The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of tech gear

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 Review

The Active2 is one of the best you can get for those without iOS phones
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Price:   $300 List | $280 at Amazon
Pros:  Stylish, great display, comprehensive fitness tracking
Cons:  Unimpressive battery life, app compatibility could be better
Manufacturer:   Samsung
By Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman  ⋅  Nov 8, 2019
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 11
  • Ease of Use - 30% 7
  • Smart Functions - 20% 7
  • Display - 20% 9
  • Fitness Impact - 15% 8
  • Battery Life - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Galaxy Active2 is an excellent smartwatch that is one of the first non-iOS watches that can compare to the Apple Watch in terms of looks. The Active2 is sleek, stylish, and packed with smart features and fitness tracking abilities. It has a great display, a slim profile, and is comfortable to wear, making it a great option for any Android or Samsung smartphone user who prefers a low-profile, more discreet smartwatch.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $300 List
$279.99 at Amazon
$350 List
$303.99 at Amazon
$400 List
$384.00 at Amazon
$300 List
$268.98 at Amazon
$200 List
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Pros Stylish, great display, comprehensive fitness trackingEasy to use, great display, impressive battery lifeFantastic display, tons of fitness tracking features, smart functionsEasy to use, great display, best variety of trackable workoutsSmaller than the S3, waterproof, great for fitness tracking
Cons Unimpressive battery life, app compatibility could be betterGiant bezel, could have more smart functionsPricey, so-so battery lifeSlow to charge, limited app compatibilityNo built-in speaker, reduced set of smart functions
Bottom Line The Active2 is one of the best you can get for those without iOS phonesIf you want a top-notch smartwatch and have a Samsung phone, the Galaxy Watch is by far the best you can getThe Series 5 is by far the best iOS users can getOne of the best models out there, though it loses some functionality with non-Samsung phonesWhile the Gear Sport isn’t meant to supplant the flagship S3 model, this slimmer and sportier version still scored very well and is worth considering
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Rating Categories Samsung Galaxy... Samsung Galaxy Watch Apple Watch Series 5 Samsung Gear S3 Samsung Gear Sport
Ease Of Use (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Smart Functions (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
Display (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Fitness Impact (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Battery Life (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
Specs Samsung Galaxy... Samsung Galaxy Watch Apple Watch Series 5 Samsung Gear S3 Samsung Gear Sport
Water Resistant 5 ATM Up to 50 meters 5 ATM IP68 + MIL-STD-810G 5 ATM
GPS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NFC (Android, Apple, Samsung, or Fitbit Pay) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
HR Monitor Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Display 44mm (1.4") or 40mm (1.2") 30mm or 33mm AMOLED 40mm or 44mm diagonal LTPO OLED Retina display 1.3 inch fullcolor AMOLED 1.2 inch full color AMOLED
Resolution 360 x 360 360x360 324x394
368x448
360x360, 278 ppi 360x360
Built-in Microphone Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Built-in Speaker Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Other sensors Accelerometer
Gyro
Barometer
Ambient Light
Accelerometer
Ambient Light
Gyroscope
Barometer
Electrical heart sensor
Fall detection
Barometric altimeter
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Ambient light
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Barometer
Ambient Light
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Barometer
Ambient Light
Processor Dual core 1.15GHz Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15GHz 64-bit dual-core S5 processor Samsung Exynos 7270 Dual-core 1.0 GHz Dual-core 1.0 GHz Cortex-A7

Our Analysis and Test Results

Unfortunately, the Active2 doesn't have the largest library of app compatibility but is still quite capable in standalone mode, regardless if you pay a little extra for the version with standalone LTE compatibility or just stick with the standard model.

Performance Comparison


The Active2 is sleek  stylish  and easy to use.
The Active2 is sleek, stylish, and easy to use.

Ease of Use


Our most important group of assessments focused on how intuitive and convenient to use each of these smart timepieces is, which accounts for 30% of the total score. We based scores on the ease of navigating the menus and interacting with the device, its water-resistance, how it charged, and the ease of changing out different wristbands. The Active2 scored very well, putting it in the top group of watches.


The Active2 is more than waterproof enough to take in the pool or leave on when you shower — it's rated to 50 meters or 5 ATM. However, we weren't overly enamored with the charging system on the Active2. This watch charges wirelessly through a disc that attaches magnetically but isn't the most secure, with the weight of the watch enough to overcome the magnet.

This smartwatch has a capacitive touch bezel  as well as a touch screen to navigate with.
This smartwatch has a capacitive touch bezel, as well as a touch screen to navigate with.

