The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 brings a raft of improvements that make it a more interesting prospect than the original Galaxy Watch Active, but how does it measure up against the reigning smartwatch champion? The Apple Watch Series 4 is easy to get to grips with, features a great design, and is packed with features, but it’s also pricier than Samsung’s device. We decided to compare the two and drill into what sets them apart to help you pick the right smartwatch for your needs.
|Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
||Apple Watch Series 4|
|Display size||1.2 inches/1.4 inches||1.57 inches/1.78 inches|
|Body size||40mm: 40 x 40 x 10.9 mm
44mm: 44 x 44 x 10.9 mm
|40mm: 40 x 34 x 10.7 mm
44mm: 44 x 38 x 10.7 mm
360 x 360 pixels
|324 x 394 pixels/368 x 448 pixels|
|Touchscreen||40mm: 1.2-inch Super AMOLED display
44mm: 1.4-inch Super AMOLED display
|40mm: 1.57-inch LTPO OLED Retina display w/ Force Touch
44mm: 1.78-inch LTPO OLED Retina display w/ Force Touch
|Wireless interface||Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, NFC, LTE||Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, NFC, LTE|
|Depth||10.9 mm||10.7 mm|
|Ambient light sensor||Yes||Yes|
|Heart rate sensor||Yes||Yes|
|Battery life||247mAh/340mAh||Up to 18 hours|
|Price||From $280||From $400|
|DT review||Hands-on||5 out of 5 stars|
Design and display
The Apple Watch Series 4 sports a distinctive rectangular design, whereas the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 goes for a more traditional round form. There are two buttons on the right of the Watch Active 2, while the Apple Watch has a button and a distinctive digital crown above it. Apple’s Watch is the more luxurious of the two, while Samsung goes for a minimalist, sporty feel with the Watch Active 2. They both come with stainless steel or aluminum cases. The Apple Watch Series 4 is protected by Sapphire crystal glass, while the Galaxy Watch Active 2 boasts Corning Gorilla Glass DX+.
Both come in two sizes, and it would appear Apple’s watches have much larger screens, but the numbers are a little misleading here, since rectangular displays are measured diagonally. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 actually has the higher pixel density, but both smartwatches boast OLED screens and they are plenty sharp, vibrant, and legible in all sorts of different lighting conditions.
This is a tight competition and some people will prefer the round Watch Active 2. We like the fact that Samsung has included a digital edge-based gesture to emulate the rotating bezel on the Galaxy Watch, but it doesn’t quite match the clever rotating Digital Crown, coupled with the presence of Force Touch in the screen, which makes the Apple Watch so easy to navigate. You also can’t fault the excellent build quality of the Apple Watch.
Winner: Apple Watch Series 4
Fitness and health-tracking features
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 and the Apple Watch Series 4 can track a wide range of exercises and will track some workouts automatically. They both offer 5-ATM water resistance, so you can go swimming with them on. Samsung improved the accelerometer in the Watch Active 2, so it can now measure up to 32G’s, which brings it into line with the Apple Watch Series 4. Samsung has also improved the heart rate sensor in the Watch Active 2 compared to the original.
Both wearables are capable of monitoring your stress levels and offering advice, they give you inactivity alerts, and they track your sleep quality. They both have built in GPS to track runs. All your fitness data is collected into the Samsung Health or Apple Health apps, though we slightly prefer the Apple app. Samsung’s new wearable is even capable of electrocardiogram (ECG) functionality, but it’s still in testing and hasn’t received FDA clearance yet, whereas the Apple Watch can do ECGs now.
This is a close-run category, but the Apple Watch edges another win.
Winner: Apple Watch Series 4
There’s no doubt that battery life is a weak spot for wearables. We found that the original Galaxy Watch Active didn’t quite match the Apple Watch in terms of stamina. Although the Watch Active 2 models both have bigger batteries, they also have bigger screens, so we’re not sure if that will translate into extra battery life in the real world or be balanced out. Apple states you should get up to 18 hours from a single charge of your Apple Watch, though we’ve found that estimate to be on the conservative side. We don’t think there’s likely to be much difference here.
You can get LTE versions of both these wearables, allowing you to make and receive calls, among other things, so you can leave your phone at home. The Watch Active 2 runs Samsung’s Tizen OS and it recently added YouTube and Twitter support. You can also use Google Translate on your wrist if you have an internet connection. You don’t have all the same options, but there are plenty of great Apple Watch apps to choose from that are worth a look.
This isn’t really a special feature, but it’s worth mentioning that, because it’s so popular, you’ll also find a wide selection of good Apple Watch accessories to choose from.
Price and availability
The Apple Watch Series 4 starts from $400 for the smaller model and $430 for the larger one, and you can $100 for LTE connectivity. It’s widely available. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 starts at $280 for the 40mm model and costs $300 for the 44mm model. The LTE versions will cost even more.
Overall winner: Apple Watch Series 4
Our winner is the Apple Watch Series 4. It performs admirably, boasts all the features you’re likely to want, and a few more besides, and has a great design. The win comes with caveats, most notably the fact that you need an iPhone to get the best from an Apple Watch. If you have an Android phone then we don’t recommend the Apple Watch. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is also more affordable, so it will certainly be a better buy for some people.