Samsung Galaxy Watch Active leaks and rumours: release date, price and specs

It looks like Samsung is getting ready to launch a new smartwatch this month

TODO alt text

Samsung is preparing to announce a new smartwatch called the Galaxy Watch Active, alongside a trio of Galaxy S10 smartphones at its Unpacked launch event on February 20.

That is what the rumour mill claims, which means the new wearable will come just a few months after the Galaxy Watch, but a full 18 months after Samsung’s last fitness-focused smartwatch, the Gear Sport.

Leaked renders claimed to be of the Galaxy Watch Active indicate Samsung will ditch the device’s rotating bezel, a distinctive feature employed since the Gear 2 of 2015. In its place there appears to be an edge-to-edge touchscreen display.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active will likely be compared to the Apple Watch and its own sibling, the Galaxy Watch, but the Active name suggests a more fitness-focused wearable, akin to those produced by Fitbit and Garmin.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active release date

As we said above, Samsung has one of its Unpacked launch events planned for February 20. It will take place simultaneously in San Francisco and London, and the invitation clearly suggests that the Galaxy S10 smartphone will receive top billing. Mostly because there’s a big ‘10’ plastered over it.

But it is understood that a new watch will also be revealed. The invitation refers to “new devices”, which helps to bolster claims that we’ll see more than just a smartphone on February 20.

This is backed up by the fact the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active has recently been certified by the FCC – suggesting an launch is imminent.

Of course, Samsung may decide the Galaxy Watch Active would get overshadowed by the S10 and X, so could decide to save it for an MWC launch.

As for when the new watch will go on sale, this is trickier to predict, as Samsung sometimes waits several weeks or even months after a new product’s launch before making it available to buy.

The Gear Sport, for example, was announced in August 2017 but didn’t go on sale until that October. As such, the Galaxy Watch Active could be given a quick turn around and arrive in shops in March, or we could be waiting until later in the spring. Or, if the Galaxy Home smart speaker is anything to go by, we could be waiting much longer than that…

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active price

When the Gear Sport launched it was priced at £299, but that was quickly reduced to £220 and now you pick up the smartwatch for around £170. Meanwhile, the newer Galaxy Watch launched at £279 for the 42mm model and £299 for the 46mm version. 

We suspect the Galaxy Watch Actives price will be around the £249 to £299 mark, but it’s too early to elaborate on that for now. 

However, if Samsung fits the Galaxy Watch Active with some cutting-edge health and fitness features - like ECG sensors to match the Apple Watch Series 4 - then we can see this price creeping upwards.

It also isn’t clear yet if there will be two sizes of Galaxy Watch Active, which would naturally be offered with differing prices, as with the Galaxy Watch.

Samsung Galaxy Sport or Samsung Galaxy Watch Active?

When news first broke that Samsung was working on a successor to the Gear Sport, everyone assumed it would be called the Galaxy Sport – following the naming scheme of the Samsung Galaxy Watch.

However, a recent rumour from Max J. on Twitter suggests that the new smartwatch won't be called the Galaxy Sport, but will instead be called the Galaxy Watch Active.

We'll have to wait until Samsung unveils the smartwatch on stage for a definitive answer.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active design and hardware

This is where the most light has been shed on the new smartwatch, thanks to some renders published at the start of 2019. The often-reliable @OnLeaks Twitter account published the images on 8 January, which he claims are renders “based upon factory data”. It was also claimed the watch is codenamed Pulse and rumoured to be launched as the Galaxy Sport.

As for colour options, OnLeaks says the watch will come in black, silver, green and “pink gold”.

The renders show a clean and simple-looking timepiece with a large circular case and two buttons at two and four o’clock. The watch appears to feature industry-standard lugs and bars for fitting any strap you like, but the biggest talking point is the lack of a bezel.

Unlike Samsung’s previous several smartwatches, these renders suggest the Galaxy Watch Active will not have a rotating bezel for navigating its user interface, and no real bezel at all. 

This would be a huge change for Samsung if it comes to fruition, and could mean the company is moving away from its own Tizen software in favour of Google’s Wear OS, which does not use a rotating bezel.

While expected to be a successor to the Gear Sport, we wonder if Samsung is going for a more generic design in the hope that the watch will be worn in every situation, not just at the gym or when you’re going for a run.

That said, the renders suggest the watch will feature a heart rate sensor on the back of its case. This could be why the watch is codenamed Pulse internally at Samsung; but then again, heart rate sensors on smartwatches is nothing new. This leads us to wonder if Samsung is fitting a blood pressure monitor to the Galaxy Watch Active, something the company has been rumoured to be working on for some time.

Health and wellness functions will be big business in 2019, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see Samsung offer something entirely new with the Galaxy Watch Active.

Another new feature could be the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner inside the touch screen. A patent describing such a system was spotted by Patently Mobile in late-2018, where the sensor could be used to quickly unlock the watch, or authenticate contactless payments. 

Samsung is believed to be fitting an embedded fingerprint reader in the display of its Galaxy S10 smartphone, so it would make sense for the technology to appear on its new wearable too.

Alternatively, Samsung may be looking to strip out expensive features, cut costs and pitch the Galaxy Watch Active at the lower end of the market, where it could compete with fitness trackers in the sub-£200 sector. This would be quite a change of direction for Samsung’s smartwatch business, but not entirely uncharted waters given its previous Gear Fit trackers.

As for specs, leaks suggest we can expect to see the same performance as the Galaxy Watch, which means 1.5GB of RAM, an Exynos 9110 dual-core 1.15GHz processor, and 4GB of storage.

Most recently, a leak from 91mobiles shows the new design in brushed steel.

And a few days after the brushed steel watch was leaked, the other colours were as well.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active software and features

We know from the most recent leak that the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active will come running Tizen 4.0 out of the box.

Up until now, this is possibly the biggest unknown for the Active - will it run Samsung’s own Tizen software, or will it use Google’s Wear OS? Samsung has stuck with Tizen for some time now, employing the rotating bezel of its various smartwatches as a brilliant way to navigate the operating system.

If the renders mentioned above are accurate, then we have doubts as to whether the Galaxy Sport will have a rotating bezel.

We wonder if the watch will offer a touch-sensitive bezel instead, which uses haptic feedback to generate a virtual click in the same was the Digital Crown does on the Apple Watch Series 4. That, or the renders aren’t entirely accurate, of course.

We’re sure that fitness tracking will be the watch’s biggest feature, just as it was with the Gear Sport. You can expect to see automatic fitness tracking for a wide number of exercises, with the option of tracking many more manually.

There will also be a heart rate monitor and we expect to see some wellness features too, like yoga, plus meditation and breathing exercises. More advanced sleep-tracking is also expected from Samsung’s upcoming smartwatch.

An Apple-matching ECG will be high on Samsung’s list of priorities for its next wearable, so it will be interesting to see if the necessary hardware appears on the Galaxy Sport, and if Samsung can attain medical certification.

Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant, will likely be a part of the Galaxy Watch Active. However, we hope Samsung has significantly improved Bixby after it last outing on the Galaxy Watch, where it felt like a poorly-implemented afterthought.

As always, T3 will have plenty more to share about the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active in the run-up to the big Unpacked event, which kicks off at 7pm GMT.