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Lifewire / Yoona Wagener
Light, sleek fit
LTE connectivity available
Digital rotating bezel
New running analysis and VO2 max metrics
Phone calls and chats with Android
Water-resistant and rugged
Functionality limited for iOS users
Pricier than the original Active
ECG feature works only on Galaxy phones
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is an improved version of the original Active, introducing new fitness technology, connectivity ease, and advanced health insights that benefit Android and Galaxy smartphone users the most.
We purchased the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is an impressive followup to the original Galaxy Watch Active, which also boasted a lightweight and sleek build meant for 24/7 wear by active users. The Active2, though slightly larger and heavier than the prior model, is an exceedingly comfortable and easy-to-use wearable with a strong multi-day battery and connectivity features you expect from the best smartwatches, including receiving and sending calls and texts and standalone use with LTE connectivity.
Other exciting enhancements revolve around advanced health and fitness features that compete with Apple and Fitbit models. Wellness enthusiasts and runners will enjoy the new VO2 max feature, running analysis, and ECG monitoring support, and all users can claim peace of mind with fall detection. Though iOS users with an iPhone 5 and newer will find compatibility, it’s more limited than Android or Galaxy users.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is streamlined, sporty, and simple to navigate. It comes with a vibrant SUPER AMOLED 360x360 1.2-inch display that’s easy to view in all different lighting conditions with adjustable brightness levels, the ability to use an upward wrist gesture or tap to wake, and the option of an always-on display.
This display comes with intuitive inputs in every direction and two helpful buttons that serve as the back and home buttons. The home button also takes you to the main app directory and serves as the power button. You have the option of toggling through by tapping each item or using the digital bezel feature that’s just as effective as a physical mechanism.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is streamlined, sporty, and simple to navigate.
The swipe-down quick access menu comes with even more useful features for activating the most relevant settings based on the situation. These helpful aids include shortcuts for enabling night mode to inactivate the screen and any notices while you’re sleeping and freezing the screen from interferences in the pool by turning on the water lock button. I experienced strong feedback and responsiveness with every tap or menu navigation, never feeling as if I’d lost my place or that the watch failed to register my inputs.
While the general appearance and feature set hasn’t changed dramatically, the Active2 presents some clear differences over the original Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. The Active2 increases the display by 0.1 inches or 0.3 inches in the new larger case size that appeals to more wrist sizes.
Samsung also added an upgraded stainless steel version in addition to the standard aluminum that comes with the option of LTE connectivity. This second-generation model boasts a fan-favorite feature or Samsung wearables: the bezel. The digital bezel feature on the Active2 allows users to cycle through all screens and widgets by tapping and rotating around the edge of the display for faster navigation.
The Active2 also offers more effortless connectivity by remembering text history and offering the ease of quick replies, including Bitmoji and canned responses right from the watch. It also doubles down on fitness and wellness tech by improving running analysis and offering ECG monitoring and fall detection. These features put it in direct company with the Apple Watch and Fitbit and Garmin smartwatches that dial up the fitness and wellness focus.
The Active2 offers a comfortable fluoroelastomer rubber band that flexes and repels sweat and moisture with ease, though it does catch lint easily. The device is safe to take in the pool for laps or leisurely soaks, thanks to a 5ATM waterproof rating. The water lock feature was foolproof and easy to turn off and on at will. You can also trust the Gorilla Glass DX+ glass and MIL-STD-810G durability rating to make routine wear and care a breeze.
In addition to expanded sizing for larger wrists, the Active2 manages to feel nearly weightless despite gaining a little weight over the 40mm Active (0.91 ounces versus 0.88 ounces). The flat-tuck, slim band provides a clean fit without extra material getting in the way while exercising or stationary. The light design and flexible build gave this device a nearly weightless feeling with all-day use, including while sleeping. Unlike some wearables, I didn’t end up with heavy marks when I woke up from a night of wearing it to monitor my sleep.
Though it has a sporty edge, the band is replaceable for a more formal style, and the color options add personality that rivals models from brands such as Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin. Take color coordination further by adding your favorite shades using the My style watch face. Even if you stick with basic black, the Active2 provides a strong case for 24/7 wear as a smartwatch that blends in nicely for daily wear.
A device called Active2 should have the chops to track exercise and wellness, and this watch delivers even better than the original Active. Like the first-generation model, the Active2 tracks 39 different workouts, including automatic logging of popular exercises such as running. When running with the Active, I experienced underwhelming and slightly inaccurate GPS and heart rate capture compared with a Garmin device. That wasn’t my experience with the Active2.
The Active2 offers a considerable edge over other smartwatches with built-in running gait analysis.
In comparison with one of Garmin’s newest and most athletically focused smartwatches, the Garmin Forerunner 745, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Active2 fared. The Active2 was just a little ahead of the Garmin in all areas, and by a negligible margin. Over several 3- and 4-mile runs, the average pace was within mere seconds, average heart rate differed by only one beat per minute, and cadence also fell within one point.
