Samsung has been making quality smartwatches for a while now. Smartwatches have turned more into health monitoring devices than just accessories. And Samsung has gone with the flow in the right direction. The new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is a toned down version of the Samsung Galaxy Watch that released last year. It has been launched in India at a price of Rs 19,990, while the Galaxy Watch was priced at Rs 24,990. This only lacks in bulk and a few features compared to the Galaxy Watch. I have been using the device for a while now and here’s my Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review.

Design of Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active clearly takes after the Galaxy Watch in terms of the design. But while the older variant came with options for a 42mm and a 46mm display option, the Galaxy Watch Active only has a 40mm option. The rotating dial is also missing on this variant. In essence the new variant has a sleek and simpler look compared to the older one.

It has thick bezels on the edges, and comes with two buttons on the right panel. These two buttons are the ‘Back’ and ‘Menu’ buttons, which along with the touch display is used for interfacing. The straps are made of rubber and easily detachable. The rear of the smartwatch houses the sensors. The watch itself is neither too big, nor too small and works out well for both thick and thin wristed people.

The display of the device is crisp and easily visible in direct sunlight. The AMOLED display is of the same quality as a typical Samsung device. What really complements this display is the Tizen OS which is of Samsung’s own make. Tizen has always been a rather effective OS for wearables and TVs, and Samsung has improved on it as well. The colors on the display are bright and vibrant, which means that the colorful watchfaces really stand out. The Gorilla Glass 3 gives it effective protection against accidental bumps, bruises and scratches.

The interface of the smartwatch is similar to the previous Samsung smartwatches, hence easy for previous users. But it is simple enough for first time users to get a grip quickly. The tutorial makes things pretty easy and explains everything rather well.

Performance and Features

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active turns out to be a better than average performer in almost all aspects. It has essentially been designed around the fitness and activity features. It can track a lot of different activities, which include those in a gym as well. The watch is swim-proof, which is definitely a big positive for a fitness oriented smartwatch.

Fitness features

What I notice when using these modes, be it on a cross-trainer, a treadmill or an exercise bike is that it keeps a track of the biometrics of the body, namely the heart-rate to make an estimate of the calories burnt. This is similar in the swim mode as well, with the added advantage that the screen becomes unresponsive to avoid accidental touches in the water. The calorie numbers might differ from those of the machine you are using which would be because of the metrics used.

As for the heart-rate monitor, it comes with two modes one where it constantly monitors while the other does it at intervals. The former consumes more battery while the latter is the efficient option. The accuracy of the heart-rate monitor is similar to other smartwatches where it appears slightly more than what it really is. What really makes this watch stand out is that it comes built in with GPS which helps track steps even when disconnected from the smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active also comes with a barometer that can check altitudes. This means that it can also check steps and how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed.

All these can be synced to the Samsung Health app which tracks everything, including hikes. It measures distances and the altitude to form a complete idea. I am not used to wearing a watch when I sleep, but I did wear this for a couple of nights. It gives a complete breakdown of how it perceived the sleep cycles and how efficiently you slept.

Beyond fitness

With all this being said, the Galaxy Watch Active can be used for much more than just a fitness device. It efficiently shows all the notifications and even has options for quick replies. And for those times when quick replies are not enough, it comes with a T9 keyboard for custom replies. You can receive and monitor calls from the smartwatch. It has options for voice commands as well, but those actions seem to take a while to work.

In terms of watchfaces, there are numerous available, it would not be inaccurate to say that users will be spoilt for choice. Most of these watchfaces can be customized to the likes of the user. It even has the option to pair with Bluetooth headphones to play music using the Wi-Fi.

Battery life

The prime question at the end of the day for a smartwatch is how long does it last in one charge. And the Galaxy Watch Active neither impresses, nor disappoints in this respect. When I didn’t work out, the device lasted for two days straight. But with one workout session each day (total two workout sessions) and regular use, it lasted about one-and-half days, before needing juice. This time drops further if it includes a 45 min swimming session instead of the cardio in the workout. But this itself is well enough considering that it is smaller than the other smartwatches that boast longer battery life.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Review: Should you buy it?

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is definitely one of the better smartwatches out there right now. It has impressive design which is rather easy to carry. It is comfortable to wear isn’t obstructing at all. The bands can be switched out for other ones rather easily changing the look. In terms of performance the device is responsive and mostly accurate in its readings. It’s features add up to give a helpful idea about the workout routine and calories burnt during the day. It’s easy to keep tab on the notifications on the smartphone without actually having to take it out. And with the more than average battery life and justified pricing it is a recommended buy.

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