Filling in the blanks

Galaxy Watch Active 2

OG fitness smartwatch

Galaxy Watch Active

Sometimes upgrades miss the mark. Fortunately, that's not the case with the Galaxy Watch Active 2. It improves existing sensors with faster and more accurate readings plus some other new perks that fill in the blanks left by its predecessor.

$249 at Amazon

Pros

  • Optional LTE
  • Digital rotating bezel
  • Improved sensors
  • Built-in GPS
  • Running Analysis & VO2 Max

Cons

  • Battery drains faster with LTE model
  • More expensive, especially with LTE

The Galaxy Watch Active is still an impressive smartwatch. It's got all the features you'd expect, like built-in GPS, activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, Samsung Pay, smartphone notifications, and more. It's also less expensive.

$139 at Amazon

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • Great fitness tracking
  • More affordable option
  • Now has a digital rotating bezel

Cons

  • Only one size option
  • No LTE connectivity

Galaxy Watch Active 2 vs. Galaxy Watch Active A great improvement

If you're a true techie, you probably look forward to device updates and the release of new models. The original Samsung Galaxy Watch Active was released in March 2019. A few short months after that, we were spoiled yet again with the second edition. Therein lies the million-dollar question: Is the Galaxy Watch Active 2 worth the upgrade?

When it comes to new features, there's certainly some good stuff to look forward to. With that in mind, the first edition is still a very capable smartwatch and it's also much more affordable for those on a budget. Both of these Samsung smartwatches have a lot to offer. It's up to you to decide which is the better option for your needs.

Galaxy Watch Active 2 vs. Galaxy Watch Active What's new?

Galaxy Watch Active 2Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central Pictured: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

These two smartwatches have a lot more in common than their names. They're both packed with excellent features such as fitness tracking, heart-rate monitoring, built-in GPS, smartphone notifications, and Samsung Pay. However, some slight improvements make the upgrade to the Galaxy Watch Active 2 worth considering.

You'll also have a real-time electrocardiogram feature that helps to monitors irregular heartbeats. Additionally, there's a more accurate LED-based heart rate monitor, an advanced accelerometer, and improved GPS accuracy. Samsung also added cuffless blood pressure monitoring to the Galaxy Watch Active 2 when paired with the new Samsung Health Monitor app.

It's also worth noting that a recent update brings many of the Galaxy Watch 3 features over to the Galaxy Watch Active 2. The Running Analysis feature is designed to help you become a better runner, improve your form, and prevent injuries. Users will now be able to measure VO2 max, which indicates the maximum amount of oxygen one can utilize during intense activity. This feature will help you determine your overall fitness and performance capacity so you can improve your endurance.

Active 2 (40mm) Active
Display 1.2-inch Super AMOLED 1.1-inch Super AMOLED
Dimensions 40 x 40 x 10.9mm 39.5 x 39.5 x 10.5mm
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, LTE (select models) Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n
Water resistance Up to 50m Up to 50m
Battery Life 2 days (varies by model) 2 days
Sensors HRM, electrocardiogram (ECG), accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, ambient light sensor HRM, accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, light sensor
Operating System Tizen Tizen
Notifications ✔️ ✔️
Built-in GPS ✔️ ✔️
NFC Payments ✔️ ✔️
Electrocardiogram ✔️
Optional LTE ✔️

Galaxy Watch Active 2 users will now have access to the Fall Detection feature. When a potential fall is detected, you'll receive the option to send an SOS notification to up to four pre-assigned contacts. On-wrist communication is another update. Instead of having to use your phone when receiving a notification, you can now easily view emoticons and photos on your wrist. Not to mention that now your watch will automatically show your chat history rather than a single message. There's also support for the scroll capture feature, so you can take a screenshot of your watch and it'll be sent right to your phone as an image.

The most significant change is that the Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers optional LTE connectivity.

The most significant change is that the Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers optional LTE connectivity. Your wearable receives notifications from apps on your phone as usual, but the LTE model has enhanced support for apps like YouTube and Twitter. This means you can watch video clips and interact with tweets right from your wrist without having to connect your phone. You'll also be able to make calls and send and receive texts with this feature, all without having to trot your phone around with you on workouts.