I was also pleased to see a VO2 max analysis. Though the scales differ from Garmin’s brackets, both placed me within the same tier based on my age and other stats. The Active2 also offers a considerable edge over most Garmin and other fitness-focused smartwatches with built-in running gait analysis.
If you’ve ever been curious about how efficient you are, the Active2 and the Samsung Health app can help you understand where you can improve with contact time, how much air you gain with each stride, or even how stiff your movements are. I appreciated the insight and found it spot on with what I already know about my gait from in-person analysis with professionals.
A device called Active2 should have the chops to track exercise and wellness, and this watch delivers even better than the original Active.
The Active2 performed with flying colors outside of running, automatically detecting walking and cycling workouts, tracking sleep cycles, and encouraging movement throughout the day. I got a kick out of the friendly animated figures that popped up if I hadn’t moved within the hour, suggesting I take a walk or stretch—and offering a pat on the back when I started and stayed moving.
Samsung suggests that the Active2 should last 43 hours in the aluminum version and 60 hours in the stainless steel model. The claim that this is a multi-day device is right on target. I saw a consistent run time of 2.5 to three days, depending on how I used it. Streaming Spotify music or enabling the always-on display during runs predictably depleted the battery faster.
If you’re hoping to extend the battery further, the power-saving mode is worth applying. The wireless charging attachment conveniently displays the anticipated charge time depending on how depleted the battery is. From completely drained to 100 percent, I logged a solid 1 hour and 40 minute charge time.
I saw a consistent run time of 2.5 to three days, depending on how I used it. Streaming Spotify music or enabling the always-on display during runs predictably depleted the battery faster.
The Active2 runs on Tizen OS, which offers a vast selection of watch face customizations and access to the Galaxy Store for even more—or other gaming, productivity, or entertainment apps. For virtual assistance, there’s Bixby, which has improved considerably since the version in the Active, plus Samsung Pay for quick wallet-free payments.
The Active2 also comes installed with Spotify, which you can enjoy with or without headphones, thanks to the surprisingly loud and decent built-in speaker. With a premium Spotify account, you can also download playlists onto the device to use as a standalone music player.
Android users enjoy the ease of responding to emails, calls, and messages directly from the Active2 (when it’s nearby and connected) with canned responses, emojis, and even voice input and hand-drawn responses. There’s also a new SOS feature for alerting a contact if you’ve experienced a fall. All of these features are made more accessible in standalone mode with the LTE model. Samsung Galaxy smartphone users enjoy even more symbiosis with their phones with features such as Wireless PowerShare and ECG monitoring from the Samsung Health app.
While the Active2 is compatible with both iOS and Android, after connecting the watch to both operating systems, I experienced a smoother and more complete experience on Android. Android users benefit from a much faster and seamless pairing process with the Gear app, which has a built-in watch faces library for easy customization.
Samsung Health for Android also provides access to those new advanced metrics such as VO2 max and running performance analysis along with much more detailed graphs that correspond with all the health data the Active2 captures in the background, such as heart rate, sleep, and stress levels. If you have an iPhone, you’ll get the basics but miss out on all of these advanced perks, unfortunately.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 starts at $250 for the Bluetooth model or $270 for the LTE version. These price points still slot this watch below the top-tier models that ask a premium of well over $400. Even with the standard Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected Active2, you’ll find a lineup of apps and tools that cover most smartwatch needs. From automatic fitness tracking and some advanced health metrics to call and text response and music storage, this small and capable wearable is multi-talented and priced reasonably for its abilities.
The Fitbit Sense is the premium smartwatch from the Fitbit Brand, priced at $300, though it’s possible to find it for near $250. Like the Active2, the Fitbit delivers watch face personalization, heart rate monitoring, onboard GPS, contactless pay, and automatic workout and all-day activity tracking.
For wellness enthusiasts, the Sense distinguishes itself with advanced sensors for SPO2 and ECG monitoring and tracking skin temperature, breathing, heart rate variability, and stress levels. While the Active2 only offers ECG monitoring with a Galaxy phone, it appeals to runners with more advanced form analysis, coaching, and VO2 max analysis. The Sense might not provide advanced running analysis, but it does offer a VO2 max estimate packaged as a cardio fitness score.
Both wearables work well with iOS and Android phones, though Fitbit tends to be more system agnostic. While both are stylish and sporty watches, the Fitbit Sense’s square face isn’t for everyone. It’s also a bit heavier at 1.64 ounces, while the lightest Active2 weighs under 1 ounce. However, the Fitbit Sense also offers about six days of battery life, which is about two times more than the Active2.
A versatile fitness-forward smartwatch for Android users.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 performs true to its name as a wearable that helps promote and match an active lifestyle with a slim and durable build, advanced running metrics, ECG monitoring, and a generous suite of apps and connected features. The full customization available on Android and Samsung Galaxy smartphones, in particular, makes the Active2 a compelling smartwatch choice for non-iOS users.
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