Wearables

Strap up and track your fitness level

The Under Armour edition of the Samsung Galaxy Active 2 smartwatch.
The Under Armour edition of the Samsung Galaxy Active 2 smartwatch.

Samsung's Galaxy Active 2, which comes in two editions, can record more than 40 workouts and monitor sleep

There are two editions to Samsung's latest fitness-centric smartwatch, the Galaxy Active2.

The standard edition is available in silver and pink, while the Under Armour (UA) edition comes in black.

Both editions have two display sizes - 40mm (1.2-inch display) and 44mm (1.4-inch display). I tested the 44mm UA edition, pairing it with a Samsung Galaxy Note9.

Besides colour, the UA edition also has other differences from its sibling, including an always-on running coach that provides visual feedback and audio cues that, for instance, tell users to maintain their posture during workouts, as well as a six-month free MapMyRun Premium membership that gives users access to training plans which push them to the limit.

But otherwise, both editions are essentially the same smartwatch, which feature built-in GPS, heart-rate monitor, accelerometer, gyroscope and barometer. There is also an electrocardiogram feature that will be available at a later date via a software update, says Samsung.

The Active2 can track more than 40 workouts, with seven - including running, walking and cycling - automatically activated. It also monitors and analyses sleep.

Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Active, it has two buttons - at the two and four o'clock positions - which serve as the back and home buttons respectively.

It ditches the Galaxy Watch series' iconic rotating bezel, replacing it with a touch-sensitive bezel that gives the watch a clean and sleek look. Matched with the black silicone strap, it exudes a cool, stealthy look. Its lightweight watch case and comfy strap make it nice to wear all day, even during sleep.

  • FOR

    • Sleek design

    • Intuitive touch-sensitive bezel

    • Great sleep tracking

    • Better app support on Tizen


    AGAINST

    • Battery life could be better

    • Works best with Android smartphones

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: From $398 to $498 (version tested)

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

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

    WATER RESISTANCE: 50m

    WEIGHT: 30g (watch case only)


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3.5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The touch-sensitive bezel lets you scroll through the various screens of the smartwatch by dragging your finger around the bezel, instead of swiping the circular display. It provides nice haptic feedback and feels intuitive as you are not blocking the display when changing settings.

Like its predecessor, the Active2 uses the Samsung's Tizen operating system (OS). Previously, there was a lack of third-party app support with this OS, but the situation is better now with the likes of Spotify, Strava and Watch Translator available on the platform. You can also download many third-party watch faces.

But the Active2 works best if you have an Android smartphone. When paired with an iPhone, many functions are not available. For instance, while you will receive notifications, you cannot reply to text messages or scroll through e-mail messages on the watch.

The Active2 excels in fitness tracking. Its GPS tracker was just 100m short in measuring my usual 5km jogging route - a negligible difference.

For step-tracking, it counted 3.8 per cent more steps than my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4. Pretty accurate considering it has not been calibrated.

Its sleep-tracking ability is also impressive. It pinpointed the time I went to bed and woke up, as well as accurately noted the periods when I was in light or deep sleep.

With the Active2 constantly paired to the Note9 to receive notifications, it had about 20 per cent of battery left at the end of two days in which I did a 5km GPS-tracked jog. Not the best in its class, but it lasts longer than the Apple Watch Series 4.

 

The Active2 starts at $398 (the review unit costs $498), which makes it reasonably priced, as its closest competitor Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch costs $509, while the Apple Watch Series 5 starts at $599.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2019, with the headline 'Strap up and track your fitness level'. Print Edition | Subscribe