Released in 2019, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is still one of the best Samsung smartwatches and no doubt also one of the best Android smartwatches. Although there is now a more advanced Galaxy Watch 4, the Active 2 is an outstanding fitness-focused smartwatch that’s very comfortable to wear and equipped to improve your productive life. The Active 2 comes in two sizes; 40mm and 44mm. Each of these sizes is available in Bluetooth and LTE models. I own the 44mm Bluetooth model of the Active 2 and it’s been a worthwhile experience using it for the past two years. In this Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 long term review, I share everything you probably need to know about this little beast. I share everything you probably need to know about this little beast. Is the Galaxy Watch Active 2 a worthwhile investment in 2022? Continue reading to find out.
Apps You Need
You need Samsung Wearable app to setup Active 2
Just like with every other Samsung wearable device, the Galaxy Wearable app is the companion app of the Galaxy Watch Active 2. You need this app to setup the Active 2 to work with a compatible smartphone. From the app, you can also manage how the watch functions.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. It supports Android 5.0+ with 1.5GB RAM or higher and iOS 9.0 or higher. The Galaxy Wearable app is available on both the Google Playstore and Apple Appstore, and
once you have installed the Galaxy Wearable app you should be able to setup and manage the Active 2.
The Galaxy Wearable app has a neat interface with a minimal cluster that’s easy to navigate for even a beginner. It also hosts a multitude of interesting features.
Samsung Health App – Main health app
Beyond the Galaxy Wearable app, you will also need to install the Samsung Health app. This app will allow you to view all tracked metrics like your heart rate, steps, calories, sleep, and outdoor workout in full detail.
For instance, after an outdoor workout, you can see details of your workout including the route on Active 2. However, you need the Samsung Health app to see all the details including a more detailed map of your routes.
The Samsung Health app is available on both the Android and iOS app stores.
Samsung Health Monitor – Needed for ECG and BP
ECG measurement was introduced with Active 2. Subsequently, blood pressure measurement was also added. However, to access these two features, you will need the Samsung Health Monitor app installed on your phone.
The Samsung Health Monitor app is only available on the Galaxy Store. Moreover, these two features aren’t available in every country in the world. Although, this guide shows you how to get ECG and blood pressure measurements on your Galaxy Watch Active 2 or Galaxy Watch 3. If you own a Galaxy Watch 4 or Watch 4 Classic, follow this guide to get ECG and BP measurements.
In all, you need three apps to get access to all the features of the Galaxy Watch Active 2.
Galaxy Watch Active 2 Review
Now that you know what apps you need to access all Galaxy Watch Active 2 features, let’s dive deep into the main review.
When the Galaxy Watch Active 2 debuted, its design was one of the main talking points amongst many publishers. And that’s because it is one of the finest smartwatches to date. Thanks to its sleek, slim, and compact build.
In fact, the Galaxy Watch 4 inherited its design from the Active 2, and it’s expected that the upcoming Galaxy Watch 5 will also look like its predecessor, although, slight modifications are expected.
The Active 2 comes in two different materials, aluminum, and stainless. The LTE unit has a stainless steel case and the Bluetooth unit has an aluminum build.
The LTE unit also comes with leather straps compared to the Bluetooth model which comes with a fluoroelastomer strap.
Similarly, the Active 2 is also available in 40mm and 44mm sizes. The 40mm unit has a dimension of 40 x 40 x 10.9mm, while the 44mm unit has a 44 x 44 x 10.9mm dimension. Both sizes are very compact and equally lightweight.
I own the 44mm Bluetooth model and for once it never felt like I was wearing any noticeable weight.
The durability of the Active 2 also extends to its screen which is made of Corning Gorilla Glass DX, and is also rated 5ATM – This means that the Active 2 is waterproof up to 50 meters. It’s also certified MIL-STD-810 – A US military-grade rating that indicates the Active 2 can withstand some harsh weather conditions.
Clearly, the Active 2 has an interesting design that seems to shut all the critics – it’s compact, lightweight, sleek and durable.
