Just six months after the launch of the Galaxy Watch Active, Samsung is following it up with the next generation of its flagship smartwatch. But why? We took a closer look at the new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 for this first hands-on review.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 can get expensive
Let's start with the prices Samsung is asking for for the Galaxy Watch Active 2. They depend on two things: the size and the question of connectivity. There's no official UK or US pricing yet, but we do know how much it will cost in Europe.
- Galaxy Watch Active 2 Aluminium 40 mm - €299
- Galaxy Watch Active 2 Aluminium 44 mm - €319
- Galaxy Watch Active 2 stainless steel 40 mm - €399
- Galaxy Watch Active 2 stainless steel 44 mm - €419
- Galaxy Watch Active 2 stainless steel 40 mm LTE - €449
- Galaxy Watch Active 2 stainless steel 44 mm LTE - €469
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 with LTE will be available from October 6, whilst the pure Bluetooth version is out a month later on September 6, just in time for the start of the IFA in Berlin.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is elegant and smart
Whether in 40 or 44 millimeters, t he Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a rather small, dainty watch , and not bulky on the arm like many other smartwatches. The round-shaped housing has two buttons on the right side, which hardly protrude out of the device. Together with the touch screen, they serve to operate the watch, which has to do without a rotating bezel. This ring around the display had been on many Samsung smartwatches but had to give way to the touch control we saw on the first Galaxy Watch Active. Samsung replaces the Galaxy Watch Active 2 with the so-called "digital bezel".
The heart rate monitor is located on the underside of the excellently finished stainless steel case. Samsung has looked at Apple in terms of health features and now offers the possibility to create an ECG reading with your smartwatch. It should be clear that this cannot replace a visit to the doctor if you have a health concern, but these things still make sense.
Samsung equips the Galaxy Watch Active 2 with a bracket for standard watch straps. That's good, not least because the black silicone bracelet we tried was quite comfortable to wear, but not necessarily pretty to look at. So you can buy the Galaxy Watch Active 2 from your local dealer and design it the way you like it. The Galaxy Watch Active is quite light in all versions. The weight varies from 26 grams for the aluminum version without LTE in 40 millimeters to 42 grams at 44 millimeters with LTE. The Galaxy Watch Active is IP68 certified and therefore well protected against water and dust. It can withstand up to 5 ATM water pressure and is therefore absolutely fine when showering, bathing or swimming.
Smartwatches need AMOLED
The Super AMOLED display comes in both a 1.2 or 1.4-inch version and displays 360 x 360 pixels. This AMOLED panel is a blessing, especially for a watch, as it can display the time in a very energy-saving way - after all, black surfaces consume virtually no energy. The display of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 was very nice to look at during my test. The fine animations on the screen are great and the display is clear despite the small size.
All expected functions on board
The round arrangement of the buttons in Samsung's Tizen operating system visually matches the shape of the Galaxy Watch Active 2. The center of the screen usually remains free when you are in the menus. In terms of functional diversity, Tizen can now compete quite well with Wear OS, all the important functions of a smartwatch are mastered by the Watch Active 2. Users can customize the dial with the app "My Style". Suitable apps for cycling, shopping, walking, swimming, and rowing are available as well as the comprehensive health monitoring stuff through the Samsung Health App.
Zips along thanks to Exynos
The performance of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 was impeccable during my first test. The watch runs fast and smoothly, the Exynos 9110 with four cores does a good job. The main memory depends on the radio technology you choose. With LTE the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has 1.5 GB of RAM, without LTE it is only half that. The internal storage on the smartwatch is 4 GB. This is sufficient for a smartwatch and you shouldn't have any problems needing more.
The battery charges wirelessly
Samsung equips the LTE version of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 with a 340 mAh battery. Without buying the LTE version you'll only get a 247 mAh battery. This should be enough for a decent runtime, but we still have to check this properly when we do our full review with the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. Charging is done wirelessly as usual.
Small steps forward
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a quite chic smartwatch with many functions. Compared to the Galaxy Watch Active, which was introduced in February together with the Galaxy S10, the jumps forward are small. If you can do without the digital bezel and the ECG recording, you have no reason to buy the new smartwatch if you already own the original version.