Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 LTE review: The best smartwatch for Android users…
April 26, 2023 – Parties Request Dismissal of Samsung Galaxy Active 2 Smartwatch Class Action
The parties in the proposed class action lawsuit detailed on this page jointly filed a request for the suit’s dismissal with prejudice on August 29, 2022.
In the month prior, Samsung filed a 34-page motion that pushed for the plaintiff’s claims to be handled through arbitration, arguing that the Active 2 smartwatch “came with conspicuous Terms and Conditions, including an Arbitration Agreement.” The defendant’s motion also stated that the exterior packaging of the product informs consumers that “opening the package, using the device, or retaining the device constitute[s] acceptance of the Arbitration Agreement.”
Court documents show that as of August 2022, the parties were in “advanced discussions to conclude” the case prior to arbitration and even noted in their dismissal request that “issues concerning attorney’s fees and costs” had already been resolved privately.
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A proposed class action contends that Samsung Electronics America has misled consumers into believing its Galaxy Watch Active 2 smartwatch is waterproof when it’s only water resistant.
The 34-page complaint alleges Samsung has wrongfully taken advantage of reasonable consumers’ inability to distinguish between “waterproof” and “water resistant” and marketed the Galaxy Watch Active 2 in a manner that falsely suggests that the device is fully waterproof and able to withstand being submerged in liquid for at least 30 minutes.
The lawsuit alleges that the smartwatch, in truth, does not perform as advertised and will be damaged after coming into contact with liquid “for a few minutes or even seconds,” much less if fully submerged for an extended period of time.
“Defendant’s representations with regard to the water resistance capabilities of the Product are materially false because they do not perform as advertised under normal, real-world conditions and use,” the suit claims.
According to the case, Samsung has gone so far as to create “internal indicators” to detect whether a Galaxy Watch Active 2 has been exposed to liquid as a way to deny customer warranty and repair claims. The lawsuit likens Samsung’s alleged refusal to repair the device under warranty as buyers being “told one thing when they buy the Product, based on the representations, and then something else when they need after-sales service or replacement.”
Ultimately, Samsung smartwatch buyers may end up paying more to repair a damaged device than they did when they bought the product new, the lawsuit relays, noting that the internet is “full of complaints” from frustrated Galaxy Watch Active 2 owners.
Lawsuit says Samsung’s marketing emphasizes “waterproof” capabilities
A key contention in the lawsuit is that most consumers cannot distinguish between “waterproof” and “water resistant.” The case argues that although only the term “water resistant” is used by the International Electrotechnical Commission and the International Organization for Standardization, two international standards-setting groups, in regard to electrical devices and their ability to withstand water, this does not mean consumers believe that a device touted as “water resistant” is not in fact fully “waterproof.”
Samsung, the lawsuit alleges, has taken advantage of this misconception by marketing the Galaxy Watch Active 2 as acceptable to wear while swimming and amid images of liquid.
over, Samsung’s marketing indicates to consumers that the smartwatch can withstand even mundane day-to-day contact with water, including during handwashing, the case says:
The lawsuit alleges, however, that the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is simply not water resistant as the term is understood by regular consumers and “routinely fails in brief encounters with water.”
Water resistance standards don’t jibe with real-world watch usage, suit says
The lawsuit argues that although each Samsung smartwatch is advertised alongside an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) rating that supposedly corresponds to a device’s resistance to dust and water, these IEC standards are neither intended for nor apply to the real-world use of smartwatches.
First, the case says, the IEC standard requires that a sample device be brand new before being tested. Per the suit, this is a condition “that will almost never be met in the real world” as “users will not have their Smart watch subjected to potential water damage immediately after they open it.” Further, a Galaxy Watch Active 2, in real life, would not be immersed in purified, fresh water like the kind used for testing, the complaint adds.
Second, the smartwatch’s water protection barriers, such as coatings, glues, gaskets, meshes and membranes, are porous and only “deter” water from entering the device, the lawsuit contends. These membranes degrade and fail over time, especially when the smartwatch is subjected to “various temperatures, pressures, and mechanical force conditions,” the case says.
Third, the lawsuit continues, the general temperature requirements for IP tests are within the range of 59 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, yet the temperature in pools, sinks bathtubs and even hot, humid environments – that is, where the watch may be used – “typically exceeds the suggested temperature range under the IEC standard,” which can impact the efficacy of the watch’s seals.
The suit goes on to say that the IEC standard also fails to specify whether a sample is energized when tested. This is important given a smartwatch will most likely be turned on when it is submerged, and the fact that it is on will affect its ability to resist water, the complaint relays.
The IEC standard also fails to describe how water enters the device, yet this will affect the pressure it is subjected to and thus the depth and time it can withstand immersion in liquid. For instance, a smartwatch could fall quickly to the bottom of a pool or toilet, which will affect “the pressure and water ingression rate.”