The Bluetooth model of the Galaxy Watch 4 is available in aqua-black, cloud-silver and pink-gold while the LTE unit is available in silver, gold, and black colors.
Beyond the durable and sleek build, the Active 2 also has a stunning display that’s pleasing to the eyes. It has an AMOLED-powered display with a 360 by 360 pixel resolution. It has a good color depth but falls behind the Galaxy watch 4 which is more colorful.
The Active 2 has an always-on display that keeps the watch on. Although, this will significantly reduce its already abysmal battery life of only 2 days.
One of the fine features of the Active 2 was the introduction of a digital rotating bezel which the Galaxy Watch 4 also has.
Though I’m not a fan of the digital rotating bezel, the physical rotating bezel of the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic is a lot easy to operate.
In addition to a digital rotating bezel, the Active 2 has a touchscreen display plus two physical buttons that no doubt make navigating the watch very easy.
Moreover, with the iconic One UI interface 2.0, the Active 2 just like other Samsung watches is some of the easiest to navigate even for an absolute beginner.
The upper button allows you to go back to a previous menu, while the lower button is the home/power key. It allows you to go back to the homescreen when you short-press it. And when you press the home key from the homescreen it takes you to the list of all apps installed on the watch.
The home key can be customized to open any app when you double-press it. By default, it’s assigned to Bixby. To customize the homekey, go to the settings app>>Advanced to do this.
- When you swipe down, you get to see the quick panel section.
- When you swipe right, you get to see all your notifications.
- Swipe left to see all your widgets. Scroll to the end to add more widgets. You can also add widgets from the Galaxy Wearable app.
Clearly, the Active 2 has a very easy to use interface that’s not clogged or buggy, yet very sophisticated.
Just like many other smartwatches, you can also change the watch face of the Active 2.
There are two ways to download new watch faces to Active 2. You can do this right on the watch or from the Galaxy Wearable app. Whichever option you choose, you will need to go to the Galaxy Store app to download new watch faces.
The Galaxy Store app is onboard the Active 2 and that’s why you can download a watch face or even apps right from the watch.
To download a new watch simply open the Galaxy Store app on the Active 2 or on your phone, and search for any watch face of your choice.
You can change watch faces directly from the Active 2 by simply pressing and holding on to the homescreen for a few seconds. This will highlight the current watch face, then you can scroll through the available watch faces to make your choice.
The good thing is that while the Active 2 comes with a few preloaded watch faces, there are lots of watch faces from third-party developers. Some are free while some are premium.
By joining the telegram or Facebook groups of these developers, you can get access to free coupons that will allow you to download some of the finest watch faces for free.
Health and Fitness Tracking
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a fitness-focused smartwatch. It’s equipped with a heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and barometer. These sensors enable a host of activity tracking features that makes it one of the best fitness smartwatches till date.
As usual, I tested the activity tracking accuracy of the Active 2 against other smartwatches like the Galaxy Watch 4 and Apple Watch Series 7.
Steps and Calories Counting
Steps and calorie counting are one of the basic fitness tracking features of Active 2, and from my tests, it does count my steps accurately.
I compared it to the Watch 7 and Galaxy Watch 4, and all three had almost the same result with slight differences not greater than 1-2 figures apart.
There is also a sedentary reminder function in Active 2 that will remind you to move when you sit idle for too long.
Heart Rate Tracking
With a heart rate sensor built into the Active 2, it will monitor your heart rate 24/7.
You can choose to measure your heart rate continuously, manually, or every 10 minutes. To preserve the battery, I like to set this to measure every 10 minutes.
You can also configure the Active 2 to alert you when your heart rate gets too high or too low. Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. So you can set a high heart rate alert at that point.
I compared the heart rate tracking accuracy of the Active 2 to a manual heart rate monitor and Apple Watch Series 7. The results were pretty much the same except for slight differences. On that note, I can say the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a consistent heart rate tracker.
