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Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Review: Almost Perfect Full-Fledged Smartwatch
Samsung recently expanded the company's wearable line-up in the Indian market with the launch of three new products- Galaxy Watch Active, Galaxy Fit and Fit e. The latter is the company's most affordable wearable for the Indian masses and essentially targets Xiaomi Mi band, Honor Band 4 and other budget fitness trackers.
- Lightweight And Comfortable Fit
- Vibrant And Touch-Responsive AMOLED Display
- Holistic Health-Centric Features
- Durable Design
- Battery Life Could Have Been Better
- Slightly Difficult To Navigate UI Due To Smaller Display
- Bixby Voice Functions Are Inconsistent
Galaxy Fit is for consumers who want to experience smartwatch features in a band form-factor at a decent price-point. The most expensive and ambitious of the three is theSamsung Galaxy Watch Active. It is a full-fledged smartwatch in a compact form-factor with a holistic approach towards promoting fitness among health enthusiasts. It is decently priced at Rs. 19,990 and is currently my daily driver. Let's find out more about Samsung's latest galaxy Watch Active in the following review.
Galaxy Watch Active Specifications
- Color Silver, Black, Rose Gold, Sea Green
- Weight 40mm, 39.5 x 39.5 x 10.5mm, 25g
- Display 1.1" (28mm) 360 x 360 AMOLED, Full Color Always On Display
- Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- 20mm interchangeable strap
- 230mAh Battery Cell
- AP Exynos 9110 Dual-core 1.15 GHz CPU
- Tizen-based Wearable OS 4.0 OS
- 768MB RAM + 4GB Internal Memory
- Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n, NFC, A-GPS/Glonass
- Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Barometer, Heart Rate Monitoring,
- Ambient Light, Charge WPC-based wireless charging
- 5ATM + IP68 / MIL-STD-810G
- Compatible with Android 5.0 or above with more than 1.5GB RAM and iPhone 5 and above, iOS 9.0 or above
Minimalist Design, No Rotating Bezel
If you have ever used a Galaxy smartwatch before, you will instantly notice the absence of signature rotating bezel on the circular dial. This might disappoint some users as the rotating dial created a unique design prospect for Galaxy's premium wearables. The rotating dial also offered a very crisp and precise control over the watch's navigation controls. Minus the bezel, you get a more streamlined and generic smartwatch face that still leaves an impression. For controls, you can swipe up/down, left/right and use the two physical buttons placed at the right side of the circular dial.
Premium, Lightweight And Durable
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active feels amazingly lightweight on the wrist even though it's entirely made out of metal. It is probably the lightest smartwatch I have worn till date; making it absolutely bliss to wear throughout a day and even while you sleep. With a minimalist circular dial carrying a beautiful AMOLED panel, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active looks and feels quite premium. The company has also managed to give the smartwatch a very sporty feel by pairing the black color dial with matte black silicone bands. Resultant, you can wear the new Galaxy Watch Active almost everywhere.
It works wonderfully as a regular everyday watch in office and also serves as a perfect fitness tracker in the gym or during a swimming session as the smartwatch is MIL-STD-810G certified and also gets a 5ATM + IP68 water-dust protection. The dial on Galaxy Watch Active is protected by a slightly curved Corning Gorilla Glass 3 coating that adds the required durability; however, I would have preferred a newer generation Corning glass for better protection. The silicone bands are very comfortable to wear even when you are sweating. As the silicone bands use 20mm straps, they can be swapped for bands of four different color choices, which include- Black, Green, Gold and Silver.
Excellent Vibrant AMOLED Touch Screen
This goes without saying that Samsung produces the best OLEDs in the market. The new Galaxy Watch Active is complemented with a gorgeous AMOLED display that produces vivid colors on a 1.1-inch (28mm) circular dial. With a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels, the colored AMOLED screen makes text and icons look absolute crisp and vivid. The colorful watch faces just look brilliant on the screen. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active also gets the company's well-known feature- ‘Always On Display' which when enabled shows the set watch face all the time with a dim light. It is worth mentioning that the feature increases the battery drain to a good extent.
Display Could Have Been Slightly Bigger
I only wish Samsung could have reduced the size of surrounding bezels. The circular ring around the AMOLED screen is considerably thicker and makes the actual display look quite smaller. Having said that, navigating throughout the Tizen UI on this tiny screen for users with bigger fingers can be slightly difficult when the watch also ditches the rotating bezel. In its absence, you can only use swipes and two physical buttons placed on the right side of the watch. I also tried communicating with Watch Active via Samsung's Bixby smart assistant. The results were not always consistent. Samsung's smart assistant takes too much time to show responses and often fails to recognize the voice. Bixby responded with date and time to almost every voice command I threw at it.
