Samsung Galaxy Active 2 is Ready to Take Your Call

Samsung refines its fitness smartwatch with style and better tech

Samsung Galaxy Active 2
Samsung Galaxy Active 2 Smartwatch.

Lifewire/Lance Ulanoff

Samsung's original Galaxy Active wearable was notable for polishing virtually every last edge, knurl, and moving part (except a couple of slightly raised buttons) off the flagship Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch. The new Active 2, Samsung’s updated smartwatch, doesn’t deviate from that smooth ideal, but does make some crucial and useful adjustments in components, features, and connectivity.

Samsung Galaxy Active 2
Samsung Galaxy Active 2's new stainless steel LTE models.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Without moving parts, the original Active could not accommodate the Galaxy Watch’s nifty rotating bezel, which let you carousel through various apps and features. Samsung’s ingenious solution for the Active 2, which Samsung unveiled on Monday, is a virtual bezel.

Wear It

During a brief demo last week, I put the 44 mm Active 2 on my wrist (there’s also a 40 mm model) and placed my finger on the screen, tracing the outside edge as if I were spinning a physical bezel. I felt haptic taps in my wrist and the screen rotated through dozens of options. It was, honestly, an even better experience than the Galaxy Watch’s physical bezel.

Samsung Galaxy Active 2
The Active 2 has a slim and light aluminum body.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Even though the Galaxy Watch has considerable health and activity features, the Active 2 is Samsung’s premier health and activity wearable. As such, the watch’s accelerometer now has twice the sensitivity, and Samsung doubled the number of heart rate LED sensors from four-to-eight for better detection of heart rhythm changes.

Samsung Galaxy Active 2 back
There are now twice as many LED sensors on the back of the Galaxy Active 2.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Like Apple’s Series 4 Apple Watch, the Samsung Galaxy Active 2 now includes an Electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor. Unfortunately, the feature wasn’t yet connected to a software interface that I could see. Instead, Samsung told me it’s working on finding partners who will, I guess, implement an ECG reading within their own Galaxy Active 2 heart health apps.

Connected

As with the original Active, the aluminum Active 2 is available in a small collection of colors and finishes, including Black, Silver, Gold and Lily Gold. However, there’s now a new upscale stainless-steel model, the only one to support the new LTE connectivity option. Samsung denotes the LTE option with a little red ring on the wearable’s power button. That’s slightly different than Apple, which puts its LTE-signifying red ring on the Apple Watch Series 4’s digital crown.

The stainless steel Samsung Galaxy Active 2
Samsung's LTE Samsung Galaxy Active 2 is stainless steel and features a red ring on one of the buttons.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

LTE means you’ll no longer need your Android or iOS phone with you to make and receive calls, get messages, or engage with social media.

Samsung pushed the envelope on the kinds of content you can now view via the watch, as well. In addition to still images, messages, and social media notifications, the Active 2 will even let you stream full YouTube videos. I watched a bit of one and the experience was not as terrible as I thought it would be. The 360x360 Super AMOLED screen is bright and sharp and, though I could barely hear the video through the watch (it was a noisy space), I assume most people would connect their Active 2 to a Bluetooth headset.

Speaking of audio, the smartwatch includes single-sign-on Spotify integration, in contrast to Apple Watch's insistence on Apple Music.

Features like water resistance up to a depth of 50 meters, wireless charging, and connection to Samsung Health are unchanged from the original Active.

Put Me On

I wore the 44 mm Active 2, both the lightweight (30 grams) aluminum model and one of the denser, and more elegant steel ones (44 grams). Both felt good on my wrist and the screen was responsive and highly viewable indoors.

Samsung Galaxy Active 2
One of the patterns suggested by my outfit.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

I especially like the new customizable face tool that lets you use your phone to take a photo of your own outfit and use that to select a daily Active 2 watch face. My blue shirt set off a nice, contrasty pale and dark blue pattern. I felt very fashion-forward.

The Samsung Active 2 will start at $279 for the 40 mm model and $299 for the 44 mm watch. Samsung said pricing for the LTE version will be set by carriers. Preorders start on September 6. The LTE-enabled version arrives later this month.