Lastly, the lawsuit argues that the acceptance criteria for water resistance tests are “vague,” requiring only that “water entering a device not affect its normal operation or impact its safety.” From the suit:
For example, one lab may rate a Smart watch as ‘water-resistant’ as long as a short circuit does not occur, and yet accept the fact that there was a reduction of acoustic performance.”
Who does the lawsuit look to cover?
The case looks to represent consumers in California who bought a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 smartwatch for personal or household use within the applicable statute of limitations period.
I don’t live in California. Can I still get involved in the case?
At this time, the proposed class action detailed on this page aims to represent only consumers in California who’ve purchased a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. If you happen to live in another state and would like to know more about your legal rights, or about how to possibly start your own class action, you may want to reach out to an attorney in your area. (Google is generally a good place to start the search.) Many class action lawyers offer free consultations and would be able to provide you with some guidance on how best to proceed.
I own a Samsung smartwatch. How do I join the lawsuit?
When a proposed class action is first filed, there’s generally nothing a person needs to do to “join,” “sign up for” or otherwise be considered “included” in the lawsuit. Truth is, it’s only if and when a class action settles that consumers who are covered by the suit, the “class members,” would need to act. This usually involves filing a claim form online or by mail. If the case on this page were to settle, class members would more than likely be notified about it.
Keep in mind that class action lawsuits generally take some time to work through the legal process, usually toward a settlement, dismissal or arbitration outside of court.
If you bought a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, or are just looking to stay current on class action lawsuit and settlement news, sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter.
Camp Lejeune residents now have the opportunity to claim compensation for harm suffered from contaminated water.
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Corrado Rizzi is the Senior Managing Editor of ClassAction.org.
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Samsung Watch Active 2 ReviewBEST SMARTWATCH!!!
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Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2. black stainless steel. Smart watch with Band. black. 4 GB. ATT
pros and cons
- Improved sleek design and high quality materials
- Stand-alone LTE functionality (when it works)
- Packed with fitness features
- Virtual rotating bezel and UI is flawless
- Integrated music storage with Spotify support
- 2-3 day battery life when always-on watch face disabled
After using the Galaxy Note 10 Plus for a couple of months and then getting the chance to try out the new Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, I figured I should try out Samsung’s latest smartwatch. The new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 was released late last year and after a week with the LTE model, I can’t believe I waited so long to test one out.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 was released about six months after the Galaxy Watch Active, but several improvements made it clear the Watch Active 2 was the only version Samsung should have released in 2019. Improvements included two size options, an LTE variant, improved sensors, slightly larger display, newer version of Bluetooth, audio Running Coach, and touch-based rotating bezel navigation option.
I never tried out the Galaxy Watch Active so I cannot offer any personal experiences with the improvements, but as I understand it the software has been updated on the original model to match the Active 2 user experience so hardware is the defining improvement. I purchased the 44mm variant with LTE support in stainless steel black. There was a 30 discount on the Samsung website, making the price 419.99. The Wi-Fi model is available for 269.99 with different color options and an aluminum watch body.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 LTE model is composed of stainless steel, glass, and high-quality plastic. It is much sleeker than the Galaxy Watch with a glass display that curves down into the sides of the watch. There is no spinning bezel on the Watch Active 2 as that is mimicked with a digital bezel that you activate by rotating your finger around the outside of the display.
In the past, the Galaxy Watch and Gear Frontier S3 were pretty chunky big watches so it is awesome to have a large brilliant display in a body that is comfortable to wear for long periods and looks great. It’s much easier to sleep with the Watch Active 2, even the larger 44mm stainless steel model.
There are two physical buttons on the right side with the upper button serving as a back button and the lower one as a home button. There are mic openings on the right and top with a speaker opening on the left side. While you won’t want to listen to music for long periods on the speaker, it is great for phone calls and for those times when you don’t have headphones around.
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There is a comfortable optical heart rate monitor on the back that seems to do well when compared to GPS sports watches. Standard 20mm bands can be used with the Galaxy Watch Active 2. A black leather Band was included in the box, but there was no silicone Band. Since the watch is focused on serious activity, I’m not sure why there wasn’t also a silicone Band in the box. I had a couple of 20mm bands lying around so I’ve been using them when running with the Watch Active 2. It’s quick and easy to swap out the Band.
Specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 with LTE include:
- Processor: Samsung Exynos 9110 1.15GHz dual-core/li
- Display: 1.35 inch 360×360 pixels resolution Super AMOLED, Gorilla Glass DX
- Operating system: Tizen OS 4.0 and OneUI Watch version 1.5
- RAM: 1.5GB for the LTE model
- Storage: 4 GB of internal storage
- Wireless technology: LTE, NFC, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, and GPS/Glonass
- Sensors: Accelerometer, barometer, gyro, heart rate, ambient light
- Other features: IP68 and 5 ATM dust and water-resistant, MIL-STD-810G rated, integrated microphone and speaker
- Battery: 340 mAh battery with wireless charging dock
- Dimensions: 44 x 44 x 10.9 mm and 44 grams (44mm stainless steel model)
The last Samsung watch I wore was the Galaxy Watch (see our full review), so it has been a real joy to carry around a smaller watch that is 2.1mm thinner and 19 grams lighter. The smooth, elegant design also makes it a much more comfortable watch to wear and it is still large enough to give me a wonderful big screen watch experience.