Setup And Features
It's fairly easy to setup the new Galaxy Watch Active. You just need to install the Galaxy Wearable application on your device to get started with the setup. For a detailed data representation of your health statistics, you need to install the Samsung Health application. Running on Tizen-based Wearable OS 4.0 OS, the smartwatch comes equipped with four sensors that help in tracking health vitals and other useful data. These include- Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Barometer and Heart Rate monitor that can also measure your stress levels. Let's find out how these sensors perform in real-life in the below section.
Performance- Trackers, Heart-rate Sensor and More
A technology product fails to deliver a seamless user-experience if it asks for too many efforts. Especially in the case of wearables which are essentially designed to work very close to your body. Using Galaxy Watch Active is quite an effortless experience. It works wonderfully as an everyday smartwatch to keep a check on sleep pattern, steps taken, calories burnt, and all other basic wearable tasks. With 768MB RAM + 4GB Internal memory, the Watch Active offers a lag-free user-experience.
Samsung Health For Detailed Health Statistics
I mostly used it to monitor vital health statistics during swimming and running activities. During swim sessions, the smartwatch shows the number of lengths covered, distance, real-time heart rate, and time taken to complete a session. Once you finish the activity, you can check some more data, like calories burnt during the intense workout. You can get a detailed analysis of the workouts on the phone within Samsung Health application.
Supports Over 90+ Physical Activities
You can choose over 90+ activities and the watch active will show the data based on the activity type. The Galaxy Watch Active's holistic activity list includes Walking, Running, Cycling, Hiking, Swimming, Lunges, Burpees, Yoga, Pilates, Stretching, amongst many others. For a detailed report, install the Samsung Health app, which also offers a variety of health-centric programmes, articles, and information related to your physical activities in last one month.
Monitors Stress, Blood Pressure And Activates Breathing Sessions
Interestingly, the Galaxy Watch Active can also monitor stress. As soon as the smartwatch notices sudden discrepancies in your heart rate, it asks you to monitor your stress and follow a quick breathing exercise. The short breathing exercises are essentially designed to calm you down during stressful situations. The latest addition to Galaxy smartwatch's ecosystem is the Blood Pressure Monitoring. With the blood pressure tracking on your wrist, Galaxy Watch Active can serve as a BP monitoring tool for health-conscious users. The feature requires My BP Lab, which as per Samsung is jointly developed with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Samsung also states that the app is currently collecting and analyzing the data for more accurate tracking results.
Battery Life And Compatibility
Due to smaller dial and compact form factor, Samsung is only able to squeeze in a 230mAh battery unit inside the Galaxy Watch Active. When used in its full potential, i.e. in the connected state with phone and with Always-on display mode enabled, the Galaxy Watch Active lasted for a little less than two days. It's a decent score and with some features turned off, the smartwatch can last for two days full on a single charge. If you are looking for a smartwatch that lasts more than two or three days, go for the bigger Galaxy Watch. It can last more than 5 days on one full charge. Galaxy Watch Active is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. It also supports popular third-party apps such as Under Armour, Spotify and Strava.
Galaxy Watch Active is a beautifully crafted compact full-fledged sports-centric smartwatch that gets most of the things right. It looks premium, feels very light on the wrist and is very durable. The AMOLED display feels slightly smaller in size but it is quite vivid and offers a fluid touch response. The silicone bands are very comfortable to wear even when you are sweating during a workout or while taking a dip in the pool.
The stress management and Blood Pressure monitoring tools are good additions and can come quite handy in keeping a close check on health vitals. Besides, Samsung's ecosystem is quite extensive and offers 90+ activity trackers for a holistic health-monitoring approach.
As far as battery life is concerned, the Galaxy Watch Active can last for up to two days based on your usage type. Samsung's Bixby smart assistant is still a work in progress for wearable form-factor so don't expect much from it. The company is selling Galaxy Watch Active in four unique finishes - Black, Silver, Rose Gold and Deep Green. Priced decently for the features on offer, the Galaxy Watch Active is available at Rs. 19,990 across all retail stores, Amazon.in and Samsung e-Shop.