Did we mention that the rotating bezel feature is here and it's better than ever? The new digital rotating bezel allows you to seamlessly navigate the Active 2 interface while maximizing the screen size. It's located directly on the AMOLED screen without any clunky moving parts to worry about. You can turn it both clockwise and counter-clockwise to advance screens and select apps. It's worth noting that this stand-out feature is no longer exclusive to the second edition, but we'll get to that shortly.

There aren't many changes when it comes to fitness and health tracking. However, the improved Running Coach feature now offers real-time pace metrics. You'll get a breakdown of what to expect from your workout session before you begin. Whether you're walking, jogging, or running, the feature coaches you with audio cues that can be heard through the watch speaker or Bluetooth headphones.

Galaxy Watch Active 2 vs. Galaxy Watch Active Somewhat similar

Galaxy Watch ActiveSource: Android Central Pictured: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

As you may know, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 was initially marketed as a long-awaited solution to the missing rotating bezel on the original Watch Active. For users who loved the original device but were still longing for a rotating bezel function, their prayers were answered. As you'll recall from our initial Galaxy Watch Active 2 review, the capacitive bezel was one of the major highlights of the new device.

However, there was an update that now makes this once-unique feature available on the predecessor as well. Unless you're thinking about investing in the Watch Active 2 for the larger 44mm size option, the ECG or blood pressure monitoring, or optional LTE connectivity, it's hard to imagine why you'd spend so much more on the successor. You still get all the same tracking and smartwatch features that are available on the original watch, after all.

Many of the features that made the Watch Active 2 special are now available on the original Watch Active.

The update does more than introduce the capacitive bezel to the Galaxy Watch Active. The original Watch Active now has the new 'My Style' function as well, which allows users to customize watch faces to match their outfit. On another note, once the software update is downloaded, users will be able to take fuller advantage of what Bixby offers, including the ability to use Bixby Voice to start exercise routines. Many of the features that made the Watch Active 2 special are now available with the first edition.

Finally, the activity tracking mostly remains the same on this new successor. It can still track over 39 workouts, monitor sleep patterns, and help manage stress along with guided meditation. As you can see, the Galaxy Watch Active is still an amazing wearable and a worthy competitor, but the new edition does offer some extra perks to a very specific audience.

Galaxy Watch Active 2 vs. Galaxy Watch Active Should you upgrade?

Galaxy Watch Active 2 Pictured: Galaxy Watch Active 2Source: Android Central

If all of these improvements and features are speaking directly to you, then the upgrade might just be worth it. You'll also have two different size options: 40mm and 44mm. The larger size is great for those with bigger wrists, and it boasts a gorgeous 1.4-inch display. There are also two different styles: lightweight aluminum with a soft fluoroelastomer band and premium solid stainless steel with a leather strap.

If you've been anxiously awaiting an LTE-friendly fitness smartwatch and you're already comfortable with the Galaxy ecosystem, the upgrade makes sense. You'll enjoy some of the other new perks that it comes with as well, like the ECG feature, improved sensors, and a larger size option, to name a few.

When you compare these two models, you may find yourself leaning toward the feature-packed Active 2. You'll appreciate all the new updates and the thoughtful attention to the details that matter most. We'd recommend going for it if you were less than satisfied with the original Galaxy Watch Active. Those who are content with the original Galaxy Watch Active and don't need ECG or LTE might not want to spend the extra money to upgrade.

The price of the new smartwatch varies by the model you choose. The 40mm aluminum Bluetooth-only edition is the most affordable of the bunch. When you opt for the larger 44mm model or you choose to add LTE connectivity, the price will go up from there. Either way, both of these Android smartwatches are solid options for fitness-focused users.

Filling in the blanks

Galaxy Watch Active 2

No more FOMO

This beautiful smartwatch may look similar to the original, but it's bringing a lot more heat. Passionate athletes won't want to pass on the new ECG, improved sensors, or the LTE connectivity.

OG fitness smartwatch

Galaxy Watch Active

Stick to the basics

For those who miss the rotating bezel and have been waiting for an LTE version, it might be time to part with the Galaxy Watch Active. However, if you're content with the original, why pay more to upgrade?

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