Since I’ve been testing the larger 44mm with LTE radio inside, it is expected I can go two days before charging. I’ve been able to charge it up, track six to seven hours of sleep, go for a 45-minute run, wear the watch all day, and then track another night of sleep. Using Spotify to play music, keeping the display always on, and heavy use of LTE in stand-alone mode will chew up battery too. I typically keep the watch face always on during my working day and then tap to turn it off to the lift-and-twist mode activation.
The Watch Active 2 comes with a wireless charging cable, but you can also use a Galaxy phone with Wireless Powershare to top it off if needed. I typically charge it up when writing ZDNet articles at night since I’m just sitting at my desk and there is no activity to track at the time.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 continues to run Tizen and it is fully optimized for the round wearable experience. Buttons, screen swipes and taps, and the digital rotating bezel are all used to navigate around on the watch. The top back button can be pressed and held to open Samsung Pay. A double-press of the bottom home button can launch Bixby, or be set by you for another function, in the settings. A press and hold of the home button lets you power off the watch or turn on touch sensitivity.
Swipe down from the watch face to see your basic connection status and battery life with access to six quick controls. By default these include toggles for power saving mode, airplane mode, ringtone management, do not disturb, always-on display, and brightness levels. Swipe over to view more control buttons, including one to access all the settings.
Settings are available for the watch faces, sound and vibration, display, advanced options, connections, apps, security, account, accessibility, general, battery, and about. You can also scroll to the bottom to connect to another phone, including an iPhone.
Swipe from left to right to see your notifications from the watch face. Go from right to left to start viewing all of the widgets you select and setup. You can also slide your finger around the outer edge of the display to activate the digital rotating bezel to scroll. It takes a bit of practice but is fun to navigate too.
There is an incredible number of optional watch faces included in the Galaxy Store. Watch faces are one area of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 that beats all other smartwatches I have ever tested and honestly people do use their watch for the time so having custom options is a great thing.
The automatic activity tracking is another area that I enjoy on the Galaxy Watch Active 2. I walk about a mile between my office and the train station and usually, these walks are never tracked, except for the steps. The Watch Active 2 categorizes these as walk so I can easily see and track the efforts there in Samsung Health. I know that Apple now has this capability for some activities as well, but Samsung continues to improve its tracking.
Many people give Samsung flack for Bixby, but the more I use it on Samsung devices the more useful I find it. It has been accurate for me and answers most of my queries in a timely fashion, even over an LTE connection in standalone mode.
The Galaxy Watch options are often overlooked because there are not as many apps available as there are on the Apple Watch. Over the years I have discovered I use very few additional apps on my watches as they are used for essential functions. Apps I have installed on the Galaxy Watch Active 2 include Arccos Golf, Strava, MS Outlook, camera controller, and Uber. Samsung Health, Spotify, and other apps are loaded by default and the only apps I would like to see are Nest and OneNote/Evernote.
The Galaxy Wearable application has undergone some major improvements since I last used it. You can fully set up and manage your Galaxy Watch Active 2 on the phone and then have those settings, apps, watch faces, and more sync to the watch. You can set up Samsung Pay, Bixby, LTE service, and more using the smartphone application. You can even reorder the widgets that appear next to the watch face.
If you are interested in the fitness aspects of the Watch Active 2 then you should also have the Samsung Health application that shows you all of the data captured by the Watch Active 2. There are items to show your steps, hydration, exercise, sleep details, heart rate, stress, and more. You can view trends over time in Samsung Health and even sync the data to Strava or Technogym.
How is the Galaxy Watch Active 2 different than the Apple Watch 5?
Now that I’ve used both watches (see Jason Cipriani’s Apple Watch Series 5 review), I prefer the Watch Active 2 for the following reasons:
- LTE without limits: Unlike the Apple Watch, the Galaxy Watch Active is fully standalone for LTE capability so you do not need a phone at all to use it for calls, texting, or other internet services such as streaming Spotify music directly to the watch via cellular networks.
- Sleep tracking
- Stress tracking
- User interface with digital rotating bezel
- A vast number of watch face options in the Galaxy Store
Two things the Apple Watch Series 5 has that are missing on the Watch Active 2 are ECG and fall detection. However, the Watch Active 2 hardware is capable of both and these features are slated to come in a software update that could be released at any time.
