Jun 06, 2020 Reviews
Smartwatches have become increasingly important in day to day lifestyle, and that’s why they’ve gotten so popular amongst the masses. One could argue that it’s way more popular amongst Apple users, since the company is best known for how well it syncs its devices across the ecosystem it has created - and that claim would be right because Apple Watch series have always been the most popular and best selling smartwatch ever since it launched. It’s also because of how well it performs with Apple’s iOS which leads to tons of functionality without any lag whatsoever.
However, there is one direct competitor to Apple when it comes to the tech world. Not just in the smartphone market, which Samsung leads by the way, but also in smartwatches too. For over 7 years, Samsung has been making smartwatches for users worldwide - and their experience in the game shows because of the quality of smartwatches they have provided year in year out. It’s rare to hear anyone talk about a smartwatch that’s not Apple’s, but now the tables are turning and more and more people are starting to realize the capability of Samsung’s watches as well.
Their newest model being the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, (we’ll call it the Galaxy 2), has been climbing up in charts and is slowly gaining traction in the smartphone world. It’s definitely the standard for Android-compatible smartwatches, and we’ll explain why that is in our review of the Galaxy Watch 2.
The Galaxy 2 features the same circular design we’ve seen on its earlier watch models like the much loved Gear series - and we prefer it over the boxy design of Apple’s watches. As we’ve discussed in our earlier review of the Moto 360, circular designs are better generally because they allow you to not only use the app for fitness purposes, but also provide the capability of using the watch for formal wear purposes and it just looks more classy overall. We’ve barely seen any formal non-smart watch that comes without a circular design, and that’s why the Samsung Galaxy 2’s design gives us the best of both worlds.
Along with the circular display, on the edges of the watch is actually a touch enabled sensor that works as a dial. You can use this dial to navigate between apps and change the menus on your watch, or even cycle through numbers when dialling a contact on your watch. It’s just a really nifty feature which isn’t seen on other mainstream smartwatches. Talking about nifty features, the Galaxy 2 also includes water-resistance up to a more-than-decent 50 metres in water. The watch will also activate it’s waterproofing software which will prevent accidental touches because of the water, and allow the system to cope up with being underwater.
All in all, the design is superb, with the Galaxy 2 being a slick looking watch. It doesn’t only serve looks though, as it’s extremely light in comparison to other watches, coming in at only 30g without the straps - a whole 6g lighter than the Apple Series 5. Samsung has done a great job in the design department here - but does it work as well as it looks?
The Galaxy 2 doesn’t work on Android or its OS, but rather has Samsung’s own OS which the company calls Tizen. Now even though it doesn’t work on Android, it still supports its capabilities, and that’s why even on Tizen you can download several Android apps such as Strava and Spotify. Even though the watch doesn’t support Android’s Wear OS, we’re kind of glad it has its own software, because just like Apple has managed to make its hardware sync with its software seamlessly, the same can be seen here with Samsung’s own Tizen. Because the software and the hardware is made by the same manufacturer, it’s much more likely to perform smoothly and be efficient, and that’s exactly what we see with the Galaxy 2. The watch doesn’t register any sort of lag or jitter whatsoever, and our experience with the watch has been completely top-notch.
Moving on, we see a lot of features being added on the Galaxy 2, most of which are fitness related - something you’d expect on a smartwatch. Apart from the regular fitness watch features such as tracking steps, heartbeats, calories, laps and whatnot, you also get the ability to track your sleep - which isn’t really seen on much smartwatches these days, not even on the Apple watches. This is all made possible with the immense capability of Samsung Health and the list of features it provides for the smartwatch.
However, there’s a little blot on the functionality side of things and it’s about the Bixby assistant featured on the watch. We all know that Samsung’s own virtual assistant, being Bixby, isn’t the best out there and doesn’t really work that well as compared to Siri or Google Assistant. That being said, we really wish we could have an option to launch Google Assistant instead of the Bixby. You can call on Bixby using the physical button provided at the side of the watch, but we found that Bixby doesn’t really function at all times and sometimes just misses out on the commands given to it. We really hope that Samsung fixes the processing of their assistant with future updates.
With a battery lasting upto 2 days of usage with the always-on display feature, The Galaxy 2 easily is one of the best performing phones in the battery department. Samsung’s rival Moto 360 only provides 10-12 hours of battery with similar usage. If you want to juice the watch back up, it will take about 2 hours to top up completely, and you can charge it using the wireless pod it comes with. Moreover, you can also charge the watch using Samsung phones which support reverse wireless charging, or other wireless chargers as well.
Overall, we feel that the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is probably the best option you have to rival the Apple Series smartwatches. If you have an Android phone, preferably Samsung, and want the best of the best out there when it comes to smartwatches, then this one's for you!