When Samsung launched the Galaxy Watch Active last year, it was targeted at people who want to track their active lifestyles. The watch did a fairly good job of tracking our workouts, sleep, and steps when we put it to the test. Samsung has now launched a successor to the smartwatch, aptly called the Galaxy Watch Active 2. The device is now bigger and also offers 4G connectivity, which keeps it on the grid all the time. While these features make it interesting, does it justify its Rs. 35,990 price tag? We put it to the test to find out.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G design
When we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, we wished it was bigger. The new Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G fulfils that wish. At 1.4 inches, the display is easier to read but still not as big as the one on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4G (Review). The familiar design is stylish and you have two options to choose from: tough stainless steel and lightweight aluminium. The stainless steel finish variant is priced at Rs. 31,990 whereas the aluminium variant is priced at Rs. 25,990. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 has a 4G variant as well, though you can only get it with the steel body, priced at Rs. 35,990. Our review unit is the stainless steel 4G variant in silver which looks very premium.
The 1.4-inch AMOLED display is crisp and has good viewing angles. Samsung has kept the screen resolution unchanged at 360×360 pixels, but we did not notice any pixelation. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G sports auto-brightness so the display brightness is adjusted automatically based on ambient light.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G has two buttons to the right of the dial, while the left side has the speaker. The buttons are slightly raised but offer good feedback when pressed. At the top, there’s a microphone which can be used for when you take calls on the watch. The 44mm case has lugs which extend slightly and can accommodate any 20mm strap. Samsung offers a black leather strap in the box, which goes very well with the silver dial. The strap quality is quite good and it feels comfortable when worn. The traditional watch clasp is convenient to use.
At the back, you’ll see the hardware for wireless charging and heart rate tracking. Samsung ships a wireless charger in the box, which clamps onto the back using magnets.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G specifications, software and features
Samsung has stuck with the same core hardware for the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G as its predecessor, most notably its in-house dual-core Exynos 9110 SoC. This is paired with 1.5GB of RAM and 4GB of storage. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G runs Tizen OS 4.0 with One UI 1.5 on top. Samsung claims that this watch is IP68 rated, which means it should be water-resistant up to 5ATM. This makes it swim-proof, so you can take a dip without worrying about this watch.
The increased size has helped Samsung pack in a bigger 340mAh battery. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G supports Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, NFC, and GPS. It also has an embedded SIM that lets the watch latch onto 4G networks directly.
Since the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G runs Tizen, it is compatible with both Android smartphones as well as iPhones. We tested the smartwatch with a Samsung Galaxy S10+ (Review) for this review. You’ll need the Galaxy Wearable app to pair this watch with the smartphone and set up 4G on it. Another app, Samsung Health, is required to check details such as the number of steps you’ve taken and the quality of your sleep. Both these apps worked as promised, and we did not face any issues with them, but a single combined app would have been more convenient.
The interface of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G is similar to what we’ve used on Samsung’s previous wearables, and navigating through it was a breeze. Samsung does offer a lot of features straight out of the box, which is a good thing since there are only a limited number of apps for Tizen OS. Sleep tracking and heart rate tracking are on by default and the watch is capable of tracking multiple different workouts.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G performance and battery life
We found the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G to be light and comfortable to use. Swiping right from the home screen on the watch takes you straight to your notifications. Samsung also offers an always-on mode which keeps the watch face on at all times. The watch buzzes for incoming notifications, and you can reply to them from the watch itself. You can use speech, handwriting recognition with a finger, or an on-screen number pad with T9 predictive input to compose replies.
Since the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has a speaker, you can answer calls on the watch. This works even without setting up the e-SIM on the watch. The speaker is loud but you’ll have to hold the watch close to your ear to hear a caller clearly. We took a few calls using the watch and did not face any issues. Our callers didn’t notice that we were talking to them through a smartwatch.
We tested the tracking abilities of the Galaxy Active 2 4G by walking exactly 1km, and the watch reported 0.99km which is an acceptable deviation. The watch latches on to GPS very quickly, and accurately reflected the route we took on a map. We tested the step counter on the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G by manually counting 1,000 steps as we walked. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G counted 1,008 steps. We have used fitness trackers that were completely accurate, but if you want a mostly accurate idea of the number of steps you’ve taken at the end of each day, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G won’t be horribly off.
Sleep tracking with the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G was accurate, and the data in the Samsung Health App showed us a proper breakdown of awake time, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. Heart-rate tracking was also accurate, and we found the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G to give out readings in the same range as an Apple Watch Series 4.
The Samsung Galaxy Active 2 4G packs in a bigger battery than its predecessor, but because of the bigger display, it delivered similar battery life as the Galaxy Watch Active. Using the smartwatch with notifications, heart-rate tracking, and sleep tracking enabled, it lasted us for three days. Enabling the always-on display feature dropped the battery life to two days. With the 4G e-SIM enabled and the always-on display turned off we managed to get about a day and a half worth of use out of this device.
If you are looking to track workouts using the watch actively, expect the battery life to dip even more. Charging the watch is straightforward though, and you simply need to drop it onto the supplied cradle. The watch takes about an hour to get to 50 percent, and close to two hours to charge completely.
Samsung has been developing Tizen OS for its wearables quite actively for a few years now, and it seems fresher than Wear OS. However, don’t be surprised if you don’t find a native version of your favourite app for the Galaxy Watch 2 4G, as support is still pretty limited. On the positive side, you’d be hard-pressed to find any useful features that are missing from the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G, as Samsung offers a lot of functionality on the device.
Since the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G is good with fitness tracking, it is an easy watch to recommend. Android users will be happy with what the Galaxy Watch Active 2 4G offers for the price, as there aren’t a lot of Wear OS options on the market. If you want better battery life, you should take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4G. If you are an iPhone user, you could consider the Apple Watch Series 3 which is a good alternative at around the same price.
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