Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Review: Bezel Control Is Back

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Over the years Samsung has refined its SmartWatch into a stylish comfortable and capable wearable. With the Galaxy watch active 2, Samsung continues to improve as health and workout monitoring tools as it explores other applications like translations and video playback. Most intriguing of all to those familiar with Samsung’s watch lineup anyway the watch active 2 brings back the company’s hallmark spinning bezel.

Pricing and Models:

The price on this one 300 bucks for the Bluetooth version and 450 bucks for LTE. The watch comes in two different sizes. You got 40 millimeters and 44 millimeters. Now the 40 millimeter it’s $20 cheaper. It comes in two different build materials, you’ve got stainless steel and aluminum. If you want LTE you got to go with stainless steel. It comes in three different colors but stainless steel, you got black, silver, and gold. And for aluminum, you get silver, aqua black, and pink gold.

Rotating Wheel Bezel

Galaxy Watch Active 2 - Rotating Wheel Bezel

When Samsung introduced a Galaxy watch active without the rotating wheel, I have to admit, I was shook. I really liked how the bezel made it easier to navigate the interface but Samsung had to keep the watch active series simple and the wheel added to the weight and cost.

The company found a compromise with the watch act of two by making the bezel around the screen touch-sensitive, so you can scroll through widgets and notifications by dragging your finger around the interface.

There’s also satisfying haptic feedback here that mimics the feel of it clicking into place. But while I use the physical bezel to interact with the previous Galaxy watches more than half the time I barely use the virtual one at all and when I did it was more for the novelty factor and to feel the haptic response than to get any improvement in speed.

Eventually, I just rearranged my widgets so the ones that I used most frequently were within two or three swipes from the home screen.

Calling Feature

You can answer and make calls directly on the watch without ever having to touch your phone. I take calls on my wrist all the time and it’s one of the main reasons why I even wear SmartWatch. The mics are pretty good too.

Battery and charging

Galaxy Watch Active 2 - Battery

I keep my watch at a screen brightness of 6 but it automatically maxes out the brightness in brighter environments for better viewing, meaning if you use your watch a lot outdoors you’ll likely experience worst battery life.

With heart rate measurement set to continuous and enabling the always-on display, I was getting just over a day of battery life.

Dropping the heart rate measurement to every 10 minutes, help me get about a day and a half. Turn the always-on display off on top of that and I was getting just under two days. Basically, if you want to use the watch to its full potential expect a single day of battery.

Charging takes about an hour and fifty minutes using the supplied charger. I also really appreciate the convenience of wireless power share during my recent trips. It was one less cable to worry about when packing.

Activity Tracker

One of the cool features of galaxy watches is its ability to automatically detect and track workouts. I find the most useful for walks and runs just get moving and I’ll kick in on its own. Simple and easy for those who don’t want to even think about locking their activity. For those of you who want more control, you can manually start a much larger selection of workouts.

The watch will calm breaths for you and it definitely works better. It can feel tedious selecting each exercise individually one after another but for someone new to training this might be very helpful and motivating. I personally prefer an app called gym run for tracking my workouts. Samsung added this new setting to keep the workout screen on at all times while you’re training.

In the past, the display would timeout and default back to the watch face which got really annoying for those trying to keep an eye on their heart rate and progress.

The heart rate sensor itself is better as expected with the four extra sensors. During workouts so much more reliable and doesn’t drop out or jump around like my galaxy watch did so often. Samsung has actually done a pretty good job updating the step accuracy of the watch.

The pedometer on both takes about ten steps or so before it kicks in and starts counting that may seem weird but I’m sure they do it on purpose. To prevent fall steps from being tracked due to everyday arm movement. For dedicated or longer walks it’s been flawless if you’re a runner who really wants to keep track and fine-tune their training be sure to turn on high accuracy location in the outdoor run settings. It made a noticeable difference with mapping accuracy on the runs I went on.

Sleep tracking

Galaxy Watch Active 2 - Sleep

Sleep tracking was a little hit or miss for me. Although it did a fairly good job out locking my sleep. There were several occasions where the watch thought I was sleeping even though I was at the movie theater or just chilling on the couch. I’ve never found the calories burned counted on the galaxy watch to be accurate and the active 2 doesn’t seem to be much better.

Samsung Health App

All information gets synced to Samsung health. It’s a simple clean app that lets you customize what you want to see at a glance. They could make detailed information as easier to get you but I’d argue for most people the stuff displayed upfront is more than good enough.

How does the active 2 functions as the smartwatch?

Galaxy Watch Active 2

Notifications

Besides being able to take calls on the watch in the gassy wearables app you can customize which notifications get pushed to the watch. When you do receive one the watch will vibrate or make a sound and lifting your wrist will automatically display it. If you can’t check it at that very moment you’ll have this indicator show up to remind you later.

Messages, Emails, and Contacts

A Samsung SmartWatch will obviously work best when paired with a Samsung smartphone. The main benefit is that you get a dedicated email and messages app on the watch. Allowing you to view history and initiate a message and both. Watch apps like reminders and voice memos will also sync to your Samsung smartphone when paired with a non-Samsung smartphone you’ll still receive and be able to respond to messages and email notifications. For longer emails or messages you’ll likely want to pull out your phone anyways. Things like call history and calendar events will sync to the watch regardless of what phone you use.

For those of you not using a Samsung smartphone who still want to initiate a message right from the watch is to do it through the contact app. I add my favorite contacts to a widget and send messages from there all the time. Responding to messages can be done using speech to text, Handwriting, t9 keyboard or customizable quick messages which is what I do 90% of the time.

Lack of third-party apps

I wouldn’t mind having more options I don’t really see myself needing or using them very often.

Music

When it comes to music both Spotify and title have asked for the watch. If you’re paying for a premium membership you can download music right onto the four gigabytes of storage on the watch. Pair up some Bluetooth headphones and listen to your favorite gems at the gym without carrying your phone or being connected to Wi-Fi.

Navigation

There are a few options available but I’ve settled in on navigation Pro, it is a paid app though. Starter Google Maps Navigation on your phone and it will automatically launch on the watch. Providing you with turn-by-turn directions plus notifying you of upcoming turns with vibrations. You can even turn your phone screen off and just use the watch for directions to conserve battery on your phone.

Conclusion

The experience with the galaxy watch active 2 is very similar to the galaxy watch. The improved hardware for fitness tracking is a big step forward and I’m glad Samsung is taking that more seriously. We’ve got some new watch faces, cute animations. But that’s all software and should make its way to the older watches eventually. It’s not like there’s a shortage of watch faces on the galaxy app store.

If you’re coming from the watch active one, yes it’s totally worth upgrade if you’re coming from a galaxy watch love that physical bezel and aren’t that interested in the improved fitness tracking. I probably hold off to see if they do a galaxy watch 2. If this is your first galaxy watch I’d recommend the active 2. It’s got the potential to make a difference especially if they end up launching the ECG and fault detection features.

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