Daily usage experiences and conclusions
I ran with the Galaxy Watch Active 2, Polar Vantage V, and Garmin Forerunner 945. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 did not have all of the custom data options as the dedicated GPS watches, but it tracked GPS and heart rate well. It is good for the casual athlete who wants a great smartwatch and I may keep wearing it while using my GPS sports watches just for workouts.
I like hearing the status of my progress on my Bluetooth earbuds while running but found the coaching options too limited to help me out much. Again, a casual athlete may find the coaching options for about six different types of running to be useful.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 may not be returned because I love being able to use it for quick calls and texts without having to pull out my phone. Unlike other watches, I can scroll and view entire long messages and emails all on this big, gorgeous Super AMOLED display.
However, I currently have a major issue with LTE on T-Mobile. The watch works fine for outgoing calls and texts or incoming calls and texts when paired to my phone. However, incoming calls and texts with a DIGITS line on T-Mobile is broken. I’ve been troubleshooting this with T-Mobile for more than three days and am ready to give up and forget the Watch Active 2. It really shouldn’t be this hard, but apparently T-Mobile has problems provisioning things properly. I’m not blaming Samsung for this failure since I had this working before on my Gear S3 Frontier, but T-Mobile needs to be better if it wants to sell the LTE version of this watch.
The smartphone app has been very useful in setting up the watch how I like and in helping me explore apps and watch faces. Samsung has created a great ecosystem here with Galaxy phones and extremely capable watch options with the Galaxy Watch Active 2 being my favorite watch from Samsung.
The hardware is stunning and I love the look and feel of the 44mm black stainless steel model on my wrist. It is easy to swap out bands and it is very comfortable for me to wear all the time. The watch faces are also fun to change daily and you can spend years trying them all out.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review: Our updated 2021 test
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The Galaxy Watch Active 2 has received a heap of new features that make it a seriously excellent smartwatch in 2021. Its mix of price, compact sporty build and decent health features put it at the top table of smartwatch options, with plenty of deals available. Samsung Health is still not up to Garmin and Fitbit levels, and the app selection pales in comparison to Apple – but this could be the best pick for Android users.
- Still a lovely smartwatch to wear
- Rotating bezel
- Feature-packed for the price
- ECG and blood pressure
- Samsung Health lags rivals
- Battery life short of rivals
- Could it soon be replaced?
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 smartwatch launched back in 2019, and it’s still a hugely significant part of the Galaxy Watch range.
Update: It’s since been replaced by the Galaxy Watch 5, which adds more features and returns to Wear OS for a far superior app selection.
Even though the company has since launched the Galaxy Watch 3, the older Active 2 has recently received many of its flagship’s best features including ECG, blood pressure monitoring and improved sports tracking features. It’s still one of the best smartwatches for Android users, more so than even more recent Wear OS smartwatches.
That’s why we’ve updated our review of the Active 2. After two years, a bunch of new features and a huge drop in price – is the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 actually a better purchase than ever?
Read on to find out, and check out our guide to the best smartwatches.
This review was first published in October 2019. It’s been completely overhauled in March 2021 based on a series of new features launched. The star rating has remained unchanged.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Price and competition
And that makes the Active 2 a seriously interesting proposition. In terms of price, the 40mm model of the Active 2 (with Bluetooth only) is priced at. while the larger 44mm model comes in at.
That means it has cutting edge health features, unisex sizing and a sport focused design – at a mid-range price. And it’s regularly discounted by retailers. At the time of writing the Active 2 44mm is available on Amazon for just. which is an incredible price for the set of features.
If you want LTE/4G connectivity, that pushes the price up to. That’s available for both models. There’s even an Under Armour edition, just to add to the number of options on offer.
So how does that stack up?
Taking its full price, it’s far cheaper than the Galaxy Watch 3 despite offering nearly the same features. It’s also cheaper than the ECG-offering Apple Watch Series 6 and Fitbit Sense. It’s also a better smartwatch than the Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense, although Samsung Health is no-where near as strong.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Design
If you want a Samsung smartwatch, but you don’t want something that’s looks bulky on the wrist, the Active is what you go for. Unlike the first instalment, Samsung decided to offer the Active 2 in 40mm and 44mm sizes.
This matches the Apple Watch Series 6 and SE for size, and it means those with smaller wrists have a choice that should offer a comfy fit.
Whichever size you go for, you’re getting a watch with a streamlined design, no big bezel and a softer, circular frame that lives far more discreetly on the wrist.
It’s still got a top notch 1.2-inch AMOLED touchscreen display, which is still one of the best displays you’ll find on a smartwatch. It’s a touchscreen, but that’s aided by the signature rotating bezel, which is used to scroll through menus without having to stab at the small screen with your finger. It was returned to the Active 2 after being omitted from the original Active, and we’re big fans.
The case has a slightly more elegant feel to it, while the grill on the side now indicates we have a speaker to play with. The design of the sensor array on the back has changed, too, but we’ll get more into why that might be later.
