Galaxy Watch Active 2

What you need to know

  • Available in both 40 and 44mm case sizes, and either aluminum or stainless steel.
  • Base model is Bluetooth-only, with optional LTE connectivity for a higher price.
  • New touch bezel replicates rotating bezel from the Galaxy Watch series.

Samsung may have just launched the Galaxy Watch Active back in March, but a new-and-improved version is already here. The Watch Active 2 brings more options, more features and more capabilities across the board.

The biggest change is a new size option: 44mm with a 1.4-inch display, sitting alongside the familiar 40mm with 1.2-inch. (The 40mm is ever-so-slightly larger than the current Watch Active.) Both sizes are available in a light aluminum case by default, but you can upgrade to a heftier stainless steel (with a leather band) for a small upcharge. There are six standard color and band combinations, which when paired with the size choices give the Watch Active 2 far more flexibility in terms of style and personality than before.

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The fresh case design also comes with a fun feature: a capacitive "rotating" bezel. Samsung (rightly) recognizes that one of the best features of its wearables has been the physical rotating bezel, and has replicated that on the Watch Active 2 with capacitive touch along the screen bezel. You can slide your finger(s) around the outside of the screen to move through the interface just how you would with the physical ring on the Galaxy Watch, but you don't have the added bulk or complexity of the moving part.

This feature set really is what we should've got in the original Watch Active.

This is ultimately an "Active" product, so Samsung used the refresh to improve its sensors across the board. There's a faster, more accurate LED-based heart rate monitor, advanced accelerometer, improved GPS, and an embedded ECG sensor — though the ECG is waiting to be activated when Samsung has its partnership(s) in place to make use of it. And Samsung also managed to get an optional LTE radio in there, too — bringing down a feature previously only available in its larger wearables. LTE enables phone-free calls, texts, media streaming and (limited) social media use.

This is a really nice set of upgrades over the original Watch Active, and frankly makes me wonder why the original came out in the first place. The first Watch Active felt like a wearable with considerable compromises to hit its small size, whereas the Active 2 addresses so many feature requests just a handful of months later. The upgrades do come with a price bump, though: the 40mm aluminum starts at $280, with the 44mm aluminum at $300. Moving to stainless steel and LTE will add to the price. They'll be up for pre-order on Samsung.com starting September 6, with full sales opening September 27.

Samsung is keeping the Galaxy Watch series around as a larger and more capable wearable option with different styling. And if you're on a budget and want to keep things simple, keep an eye out for discounts on the original Watch Active starting in September.

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