Tirelessly, every year, Samsung advances its range of Galaxy Watch connected watches. At first glance, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 seems to be only a timid evolution of the first Active of the name, but a thorough use of the quirky reveals the sum of the small refinements brought to this model.
Will these developments be sufficient to make the Active 2 the benchmark connected watch or at least a good competitor to the Apple Watch Series 5? In response, here is the test, carried out on one of the “premium” models in the range, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 44 mm in stainless steel :
By dint of saying that the finish of Samsung products is close to that of Apple devices, the distinction ends up being meaningless: the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is quite simply one of the best finished Samsung products we have had reviewd.
It would be illusory to look for the millimeter that goes beyond the badly centered button or the tiny scratch on a corner of the dial: everything is nickel, perfectly in its place. The standard strap (in leather) is installed like on a mechanical watch (it would be better to have a little nail available) and despite my tiny wrist, the strap contains enough holes so that I don’t have to punch the test material.
Impossible to confuse stainless steel with “simple” aluminum: To experience it every day with my iPhone X, stainless steel is a material that does not flinch over time, and we can assume that it will be the same with this Galaxy Watch Active 2 which frankly looks great.
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On a strictly personal level, I also prefer the circular dials (Activ 2) to the rectangular ones, because I find that they are more “watch”, quite simply. In short, both in terms of design, choice of materials and finish, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 already catches my eye, even if the latter is still a bit overweight (44 x 44 x 10, 9 mm). But as the saying goes, “a pretty vase can contain nasty flowers” , so it’s time to take action!
My momentum is stopped dead by a small message telling me that we must first go through the recharge box. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 comes with a tiny circular charger. We might fear that the watch will come out too easily from this tiny charging base, but the latter has the good taste of being magnetic.
In less than two hours,the Active 2 is fully charged. A long press on the button located at the bottom right and bottom of the box and the light turns on. You still have to go through the Samsung app (available on iOS and Android), and a small Bluetooth sync later, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is finally ready to work!
The small 1.4-inch AMOLED screen offers impeccable definition and black rendering… very black, which is important on a connected watch whose interface mostly displays information on a dark background (or black therefore).
Let us focus immediately on one of the biggest advantages of this model, which in fact makes up for an absence: the One UI interface based on TizenOSnow incorporates an extremely practical digital rotary crown which compensates for the removal of the mechanical crown from “pre-Active” models (the latter was subject to minor problems… mechanical).
You can quickly move forward in the different menus (notifications to the left, dials, and main functions to the right) by making a small arc with the tip of your finger on the upper border of the screen.
Elegant, and above all very practical. Overall, the whole interface is attractive, firstly by its overall fluidity (just two or three lags in several days of testing, which is very little for a connected watch), but above all by its overall consistency, even if we still note some (rare) texts partly eaten by the circular edge of the slab.
The built-in functions are very numerous, and it is without counting the different apps and widgets that we can still add! Sports activity monitoring works without a hitch (tested only in Race mode, but around forty activities are listed).
The watch is waterproof to 50 meters deep, we can also do swim training and I admit I was impressed by the amount of information displayed on the Samsung Health app interface (smartphone side); we are thus entitled to the traditional triplet “training time + distance traveled + calories expended” but also at average speed, average running pace, average pace (number of strides per minute), average cardio, altitude (built-in barometer), etc. .
Note that the GPS survey of the route taken was extremely precise. This avalanche of information will be enough to disorient those who like to get straight to the point, but after all, it is better to offer too much data on this level than not enough.
Anyway, for sportsmen “on a small week” or simply for those who want to keep in shape, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has all the necessary paraphernalia, with its “heart of activity” (a little pumped out Apple Watch activity circles) summarizing the objectives of the day (at least) in terms of calories expended (300 Kcal), training time (30 minutes per day) and travel time (8 hours, which seems totally unrealistic at the time). A little “virtual Sims” will even remind you that it’s time to get moving after a period of inactivity that is a little too long!
The integrated heart rate monitor is fairly reliable … as long as the efforts are not too violent. During a regular effort or simply at rest (or in front of the computer), the Active 2 displays perfectly correct bpm, but it is enough to start running to note that sometimes, the cursor gets carried away in an almost grotesque way.
So, at least twice, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 told me a number of bpm briskly exceeding 230… while the real frequency (measured with a medical device) was around 120-130 bpm! The most stressed will even have the right to a small stress assessment tool that offers breathing exercises if necessary (with a duration of inspiration and expiration please!).
Also cool, the flashlight function (strangely hidden in a list of general parameters), the audio in Bluetooth, the sleep tracking function (with measurement of REM sleep phases), and the myriad of apps/widgets that can be downloaded. Too bad, however, that some apps require you to go through the smartphone app: so, when we open the Weather app for the very first time (from Active 2, therefore), the software asks us to enter the name of our city… on the mobile app! No glop…
The autonomy of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is about three days at full charge, knowing that the full recharge takes 2 hours (everything will of course depend on your type of use). It’s fairly average, but it will necessarily be better than the 40 mm model (battery of only 247 mAh, against 340 for the 44mm tested here). Moreover, it is never tedious to place the quack on its small induction base … or on the back of the latest Galaxy Note (the latter can serve as an induction charger).
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is almost there. If it were not an average autonomy and the few failures of the heart rate monitor, we would come close to the “perfect”, with in addition a finish and a design that really have nothing to envy to the Apple Watch. The TizenOS interface is also, by far, the best competitor of watchOS.
This is undoubtedly the main asset of this connected watch which ticks almost all the boxes and which literally collapses under the available functions. Widely recommendable.