You also get a swappable comfortable sporty silicone strap, which is suitable for getting sweaty. This is significant, because the Galaxy Watch 3 only comes with a leather option despite having a full suite of fitness tracking.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Fitness tracking
The fitness tracking was a bit of a surprise hit for us on the first Active. It doesn’t do anything we haven’t already seen on other fitness tracking smartwatches or dedicated fitness trackers. But it’s all packaged together in a really nice way that will make you more intrigued to count your steps and generally be on the move more.
Your attention will be immediately drawn to the heart-shaped riff on the Apple Watch rings, which is a swipe away from the main watch screen. The idea is to fill up all three segments of that heart by burning calories, clocking up workout minutes and logging hours you’ve remained active for during the day.
Is it as engaging as Apple’s fitness tracking UI? Maybe not, but it does the same job and it does offer a quick way to check your progress through the day.
The more impressive aspect is what Samsung has done with the times when you become inactive. Like other trackers, it focuses on keeping you moving every hour of the day. If you haven’t, it’ll tell you by flashing up an animation and prompt a series of short exercises you can do to change that. When you get up after staying inactive for a while, it’ll congratulate you on deciding to make a move.
It’s all the same good stuff we got on the first Active and we’re glad it’s still as effective in keeping us active throughout the day, and not just for that lunchtime gym workout.
Step tracking compared: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (left) and Garmin fitness tracker (right)
As far as accuracy is concerned, we put it up against fitness tracking features on a Garmin watch, and above is a snapshot of the kind of data we received. There was usually around a 100 step difference between the two trackers, which is very good going.
These two trackers are never going to deliver identical numbers, since they use different algorithms to interpret the motion sensors measuring your movement during the day, but there was never anything in the step tracking data that suggested the Active 2 was wildly off the mark for us.
The Samsung’s calorie burn data was also reliable, and in line with comparisons with Fitbit and Apple Watch testing.
When you’re not moving, the Active 2 is a decent sleep tracker. Sleep monitoring is done automatically, and its ability to do that has come on leaps and bounds from the early days. Like your steps, sleep data is stored inside the Samsung Health phone app. You can view last night’s sleep by going to the Samsung Health screen on your watch, too.
However, we imagine you’ll be going to the phone app to see how you got on. From there, you see data like Total Sleep Time on a graph, along with aspects like efficiency.
The on-board heart rate monitor can also produce sleep stage data, though occasionally we were met with a message that our watch couldn’t get a consistent heart rate reading, so this was usually left blank.
Sleep tracking compared: Samsung (left), Garmin (centre) and Withings (right)
We used it against the same Garmin fitness tracker and the Withings Sleep monitor, and, generally, found that the Active 2 produced pretty consistent results with those two other devices.
It served up similar times when we’d fallen asleep and woken up, and it was a similar story for duration. The core sleep tracking numbers looked good, though the Active 2 lacks in offering more actionable insights.
It’s still a more complete sleep tracking offering than Apple’s in 2021, although watchOS does have third party apps worth playing with. However, it doesn’t compare with the experience
While the Galaxy Wearable app is where you can tinker with watch settings and do things like access the app store, you need Samsung Health downloaded too to track your health and fitness progress.
Our thoughts about Samsung Health haven’t really changed. On the surface, it looks like a nice app, but using it still feels a bit archaic and finding the data you care about is far less intuitive than, say, in the Fitbit companion app.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Sports tracking
When you stick the word ‘Active’ in your name, you’re saying that you’re built for getting sweaty with. In the case of this smartwatch, it’s got pretty much everything you need to get your through a HIIT workout or your weekend training run.
Built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor, a swim-proof design and swim-tracking. The 40mm version is a better fit for workouts than the Galaxy Watch, in our eyes, and the experience of using it in the gym or on an adventure hasn’t dramatically changed. That has its good and bad points.
Let’s start with the good points. As far the actual sports tracking is concerned, it’s really easy to do. Swipe to the workout tracking screen on the watch, find your activity and get tracking.
The real-time metrics are easy to view on the crisp display, you have access to your music controls and you can hit the physical button to stop the session, then hit the Finish to sync it.
The problem comes when you need to review the data later on the watch. Samsung makes it pretty much impossible to locate where that information lies after the initial workout summary. It’s there, but you have to work to find it. Workout summaries should be better presented on the Active.
Run tracking compared: Samsung (left and centre) and Garmin Forerunner 945 (right)
The sample outdoor run data above shows that the Active reported a slightly longer run (0.3 miles longer) than one tracked by the Garmin Forerunner 945 – but well within an acceptable error margin.
For swimming, it recorded a longer workout than the Form Swim Goggles, but measured the same distance. Again, impressive accuracy in the pool.
Another aspect of sports tracking is simply letting the watch detect when you’re working out with the automatic exercise recognition. We tried this out with a few rowing machine sessions, and we found it was successful in recognising the activity.
