Wearables

Small, light smartwatch

Aimed at the fitness crowd, the Galaxy Watch Active is the smallest and lightest model of Samsung's Galaxy smartwatch series.

With a 1.1-inch (360 x 360 pixels) circular display on a 40mm case, it takes up less of your wrist than the flagship Galaxy Watch, which was launched late last year with two variants - one with a 42mm case (1.2-inch display) and one with a 46mm (1.3-inch display) case.

At 47g, it is lighter than the 42mm (73g) and 46mm (81g) Galaxy Watch Wi-Fi models. But the Active - available in silver (version tested), black and rose gold - still features built-in GPS, heart-rate monitor, accelerometer, gyroscope and barometer.

Like the Galaxy Watch, it has two buttons located at the two and four o'clock positions, which serve as the back and home buttons respectively.

However, it ditches the series' iconic rotating bezel. While the result is a more seamless and sleek look, the downside is a thick bezel around its circular display.

Plus, I miss the rotating bezel as it lets you navigate the smartwatch's interface without blocking the display. That said, the display is very responsive to swiping and tapping.

  • FOR

    • Sleek design

    • Small and lightweight

    • Measures blood pressure

  • AGAINST

    • Lacks rotating bezel

    • Not exactly cheaper than non-LTE Galaxy Watch

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $368

    COMPATIBILITY: Smartphones running Android 5.0 and above or iOS 9.0 and above

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Near-Field Communication

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 47g (with silicone strap)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

One of the Active's highlighted features is its ability to measure blood pressure (BP). You need to download the My BP Lab research app by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), to the watch. You also need a Samsung Galaxy smartphone (from S9 and onwards) for pairing as well as opt into the UCSF study.

Users have to first record and key in a reading of their BP for calibration. As I do not have a BP measurement cuff to do so, I input the normal adult BP figure (120/90mmHg). And, voila, the watch app allows me to start using the Active to measure my BP.

Without a BP measurement cuff, I do not know how accurate the Active's BP readings are. But its readings do not differ much from the normal BP of adults. But note that the Active is not a medical device and readings should be taken only as a guide.

In terms of steps tracking, the Active registers 2.8 per cent more steps than my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4 - this is not bad considering it has not been calibrated.

Its sleep tracking ability impresses. It accurately pinpoints the time I go to bed and wake up, as well as the period when I am in light or deep sleep.

With the Active constantly paired to a Note9 to receive notifications, it has around 50 per cent of battery left at the end of a day.

The $368 Active is cheaper than the flagship Galaxy Watch models, though its price tag is about the same as the street price of the old Galaxy Watch models. But it is significantly cheaper than the new Galaxy Watch LTE models, which start at $548.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2019, with the headline 'Small, light smartwatch'. Print Edition | Subscribe