezel.
Bixby aside, what I appreciate the most about the software on the Active 2 is an under-the-hood upgrade that makes it easier to transition back and forth between apps on your watch and your phone. You'll be able to use a single sign-on, so if you're logged into Spotify or Twitter on your phone, for example, that login will carry over to your watch.
Battery life will depend on the size you choose as the 44mm watch has a larger-capacity battery, and how much you use features like the always-on display and LTE. Unfortunately I didn't have the LTE version to test, so I can't tell you how much using a cellular connection will affect battery life.
But I can tell you that with normal use, getting notifications, changing watch faces, tracking an indoor workout and tracking sleep, I managed to get a day and a half from the 40mm Bluetooth watch before it needed a charge. I also noticed on a different day, when I had the display set to always-on during a workout, using the running coach with GPS and listening to downloaded music from Spotify over Bluetooth, the battery went from 40% to just 14% in 30 minutes. So do bear in mind this watch isn't invincible. If you have a Galaxy phone like the S20 Plus or Note 20 Ultra that offers wireless power sharing, you can charge the watch from the back of your phone (although it is slow).
The Active 2 also has Samsung Pay, although using it to tap and pay will only work at NFC-based terminals.
Better value than the newer Watch 3
Thanks to its sleek design, health features like the ECG and trip detection, plus an LTE option, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 feels like a full smartwatch that can take you from work to play without missing a beat. With software updates over the past year since launch, the Active 2 shares many of the same features with the Watch 3 which makes it a great buy for those on a tighter budget.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is best for Android users who want a smartwatch that offers a lot of customization and great exercise tracking options. For iPhone users, it's still not as good an option as the Apple Watch overall because you're more restricted in how you can respond to notifications (and you don't get ECG), but it's cheaper than the newer Apple Watch SE and Series 6.
Note that CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
Smartwatch specs compared
|Galaxy Watch Active 2||Galaxy Watch Active||Apple Watch Series 5||Fitbit Versa 2|
|Display type||Circular AMOLED||Circular AMOLED||Square LTPO OLED Retina||Square AMOLED|
|Watch size||40 or 44mm||39.5mm||40 or 44mm||1.4-inch display|
|Connectivity||LTE option, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC||Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC||LTE option, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC||Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC|
|ECG||Yes (not yet active)||No||Yes||No|
|Price (Bluetooth)||40mm: $249 (See it at Amazon)||$200 (See it at Amazon)||40mm: $399 (See it at Amazon)||$200 (See it at Amazon)|
|44mm: $269 (See it at Amazon)||N/A||44mm: $429 (See it at Amazon)||N/A|
|Price (LTE)||40mm: $379||N/A||40mm: $499 (See it at Amazon)||N/A|
|44mm: $399||N/A||44mm: $529 (See it at Amazon)||N/A|
Versions: SM-R825F, SM-R835F (Global, Canada); SM-R825U, SM-R835U (USA)
44mm model: 1.4-inch display; 340 mAh battery; Wi-Fi/LTE
40mm model: 1.2-inch display; 247 mAh battery; Wi-Fi/LTE
Android 5.0; RAM 1.5 GB or higher
iOS 9.0; iPhone 5 or above
|Network||Technology||GSM / HSPA / LTE|
|2G bands||GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900|
|3G bands||HSDPA 850 / 900 / 2100 - Global|
|HSDPA 850 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 - USA/Canada|
|4G bands||1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20 - Global|
|2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 25, 26, 66 - USA|
|2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 66 - Canada|
|Speed||HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE|
|Body||Dimensions||44 x 44 x 10.9 mm (1.73 x 1.73 x 0.43 in)|
|Weight||42 g (1.48 oz)|
|Build||Glass front (Gorilla Glass DX+), stainless steel frame 316L|
50m water resistant (IP68)
Compatible with standard 20mm straps
*does not guarantee ruggedness or use in extreme conditions
|Resolution||360 x 360 pixels (~364 ppi density)|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass DX+|
|Platform||OS||Tizen OS 5.5|
|Chipset||Exynos 9110 (10 nm)|
|CPU||Dual-core 1.15 GHz Cortex-A53|
|Features||Sensors||Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate, barometer, VO2max|
|Natural language commands and dictation|
|Battery||Type||Li-Ion 340 mAh, non-removable|
|Charging||Qi wireless charging|
Disclaimer. We can not guarantee that the information on this page is 100% correct. Read moreSours: https://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_galaxy_watch_active2-9784.php
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