Samsung is one of the few companies that is constantly launching new wearables in India. The latest smartwatch on the market is the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. This model is set at Rs. 19,990 and is aimed at people who want to pursue their active lifestyle. The Galaxy Watch Active has, among other things, tracking functions for heart rate, training, sleep and stress. So should you invest in this smartwatch? We conducted intensive tests to find out.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Design
The Galaxy Watch Active has a minimalist design. It has a 1.1-inch AMOLED display that sits on a metal case. The resolution of the AMOLED panel is 360 x 360 pixels and it is vivid and bright enough to be visible outdoors. The watch has an automatic brightness setting that changes the screen brightness depending on the ambient light conditions.
Corning Gorilla Glass 3 is available to keep scratches off the display. The Galaxy Watch Active has two buttons on the right side, while the left one is empty. These buttons do not protrude too much, but offer good click feedback.
The Galaxy Watch Active is equipped with a heart rate sensor on the back. This smartwatch comes with a charger that has a charging cradle on one end and a USB Type A on the other. There are four case colors to choose from: silver, black, green and rose gold as well as eight bracelet colors: orange, light blue, white, yellow, light pink, green, black and light gray. We had the black-on-black option for this review.
The case tabs extend slightly and should be able to accommodate a 20mm strap. Samsung supplies two silicone bands with different lengths in the box so you can choose the one that best suits your wrist size. We chose the longer version and it was easy to put it on and take it off. The bracelet quality is quite good and it feels like the Sport Band on the Apple Watch. It has a traditional watch clasp that is convenient to use.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active specifications, software and features
Samsung selected the Exynos 9110 SoC to power the Galaxy Watch Active. There are 768 MB RAM and 4 GB memory on board. It works with Samsung's own Tizen-based Wearable OS 4.0, not with Google's Wear OS. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is certified to IP68 and MIL-STD-810G with a water resistance of 5ATM. If you refresh yourself in a pool, this should be perfectly fine. In fact, if you plan to take it for a swim, it will be able to track this activity as well.
This smartwatch has a 230 mAh battery that lasts 45 hours on a single charge, according to Samsung. It also supports Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11b / g / n, NFC and GPS. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active can connect directly to a Bluetooth headset, so you don't have to take your smartphone with you for runs.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active also works with an iPhone and Android, but we only tested it with a Google Pixel 3 (review) for the duration of this test. The Galaxy Watch Active needs a companion app called Galaxy Wear to work. The app downloads an additional plug-in for Watch Active so that the phone remains connected to the watch at all times. The separate Samsung Galaxy Health app is required to check the sleep details on the smartphone. We found that the Galaxy Watch Active can be easily paired with a smartphone and the connection was not interrupted even when we were using it.
Some watch faces are pre-installed and you can customize them or download more from the Galaxy Store if you want. The watch also has many tracking functions. It is able to track walks, runs, hikes, biking, swimming and more. It can also track certain exercises like arm curls, deadlifts, jumping jacks, yoga, and more. There is also a continuous heart rate monitor that logs your heart rate throughout the day.
With Galaxy Watch Active, you can track water and coffee consumption and be asked to move when you have been inactive for a long time. It also has a wake-up feature that worked well every time. The screen goes out immediately when you lower your hand to save power.
Samsung mentions that the Galaxy Watch Active is able to track blood pressure using another app called My BP. We tried to use this, but it turned out to be a research data collection app and it wasn't easy to exit the setup screen. As a result, we were unable to monitor blood pressure on our Galaxy Watch Active, although this is one of the device's purported selling points.
Samsung Galaxy Watch active performance
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active has a razor-sharp AMOLED display that gets bright enough outdoors. The brightness of the watch depends on the ambient light conditions. The two buttons on the device provide good feedback. The top button is only used to return to the user interface, while the second button opens the app list. The touch sensitivity of the display is quite good and we could easily scroll through the menu and start apps.
When you swipe down on the dial, quick changes appear to quickly change various settings. There is a water lock mode that disables the touchscreen and is used for swimming. We used this mode when riding a motorcycle in the rain because our riding gloves kept hitting the side buttons and the water caused the screen to register inputs.
We have been using the watch for almost two weeks and it was good to be alerted to incoming notifications. We could customize the apps that would notify us on the watch. You can also respond to incoming notifications with the Galaxy Watch Active. You can use speech, emojis, handwriting recognition or a number pad on the predictive text screen to reply to messages.
The use of language requires the use of Samsung's Bixby technology and we have found that it is slightly slower compared to Wear OS. Predictive text input enables you to enter text as you would on the keypad of a function phone, but you cannot expect long messages to be comfortably written on it.
We went for a walk on a track we knew was exactly 1 km long and the clock reported 1.06 km, which is an acceptable deviation. The clock is quickly set to GPS signals and we were able to see the path we had taken on a map after the walk was completed. We also tested step counting accuracy by manually counting 1,000 steps while walking, and found that the Galaxy Watch Active recorded 973 steps. This is less accurate than some of the other affordable fitness bands we've tested recently. The sleep data collection on the Galaxy Watch Active was accurate and resulted in a proper breakdown of sleep. The waking time, light sleep, deep sleep and REM values were displayed in the Samsung Health app.
Continuous heart rate tracking keeps track of your heart rate throughout the day at set intervals. We compared the measured values while idling and with the Galaxy Watch Active and an Apple Watch Series 1 and found that both values are identical. During training, we noticed that the Galaxy Watch Active updated heart rate values more slowly than expected.
We used the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active's exercise tracking feature to track a series of bench presses and found that it was accurate to track the reps. After a preset number of repetitions, it is recommended to take a break to continue the exercise when you are back in the exercise position for the next set. This is very helpful when tracking non-cardio workouts and is not common with other wearables.
The Galaxy Watch Active has a 230 mAh battery and offers a good battery life for a portable device. With notifications for apps like WhatsApp and activated continuous heart rate monitoring, we managed to extend the battery life by around three days. Charging the watch with the included charger is easy. The battery could be increased from zero to 34 percent in 30 minutes and to 61 percent in one hour.
Samsung has been making wearables for some time. Samsung's own Tizen-based operating system has many features, but does not offer the same support for third-party apps as Google's Wear operating system.
If you like big, chunky watches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch, you might be a little disappointed as the Galaxy Watch Active is only available in a dial size. Priced at Rs. 19,990, the Galaxy Watch Active competes after its recent price cut with the recently launched Fossil Sport and the Apple Watch Series 3 (review). Although the Galaxy Watch Active is slightly more expensive than the Fossil Sport, it is worth the premium as it offers a better display and a longer battery life. For iPhone users, the Apple Watch is hard to beat due to its extensive integration in iOS and the excellent functions.
The Galaxy Watch Active tracks fitness pretty well, but if you're an athlete and want something even better, consider options from TomTom and Garmin. The Galaxy Watch Active is a decent all-rounder and well suited for most people.