Samsung launches the Galaxy Watch Active2 smartwatch with a touch bezel and LTE
Samsung continues to forge its own path with its smartwatches, away from the Apple Watch and Google's Wear OS. The latest Tizen-based wearable to appear from Samsung is the Galaxy Active2, a substantial step forward from the Galaxy Active Watch launched in February.
The improvements made between February and August seem to be useful ones. Samsung has introduced a touch bezel for swiping around on-screen menus and options, which makes the on-board Tizen operating system much easier to use.
You get a choice of two sizes this time, with a 44-mm model (with a 1.4-inch display) joining the 40-mm model (with a 1.2-inch display) that the Galaxy Watch Active was available in, and there's now an LTE model too – you can, if you want, make calls directly from the Galaxy Watch Active2, no phone required.
Samsung says it's also been busy improving the accelerometer and heart rate tracker inside the watch, which should mean more accurate and reliable fitness readings than its predecessor was able to muster.
The Galaxy Watch Active2 is going to get an ECG function just like the Apple Watch Series 4 too, for closely monitoring heart rate speed and spotting any potential problems – but the feature needs more testing before it's ready, according to Samsung.
On the software side, this smartwatch is introducing the ability for runners to record lap and split times, as well as a new app called My Style: this lets you snap a photo of your current clothing combination with your phone to get a watch face that matches.
Speaking of style choices, you can pick from an aluminum casing with a rubber (fluoroelastomer) strap, or a stainless steel casing with a leather strap. Three color combinations are available in each case: silver, black and gold.
There's also the newly added ability to tweet from your wrist and even watch YouTube videos on your smart timepiece, which aren't necessarily tasks well suited to a tiny wearable screen, but they're there if you need them.
You get 4 GB of storage space on the watch together with either 768 MB (non-LTE) or 1.5 GB (LTE) of RAM, depending on the model. A Samsung-made Exynos 9110 dual-core 1.15 GHz processor keeps everything running smoothly, the same as in the original Watch Active, so performance should be similar.
The other specs you need to know about are IP68 dustproofing and waterproofing down to 50 meters (164 feet), on-board NFC for mobile payments, and compatibility with both iPhones and most Android phones. In terms of integrated sensors the big miss is GPS, so you can't track the route of a run or a cycle without your phone (that does help battery life though, which Samsung says is good for a whole day).
With a fitness focus and an LTE option there's no doubt Samsung has the Apple Watch in its sights here, and the Galaxy Watch Active2 seems to be a substantial upgrade over its predecessor. The smartwatch costs US$280, with pre-orders opening up on September 6 and the watch going on sale on September 27.
Product page: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2