Samsung announced the Galaxy Watch Active alongside its Galaxy S10 devices back in February 2019, joining the larger, more rugged Galaxy Watch with more fitness-focused features and a simpler design. 

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 builds on its six-month old successor with a multitude of updates, including new features and design tweaks. Here are our first impressions of the new and improved fitness smartwatch from Samsung.

Design and display

  • 40mm/44mm size options
  • Aluminium or stainless steel
  • Digital bezel
  • 20mm interchangeable straps 

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 features a slight redesign to its predecessor - the Galaxy Watch Active - but the tweaks are worthy tweaks.

On the surface, things look similar, but the top button on the right side of the display is now oblong instead of circular, resulting in a more streamlined look. You really wouldn't think a button shape could make that much difference, but side-by-side, the Active 2 is neater than its predecessor. 

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A round face is present again, like the previous Galaxy Watch Active, but the new model introduces a digital bezel that sits on top of the beautiful Super AMOLED display - which is punchy and vibrant, again like the original Galaxy Watch Active.

The digital bezel can be turned clockwise or anti-clockwise and it delivers a lovely fluid movement with enough satisfying feedback. It's not quite the same as the physical rotating bezel on the Galaxy Watch that launched in August 2018, but we liked it and we're pleased to see a functional bezel return after it was ditched entirely for the Galaxy Watch Active.

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The Galaxy Watch Active 2 comes in two sizes now too - 40mm and 44mm - just like the Apple Watch Series 4. The 40mm device has a 1.2-inch screen, while the 44mm device has a 1.4-inch screen with both offering a 360 x 360 resolution.

Both the 40mm and 44mm sizes are available in lightweight aluminium (which we've seen) and solid stainless steel options. The aluminium models feature a Fluorelastomer Band that's lovely and soft to touch, as well as comfortable. It’s fastened with a single-pin buckle like the original Galaxy Watch Active, resulting in a secure fit. 

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The stainless steel options meanwhile, come with a leather strap for a more serious look. The straps are 20mm and are interchangeable though so you can mix and match depending on what you're doing. We'd recommend the Fluorelastomer Band when exercising though. 

It's also worth mentioning that there's also an Under Armour edition model of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 that has an aluminium body and comes in two size options: 44mm with a black strap, and 40mm with a grey strap.

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The standard Galaxy Watch Active 2 comes in Cloud Silver, Aqua Black, Pink Gold for the aluminium models and Silver, Black, Gold for the stainless steel models.

Fitness features and performance

  • 39 workouts (7 automatic)
  • Heart rate
  • ECG monitor
  • Fall Detection

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 has a multitude of features on board. In terms of fitness-focused features, it can manually track 39 workouts with seven automatically activated, like running, walking and cycling. 

There's also an updated Running Coach and seven different running programs on board. The Under Armour edition also offers access to the UA fitness platform that includes a built-in MapMyRun app with a six-month membership.

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Built-in GPS and heart rate tracking are on board the Galaxy Watch Active 2 devices too, as it is on several smartwatches these days, but the Active 2 also offers an Electrocardiogram sensor, and an accelerometer that measures up to 32g of force, allowing or Fall Detection - two features only the Apple Watch Series 4 offers in terms of smartwatches. 

Like Fitbit devices, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has enhanced sleep analysis too, tracking the four sleep stages. This is something the Apple Watch currently doesn't offer, though sleep tracking is rumoured to appear at some point for the Apple device.

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We weren't able to test the performance of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 and its fitness features during our short amount of time with it but we will make sure we put it through its paces during our full review. 

It's also worth noting that the ECG and Fall Detection features aren't available immediately as they are awaiting FDA approval but we'll be testing them in full when they arrive too. 

Hardware

  • 1.15GHz Exynos 9110 chip
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Wi-Fi models: 4GB storage, 768MB RAM
  • LTE models: 4GB storage, 1.5GB RAM

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is available in both Wi-Fi only and LTE models, with the LTE models offering a little more RAM. All models are waterproof up to 5ATM, IP68 water and dust resistant and they meet MIL-STD-810G drop protection so a pretty tough smartwatch.

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Samsung Samsung Health, SmartThings and Samsung Pay are all on board, as is Bixby and protection through Samsung's Knox technology. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is also compatible with Samsung's Power Share, meaning you'll be able to place it on the back of your Galaxy S10 or Note 10 device and transfer some battery if you start to run out.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2's battery life varies depending on the model, with the 40mm device offering a 247mAh battery, while the 44mm device has a 340mAh battery. We'll of course test the battery of the model we have in for review out ourselves to see what those numbers mean in real terms.

Software

  • One UI
  • Tizen OS

In terms of software, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 runs on Samsung's One UI software over the top of the Tizen OS

There's a multitude of functions that come with the software, such as the Watch Camera Controller that allows users pairing the Watch Active 2 to a Galaxy smartphone the ability to take photos, start recording a video, preview footage, switch between front and rear lenses, set a timer and check the final photo or video all from their watch.

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There's also a feature called My Style that allows users to take a photo of their outfit, choose from five different colour patterns and change their watch face to match their outfit. 

We'll be looking at the Galaxy Watch Active 2 and all its software features in our full review but based on our first impressions, the interface is fluid and the digital bezel makes for a lovely user experience.

First Impressions

Based on our first impressions, the Samsung Galaxy Active 2 is a lovely looking smartwatch that builds on its predecessor in all the right areas. 

The design tweaks are minor but effective, meaning the second-generation device builds on its predecessor with things like the digital bezel, whilst retaining what we loved about the original.

We're looking forward to getting the Galaxy Watch Active 2 on our wrists and testing all its features and functions out, but based on what we’ve seen so far, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a better option to choose over the original.