Tech review: Samsung Galaxy Active2 the fitness smartwatch for Android users

The Active2 can track over 40 workouts, with seven automatically activated.
The Active2 can track over 40 workouts, with seven automatically activated.PHOTO: SAMSUNG

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

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

Both editions come in 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 that 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 (ECG) feature that will be available at a later date via a software update, according to Samsung.

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

Like its Galaxy Active predecessor, the Active2 only 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 makes it nice to wear all day even during sleep.

The touch-sensitive bezel lets you can 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 aren't 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, a lot of functionalities 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 has around 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 class, but it lasts longer than the Apple Watch Series 4.

The Active2 starts from $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 from $599.

FOR

- Sleek design

- Intuitive touch-sensitive bezel

- Great sleep tracking

- Better app support on Tizen

AGAINST

- Battery life can be better

- Works best with Android smartphones

TECH SPECS

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

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: 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