It’s been barely six months after reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active back in July, and now I’m back to reviewing the Galaxy Watch Active2. That's a really short time to release another version of a device, but it looks like Samsung really wants to prove that the Galaxy Watch Active series has plenty to offer, with some updates that do upgrade the smartwatch to be the best for Android phones in general.
Look, despite the fact that Android has plenty of smartwatch options, none of them can compare to the Apple Watch Series (which I will be writing about soon) to match the iPhone. Which is why if you want a smartwatch similar to the Apple Watch Series but for Android, the closest remains the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active series.
But here's the thing; despite that comparison the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is... good. Not bad, not great; just good. And maybe that’s all a person could need.
Same design, new functions
Design-wise, there's nothing particularly different from the first Galaxy Watch Active in my opinion. It still comes in that classic round shape in two sizes; 40mm or 44mm. Just like before, the great thing about it is that despite being a fitness and smartwatch, the design doesn't outright say it. It also maintains its rating of IP68 or 5ATM for water resistance, no changes there.
Admittedly, I'm not a fan of the straps. After some use, the straps showed signs of wear and tear which makes it easy to lose its appeal and design in time. I also didn't find it comfortable this round, but this is all down to personal preference. They do make the watch look more classy, but I found myself itching around the wrist quite a bit after sweating.
The biggest change comes from the return of the bezels from the Samsung Galaxy Watch. But rather when I say bezels, I mean the function of being able to scroll through the smartwatch by sliding your finger around it. Sure, it doesn't have the same satisfaction of physically rotating a bezel to scroll through, but this is likely the reason why Samsung pushed out the Galaxy Watch Active2 as soon as they could.
Other than that, you get that gorgeous colour AMOLED screen that looks great in any lighting and is pretty easy to scroll through this round. I mentioned in my previous review for the Galaxy Watch Active that I really like the simplicity of its UI and I stand by this even for the Watch Active2. You have even more face options as well that really brings out how nice the screen is, regardless of the lighting you're in.
Some new, some old OS
The OS on the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is as smooth as ever - offering the usual great options such as the ability to make calls and read messages easily on the watch and download third party apps like Spotify, and you can download and stream music on the watch too. No changes there. In fact, if you're getting into YouTube Music or Pandora, the bad news is that the Watch Active2 cannot support other music apps.
Probably the biggest change is that, if you want, you can browse the internet or even watch videos on the watch. It's something I wouldn't really recommend unless you're in a pinch and need to watch something or search up on something quickly but you don't have time to grab your smartphone. As you'd expect, despite being a very smooth UI, it's not exactly the most comfortable way of getting information or entertaining yourself.
It has the always-on option which is something even the Apple Watch Series 5 has introduced, and just like the Apple Watch, you can always turn it off if you want. The battery doesn't drain as much as the Watch Active2 which is a great improvement as well from the previous Watch Active.
So here's where my biggest gripe comes in; nothing has changed from the previous issue in which the watch works better if you're using a Samsung smartphone. If you're unaware, you have to download a minimum of three apps and more to get the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active to function on your smartphone, and this has not changed since. As Android users, this can be frustrating, so you either have to get a Samsung smartphone or make do with all the apps if you want to use the Galaxy Watch Active2.
Still a great workout
In terms of workout, I didn't see any significant changes from the previous Watch Active. There is a warning should you get irregular heartbeats, similar to what the Apple Watch Series offers, and it is equipped with ECG, a test that checks the health of your heart. Unfortunately, the ECG aspect is still not functioning as it still needs to pass a few tests so that's unfortunate.
I've since started doing HIIT classes too and if there's one thing I notice that a lot of smartwatches lack, is that it doesn't track HIIT well. It's not surprising at all, but the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 does a decent enough job to take note of my extremely high heart rate and recorded it well enough.
The watch does come with GPS, and you can pair it with your bluetooth headphones to complete your experience. If you like running, the smartwatch comes with a voice guide that isn't just about pushing you harder; it instructs you on warm ups and cool downs, as well as asks you if you're feeling okay and gently tells you to smile to help you feel better. Yeah, that's a hit or miss but it's a lot better than pushing you unnecessarily either.
No changes in the Samsung Health app either, which I find to be incredibly simple now in comparison to Fitbit and Apple's health data.
All in all, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is a good smartwatch that helps raise the bar for most Android users, but it's still lacking in plenty of areas that makes it hard for those outside of Samsung to truly consider getting the device. It definitely has the potential to be as powerful as the Apple Watch Series 5, but as of now, it's still lacking in some ways, and it's hard for anyone outside of the Samsung ecosystem to truly get into it.