Apple and Samsung came up with our top two choices for the best smartwatches, the Apple Watch Series 5 and Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, respectively. Both possess a formidable array of features and work phenomenally as fitness trackers. So which one should you get? Naturally, if you’re an iPhone user, the obvious and only choice (for now) is the Apple Watch. But the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is cheaper and also boasts iOS support, although it is more optimized for Android. To help you decide, read on to find out the other key differences between the two wearables. Save up to $80 when you get them today.
– $199, was $279
This time around, the latest smartwatch from the already impressive Galaxy Watch lineup flaunts a digital rotating bezel (the Gear Sport and Galaxy Watch’s are conspicuously analog, but they’re still great). Looking like a rounded cousin of the Apple Watch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 boasts comprehensive fitness tracking, a gorgeous display, a wonderfully fluid interface, and two-day battery life. Simply put, it’s one of the best smartwatches that you can buy right now. Get it for $199 instead of $279 on Microsoft – a huge $80 worth of savings.
This smartwatch is primarily a fitness wearable, but it looks more versatile. It’s pleasantly minimalist, with a black aluminum body that will look good in the gym and at the office. The Active 2’s 1.4-inch screen has a pixel resolution of 360 x 360, and it is stunning and exceptionally bright. The blacks are deep, colors pop, and text is plenty sharp. And even if you set the screen brightness to just three (on a scale from 1 to 10), it’s still bright enough to be seen outdoors even in direct sunlight. There are a couple of buttons found on the right edge for further navigation, and with an IP68 rating, this smartwatch can be submerged in meter-deep water for about half an hour.
As mentioned earlier, the main highlight of the Active 2 is its digital rotating bezel. It’s not as satisfying as the “clicking” mechanical rotating bezels of the Gear Sport and Galaxy Watch, and it makes the watch a fingerprint magnet, but it’s fun and easy to use nonetheless. The Tizen interface also remains fluid and well-organized. Apps and notifications are presented in an orderly fashion (we still prefer the Wear OS’s single-file list view), but we hated the fact that you can’t connect the Active 2 to your computer to transfer music files. Everything must be done over Wi-Fi via a web app interface, and that can get tedious, especially if you don’t have a fast internet connection. Twitter, YouTube, and Google Translate are all on-board, although we have no idea who would want to watch a video on a super tiny screen.
All the basics in fitness and wellness tracking are present in the Active 2, plus plenty more. Walking, running, swimming, cycling, rowing, elliptical training, and dynamic workouts are automatically tracked, and you can measure your stress levels with heart rate data and choose to receive reminders to stand, stretch, or go for a quick stroll. The Samsung Health can give you weekly summaries of your wellness trends, including your sleep patterns, activity levels, and heart rate information. We have to mention though that this device lacks a functional electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor. It’s there, but it hasn’t been cleared by the FDA yet, making it useless as of now.
Finally, with light usage, you can extend this watch’s battery life up to two days, making it possible to do sleep tracking, unlike with the Apple Watch Series 5.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 ranks alongside the Galaxy Watch as the best smartwatch that you can buy for Android. Get the 40mm version of it at Microsoft for just $199.
Apple Watch Series 5 — from $349
Visually, there’s nothing that sets the Apple Watch Series 5 apart from its predecessor the Series 4. It still sports the same square design and digital crown control system. Its case is made of 100% recycled aluminum (perfect for the environmentally conscious), although it also comes in titanium, stainless steel, and ceramic if you have the money to splurge, with a case size of either 44mm or 40mm. Curvy and ergonomic, it’s small and light enough to let you feel like you’re not wearing it, and it won’t get caught on your shirt cuff.
The biggest difference between the Series 5 and the previous Apple Watch iterations is its always-on display. It will always show the time and you no longer need to raise your wrist in order to wake the screen up. This might sound a tad silly and inconsequential, but having to raise your hands quite unsubtly isn’t appropriate at all times, so we appreciate the slight upgrade. Workout stats are also immediately shown as soon as you start exercising. For example, do some push-ups and the Watch will automatically display the corresponding metrics. There are plenty of watch faces to choose from, with designs that range from the elegant to the quirky. And if you’re thinking that the always-on display will take a serious toll on the battery life, don’t fret. It’s possible to get a full day and a half out of a single charge. Recharging takes about an hour.
The Series 5 also has an internal compass, an even more powerful S5 processor, and a much larger storage capacity. The interface is fun and simple to use. Using the digital crown to zoom in and out of the app screen is great, and the haptic feedback provides an impressively tactile experience. All your basic fitness-tracking needs are covered, plus a few more. It takes care of steps, calories, hourly movement, relaxation, VO2 Max data, hours spent standing, and workout tracking for a range of sports including swimming and biking, and it even handles more unusual activities like yoga and elliptical training.
Probably the most important health feature of the Series 5 is its electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor, which was introduced first on the Series 4. It’s not exactly a heart rate monitor — which is useful for fitness tracking as well as for medical purposes — but instead is designed for use when you feel an irregularity in your heart rate. Having it there will provide peace of mind to anyone with concerns over an irregular heartbeat, as it will send a notification if one is detected.
The Apple Watch Series 5 is nearly perfect and is the best smartwatch that you can buy right now. Get it at Best Buy starting at $349.
Apple Watch Series 5 (40mm) with Black Sport Band — $349, was $399:
Apple Watch Series 5 (44mm) with Black Sport Band — $379, was $429:
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