Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Initial Review: Design and Feature Update

Samsung announced the Galaxy Watch Active alongside its Galaxy S10 devices back in February 2019, joining a larger, more durable Galaxy Watch with fitness features and a simple design.

Galaxy Watch Active 2 builds on its semi-annual successor with a host of updates including new features and design tweaks. Here are our first impressions of Samsung's new and improved fitness smartwatch.

Design and display

  • 40mm/44mm size options
  • Aluminum or stainless steel
  • Digital bezel
  • 20mm interchangeable straps

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 has a slight redesign on its predecessor - the Galaxy Watch Active - but the tweaks are worthy of the trick.

On the surface, things look the same, but the top button on the right side of the display is now oblong rather than round, resulting in a more streamlined look. You don't really think the button shape could make that much of a difference, but side-by-side, Active 2 is neater than its predecessor.

The round face is again present, as in the previous Galaxy Watch Active, but the new model features a digital bezel that sits on top of a beautiful super AMOLED display that is punchy and dynamic, again just like the original Galaxy Watch Active.

The digital bezel can be rotated clockwise or anti-clockwise and provides wonderfully smooth movements with satisfying enough feedback. It's not exactly the same as the physical rotating bezel on the Galaxy Watch that launched in August 2018, but we liked it and are excited to see the functional bezel return after it was completely ditched for the Galaxy Watch Active.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 comes in two sizes now too - 40mm and 44mm - just like the Apple Watch 4 series. The 40mm device has a 1,2-inch screen, while the 44mm device has a 1.4-inch screen with 360 x 360 resolution.

Both the 40mm and 44mm sizes of lightweight aluminum (which we've seen) and solid stainless steel options. Aluminum models have a Fluororubber band which is lovely and soft to the touch as well as comfortable. It fastens with a buckle like the original Galaxy active watch, resulting in a secure fit.

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Meanwhile, the stainless steel options come with a leather strap for a more serious look. The straps are 20mm and are interchangeable though, so you can mix and match depending on what you're doing. We recommend the Fluororubber group whenever work is needed.

It's also worth noting that there's also a sub-model of the Armor Edition of the Galaxy Watch Active 2, which has an aluminum body and comes in two size options: 44mm with a black strap, and 40mm with a gray strap.

The standard Galaxy Watch Active 2 comes in cloud grey, aqua black, rose gold for aluminum models and silver, black gold for stainless steel models.

Fitness features and performance

  • 39 workouts (7 automatic)
  • Pulse
  • ECG monitor
  • Fall Detection

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 has many features on board. In terms of fitness features, it can manually track 39 workouts with seven automatically activated, like running, walking and cycling.

There is also an updated trainer running and seven different running programs on board. The Under Armor Edition also offers access to the UA fitness platform, which includes in-app sports from six months old.

Built-in GPS and heart rate tracking onboard the Galaxy Watch 2 active devices, as it's on few smartwatches these days, but the Active 2 offers an ECG sensor and an accelerometer that measures up to 32G of force, enabling fall or fall detection - two features only on the Apple Watch series 4 offers in terms of smart watches.

As a device manufacturer, Galaxy Watch Active 2 has advanced sleep analysis too, tracking four stages of sleep. This is something that Apple Watch doesn't currently offer, although sleep tracking is rumored to arrive at some point for Apple devices.

We weren't able to test the Galaxy Watch Active 2's performance and fitness features during our short time span, but we'll be sure to put it through its paces during our full review.

It's also worth noting that the ECG and drop detection features aren't immediately available as they're pending FDA approval, but we'll be testing them in full when they arrive.

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Equipment

  • 1.15GHz Exynos chip 9110
  • Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
  • There are Wi-Fi models: 4 GB, 768 MB RAM
  • LTE models: 4 GB, 1.5 GB RAM

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is available in both Wi-Fi only and LTE models, with LTE models offering slightly more RAM. All models have water resistance up to 5ATM about, IP68 water and dust , and they meet mil-STD-810G drop protection resistance so pretty tough smart watch.

Samsung Samsung Health, SmartThings and Samsung pay all on board like it's Bixby and protection using Samsung Knox technology. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is also compatible with Samsung Power Share, meaning you'll be able to place it on the back of your Galaxy S10 or Note 10 device and transfer some battery if you start running.

Battery life of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 varies by model, with a 40mm device offering a 247mAh battery while a 44mm device has a 340mAh battery. We will of course be testing the battery models we have on comment outside ourselves to see what those numbers mean in real terms.

Software

  • One user interface
  • Tizen OS

In terms of software, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 runs on Samsung's one UI software on top of the Tizen OS itself.

There are many features that come with the software, such as a watch camera controller that allows users to pair Active Watch 2 to a Galaxy smartphone, the ability to take photos, record videos, view footage, switch between front and rear lenses, set a timer, and check a photo or video from your watch.

There is also a feature called My Style which allows users to take photos of their outfit, choose from five different patterns, colors and change their watch face to match their outfit.

We'll take a look at the Galaxy Watch Active 2 and all of its software features in our full review, but based on our first impressions, the fluid interface and digital bezel makes for a great user experience.

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