Generally, though, it would add a couple of extra minutes onto the session, and it only records workout duration and calorie information, nothing else.
It’s certainly a nice feature to have, and is more useful for when you’re out walking, but if you have the chance to manually track, then definitely take that option.
And since the launch, Samsung has brought over features it introduced on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.
You now get access to advanced running metrics like ground contact balance and vertical oscillation that you’d usually need an additional sensor to generate. It also provides VO2 Max scores to get a better sense of you current level of fitness.
There’s just about the right balance in performance and features, that should satisfy most looking for a smartwatch that behaves like a competent sports watch.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Heart rate accuracy
Heart rate tracking compared: Samsung (left and centre) and Polar H10 chest strap monitor (right)
If you look at the back of the Active 2, the makeup of the heart rate monitor looks very different to the one on the first. That’s due to the heart-centric features that have now started to roll out on the Active 2.
Right now, the optical sensor is there to offer continuous heart rate monitoring during the day, stress tracking and data from workouts. For daily readings, it was pretty consistent with what we picked up with the heart rate monitor packed into the Forerunner 945.
We also slipped on a Polar H10 heart rate monitor chest strap to see how those resting measurements shaped up, and we were pretty satisfied with what we got here.
It’s during workouts, as always, where we were most intrigued to see how the sensor fared. Could it handle things when the intensity went up a notch? The answer to that question is, mostly, yes.
Our way of testing this was to jump on a treadmill with a chest strap paired to a sports watch and go through 30 minutes of running intervals. That way, we could clearly see how the Active 2’s sensor handled the sudden drops and spikes, as we slowed down, rested and picked up the pace again.
What we found is that average heart rate and max heart rate readings tended to be 5BPM higher on the Active 2 compared to a chest strap. Looking at the graphs, the wrist-based sensor took a little longer to get back up recover from the rest periods.
Heart rate zones were generally consistent, but, like a lot of heart rate monitors in watches, it’s not going to give you the supremely accurate story of your most intense workouts.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: ECG and blood pressure monitoring
Blood pressure monitoring and ECG has just rolled out onto the Active 2, filtering down from the flagship after clearing regulators in the US and Europe. It’s still not worldwide, but is rolling out pretty quickly.
This is a massive addition, as it brings the Active 2 into the same conversation as the Apple Watch Series 6 and Fitbit Sense as a health watch – but at a far lower price.
But it’s not quite as simple as just slapping the watch on and taking a reading. First, to take advantage of the feature you’ll need to have a Samsung smartphone, as it requires the Samsung Health Monitor app.
And then, you will also need a blood pressure cuff to validate the readings, which will have to repeated every month.
Blood pressure monitoring
The calibration process is pretty straightforward, but it’s worth putting some time aside to get everything up and running. After that’s done, you can launch the Samsung Health Monitor app on your watch and take reading a bit like you’d take an on the spot heart rate reading.
After calibrating, we took numerous readings with the Active 2 and then with the blood pressure monitor. While data wasn’t 100% identical, systolic numbers, diastolic numbers were at most 1-2 out from the cuff monitor.
That Samsung Health Monitor app is also where you now find the ability to take ECG readings, which has approved in over 30 countries including the US and UK.
Much like the ECG sensor on the Apple Watch, this more accurate method of heart rate monitoring can classify your heart rate and detect signs of the heart rate irregularity atrial fibrillation.
ECG compared: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (left and centre) and Apple Watch Series 6 (right)
After the 30-second reading where you’ll need to place your finger over the top physical button on the watch and it will generate a reading. The information is synced to the Samsung Health Monitor app where you can view readings by classification and view trends.
You can also share the data in PDF form. From an accuracy point of view, we compared it to the heart rate monitoring on our blood pressure monitor and the Apple Watch Series 6. There was a maximum of 1bpm difference between the three devices.
Along with ECG and blood pressure monitoring, Samsung has now also delivered fall detection feature that can identify when users have taken a serious fall and potentially set off alerts and alarms. Again, it’s a feature that seeks to mirror what the Apple Watch is capable of, but it’s also another feature you’ll have to wait for.
As a health monitoring device, it’s not only matching what Apple can offer, it’s also offering more and it’s doing it for less.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Smartwatch features
We’ve spoken a lot about the Active 2’s health and fitness tracking prowess, but it’s a smartwatch at heart, bringing all of the good stuff Samsung has done with its platform and squeezing it all into a smaller frame.
The Active 2 still runs on the company’s own Tizen OS, bringing all those smartwatch staples like notifications, music controls and streaming, the ability to download apps, payment support and LTE connectivity – if you have the appropriate model.
Samsung’s operating system sits somewhere in between Apple’s watchOS and Google’s Wear OS. It’s not quite as slick as what Apple offers, but it’s a big step up from Google’s.
