Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Review: The Classy One

The Smartwatch market has long been dominated by fitness trackers and the Apple Watch. Google Wear OS smartwatches have been lackluster, despite commitments to improving the platform. Plagued with short battery life and performance hiccups, there is no viable Wear OS watch on the market today that I would wholeheartedly recommend. If you are willing to try out Samsung’s Tizen OS, then it is a different story. This is where the new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active comes in.

The Basics

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active includes all the usual hardware we see in smartwatches these days:

  • Case Dimension: 39.5 x 39.5mm
  • Weight: 25g (Without Strap)
  • Display: 1.1″ (28.1mm) Circular Super AMOLED (360 x 360)
  • Straps: 20mm
  • OS: Tizen OS 4.0
  • Memory: 0.75GB + 4GB
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n, NFC, GPS/Glonass/Beidou/Galileo
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, HR Sensor, Light Sensor
  • Duribility: 5ATM + IP68 / MIL-STD-810G
  • Charge: Wireless Charging

For more information, visit the official Galaxy Active page

What I enjoyed

I love the design

The minimalistic design of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active makes the watch classy enough to dress up or down. Personally, I find the design to be less rugged looking compared to the Galaxy watch.

Performance is smooth

The performance on the Galaxy Watch Active is a joy compared to the various Snapdragon Wear 2100 watches I have used. The screen is responsive and rarely ever lags.

Screen is gorgeous

It is hard to express how gorgeous the Galaxy watch active’s screen is until you see it in person. The screen is sharp and vibrant. The default “Breathe” watch face is a great showcase of the beauty of Samsung’s
AMOLED screen and just how far they have come in terms of screen quality.

UX is more intuitive than Wear OS

Samsung Health App

Samsung has designed a UI that works surprisingly well on a smartwatch. The left screens of the watch face are where your notifications live. You can swipe to the left to see each one and tap into each one to view more details as well as more actions. Swiping up on the notifications dismisses them. Which notifications show up on the watch is configurable from the wear app, allow for you to only prioritize what is important to you.

The right screens of the watch face are where widgets live. You can choose which widgets to have and what order they appear in. Widgets by default include things like a weather widget, events, and the Spotify quick controls.

Samsung Health App is designed well

The Samsung Health app has a lot going for it. Not only does it track steps and heart rate, but you also have the option of manually track your coffee and water intake. Calorie tracking is also an option for those who are looking to lose or gain weight.

Another nice integration is being able to add workout plans from a catalog of different workout routines to the application itself. Are you looking to tone your body? Its got a routine for that. Are you looking to work on getting abs? There also a routine for that. Samsung created a great app that provides you with an overall picture of your health.

Only Smartwatch that doesn’t tie your health info to your account

One of the great things about the Samsung Health app is that it doesn’t require you to login in order to use it. Many fitness applications like Google Fit and Xiaomi’s Mi Fit app all require the user to have an account with them. This ties all the health data that you provide (height, weight…etc) and is tracked (steps, location…etc) to that account. This puts you at a greater risk of that data being tied to your real name and information if the data is ever leaked or hacked. Samsung definitely gets a point for privacy here.

What I found frustrating

Lack of App support

Due to this being Tizen OS, the app support is lacking compared to the already subpar Wear OS app store. There have been little to no apps I have seen that are worthy of being installed. I would have liked to see some more third-party app support.

Required Permissions

Now I get how permissions like “access to the file folder” might be required to run the app. However, Samsung’s wearable app operates on an all or none model. If you do not allow all the permissions it wants (location, file access, contact info, call history), the app will crash and refuse to run. I wish Samsung would allow me to later turn off certain permission if I don’t intend on using certain features. The all or none model is a privacy concern for me.

What I have mixed feelings about

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Lack of Google Pay, But Samsung Pay is present

This was a bummer for me since I had been exclusively using Google Pay. Having to sign up for Samsung Pay just meant I had to give another company my credit card info. Samsung Pay does work just as well as Google Pay, despite the hassle of having to sign up for another mobile payment service.

Battery Life

After using various Wear OS watches, battery life is refreshingly long. It will get me through a heavy day and sleeping with the smartwatch as well. This is certainly better than the 7-8 hours of battery life I was getting on comparison Wear OS watches. However, I still would have liked to see the battery life extend to a few days especially since previous Samsung watches were able to do this.

Would I recommend them?

If you are in the market for a smartwatch, this is the smartwatch I would recommend. It is small, classy and well designed. The lack of apps might be a bummer for some, but it does the basics well. Given the $199 MSRP price, its not a bad value for those who want a smartwatch

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