Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2?

A lot of bells and whistles in a minimalist package, should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2?

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
(Image credit: Samsung)

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 may no longer be the most cutting-edge member of the company’s wearables family with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. But it is still a quality, premium device that delivers a lot of the same functionalities as the Watch 3, only with a lighter, slimmer design that is easier on the wrist when working out.

At a year old, it is by no means close to old tech. For a starting price of $249.99, it offers a number of health-focused features like ECG and heart-rate monitoring, as well as extensive fitness tracking, in a svelte, almost minimalist design.

There are cheaper options, even in Samsung’s own line, including the still-available original Galaxy Watch Active, starting at $80 less. However, going cheaper than the Active2 does come with fewer bells and whistles, older tech, and some compromises to design like a smaller screen. 

With the Galaxy Watch 3 now out, it might be tempting to consider that instead. Still, it’s at least $120 more, a bit bulkier, and has a more old-school look. And, for those folks who prefer something different, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 may just be the ideal choice.

 WHO IS THE SAMSUNG GALAXY WATCH ACTIVE2 FOR? 

Fitness fanatics that like Samsung’s aesthetic will be drawn to the Galaxy Watch Active2. It can go toe-to-toe with the fitness functionalities of the Apple Watch flagship, the go-to smarwatch that most mainstream users will instinctively spring for, and is cheaper than the options out there dedicated to the hardcore athlete. 

With a starting price of $249.99 for the 40mm version and $279.99 for the 44mm one, the Active2 is a reasonable alternative to something like Garmin’s vivoactive 4, which starts at $349.99, for instance.

Though it can work with Apple’s iOS system – albeit with some limitations, Android users will be more interested in Samsung’s line, which pairs well with Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note20. 

Also, the Active2 is available in two special editions, Golf (starting at $329.99) and Under Armour (starting at $309.99), that come with special, dedicated add-on features for golfers and runners, respectively.

Those looking for a stripped-down fitness tracker like a basic Fitbit will find the Active2’s price exorbitant. However, with all the features it comes with, it’s worth it to those that want something that can be used for more than just counting steps.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

(Image credit: Samsung)

SHOULD YOU BUY SAMSUNG GALAXY WATCH ACTIVE2: KEY FEATURES 

The smartwatch carries its design over from the first Galaxy Watch Active, but at a slightly larger size. Instead of the original 39.5mm, the Active2 is available in 40mm or 44mm, with a correspondingly, slightly larger screen. 

Samsung has also made the Active2 available in stainless steel as well as the original aluminum, offering material-specific colors: aqua black, cloud silver, and pink gold for the aluminum; black, silver, and gold for the stainless steel. And, with the included silicone band, its minimal look and feel are ideal for wearing while working out. 

One of the triumphs of the Galaxy Watch Active2’s design is its digital bezel, which allows you to navigate through the screens with haptic feedback while keeping the watch’s slim aesthetic. It has an always-on AMOLED screen, which is bright and easy to see no matter what you’re doing.

Its software capabilities are fairly robust, as it’s able to track 39 activities – 7 of them automatically – like running, swimming, and elliptical trainer. Of course, it includes GPS as well. Other health features include an ECG monitor to check for irregular heart rhythms, V02 max to help see how much oxygen you can utilize during a workout, and trip detection. The wearable will even monitor sleep and stress levels.

You can customize the look of the Galaxy Watch Active2 with access to a number of watch faces to match any occasion. You can even upload or take a pic of what you’re wearing, and get a watch face that matches your outfit, which is pretty nifty.

LTE is also an option for those who want to get away from their phone, but it will cost $130 extra for the convenience. If you can afford the extra cost, you’ll be able to answer calls, reply to texts, listen to music, and even make purchases thanks to Samsung Pay, without lugging your phone around.

Battery life is slated at an impressive 60 hours for the 44mm version and 43 hours for the 40mm. With the always on screen, you’ll probably end with less than that, but it still beats Apple’s rated 18 hours.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

(Image credit: Samsung)

SHOULD YOU BUY SAMSUNG GALAXY WATCH ACTIVE2: THE DOWNSIDES 

Depending on what you’re expecting out of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2, you might find some unforeseen walls. iPhone users will experience some limited functionality compared to Android users – features like Samsung Pay and replying to messages are not available without an Android phone. 

Quality third-party apps are severely lacking as well. Most notably, anyone not using Spotify to stream music will find it challenging to access their music.

For those who actually use Android phones and Spotify, there are still a few, minor snags. The digital bezel is very good though not always pinpoint accurate. It’s more of a quirk but does leave a little room for improvement.

More importantly, certain fitness activities need to be done correctly, at least according to Samsung, to be tracked. For example, doing curls or other stationary workouts with an alternate grip will just not register.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

(Image credit: Samsung)

SHOULD YOU BUY SAMSUNG GALAXY WATCH ACTIVE2: VERDICT 

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 is not the most premium looking wearable in the Samsung line now that the Galaxy Watch 3 is out, but it’s not the most expensive either. It’s still a very sharp looking wearable and has most of the features you would get with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. Its slim, minimalist look is perfect as a workout accessory, and an extremely versatile utility for monitoring your fitness, health, and even rest.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 may not be robust enough for a triathlete and is probably not the best option for iOS users. Plus, bargain hunters can find basic wearables for as low as $99 like the Galaxy Fit. However, this smartwatch’s price sits comfortably in the mid-range, making it a nice choice for anyone who wants a high-quality, versatile wearable without dropping $400 to get one.

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