Our Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Review
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active was an instant hit during launch, as the trimmed down version of the Galaxy Watch provided the affordability advantage warmly welcomed by many smartwatch enthusiasts. A few months after the original Active Watch hit the market, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Watch Active 2 with a hefty price tag than its predecessor.
Obviously, there were upgrades made to the smartwatch, targeting more specific markets. But are the upgrades worth the heavier price? This Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review will find that out.
Design and Presentation
The Active 2 of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch line-up has a heavier and bigger setup than its predecessor but still retains the original’s minimal and sleek design. While the rotating bezel is nowhere to be found in both versions during the initial launch, a new update lets you switch from digital to rotating bezel. This solves the massive clamors of many users during the early months after launch. The best part is the spinning bezel is available to both versions through a software update. But the digital feature makes scrolling the list of apps easier with a slide of a finger around the smartwatch’s sensitive edge.
The Active 2 smartwatch comes with a high-grade silicone strap. You have an option for a stainless-steel case, which is not available to the first edition with an aluminum casing. It is also water-resistant up to a maximum depth of 50 meters, with an IP68 rating. A special water mode feature prevents accidental activation and clears the device’s speaker of liquid upon coming out of the water.
The super crisp and large OLED screen makes reading outdoor easy, even under direct sunlight, as long as you maximize the brightness. But unlike the original Galaxy Watch Active that uses Gorilla Glass 3, the recent sequel uses Gorilla Glass DX Plus. This means the device can withstand more scratches and bumps. But still, proper care and maintenance are highly recommended for extended longevity.
Features and Functions
Both Galaxy Watch Active versions have a lot in common. They are packed with advanced fitness tracking functions, built-in GPS, Samsung Pay, and the smartphone’s call and text features. But the new features of the second edition set it apart from the original.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) Monitor
The much-awaited ECG monitor is a single Active 2 upgrade that makes it worth the price. The app recently got approval from the FDA for its ECG function that lets you monitor irregular heartbeats and provides early signs for various heart problems. While the accuracy of the ECG data is nowhere at par with the results of the ECG machine, you already have something on your wrist that provides early signs of impending heart issues, which you can share with your doctor. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is the second line-up of Samsung smartwatches equipped with an FDA-approved ECG monitor. Similar features in competitor devices are also available in Apple Watch Series 6. Likewise, Fitbit Sense offers the same.
Optional LTE Connectivity
Another significant upgrade unique to Active 2 is the optional LTE connectivity that lets you enjoy more wireless connectivity benefits. You can now watch YouTube videos while on the go without connecting with your smartphone. The feature gives you easy access to online messages, calls, texts, and music during workouts without bringing the phone with you all the time. The Active 2 LTE versions will give you the unique experience of having a mini smartphone on your wrist to receive calls and text messages but without the phone. Moreover, the device has an automatic sync function that automatically syncs your data when your smartphone or laptop is within range.
Improved Running Coach
The new edition of the Galaxy Watch Active has a running analysis feature that assists you in your daily workouts to become a better runner and improve your form while avoiding injuries. The smartwatch will work with you side-by-side and give you a comprehensive report on your workout program’s various metrics, such as vertical oscillation, stiffness, ground contact time, regularity, and asymmetry. Whether you are running, jogging, or walking, the new feature gives you voice recommendations and coaching you can hear through the loudspeaker or via Bluetooth wireless headphone.
Fall detection is a new addition to the recent update of Watch Active 2. You can now send SOS notifications to pre-assigned close contacts, up to four, when the device detects a potential fall. The update may not catch the attention of younger users, but baby boomers and generation X, and some millennials will appreciate the feature.
In the event of a fall during rigorous physical activities or during a heart attack, the app will instantly notify your loved ones along with your location for immediate assistance in times of dire need. You can gift someone close to your heart with a Galaxy Watch Active 2, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing everything is okay as the smartwatch watches out for your dear ones, even from afar.
Some people are annoyed when they send a text message and receive no immediate response. You can avoid communication gaps in the office, or at home, with the Smart Reply feature that lets you send emoticons on your smartwatch, just to let the person on the other end of the line know that you received the message. The best part is you don’t need to reach out to your phone to send a quick short reply.
Aside from the significant and notable upgrades of the Active 2, you will also get to enjoy more goodies with the recent update as Samsung brings in more features of the Galaxy Watch 3 to its sibling. The LED sensors for heart rate monitoring are among the first things you will notice from the outside without going inside yet. Originally, there were only four. But in the new version, there are eight LED sensors for better and more accurate readings.
Likewise, the accelerometer has doubled, allowing the Active 2 up to 32G’s compared to the 16G’s of the original. The VO2 max feature is another addition many athletes will appreciate. This provides indicators on the oxygen amount you can utilize in some physical activities and intense workouts. The VO2 max is a vital metric for athletes to track routine training progress for endurance improvement.
With the Active 2 watch, blood monitoring becomes easier with more accurate data. The cuffless blood pressure application just got clearance from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) of South Korea for its highly advanced eight-LED sensor technology, making it a Software as a Medical Device (SaMD). To enjoy the full health benefits of Samsung’s wellness mobile innovation, you must first calibrate the device with a traditional cuff. Once paired, you can check your blood pressure anytime and anywhere without seeking assistance from medical practitioners.
Battery Life and Charging
The original Samsung Galaxy Watch Active uses a 230mAh battery, while the Active 2 Aluminum 40mm uses a 247mAh, similar to Galaxy Watch 3. Apparently, there is an improvement in battery life. But to the dismay of some users of the latest edition, the difference is not promising. Some reports show a slight improvement of about 8%. However, it is hard to measure considering the many factors around to consider, such as usage of the features. But on average, a single charge gives Active 2 users about two full days of use. But with the LTE always on, you can expect a shorter battery life. But still, a single charge assures you of a full day of use of your smartwatch regardless of the usage of the apps.
The Bottom Line
There may be several negative initial reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, being more expensive than the original for a few unpromising upgrades. That’s because it was true during the early months of the launch. The most notable upgrade is the LTE connectivity. For those hoping for a rotating bezel in the new edition, it was a disappointment at first. But later on, this becomes available to both versions.
Samsung continuously improves its platform and hears its users’ suggestions by bringing in more goodies to package their products better through regular updates. The most recent one that really set the Active 2 apart from the original is the ECG monitor and the more accurate blood pressure application. The running analysis and the fall detection feature further spiced up the new edition, making the additional investment worthier.
While these upgrades are more focused on health and fitness, people nowadays are more conscious of their physical form and well-being. Thus, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is well-positioned for both young and old generations. Your workouts to stay physically fit and in good form are better and more efficient with the device on your wrist, providing guidance. For those with heart problems, then all the more you’ll appreciate the smartwatch with accurate tracking and monitoring of your blood pressure level, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and electrocardiogram readings.
For iOS users, the features may not be enough to convince them to switch. In terms of third-party applications, iOS still provides a more comprehensive list, for a slight price difference with Apple Watch Series 6. But for Android users looking for better, trendier, and useful applications for everyday use, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is in the top list, behind the Galaxy Watch 3, but at a more affordable price.
Check out more in-depth reviews on for instance YouTube before you buy:
Best place to buy
This is what other buyers have said in their Amazon reviews:
“Finally, a full-fledged smartwatch worth buying.” by Donnerstag
“Great Watch to keep an eye on the heart.” by MG
“Next level smartwatch!” by Jeremiah E.
“Great battery life and size” by Michael Thomas