Home / Technology / Tech Reviews /  Galaxy Watch Active review: Home run for Samsung

The Galaxy Watch Active is an anomaly for Samsung, considering its ‘Active’ tag. The Galaxy S Active smartphones, for instance, were these chunky slabs of rubber that would probably break your leg if you dropped them by accident.

The Galaxy Watch Active, however, is a slick fitness smartwatch, that can do almost everything a regular Galaxy Watch can do with some useful fitness features and it looks good while doing it. And it is definitely the prettiest thing Samsung currently makes (the Galaxy Watch Active 2 hasn't been launched here yet, but we are sure it will take this honour soon).

The lug of the watch is made out matte-finished metal with curved glass wrapped on the top. It is lit by a circular Super AMOLED display with a diameter of 1.1 inch and a resolution of 360x360. It is really bright and it works really well even on the sunniest of days. It is also super vivid and saturated, so any content that you throw at it looks good. But it is rather small and for the first few days you'd feel that it's a bit awkward to use, especially if you have long arms and big fingers. It could really make do with the bezel controls present on a regular Galaxy Watch, but it is how it is. The size of the display grows on you and after a week or so.

The bottom of the watch houses the heart rate sensor and the wireless charging contact pads. It comes with an additional strap for those with larger wrists. The watch is extremely comfortable to wear and isn't very heavy either.

The Galaxy Watch Active is powered by Samsung's in-house Exynos 9110 chipset clocked at 1.15GHz. It is paired with a gigabyte of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. The hardware is more than sufficient to keep the smartwatch snappy. It stutters very rarely and juggling between apps is a breeze. It's seriously quick, to a point where it can even tackle casual gaming without any problems. I played 2048 on multiple occasions to kill time while my phone was charging. However, keeping the screen for so long will significantly reduce the fun-time you get out of the Watch Active.

It is backed by a 230mAh battery, that typically lasts a day if you're using it without turning on any sort of battery saving features. The power saving mode turns off the WiFi, turns on the grayscale mode, reduces the brightness of the display and increases the battery life by almost 12-14 hours. If you're being a pig and gaming on it with no power savings, expect half a day of use. It comes with Samsung's proprietary wireless charger, but you can also any Qi-certified charger. Or you can put it at the back of your Samsung Galaxy S10 while going to bed.

The Galaxy Watch Active runs Samsung's Tizen-based wearable OS 4.0. It has the One UI theme, so it feels very much in the element for Samsung users, but it does have its own issues. For instance, accessing the health features (something that you would be using regularly given the nature of the watch) requires at least two swipes and a few taps. There were times when I really ached for a few more buttons that I could customise according to my own needs. Yes, some watch faces do allow you set shortcuts for things like checking how many steps you walked or how much you've slept, but the faces aren't exactly aesthetically pleasing.

The Galaxy Store is perhaps one of the largest app stores for wearables, but the sheer bulk of content doesn't necessarily equate into quality. I found a few apps like Maps, Spotify and UnderArmour Record pretty helpful, but I found many apps to be poorly executed.

In terms of number of health and fitness features, the Watch Active is almost at par with Fitbit Versa. These include activity tracking, heart rate monitor, sleep tracking and workout tracker. It will even track your stress for you, but I’m not sure about the accuracy of that. The workout tracker is summoned automatically once the watch detects you’re repeating an activity, and it pauses or stops depending on how long you’ve been inactive.

The watch can also be your own personal trainer, as it shows animations of how a certain workout activity has to be performed and it wouldn't count an incorrectly done rep.

The watch is extremely enthusiastic for your fitness, and while it comes off as a bit too ‘excited’ at times, it is incredibly effective at reminding you that “Hey, you’re being lazy. Get up and move around a bit".

It rewards you with badges depending on how active you are during the day and even assists you with a torso stretch if you’re sitting for too long.

Believe me or not, Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistance, is also actually useful. It could comprehend almost everything I asked it to do and it performed the tasks fairly quickly.

But even though the watch has a microphone, it doesn’t have a speaker. So even though you can pick up or decline calls through the watch display, you can’t talk through it. Another quirk is that you have to reset it every time you wish to connect it with a new smartphone. You do recover all of your data that is saved on the cloud, but it costs you 15 minutes or so every time you have to do that.

To conclude, the Galaxy Watch Active strikes the perfect balance between style, comfort and performance. It has its own quirks, none of which break the deal. The price tag of 19,990 puts it against the Garmin Forerunner 235 and the Fitbit Versa, but you should surely consider this if you own a Samsung smartphone.

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