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Early this year, we took a look at the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active (review) that was announced along with the Galaxy S10 series of flagship smartphones. Now, we have the Galaxy Watch Active 2 which was announced alongside the Galaxy Note10 series of smartphones.

The new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, which is a mouthful of a name for a smartwatch, comes with a few upgrades, too. While these upgrades might seem small… they make a huge impact on the user experience.

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There are two different sizes and has two different variants – either in 44mm or 40mm, and either in aluminium or stainless steel. We have the 40mm version in stainless steel which means we can compare it with the original Galaxy Watch Active.

Unboxing

This time around, the box is somewhat a lot larger than before. The packaging layout is revamped and honestly, I deem this new packaging to be educational as the wrist band is placed separately and requires us, the customer, to install the wrist band ourselves. That lets us know that the wrist band is removable.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

This time, Samsung included a leather strap. That is only for the stainless steel version, so keep that in mind.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Digging out all of the contents from within the box, we can see that it’s pretty much identical to the original Galaxy Watch Active, minus the extra wrist strap of different sizes. Perhaps Samsung punched more holes onto the strap to cater to both larger and smaller wrists with just one strap. That’s a logical thing to do, honestly.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Similar, yet different

The new Galaxy Watch Active 2 looks almost identical to the original Galaxy Watch Active. The new Galaxy Watch Active 2 has a bigger back button and also a thicker body to house that new heartrate sensor with 8 photodiodes.

Review - Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Upgrades that matter 1

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 still uses a 20mm watch strap, which means all the straps that we have are compatible – if the buckle is is compatible too, that is.

One biggest difference here is the display itself. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 now comes with a 1.2-inch display Super AMOLED display. The quality, brightness, colors and everything else still looks the same as its predecessor, just 0.1-inch larger in diameter.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

On the left side of the Galaxy Watch Active 2, we have a speaker! Yes, that means we can now have conversations with the watch! I tried taking a call with the watch and hey – the sound is pretty alright in terms of quality. Most importantly, you can now even have custom notification sounds and volumes for the watch!

For me, I found out how to install Google Assistant on the Galaxy Watch Active 2 by using GAssist because our studio is integrated with Google Home. GAssist actually talks back through the watch – which means I can ask the watch what weather is it and the watch will tell me by voice.

Review - Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Upgrades that matter 2
Anyone wants to watch YouTube on a smartwatch?

For some reason… you can also watch YouTube videos on the Galaxy Watch Active 2 and watch videos on it. Not sure why you’ll want to do that, but you can.

Perhaps a more logical use of it is to install Spotify. Like its predecessor, it has built-in storage to save music offline, and you can pair your Bluetooth headphone/earphone to the Galaxy Watch Active 2 to listen to music. That means you don’t need to bring your smartphone around for music.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Only works with Spotify Premium.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 also combines the elegance of this sleek design with the functionality of the rugged wristwatches with a bezel. One complaint that I’ve seen about the original Galaxy Watch Active is the lack of a bezel like the Galaxy Watch, so Samsung included a software-based rotating bezel on the Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Honestly, this is a big quality of life improvement as I placed many seldom-used apps at the far end of the list. With the rotating bezel, I don’t have to spam swipes to navigate between the apps. Just trace my finger on the edge of the bezel and navigate!

Battery life

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 now has a 247mAh battery – which is larger than its predecessors but doesn’t offer any significant improvements in its battery life because of its larger display. Locking in at level 5 brightness, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 lasts for about 2 and a half days – which is more or less the same as its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

The charger is still the same as the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is still compatible with any Qi wireless chargers in the market – but only if it has a compatible small coil size. In my opinion, this means I need to bring a dedicated charger – either the included charger or a Samsung wireless charging power bank – is just tedious. Wireless PowerShare on the Galaxy S10 series and Galaxy Note10 series of smartphones work, but that means I can’t use my phone while the watch is charging. And I will have to align the watch correctly to charge.

Wrapping up the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review

So, is the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 superior to its predecessor? Pretty much, yes. Comparing both these smartwatches, there is no argument that the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is an upgrade all around. It’s an easy recommendation from us.

As for the price of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, it’s a little complicated. It depends on what size and which variant you’re looking for, which creates a list of different versions available.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
40mm 44mm
Aluminium RM1,099
(Under Armor Edition)
RM1,099
RM1,199
(Under Armor Edition)
Stainless steel RM1,299 RM1,399

The one that we have for review here is with the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 with 40mm size, stainless steel. For the price of RM1,299, it’s pretty steep. Moreover, the price overlaps between the 40mm and 44mm versions complicate our decision even more. The 44mm version has a larger battery and an even larger display and uses a larger strap size. That’s pretty much it.

However, we should also point out that the Galaxy Watch and the original Galaxy Watch Active is still available in the market, as shown in Samsung Malaysia’s website.

Review - Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Upgrades that matter 3

So, ultimately, it depends on what type of watch you’re looking for. Do you want a rugged look? Then the Galaxy Watch is the one to buy. Seeking for elegance with a larger display? Then the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is for you. But if you want an affordable and elegant smartwatch, then be on the lookout for the Galaxy Watch Active during sales as they were available for RM499 on 9.9 and 10.10 sales. Perhaps once more on the 12.12 sale?

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