Galaxy Watch Active 2 vs. Galaxy Watch Active: What's the difference and should you upgrade?

Samsung Galaxy Active 2 Ecg
Samsung Galaxy Active 2 Ecg (Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

Galaxy Watch Active 2

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. It also adds some other new perks that fill in the blanks left by its predecessor.

Galaxy Watch Active 2

Filling in the blanks

Optional LTE
Digital rotating bezel
Improved sensors
Built-in GPS
Running Analysis & VO2 Max
Battery drains faster with LTE model
More expensive, especially with LTE

Galaxy Watch Active

The Galaxy Watch Active is still a mighty 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.

Galaxy Watch Active

OG fitness smartwatch

Built-in GPS
Great fitness tracking
More affordable option
Now has a digital rotating bezel
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. Samsung is one of the top competitors when it comes to finding the best Android smartwatch. The original Galaxy Watch Active was released in March 2019. A few months later, we were spoiled yet again with the release of the Galaxy Watch Active 2. Is it worth the upgrade?

When it comes to new and improved features, there's a lot to unpack. With that in mind, the first edition is still a very capable smartwatch with many perks. Not to mention that it's also 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 choice for your needs.

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

Galaxy Watch Active 2

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central Pictured: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (Image credit: Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

These two smartwatches have a lot more in common than just their names. They're both loaded with excellent features such as advanced 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 a second look.

You'll also have a real-time electrocardiogram (ECG) feature that helps detect 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 an update brought 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 can now measure VO2 max, which indicates the maximum amount of oxygen one can utilize during intense activity. This feature can help you determine your overall fitness and performance capacity to improve your endurance over time.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Active 2 (40mm)Active
Display1.2-inch Super AMOLED1.1-inch Super AMOLED
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, LTE (select models)Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n
Water-resistanceUp to 50mUp to 50m
Battery Life2 days (varies by model)2 days
SensorsHRM, electrocardiogram (ECG), accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, ambient light sensorHRM, accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, light sensor
Operating SystemTizenTizen
Built-in GPS✔️✔️
NFC Payments✔️✔️
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 useful update. Instead of using your phone when receiving a notification, you can now easily view emoticons and photos on your wrist. Additionally, your watch will automatically show your chat history rather than only a single message. The scroll capture feature lets you take a screenshot of your watch, and it'll be sent 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 connecting 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. However, this stand-out feature is no longer exclusive to the second edition, which we'll address shortly.

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

Galaxy Watch Active 2 vs. Galaxy Watch Active: Somewhat similar

Galaxy Watch Active

Source: Android Central Pictured: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

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. In fact, many users agree that the capacitive bezel is one of the major highlights of the new device.

It's worth mentioning that 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, allowing users to customize watch faces to match their outfits. On another note, once the software update is downloaded, users will be able to take fuller advantage of what Bixby offers, including using 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 for specific audiences.

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

Galaxy Watch Active 2

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

If all of these improvements and features are speaking directly to you, then the upgrade might 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. You'll also appreciate that Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 bands are interchangeable.

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 Galaxy Watch Active 2. You'll love all the new updates and the thoughtful attention to the details that matter most. We'd recommend buying 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 add LTE connectivity, the price will go up. Either way, both of these watches are solid options for fitness-focused users. Now that the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has been around for a while, a new successor may be just around the corner. For some users, it would be wise to wait for the release of the new model.

Courtney Lynch

Courtney Lynch is a freelance writer at Android Central. She's obsessed with all things health, fitness, and music. At any given time, she can be found checking out the latest and greatest gadgets while simultaneously petting her dog and sipping iced coffee.