Only half a year after the release of the original, Samsung is back with the more refined Galaxy Watch Active 2 that now comes in two sizes and presents some improvements.
The Watch Active 2 now feels more solid and not as similar to a toy as the original, costs less than an Apple Watch and works with both Android phones and iPhones. And although it lacks Samsung’s exclusive rotating bezel, it can do tricks like controlling your sleep and is very comfortable to wear. Is this the smartwatch you should buy? Read on to learn about our experience.
Size and Fit
Comfortable to wear, looks elegant and two sizes
While it has “Active” in its name, the watch does not look sporty in itself: it simply looks … clean, with an aluminum body and two physical buttons on the side, and not much else. It is versatile enough so you can take it to the gym and office, and look good in both places.
It has two sizes, one of 40 mm and one of 44 mm. The largest is not gigantic, for example, the normal Gear S3.
We were disappointed to discover that in the case with the watch you only get a strap of one size, so, for example, if you get the 44 mm version you will get a strap that might not fit perfectly in smaller wrist sizes (I have a small wrist and used in the last pin). Fortunately, this is a standard 20mm strap with quick-release pins, so you can easily change it for another. We obtained the version of the watch with the rubber sports strap that felt soft and incredibly comfortable in everyday use, but if you want to earn more style points and wear this watch with more formal clothes, you can change it to a leather or metal strap.
Without Rotating Bezel
The digital replacement is good and allows the watch to be smaller
If you have used a Samsung smartwatch in the past, the first thing you will notice in this new Watch Active 2 is that it does not have the exclusive rotating bezel. For years, this ingenious feature was synonymous with Samsung portable devices, and in fact, we miss it. But, the bezel is dead, long live the most compact size of the watch. And Active 2 is, in fact, a much less imposing watch, one that fits more comfortably and is lighter at the same time.
When the bezel is missing, you can now navigate by simply touching and sliding. Samsung also includes a “digital bezel” function. That is not activated by default, but once you enable it, you can basically slide your finger over the edges of the clock to scroll through the menus just as you would with a physical bezel. Once you get used to it, you get used to it and it works most of the time, but still, it is not as reliable and intuitive as a real physical bezel.
The watch comes with 15 pre-installed watch faces and in some of them you can add complications just like in the Apple Watch.
Here is a quick description of the different styles available:
Active 2 comes with 15 preloaded clock faces
You can also get more watch faces through the Galaxy Wearable app, and there were actually some pretty interesting styles there, both the free options made by Samsung and the premium ones that would cost a dollar or two and give your Galaxy Watch a style Casio or would transform it into some other style.
Third-party covers are available in the Galaxy Wear app
However, we found that the 15 actions do a great job and cover our needs. My personal favorite is the Premium analog watch face that is brightly color-coded and makes it easy to detect things like weather, battery level, etc. with a quick glance.
Fitness and Activity Tracking
Automatic exercise detection is a good feature
As I have been using the Apple Watch Series 5 until recently, what impressed me most about the Samsung watch is how well the automatic training detection worked. While the Apple Watch often failed to record a workout, the Samsung watch knew when it was exercising and when it would end with impressive accuracy.
Once you enter a workout, the screen always on will continue to show your normal sphere, but once you lift your wrist, you will see the sphere of activity with the time you have spent exercising so far, your heart rate, calories burned and other relevant information.
You have a wide variety of workouts that you can start manually: push-ups, arm extensions, back extensions, bench press, burpees, circuit training, abs, deadlifts, ellipticals, exercise bikes, these and other exercises performed on the gym are available. And then it also has activities such as hiking, pilates, stretching, swimming, walking and yoga.
We discovered that the heart monitor works quite well and provides adequate readings. However, GPS tracking is not as accurate as the GPS unit on your smartphone, and you may mind this if you take your career tracking seriously in applications like Strava.
Samsung Sleep and Health Tracking
Automatic sleep tracking gives you a breakdown of a deep sleep, REM sleep, and light sleep
One thing that the Samsung watch does is also to automatically track your dream if you use it at night. I don’t like the idea of wearing something on my wrist at night, but I tried it and the watch actually felt very comfortable. Sleep tracking was also accurate and you get a detailed breakdown of the different stages of sleep, as well as the amount of deep sleep you received and how many times you woke up. Sleep tracking only depletes approximately 5% of the battery during the night, so this is quite good.
You get a detailed breakdown of your sleep and exercises in the Samsung Health app. You can see some screenshots of how the data is presented and you can also synchronize the clock with other third-party applications.
Two Days full with the screen on alway on
With regular use during the day, we have a battery consumption of approximately 3% to 4% per hour, if you enable the screen mode always on. And it is a good convenience that we believe most people would really appreciate having. Workouts, especially with GPS, will drain the battery faster, of course.
In the Galaxy Watch Active 2 it also has a ‘Good night mode’ that you can enable manually just before bedtime and it is very helpful if you do not charge your phone during the night: cut notifications and other discomforts, it only shows the time, but Allows the watch to use only 4% to 5% overnight. Don’t forget that sleep tracking is also available in that mode.
In general, with the screen always on, we were getting about a day and a half of the 44mm watch we were testing, but not exactly two days. In other words, if you raise the fully charged clock in the morning at 8 a.m. and return home at night, around 8 p.m., you will generally have a little less than 50% on the battery meter. This is only slightly better than the Apple Watch Series 5, which usually ends that day with about 40% on the battery meter.
With the battery life in Active 2, you can track your sleep quite confidently and then give the watch some 15-minute charges during the day.
Price and Competitors
Strong competition, but Watch Active 2 has its advantages
Apple Watch Series 5 on the left, Fitbit Versa 2 on the right
Priced at $ 300 for the larger 44mm model and only $ 20 less for the smaller 40mm version, the Galaxy Watch Active costs almost $ 100 less than the current Apple Watch Series 5.
And although they differ in form, the two companies are clearly the closest competitors in the market, sporting a similar set of features, similar battery life, and a comparable experience.
The apple watch may cost more, but it also offers some important advantages: it feels much faster than the Samsung watch, which sometimes stutters and doesn’t feel so refined in terms of interface; It has much more in terms of customization and clock faces; he has a much better haptic with the tactical engine that is almost perfectly refined; It has a much more convenient system to quickly change the straps; and some others On the negative side, the Apple Watch only works with iPhones, automatic exercise detection is almost useless, and the straps cost a small fortune.
As for other alternatives, it has the Fitbit Versa 2, a little cheaper, of $ 200, which gives you a better battery life (more than 6 days officially, but realistically about 2 days if you use it with the screen is always on), but that’s much slower and less refined than the Galaxy.
And if you take sports seriously, you can look in the direction of the Garmin family of watches, which again outperforms the Galaxy in battery life and has a screen that can be easily read outdoors, but again it is clumsy Operate and display monochrome colors.
We enjoy using it!
At the end of the day, we should say that we really enjoy using the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. It sits very comfortably on the wrist, we love the screen option always on, and if you use it with a leather strap, it looks pretty good on the doll.
At the same time, it is certainly far from the meticulous craftsmanship and style that comes with some classic watches, and we already mentioned that it does not feel as refined as the Apple Watch S5.
But if you do not want to be tied to the Apple ecosystem but want a true smartwatch that is convenient to use, has reliable performance and a beautiful screen, this is almost as good as it is in 2019.
Very comfortable to wear
2-day battery life
Clean design suitable for both work and play.
Quick-release pins to easily change the straps
Automatic training tracking works primarily well
You cannot quickly switch between watch faces
Haptics are not great
Bixby is worse than Siri and Google Assistant
We miss the physical rotating bezel