The screen on the Active2 wake almost instantly when you raise your wrist to look at it and is very responsive to taps and swipes. This watch doesn't have a crown scroll or physical rotating bezel but it does have a capacitive touch bezel that works quite well. We liked this a little less than a physical interface but we think it is still far better than the models that only use the touchscreen.

The clasp can be a bit difficult on this watch.
The clasp can be a bit difficult on this watch.

The Active2 also uses a standard watch band system that allows you to swap out bands fairly rapidly.

The Active2 has a solid set of standalone smart functions.
The Active2 has a solid set of standalone smart functions.

Smart Functions


Next, we looked at different smart features and functionality of each wearable, which is responsible for 20% of the overall score. We looked at which apps are compatible with the Active2, if it has integrated NFC, and GPS, as well as if you can make phone calls or control your music. The Active2 again did very well, earning one of the better scores of the bunch.


The Active2 is a little more limited when it comes to standalone apps but does have most of the popular ones, like Uber for Gear, Spotify, and Strava. You can also respond to messaging apps right on the watch, either using one of the customizable quick replies or by actually writing out a response. It also can show most push notifications.

The Active2 lets you respond directly to messages and can display most notifications.
The Active2 lets you respond directly to messages and can display most notifications.

The Active2 does have an integrated speaker and microphone so you can use it to answer or make calls without pulling your phone out. It also has the typical music controls and can use Samsung Pay at contactless payment terminals.

The Active2 does have an integrated GPS module that can pick up GPS/GLONASS signals and one version is available with standalone LTE connectivity.

The display on the Active2 is particularly eye-catching.
The display on the Active2 is particularly eye-catching.

Display


The Galaxy Active2 has an absolutely fantastic display, earning it one of the top scores of the entire group in this metric, which accounts for 20% of the total score. We determined scores based on the quality of the display, its visibility, its resolution, and the backlight.


The Active2 is available with a 1.2" (40mm) or 1.4"(44mm) circular super AMOLED display with a resolution of 360x360. There are a ton of different watch faces available as well, making it easy to match the Active2 to your sense of style.

It's easy to customize the watch face on the Active2.
It's easy to customize the watch face on the Active2.

It has an extremely bright backlight that is easy to read in full sunlight or at night. You can set the display to be always on and the backlight has an automatic low brightness setting.

The Active2 has a decent amount of fitness and health tracking abilities.
The Active2 has a decent amount of fitness and health tracking abilities.

Fitness Impact


Our fitness tracking metric is also responsible for 20% of the total score for each product, with the Active2 earning another top-notch score for its excellent performance. We ranked and scored each watch on the different types of workouts you can track and the accuracy of the step tracker and other sensors.


The Active2 did decently well in our step counting tests, only having an average variation from the true step count on a mile-long walk of 13 steps over our three trials.

We found the step counter and the HR monitor to be very accurate.
We found the step counter and the HR monitor to be very accurate.

The heart rate monitor also proved to be very accurate in our tests, usually within one or two bpm with our control chest strap HR monitor with a resting heart rate. The discrepancy got a little larger with an elevated heart rate but we found it still matched closely with the chest strap approximately 85% of the time.

The Active2 also had a wide range of trackable activities — over 40! — and has automatic workout detection if you forget to start the watch with your workout. It provides a ton of data, including duration, pace, elevation, heart rate info, calories, and distance, just to name a few. It also gives you the option to view a map of your route or chart things like heart rate vs. elevation.

The Active2 missed plenty of flights of stairs in our tests.
The Active2 missed plenty of flights of stairs in our tests.

Unfortunately, we weren't all that impressed with the stair tracking measurement abilities of the Active2, as it missed the majority of the stairs climbed in our test.

The Samsung Active2 has a slightly above average battery life compared to the other products in our tests.
The Samsung Active2 has a slightly above average battery life compared to the other products in our tests.

Battery Life


Our final set of tests — responsible for the remaining 15% of the score — focused on the battery life of each watch. The performance of the Active2 faltered a bit in this test, earning a score much closer to the middle of the pack than it did in the previous metrics.


Using a typical schedule of texts, calls, and other functions, we were able to reliably get about 48 hours out of the Active2. However, you may get considerably shorter battery life if the display is set to be always on at full brightness or you are using the GPS frequently. The Active2 also doesn't take too long to recharge, taking about 40 minutes to reach the halfway point and 105 minutes to completely recharge.

Value


The Active2 isn't a great value option. It's an excellent watch but pairs this performance with a top-tier price.

Conclusion


If you are a non-Apple user and want a premium smartwatch, the Active2 is a great option. It's much more low-profile and discreet than other top-tier Android or Samsung-compatible watches. The Active2 has tons of smart features and an impressive set of fitness tracking abilities, all in a sleek and stylish package, making it one of our all-time favorite smartwatches.


Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman