Galaxy Watch Active is a lighter, cheaper take on the original
Samsung's new Galaxy Watch is a lighter, sportier, and cheaper version of last year's Galaxy Watch.
With a few key differences.
The most obvious one.
There is no rotating bezel on this watch.
A feature that had become almost symbolic of Samsung's smart watches.
Watches, instead it has a circular touchscreen with a thin metallic frame that only comes in one size and four colors.
So I'm kinda torn about the design of this watch because on the one hand, I love how much slimmer and how much lighter if feels on the wrist than previous Galaxy watches.
But on the other hand, I really do miss that rotating bezel, I loved that feature on the previous Galaxy watch and previous year watches before.
And both in terms of the functionality, and in terms of the look.
And I will say that actually navigating through the watch wasn't all that different.
I was already used to doing a lot of the same gestures.
It does keep that same circular watch-based design.
So it's very familiar if you've ever Had a Galaxy watch or Gear watch.
But just scrolling, when you have a lot of options, the scrolling feature of the watch bezel is something I did miss on this watch.
I will say though, it was so much nicer when working out and when wearing it to bed.
The previous Galaxy watch, I just refused to wear it to sleep because it was so thick that it would kind of wake me up at night, it was [UNKNOWN] for working out, this one, I forget it's on my wrist.
The Galaxy Watch Active comes loaded with a lot of the same health and fitness features as its older siblings.
It has built-in GPS to track distance, it can track altitude and it's water resistant up to 50 meter so you can track swim Its optical heart rate sensor help calculate calories burned during activity, analyze your sleep, and keep track of stress levels just like the Galaxy watch.
To me the biggest fitness feature is one that we already talked about, it's the design.
So other than that, the user experience is very similar to the previous Galaxy watch.
Save for some minor tweaks of how that information is displayed, you still get that wide range of activities to choose from when you're working out.
You get that automatic workout detection which to me was great for my walks to work because I didn't have to set anything on the watch.
For my runs I was totally comfortable just leaving my phone behind and taking it out for a run and then I came back later and saw my route, and I did like The breakdown of the heart rate zones.
I thought that was a great way to display your heart rate information in to a useful manner.
Having all that health information at your fingertips is great.
But finding that health information is not that easy on the health app at least.
So your daily stats are easy enough, they're right there.
But going back in time to find a workout for example, find your sleep From a different day to me it felt like navigating a maze.
It was not intuitive.
Now the other feature that I didn't use that much was the stress tracking.
It's just not second nature for me to go in and test out my stress levels.
And maybe if I wore this long enough it would change my habits.
And I would actually go through those guided meditations.
But it's not something that in the last two days I've done a lot of.
So don't take my [LAUGH] word for that one.
What I did end up using was the sleep tracking and this is one thing that I didn't use to do.
The one reason then why I started tracking my sleep with the Galaxy Watch Active is just because it's so much more comfortable than other trackers before it, specially other Samsung trackers.
So it wasn't Interrupting my sleep in anyway and I didn't mind using it in bed and it was kind of nice to see a breakdown of how much time I spend in bed versus how much actual sleep I was getting.
That was pretty interesting.
Now, all these things though, these are things you could already do in the Galaxy Watch so it's nothing new it's just Just highlighting what this watch can do as well.
The game changing feature here might be the blood pressure monitoring.
Which unfortunately we weren't able to test right now, so we'll have to get back to you on that.
And even when it does launch, it's gonna be in beta, so So please be mindful that you're not getting a blood pressure monitor out of the box.
The Galaxy Watch Active runs on Samsung's own Tizen operating system, just like the rest, and it's compatible with any Android or iOS device, although you do lose some of the features if you're using an iPhone.
I've been using the Galaxy Watch Active with a Galaxy S9.
So I have no complaints in terms of the experience.
It's all been pretty smooth.
I like the level of customization that you get on the watch.
I can rearrange my widgets to see the ones that I use the most.
I can rearrange apps.
Sure it It doesn't have a lot of third party apps but it has the ones that I need so like Strava and Spotify and even some of the third party apps that aren't on the watch do have notifications support so I can still see my Instagram notifications Twitter Gmail, WhatsApp is a big one for me because I can respond right from the watch even though I can't start a new message.
I can still dictate a reply or text, but you do have to rely on the haptic vibrations to receive the notifications because there is no speaker.
The watch active has a smaller battery than both versions of the previous Galaxy watches, but it also has the ability to charge wirelessly on a Galaxy S10 phone.
The watch has Wi-Fi only so it depends on the phone for connectivity and uses NFC for Samsung pay.
I got a little over 36 hours of use out of this watch and I didn't take it off the entire 36 hours.
So that means I track my sleep with it.
I truck to workouts with it one using the GPS because I was out for a run.
And I just got a ton of notifications in the mean time so all in all I was not disappointed with the battery life especially because it's roughly the same time that I got with the previous Galaxy watch at least the smaller version.
Obviously if your coming from the larger Galaxy watch version then it will seem like a decrease In battery life, but it still gets more than something like the Apple Watch.
What I did miss, and I said this on my previous Galaxy Watch video is that MST chip that allows Samsung Pay to work with pretty much any magnetic credit card terminal.
It's just one of my favorite features of the Galaxy phones that I wish was on the watch.
Just NFC, sorry.
But one of the best things about this watch is not necessarily a feature, it's the price.
At $200 it's one of the cheapest on my watch options in the market.
It's roughly the same price as a Fitbit Versa and you get more functionality out of the watch.
And it's almost half the price of an Apple Watch series 4.
So if you're new to the smartwatch world, this is a great way to test out the waters without a huge investment.
And obviously, if you have a Samsung device it's kind of a no-brainer.
You can check out my full review now on CNET.com or come back to check out more of our comparisons of the Galaxy Watch Active.