It might not have the same number of apps or software to call upon, but it works so much better. If you’re an Android phone user, you’re getting a better experience paired to a Samsung smartwatch than a Wear OS one.
Getting to unread notifications is just a swipe away, with a small dot on the main watch face screen used as the indicator for unread ones. It’s a nice approach where you’re not having that main screen flooded with notifications flying in.
You can respond to notifications with simple default messages, typing out a message with the virtual keyboard or leaving a voice message. Samsung has also brought over the Smart reply feature from the Galaxy Watch 3 and the ability to view your chat history. You can now also view images in messages too.
Most of the time, it’s just enough to be able to see the notification, scroll down to read the entire message and then dismiss. But you do at least have the option of responding in multiple ways.
Spreading information you care about most across dedicated screens works well, and the returning bezel is great to have back for navigating the circular app drawer.
There’s a good collection of watch faces on board here, too, letting you keep things simple or fill your time-telling screen with your fitness data or the current weather conditions. If you want more, you’ll need to head to the Galaxy Store, which doesn’t live on the watch like it does on the Apple Watch or Google’s Wear watches.
That’s no bad thing though as browsing watch faces and apps is easier to do on a bigger screen. Speaking of apps, it’s still a bit of a mixed bag in terms of what you get here. And a fair amount of the apps cost money. We get it, the developers need to make that dough, but it seems like there are more paid for apps here than on other platforms.
Then there’s Bixby. Ah, Bixby. Samsung’s answer to Siri and Alexa just wasn’t very good on the first Active and there’s still a debate over how useful it is on a smartwatch. When you keep questions simple, Bixby is more than adept at handling your queries. If you’re hoping for something with more context or more of a back and forth, then sadly you’re out of luck here.
Apps do remain one of the weaker aspects of Samsung’s Tizen OS, but, on the whole, it offers a better experience than Wear and is slowly but surely becoming a decent alternative to Apple’s watchOS.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Battery life
We really didn’t like the battery life on the first Active. It was around a day and half – maybe two, at a push, if you put the power saving mode into use.
For the Active 2, there are now of course two models to pick from. The 44mm Active 2 packs in a 340mAh battery, while the 40mm watch we tested carries a smaller 247mAh battery.
In our experience the battery life will max out at two days. And again, you’ll need to lean on that power saving mode to make that happen. There’s also a Watch Only mode that will push things further, but will inevitably restrict the features you can make use of.
If you’re tracking workouts, have the full complement of smartwatch features running and have that screen on nice and bright, 3-4 days seems very unrealistic.
It does feel like there is a slight improvement in its staying power, but not an amount that will dramatically change the way you use the Active 2. It’s good enough, but we’d like to see it go longer.
In terms of charging, it’s the same little charging puck that the back of the watch will magnetically clip into place to power up. It’ll take about 1.5-2 hours to fully charge up from 0-100%. So, not exactly Rapid, but pretty much in line with other smartwatches.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review: the best smartwatch for Android
Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 may not run Android, but it is the best Android-compatible smartwatch available.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 starts at £269, costing £289 as reviewed here, and is the firm’s 10th smartwatch. Samsung has been making smartwatches since 2013 and it shows – the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is the most polished this side of the Apple Watch Series 5.
Slim and sleek design
The Active 2 comes in 40mm and 44mm sizes, both measuring 10.9mm thick. The 44mm version weighs just 30g without the strap, which is 6.5G lighter than the aluminium 44mm Apple Watch Series 5 and just one-third the weight of the Fossil Gen 5.
It has a large, crisp and bright OLED screen that’s easily readable outdoors, plus an excellent selection of digital and analogue watch faces, and a large store of third-party offerings too.
The thin bezel around the edge of the screen has a neat trick: it is touch sensitive and acts like a rotary controller similar to the spinning bezels on previous Samsung smartwatches.
Slide your finger around the edge to scroll through lists, between screens or adjust numbers, with little vibration clicks for each increment. It’s a simple and effective control scheme that is well integrated into the whole of the system unlike digital crowns in Wear OS. Taps, swipes, a physical back button and an apps button take care of the rest.
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The Active 2 is water-resistant to a depth of 50 metres, and has a special water mode for preventing accidental activation and clearing the speaker of liquid when you come out. The watch comes with a high quality silicone strap, and takes standard 20mm watch bands.
Slick performance and battery life
Samsung makes both the hardware and the software for its smartwatches and it really pays off. Performance all round is fast, snappy and lag-free. It’s considerably better than even the best Wear OS watches, and very close to the slick experience Apple offers.
With the screen on all the time, I easily get more than two days battery out of the Active 2, even with a 25-minute run or a two-hour walk tracked in high-accuracy mode.
The Active 2 wirelessly charges in just under two hours using a puck that magnetically attaches to the back of the watch. You can also charge the watch from the back of a Samsung smartphone with Powershare and with compatible wireless chargers.