The Active 2 will show your heart rate range and when you go to the Samsung Health app, it shows your heart rate history over a period of time.
The Active 2 will also track your sleep when worn to sleep. It tracks your sleep in all four stages; awake, light, deep, and REM stages of sleep.
To test its sleep tracking accuracy, I wore the Active 2 alongside Apple Watch 7, Band 4 Pro, and Fitbit Versa 3 to sleep. The result showed that Active 2 was consistent in tracking my total sleep time. Although, we can’t really say how accurate the Active 2 is in terms of tracking sleep stages.
The time spent in each stage of sleep varied greatly across the different devices, an EEG test is required to confirm the sleep stage tracking accuracy of the Active 2.
From the Samsung Health app, you can see the full details of your sleep as well as your sleep trend over a period of time. This is a good way to know if you’re getting enough sleep.
Outdoor Activity Tracking
There is an inbuilt GPS in the Active 2 that enables it to track your routes, location, and pace when you workout outdoors.
I did an 8k marathon with the Active 2 alongside Watch 7 and Versa 3. The result was just about the same with slight differences. Based on this result, it’s very clear that Active 2 tracks routes, location and pace accurately.
After a workout, Active 2 will show your workout summaries, but you will need the Samsung Health app to see more details like routes and location.
To get the best experience, you can add your personal music to the Active 2, then pair your Bluetooth headphone. This will keep you more focused and motivated.
Stress measurement is another interesting feature you’ll get on the Active 2. It monitors your stress level and you can see right away if you’re stressed from the movement of the marker.
When you’re stressed, there is also a breathing exercise app that can guide you through a breathing session.
You can also configure Active 2 to monitor your stress level intermittently, continuously or manually. And from the Samsung Health app, you can see your stress history.
ECG was the most popular health tracking feature that launched with the Active 2. This will allow you to take an ECG directly from Active 2 by placing your index finger on the back key for 30 seconds.
You need the Samsung Health app to get ECG on Active 2. Unfortunately, just like Galaxy Watch 4, this isn’t available in every country. Although there is a workaround method that allows you to get ECG on Active 2 irrespective of where you reside or the phone you use.
Blood Pressure Measurement
The Active 2 also features blood pressure measurement. And like the ECG feature, you need the Samsung Health app to get access to this feature.
You will need to calibrate the Active 2 with a traditional blood pressure cuff to start measuring your blood pressure with the Active 2.
SOS and Incidental Fall Detection
The Active 2 will start a call on your phone and send a message to a preset contact when it detects a hard fall.
You will need to set this up in the Galaxy Wearable app. Once activated, the Active 2 will start a call on your phone when it detects a hard fall. This can also be activated manually by pressing the home key three times.
Active 2 LTE owners don’t need their phone nearby to start a call when the watch detects a fall. Meanwhile, to activate emergency SOS and fall detection, Active 2 Bluetooth owners must have their phone nearby. The LTE unit has cellular capabilities and as such it’s a standalone smartwatch.
Menstrual Cycle tracking
For women, there is a menstrual cycle tracking feature on the Active 2 that will allow you to log and monitor your cycle effortlessly.
Preloaded Sport Modes
There are 41 workout modes available to choose from on the Active 2. These include yoga, stretching, cycling, running, running coach, hiking, walking, swimming, elliptical, treadmill and many more. So there are lots of options to choose from.
Please note that the Active 2 doesn’t replace your doctor nor should you take any medical decision based on any tracked data. Always consult your doctor or a qualified medical practitioner before taking any medical decision.
The Active 2 has a 4GB storage capacity out of which about 3GB is available for your personal usage. That’s a far cry from the Galaxy Watch 4 which has 16GB storage, but certainly decent enough to hold some of your favorite tracks.
You can only add your personal music to the Galaxy Watch Active 2. You can only do this from the Galaxy Wearable app. Simply open the app, and go to watch settings >>Add contents to watch. You can select the tracks you wish to add and click on done. This will take a couple of minutes to complete depending on the number of selected tracks. You can also copy images to Active 2.
