Samsung took just six months to update the original Watch Active with the Galaxy Watch Active 2. Once again, it’s all about fitness and activity tracking. There are two size options and they boast a range of improvements over the Watch Active inside, including more sensors and bigger batteries. There’s also an LTE variant for those of you who want to leave your phone at home. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what sets the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 apart from the original.
Samsung has since released the Galaxy Watch 3, which does everything the Watch Active 2 can do plus a little more, and with a more stylish design. It’s so good, it has also grabbed a spot on our best smartwatches list.
There are plenty of other smartwatches out there, so take a look at the best smartwatch deals before committing. And if you’re looking to pick up a phone, check out our roundup of the Samsung Galaxy smartphone deals available now.
|Display size||1.2 inches/1.4 inches||1.1 inches|
|Body size||40mm: 40 × 40 × 10.9 mm
44mm: 44 × 44 × 10.9 mm
|40mm: 39.5 × 39.5 × 10.5 mm|
360 × 360 pixels
|360 × 360 pixels|
|Touchscreen||40mm: 1.2-inch Super AMOLED display
44mm: 1.4-inch Super AMOLED display
|1.1-inch Super AMOLED|
|Wireless interface||Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, NFC, LTE||Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, GPS, NFC|
|Ambient light sensor||Yes||Yes|
|Heart rate sensor||Yes||Yes|
|Price||From $280||From $200|
|DT review||4 out of 5 stars||4 out of 5 stars|
Design and display
We loved the minimal design of the original and it’s retained in the sequel. There’s still no rotating bezel, just two buttons on the right, but the Watch Active 2 does support an edge-based gesture that emulates the rotating bezel. While the original Watch Active had an aluminum case, the Watch Active 2 comes in aluminum or stainless steel.
Although even the smallest Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is bigger and heavier than the original, Samsung has made the most of the additional real estate, shaving down the bezels and packing in a bigger screen. The Super AMOLED is vibrant, sharp, and legible even in direct sunlight. Samsung hasn’t upped the resolution, but the extra space will be appreciated, particularly if you opt for the larger model.
There’s no difference in water resistance, with both models scoring 5ATM and IP68 ratings, but one potential durability benefit for the Watch Active 2 is the Gorilla Glass DX+ which is specially formulated for clarity and scratch resistance. The original Watch Active makes do with standard Gorilla Glass 3.
Fitness and health-tracking features
Samsung has doubled the LED sensors in the Galaxy Watch Active 2 which are used for monitoring your heart rate. There were four in the original Watch Active, now there are eight. Although the feature took a while to be approved by the Food and Drug Authority (FDA), the Galaxy Watch Active 2 will now take ECG measurements on your wrist, just like the Galaxy Watch 3 and the Apple Watch Series 6.
The accelerometer has also been doubled, so the Watch Active 2 can measure up to 32G’s, whereas the original only went up to 16G’s. The fitness tracking features are much the same as the original, including step counts, run tracking, and sleep tracking, and all of your data still goes into the Samsung Health app. While the extra sensors and added sensitivity don’t herald a lot of new features, they should ensure that the Watch Active 2 is more accurate than its predecessor.
The battery capacity in the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has been increased compared with the original. While the new watches have slightly bigger screens to power, that extra juice does translate into a real-world difference. We found the original Watch Active could go a day with the always-on display enabled, but the Watch Active 2 can stretch to two days with light use. In fact, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 boasts more stamina than other popular smartwatches including the Apple Watch Series 5. The LTE variant, which allows you to make and receive calls on your wrist, inevitably has less stamina.
The option of an LTE version will be welcome for some people, but beyond that, the Watch Active 2 offers mostly iterative improvements like the enhanced sensors, bigger batteries and screens, and refined designs. We’re delighted to see more app integrations, including YouTube and Twitter browsing direct from the watch, and also Google Translate if you have an internet connection, but presumably, these will come to the Watch Active too via a software update. While Samsung has stuck with a dual-core Exynos 9110 processor and 4GB of storage space, the Wi-Fi version of the Watch Active 2 has 768MB of RAM and the LTE variant has 1.5GB of RAM.
Price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is great value at $200, and it’s widely available, plus it can often be found as low as $169 in sales too. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 started at $280 for the 40mm model and $300 for the 44mm model, but deals often bring these prices down to as little as $179 upwards. The LTE versions will cost you more.
Unsurprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is better than the original. It actually has more in common with the superior Samsung Galaxy Watch than it does with the original Watch Active. A bigger display, a refined design, more options, greater fitness and health tracking accuracy, and LTE connectivity are all desirable, but they inevitably come at a price. If you already have a Watch Active, then there really isn’t enough here to persuade you to upgrade, but if you’re in the market now and you have the budget, then the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is the one to pick.
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