Samsung Galaxy Watch Active vs. TicWatch Pro: Which should you buy?

Galaxy Watch Active
Galaxy Watch Active (Image credit: Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

The Galaxy Watch Active is one of the most compelling wearables on the market right now, with a low price and a fairly complete smartwatch feel despite its clear fitness tracking focus. This lithe, luxurious-looking watch fits in at the gym or at the gala.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Thin and fit

Wonderful AMOLED display
Qi charging
Excellent notification management
Comfy, lightweight design
Tizen OS not perfect
Lower-end battery life

TicWatch Pro

I wish all watches had dual-layer screens because of the Pro. The LCD "always on" layer is great for battery and functionality alike. That still doesn't make up for the fact that it's bigger than every spy watch ever and only looks half as cool.

TicWatch Pro

Hybrid hulk

Dual layer screen is awesome
Beastly battery
Ruggedly handsome
it's a kaiju on my wrist
Last-gen processor

There are a few very niche areas where you could argue that the TicWatch Pro is still worth buying over the new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. However, the Galaxy Watch Active is cheaper, lighter, thinner, and doesn't look like some white collar convict's house arrest monitor.

Go faster, lighter, fitter with the Galaxy Watch Active

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active may be positioned as a fitness tracker in the more convenient shape of a smartwatch, with a design that's classic, thin, and light on your wrist. It's available in four colors and sports a wide variety of watch faces and apps courtesy of the Galaxy Apps store. Sure, the Active doesn't have the fancy rotating bezel that I want all smartwatches to have, but it's also $100 cheaper than the Galaxy Watch's starting price and $50 cheaper than the nearly year-old TicWatch Pro, a fact I know intimately because I've worn the Pro for most of the last year.

The TicWatch Pro is a beefy brute of a watch with battery for literal, actual days and the best "hybrid" rendition I've seen to date. But looking at the Pro's specs next to the Galaxy Watch Active paint a pretty clear picture: the TicWatch Pro is twice as heavy as the Active and nearly 15% larger in size while featuring lower waterproof and durability ratings.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy Watch ActiveMobvoi TicWatch Pro
Dimensions39.5mm x 10.5mm45mm x 12.6mm
ColorsBlackSilverRose GoldGreenBlack/BlackSilver/Black
Button configurationTwo button rightThree button right
Display1.1" AMOLED 360 x 360px1.39" OLED 400 x 400pxFSTN display
ConnectivityBluetooth v4.2 Low EnergyWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/nNFCBluetooth v4.2Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 GhzNFC
Payment systemSamsung PayGoogle Pay
Battery230mAhUp to 2 days415mAh2 days on regular Wear OS30 days on Essential Mode
ChargingQi wireless chargingProprietary charger
Durability5ATM waterproof to 50mMIL-STD-810G certifiedIP68 dustproof, waterproofNot recommended for swimming
SensorsAccelerometerBarometerGyroscopeHeart RateAccelerometerGyroscopePPG Heart Rate sensorMagnetic SensorAmbient Light SensorLow Latency Off-Body Sensor

As I said earlier, there are a few very specific cases where the TicWatch Pro makes sense over the Galaxy Watch Active, and the first of them relates to battery, which is one of the few places where the Active falters. Now, both of these watches will easily last you through the day, but the Galaxy Watch Active will struggle to go two full days while the Pro can go 2–4 without even touching Essential Mode, which can sip battery for weeks by turning off Wear OS and doing only basic fitness tracking and timekeeping.

The other case for wanting the Pro over the Active relates to the software. Wear OS has come a long way in the last two years. If you're not already a Samsung ecosystem user, you might prefer to stick to the TicWatch Pro's Wear OS and Google Pay over Tizen OS and Samsung Pay. Tizen OS can be a bit odd to newcomers, but it's easy enough to adapt and the health and fitness tracking Samsung has crammed into this tiny watch is more refined than the TicHealth and Google Fit offerings on the Pro.

For most of us, the choice is pretty clear: buy a less expensive, less bulky, higher quality Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, or spend more on a year-old hulk of a smartwatch with a great battery and cool screen that's powered by a last-generation chipset. My Galaxy Watch Active is on order right now, and it will be retiring my Pro once it arrives.

Ara Wagoner

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.