Galaxy Watch Active, and Galaxy Fit: A hands-on look at Samsung's new health features

Samsung's new Galaxy Watch Active will soon be able to measure blood pressure and costs $100 less than the previous Galaxy Watch.

Vanessa Hand Orellana CNET Senior Editor
As head of wearables at CNET, Vanessa reviews and writes about the latest smartwatches and fitness trackers. She joined the team seven years ago as an on-camera reporter for CNET's Spanish-language site and then moved on to the English side to host and produce some of CNET's videos and YouTube series. When she's not testing out smartwatches or dropping phones, you can catch her on a hike or trail run with her family.
Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Expertise Apple, iPhone, iOS, Android, Samsung, Sony, Google, Motorola, interviews, coffee equipment, cats Credentials
  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Vanessa Hand Orellana
Patrick Holland
4 min read

The new Galaxy Watch Active will soon be able monitor your blood pressure.

Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung announced a new line of fitness wearables at its Unpacked event Wednesday in San Francisco; the Galaxy Watch Active smartwatch and the Galaxy Fit and Fit E sports bands. Like the Gear Sport smartwatch that Samsung released in 2017, the new Galaxy Active puts fitness features at the forefront with the ability to monitor blood pressure. But unlike its predecessors, it lacks the signature rotating bezel that was a staple of previous Galaxy smartwatches.

The new Galaxy Fit  and Fit E are similar in design and function to the Gear Fit2 Pro bands, with a rectangular screen that curves around the band. Samsung inadvertently leaked the watch, bands and earbuds in an update to the company's Galaxy Wearable app the week before the Feb. 20 event and have been making their rounds online.

Watch this: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Fit: Samsung's 3 new wearables
Product Photography - Samsung Galaxy Watch Active - Sea Green

The new Galaxy Watch Active can charge wirelessly on the back of the new Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus.

James Martin/CNET

Design and UI

The Galaxy Watch Active looks and feels like a slimmed-down version of last year's Galaxy Watch -- just without the rotating bezel. It has two buttons on the side and a thin aluminum frame that comes in four different metallic finishes: black, silver, rose gold and sea green with swappable rubber bands.

It has a slightly smaller footprint than previous Galaxy smartwatches with a 40mm watch face. The color 1.1-inch (28mm) always-on display has a 360x360-pixel resolution. Like previous Galaxy smartwatches, the Active runs Samsung's own Tizen-based wearable operating system 4.0 that's compatible with both Android and IOS devices.

During my hands-on time in the demo room, I was able to compare the Galaxy Watch Active to the traditional Galaxy Watch, and though the screen felt smaller and I missed the rotating bezel, it did feel a lot lighter and more comfortable on my wrist. I would definitely prefer it over the regular Watch for working out. The interface looked very similar to that of the Galaxy Watch with the same customizable widgets, swipe, long press, and tap to control, minus the option to scroll with the bezel, which I didn't mind too much. In fact it was easier to swipe on the screen without the metal bezel getting in the way. 

The Galaxy Fit comes in black and silver finishes and has full-color AMOLED display. The  Fit E is smaller and comes in black, white and yellow. Both run a stripped-down version of Samsung's wearable operating system.

Health and fitness features

The Galaxy Watch Active comes loaded with health and fitness tools to help you take charge of your well-being and will be the first Samsung wearable with the ability to monitor blood pressure. Starting March 15, you'll be able to download Samsung's My BP Lab App, a research app  that first showed up on last year on the Galaxy S9, S9+ and Note 9  and was developed in partnership with the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) to track blood pressure. Once you download the app, you'll be asked to opt in to be part of their research study and share your dataSamsung hasn't provided any more details on how it'll actually work on the Watch, but we'll be updating this article with more information in the coming weeks. 

Watch this: Meet Galaxy Watch Active and Galaxy Fit, Samsung's new smartwatch and fitness tracker

The Active automatically detect six different activities such as cycling, running and swimming without the need to start them manually from the workout app. It call also track 39 more, ranging from outdoor activities to gym routines. It also lets you install third-party apps such as Strava and Under Armour to track activities. You can also download Spotify and other music apps to add some beats to your sweat sessions.

Product Photography - Samsung Galaxy Watch Active - Black

The new Galaxy Watch Active (left) compared to the original Galaxy Watch (right). 

Angela Lang/CNET

The Galaxy Fit and Fit E have a similar automatic workout detection feature or you can choose from one of 90 different workout options manually from the Samsung Health app on your phone. 

The Watch Active, Fit and Fit E have a 5 ATM rating so you can safely take them for a dip in the pool or ocean and theoretically submerge them up to 50 meters (165 feet). But they shouldn't be used for scuba diving.

Like previous Galaxy wearables, the Watch Active and the Fit have optical heart rate sensors on their back used for calculating calories and continuous monitoring heart-rate during exercise. Both devices can also use the heart-rate monitor to keep tabs on stress levels and include breathing exercises. You can even wear them to bed to track both the quality and duration of your slumber.

All the gadgets for getting healthy at CES 2019

See all photos

Under the hood

Processor and battery

The Galaxy Watch Active has a dual-core 9110 Exynos chipset with 4GB of onboard storage, 728MB of RAM and a 230mAh battery. The Galaxy Fit has a 120mAh battery, which Samsung says can last up to a week on a single charge.

Other features

The new wearables are Wi-Fi only and need to be paired with a phone (Android or iOS). They include Samsung Pay for mobile payments with NFC (not MST technology), which means they'll only work on NFC-enabled credit card terminals. The Gear Sport and Galaxy Watch were also NFC-only, but the previous Gear S3 and Samsung's smartphones  were equipped with MST technology allowing you to use them with any regular credit card terminal with a magnetic strip.

The Watch Active will be able to charge wirelessly on the back of the new Galaxy S10.

Price and availability

Perhaps one of the most impressive Galaxy Watch Active features is the $200 price tag. That's about $100 cheaper than the Gear Sport and Galaxy Watch were at launch, neither of which monitored blood pressure. The cheapest Apple Watch (the Series 3 from 2017) retails for about $279 in the Apple store.

The Galaxy Watch Active will be available for preorder starting Feb. 21 and will ship March 8. If you preorder the Watch you'll receive a free wireless charging pad with your purchase.

The Galaxy Fit is $99, but it won't be available until this spring.