Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Review: Best Smartwatch for Android

August 21, 2020

Samsung's Galaxy Watch line has been the best smartwatch you can get for Android. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is no different. Although it is only a modest upgrade from the original Active, it is still a great device. Is it worth your money and the upgrade? Let us find out.

Disclaimer: Products in this review were NOT provided by Samsung. Items were bought by MindfulGadgets and no compensation was provided by any party for this review. We do not accept any copy approval.

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Diagram

  • 🧠 Exynos 9110
  • 📺 1.2 inch Circular AMOLED 360 x 360
  • 🗃 1.5GB RAM + 4GB Storage
  • 🎁 Always on display, Tizen OS, ECG
  • ⚖ 37g
  • 📐 40mm
  • 🔋 247mAh
  • 🎨 Black, Silver, Gold
  • 💸 $250+
  • 📅 2019.09.06

The larger screen makes a difference

The Active 2 sports a 1.2 inch circular AMOLED screen, a slight 0.1-inch bump from its predecessor. I had thought that a 0.1-inch increase in display size would make little difference. But after comparing the original Active and Active 2, the difference in display is very noticeable. The reduced bezel on the watch makes it look more modern and you have more real estate for notifications and messages.

Speaker is a nice addition

Unlike the original Active, the Active 2 now includes a speaker. It gives you the ability to make calls and have an audible alarm. If you have the LTE model, you can also make calls without being tethered to a phone. Samsung also added some small details to their watch faces that utilize the speaker. On some watch faces, the watch will have a ticking sound to mimic the sound of a real watch. Overall the speaker is a welcomed addition to the Active line.

Touch bezel navigation works great

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 with the live wallpaper watch face

One of the stand-out features for the Active 2 was the touch bezel that acts as a rotating bezel. This feature allows you to navigate UI by drawing circles around the bezel of the screen. It works well and has been a stand out feature for the Galaxy watch line. As of writing, the feature has since been ported to the original Active and is no longer exclusive to the Active 2. The touch bezel also works equally well on both devices.

Battery life could be better

The battery on the 40mm Active 2 is a solid one day (24hrs) with the always-on display turned on and continuous heart rate monitoring. There are some use cases where it won't last you a day though. One such instance was when I tried to use the watch to record an 8-mile hike. Starting with a nearly full battery, the watch died about 2 minutes before I reached the end of the hike. If you are an avid hiker and would like to record your progress, you are better off looking into a watch with better battery life.

Where is the ECG?

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 with the USA Scalar watch face

Back when the Active 2 was announced, one of the main selling points was the heart-monitoring electrocardiogram. It has been almost a year now and the feature is still nowhere to be found in the US. Samsung says they are still waiting for the FDA to approve its use in the US. But given that the newly released Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 already has approval, I am not sure what the hold up is for the Active 2.

Would I recommend it?

Like the first Galaxy Watch Active, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 remains the best Android smartwatch I have used. Tizen OS is still super smooth. The watch works reliably with minimal hiccups and stuttering. I still very much hold the opinion that smartwatches are nothing more than a glorified fitness band/notification device. But if you are interested in smartwatches and know you will get value out of them, this is a good one to try. I just don't think there is much reason to upgrade if you already have the original Active.