The watch connects to your phone via Bluetooth, but can also remotely connect through Wi-Fi when out of range. The connection was strong and reliable, managed by the Samsung Galaxy Wearable app, which handles pairing, settings, apps and other bits.
You can connect Bluetooth headphones directly to the watch to play music and listen to alerts without a phone too. Calls can also be taken directly on the watch, which works surprisingly well.
The Active 2 is generally repairable by authorised service centres, with diagnostics costing £15 outside of the one-year warranty and screen repairs costing in excess of £100. Samsung offers trade-in and recycling schemes for old devices.
Samsung’s smartwatches run the firm’s own Tizen operating system, rather than Google’s Wear OS or Android. Since release in 2019, the Active 2 has received a series of updates that have improved various aspects of the watch. The firm has also offered long-term software updates to previous watches, which bodes well for new models coming this year.
Tizen is based on a rotary interface, which makes the most of round watch screens, but can also be swiped with your finger.
Notifications appear in tiles to the left of the watch face while widgets including music controls are on the right. Swipe down from the top for quick settings. Press the apps button on the side of the watch to bring up a ring of app icons, which you can tap or scroll around using the bezel.
Tap a notification to expand and scroll through text, or swipe up to dismiss. You can action the notification with the same options you’d have on your phone or quick reply to messages using canned responses, a T9-like keyboard, drawing letters on screen or dictation. It all works really well.
There are only a handful of third-party apps, but that does include Strava and some other fitness tracking apps, plus Spotify which includes offline music downloads and playback.
Samsung Pay and Bixby
The Active 2 has contactless payments, but it’s limited to Samsung Pay, which has very little support in the UK compared with Google Pay or Apple Pay. None of my credit or debit cards are supported.
Samsung’s voice assistant, Bixby, is the least polished bit of the Active 2. You can set timers, alarms, turn features on or off, start workouts, ask for the weather and other bits, but you cannot ask general knowledge questions. It also fails to activate sometimes, fails to understand more often than competitors and a recent update to Bixby broke it entirely requiring a full reset of the watch to fix.
Samsung Health is most comprehensive health-tracking services available and is built into the Active 2.
It has all the usual features: constant heart rate, stress, steps, floors climbed, activity and menstrual cycle. But it also has hydration, caffeine, weight and sleep.
Sleep tracking is good, matching data from a mattress-based tracker. Workout tracking is equally comprehensive, including walking, running, hiking, cycling, swimming, circuits, weights, yoga, loads of calisthenics and various gym machines.
For running, you get many of the same options you get from a lower-end dedicated running watch. You can customise the information on screen, set targets for distance, time, calories, set up guides or laps and have the watch automatically pause when you do. The back button pauses or starts the run, which is better than using a touchscreen.
The GPS-trace, pace and heart rate readings in high-accuracy mode in suburban London were similar to a Garmin Forerunner 245 too.
The watch has the hardware to perform an ECG, but it’s currently disabled pending an update with no timescale. The firm recently won regulatory approval in South Korea for a blood pressure monitoring system, which is expected to roll out there later this year.
- The watch would not charge from the back of a OnePlus 8 Pro or a Belkin Qi wireless charging pad.
- The short, sharp vibrations for notifications and haptics are some of the best outside of the Apple Watch.
- There were playback and/or volume control issues with some headphones including Apple’s Beats and Airpods, and AfterShokz’s Aeropex.
- The Active 2 can be used with an iPhone but has limited functions compared to Android.
- I found it difficult to get size right with the silicone strap.
- Nest and Ring Smart camera alerts fail to show an image on the watch with the notification, but Arlo’s similar cameras show images just fine.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 comes in either 40mm or 44mm sizes and with or without 4G connectivity.
The Bluetooth aluminium version costs £269 for 40mm and £289 for 44mm. The stainless steel 4G versions cost £399 for 40mm and £419 for 44mm. Other branded versions are available.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 might not actually run Android, but that’s to its benefit. As Google’s Wear OS has stagnated, Samsung has steadily improved Tizen and provided updates for its existing watches for years.
The Active 2 is light, well-made, small with a large, bright, always-on screen. There are plenty of watch faces to choose from, the battery lasts two days and apps such as Strava and offline Spotify are actually good.
The Active 2 also excels at tracking health and fitness, beyond simply steps or runs, leaning on the long-standing Samsung Health platform.
But a few niggles such as poor support for Samsung Pay in the UK, Bixby and some notification oddities hold it back from being a five-star product. It can be used with an iPhone, but the Apple Watch is miles better on iOS.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is the best all-round smartwatch you can get for Android.
Pros: slim, big and bright screen, lightweight, slick performance, long battery life, excellent fitness and health tracking, 50 metre water resistance, standard 20mm straps, long software support, cross platform.
Cons: poor contactless payment support, Bixby is poor, issues with some Smart camera notifications from some manufacturers, limited functionality with an iPhone.
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