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Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review

The new bezel-toting Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 smartwatch loses weight, looks better, and does more than its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers lots with a Super AMOLED display, touch bezel controls, LTE option and various sizes but without that ECG feature active it's selling itself short.

For

  • New touch bezel controls
  • LTE option
  • Two sizes
  • Superb screen

Against

  • ECG still not active
  • Workout drains battery fast
  • Few third-party apps

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 takes the original watch and adds a host of new design and build features to offer the best smartwatch yet from Samsung, especially when it comes to health tracking.

While the headline feature of this watch was the ECG, at launch, it's yet to be approved by the US for use which sadly makes this watch far less powerful than its price tag suggests. That said, it offers plenty that does justify the price.

Now you can get the watch in two sizes, 40mm and 44mm. But the options have grown further and now there is an LTE variant available. 

Whatever the model you like, it will come with GPS onboard meaning this is a fully fledged fitness tracker even without a connected smartphone. But with sleep tracking, phone notifications and a handy new touch control bezel, there is plenty on offer here.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review: Design and build

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, as mentioned above, now comes in 40mm and larger 44mm variants, both with that round watch face and the new touch control bezel. Run your finger round the edge and haptic feedback gives a feel as though it's clicking like a real wheel – a very well designed and easy to use interface. And, if you're not a fan, you can simply deactivate the bezel.

The aluminum metal finish is far more premium than the original model making this a stand out design, even when paired with the fitness friendly synthetic rubber strap. Or go more plush with the stainless steel model that's paired with a leather band. It's worth noting that the LTE model is available in the stainless steel version only. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

(Image credit: Future)

The display is a 360 x 360 resolution 1.2-inch or 1.4-inch Super AMOLED meaning you get great brightness as well as very powerful color definition, day or night. This is encased in Gorilla Glass DX Plus which should let it withstand more punishment. 

The watch is also IP68 rated meaning its water resistant all the way to 50 meters so it's good to leave on even when swimming.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review: Tracking and features

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Specs

Display: Super AMOLED
Battery: Two days
GPS: Yes
Water resistance: Yes, 50m
HR: Yes

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a fully fledged activity tracker thanks to that onboard GPS backed by plenty of processing power. As such you get 39 workout tracking modes for the likes of running, cycling, and swimming. There is a mode for motion based exercise, like sit-up tracking, but you have to move very obviously with the wrist for that to work.

Running was easy to track and features a vibration that shows the watch knows when you've stopped, or for alerts that you have set along the way. Vocal updates are also a nice option which can be read out to you via connected Bluetooth headphones. This means less looking at the watch and more focus on your run.

The heart rate monitor, despite not having that ECG running, is still very useful with the eight LEDs actively tracking as you train. That's double the number on the original model and results in much faster updating and accuracy.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

(Image credit: Future)

Sleep and stress tracking are useful other health features which allow you to monitor your life on a longer term outside of fitness.

The Watch Active 2 also has a new feature that allows you to take a photo on a connected phone and the watch will adjust its face to work with that color. The idea is to get the watch to go with whatever you're wearing. 

There still aren't a lot of apps available from third-parties on the Tizen OS which is where the likes of Apple and Android wearables win out. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review: Battery life

Samsung has managed to create a fully fledged smartwatch, with GPS, that can last a full two days on a charge. That puts it ahead of the Apple Watch Series 5

Of course this varies between models as the 40mm version has a 247mAh battery while the 44mm variant has a larger 340mAh battery. That larger battery is powering a larger screen so don't expect there to be that much difference in life between the two.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2?

If you want a well designed and solid smartwatch that comes with a stunning screen, smart touch bezel controls, onboard GPS and sleep tracking, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a great option with a decent battery life.

But if you want this for that ECG feature, perhaps reconsider, as over a year after release there is still no sign of this being legalized by the government for use.