There is a built-in media player that lets you play music on the Active 2. It’s not the most sophisticated music player but it has some pretty nice features.
You can shuffle music, skip to the previous or next track and more. From Active 2, you can also control music playing on any app installed on your phone.
Making and Receiving Calls
There is a microphone and speaker in the Galaxy Watch Active 2. As a result, you can make and receive calls directly from the watch.
The Active 2 Bluetooth unit requires your phone to make and receive calls, while the LTE unit being a standalone smartwatch with cellular capabilities doesn’t need your phone to make and receive calls.
There is a built-in phone and contact app in the Active 2. The phone app will allow you to enter a number you wish to call directly. And with the contact app, the Active 2 syncs all contacts on your phone so that you can easily find any number to call.
Making a call on the Active 2 was a decent experience as the call quality was very audible on both ends. Although the Active 2 has a speaker, you’ll need to connect a Bluetooth headphone to get the best experience.
With the Active 2, you can manage notifications you receive on your phone.
To start receiving notifications on the Active 2, you’ll need to turn on notifications in the Galaxy Wearable app. Simply open the Galaxy Wearable, select watch settings, and tap on notifications. Toggle on notifications and also toggle on notifications specifically for apps of your choice.
You can send and receive messages on the Active 2. There’s also a messaging app that lets you easily compose your messages directly from the watch.
When you receive messages from Gmail and WhatsApp, you can reply to these messages using your voice, emojis, preset replies or type directly using the built-in keyboard.
Moreover, there is a built-in NFC chip in the Active 2 that enables Samsung Pay – A non-contactless payments system that allows you to make payments directly from the watch. Samsung Pay isn’t supported in every country.
One of the cons of the Active 2 is that despite the outstanding design and immense features, it has an abysmal short battery life.
I have used the 44mm unit, and I average about 2 days with always-on turned off, worn to sleep daily, notifications turned on for 10 apps, and 30 minutes of outdoor workouts. You can expect just over a day of battery life with the 40mm unit.
The 44mm unit of the Active 2 has a 340mAh battery capacity while the 40mm unit has a 247mAh capacity. As a result, the 44mm unit has a slightly longer battery life than the 40mm unit.
Although there are power saving modes that will allow you to get a little longer battery life.
You can choose from standard, power saving, or Watch only mode. The watch-only mode gets you the longest battery life, but it will disable every smartwatch function leaving only the time and date.
Some battery saving tips include,
- Turn off WiFi when not in use.
- Turn off location tracking when you’re indoors.
- Turn off the always-on display.
- Reduce screen timeout to 1 minute.
- Turn off wake up gesture.
Galaxy Watch Active 2 (40mm) vs (44mm) – Which Size is Right For You?
The Active 2 comes in two sizes; 40mm and 44mm. Both sizes have the same design and features. However, the 44mm has a bigger display size and slightly longer battery life than the 40mm. As a result, it’s priced a little higher.
The availability of the Active 2 in two sizes gives consumers the option to choose based on wrist size. In this regard, the 40mm unit is an ideal choice for individuals with slim wrist while the 44mm unit is more suitable for individuals with a moderate to fat wrist.
Galaxy Watch Active 2 Bluetooth vs LTE – Which Model is Right For You?
Both sizes of the Active 2 are available in Bluetooth and LTE models. The LTE model is equipped with an eSIM that enables cellular connectivity. As a result, it’s a standalone smartwatch that can make and receive calls without your phone. Meanwhile, the Bluetooth model can also make and receive calls, but it will require your phone to be nearby.
The LTE unit also has a stainless steel build compared to the aluminum case of the Bluetooth model.
As a result, of the standalone capabilities of the LTE unit, it’s priced higher than the Bluetooth unit.
In all my experiences with the Galaxy Watch Active 2, it’s an amazing smartwatch. It cut across as a midrange smartwatch with an outstanding design, awesome display and lots of interesting features. However, the 2 days battery life isn’t impressive.