Quick Take: Samsung Improves Smartwatch Line with Galaxy Watch Active2
Samsung continues to improve its smartwatch line. The new Galaxy Watch Active2 adds health features like electrocardiograms and better sleep tracking in a more attractive case than its overly large Galaxy Watch. While most people won’t cross-shop directly against the Apple Watch, the Active2 is roughly comparable to Apple’s Series 4 at a Series 3 price.
Samsung continues to invest in smartwatches, and, if you own Samsung's phones, they're generally the best option. Samsung was an early investor in smartwatches, and, like Apple, it eventually figured out that a smartwatch is for notifications and health. Samsung also makes its own silicon (and operating system) for its watches, which is a crucial success factor -- reliance on Qualcomm is one factor that has hurt Android Wear. However, Samsung prioritizes battery life over form factor, and that means that its watches can be uncomfortably large (I have big wrists, and the Galaxy Watch is huge even on me).
The new Galaxy Watch Active2 squeezes in between the Galaxy Watch Active (staying in the line) and Galaxy Watch. It'll come in two sizes - 40mm and 44mm, both smaller than that Galaxy Watch. The Active2 has better sensors, improved sleep detection/analysis algorithms, and active pace coaching for runners. The Active2 can also take an electrocardiogram, potentially making it a serious health monitoring tool, and bringing Samsung’s capabilities in line with Apple’s top-of-the-line Watch 4. While the Active2 does not have a physical rotating ring for Samsung's simple and intuitive user interface, Samsung is trying a touchscreen rotating bezel effect. I have not gotten hands-on with the Active2, so I don't don't know if this works.
Unlike the first Active, LTE is an option and is being sold at all major US carriers. Pricing is $279/$299 for Bluetooth/WiFi; $429/$449 4G LTE eSIM, putting the Galaxy Watch Active2 roughly on par with Apple's Watch 3. The Galaxy Watch has higher starting prices, and is obviously intended to indirectly compete with the Apple Watch 4 (although only Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active2 has an ECG feature). There is not much actual cross-shopping between Apple's Watches and Samsung's Galaxy Watches - Samsung's Watches can be used with iPhones, but Apple's Watches cannot be used with Android phones. However, simply from a form factor perspective, the Galaxy Watch Active2 looks more appealing than the Galaxy Watch, even with the Watch's much longer battery life. If the touchscreen bezel interface works, Samsung may want to focus exclusively on the Active line, and drop the more expensive Watch.
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· Aluminum: Cloud Silver, Aqua Black, Pink Gold with Fluoroelastomer strap
· Stainless Steel: Silver, Black, Gold with Leather strap
Dimensions & Weight:
· 40 x 10.9mm (aluminum: 26g, stainless steel: 37g)
· 44 x 10.9mm (aluminum: 30g, stainless steel: 44g)
Display: 360 x 360 Super AMOLED, full color Always On Display, Corning Gorilla Glass DX+
Strap: 20mm interchangeable (both 40mm and 44mm)
Battery: 40mm: 247mAh, 44mm: 340mAh
Chipset: Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15 GHz
Memory: 768MB + 4GB; LTE models: 1.5GB + 4GB
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, NFC; LTE optional on stainless steel models
Sensors: Heart Rate Monitoring (with 8 Photodiodes), Electrocardiogram (ECG), Accelerometer (measure up to 32g of force), Gyroscope, Barometer, Ambient Light
Charge: WPC-based wireless charging (works with some Qi chargers)