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[Accessory Review Challenge] Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

  1. rishwan.97
    OnePlus Accessory Tester Aug 31, 2020

    rishwan.97 , Aug 31, 2020 :
    s.jpg


    Watch
    Active 2
    Hi everyone,
    So as we all know, the tech-industry is now flooding with tons of accessories – from earbuds to wearables to fitness bands.

    Since it is looking more likely than ever that OnePlus is itself going to come up with a wearable of its own – most likely, a OnePlus Watch (if the recent listings are to be believed), I wanted to create this thread to provide a comprehensive, in-depth review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 – from the box, to the day-to-day usage, to the pros and the cons. This is a comprehensive read – something that I hope OnePlus can look into, and thus, come up with an ultimate smartwatch for the android ecosystem – which until now, is questionable.

    Starting off,


    The Box
    1. The Design
    Unsurprisingly, the Watch active 2 comes with a square-shaped box, which i wouldn't call as aesthetic – especially not comparable to the likes of Apple watch. However, the box is compact and rather simplistic.

    2. What's inside
    The Box packs nothing out of the ordinary:
    – The Watch
    – A Wireless charger (1A,5W) (USB only)

    A default silicone sport strap (depending on the color you opted for)
    – User manual


    3. What's not inside
    A power adapter (to connect the wireless charger)
    [​IMG]
    Screenshot 2020-08-31 at 8.09.52 PM.png

    Personal Review:
    In all fairness, the box was rather minimal, packing the only essential things. However, for a watch priced as high as the galaxy watch active 2, the box does not do justice. Samsung compromised on the aesthetics to a large degree – and from the box alone, the impression, unfortunately, is not that great. Not to mention, Samsung also failed to provide a wall-adapter for the wireless charger, finding which is an added chore, especially because it wouldn't cost too much. I personally believe, packing and the box, convey a great deal towards the actual thing – and comparing to the infamous Apple Watch, or even the newly released Oppo Watch, The Watch active 2's box does not look premium. Hopefully, with OnePlus, the packing would be premium, as is the case with the entire list of OnePlus' accessories as well as smartphones.

    I have attached the Box Comparison of the Watch Active 2 Vs. The Apple Watch series 5 to elaborate further on the packing.

    Watch Active 2
    images (26).jpeg

    Apple Watch Series 5
    images (24).jpeg

    Moving on,

    The Watch
    The watch itself, carries a host of important features and comes in a wide range of colors (Aluminium) including
    1. Cloud Silver
    2. Aqua Black
    3.Pink Gold

    as well as Stainless Steel colors:
    1. Black
    2. Silver
    3. Gold

    The watch comes in the 40mm / 44mm sizes.

    I opted for the Cloud silver, which in my opinion was a stand-out from the rest of the two. Not to mention, the variant i opted for was non-LTE, 44mm.

    w3.jpg
    [​IMG]

    Color
    My first impression of the color was – okay.
    I wasn't too impressed, initially, with the silver, as I believed it didn't look as premium as the stainless steel version. However, the color generally grows on you. The strap that comes with the cloud silver variant, is very well-matched, which makes the watch look great and well-matched. In fact, having had the watch for over 6 months – I believe, Cloud silver variant was the best color I could have opted for. I received a lot of compliments with the Silver Watch Active 2, than I did with the predecessor, a black coloured Watch active.

    Battery
    When it comes down to Wearables, the most concerning thing is, in fact, the battery. I was not impressed with the Watch Active 2's battery timing. On average, the Watch gave me just about 2 days with no juice remaining. However, this was also due to my rather intensive activities throughout the day, which include walking, cycling and occasional working out. Not to mention, the watch was always running the Always-on display, the highest brightness, continuous heart-rate monitoring, periodic stress-tests, sleep-monitoring and so on. This wasn't a great let-down as, even though the battery was not exceptional for it's price – nowhere near the Huawei Watch GT-2 which can last for up-to 2 weeks, the Watch active 2 made up for its battery in other departments.


    Health Monitoring

    The reason I got The watch active 2 primarily, was the health monitoring – And it did not disappoint. With the excess of sensors underneath, the watch was very efficient in auto-detecting workouts (However, it took about 10 minutes for auto-detection – and in some cases, I would be done by then), the REM sleep tracking was extremely efficient, reliable and useful – given that I have sleeping problems, heart-rate monitoring was accurate – with only a difference of 3~5 beats from the fingertip heart-rate monitor.

    The Watch also had hourly reminders to be active – which I believe doesn't look as useful, but is extremely useful if you are inactive for long periods.

    The Watch active 2 provides a dozen of health activities to be monitored, from swimming, to walks, to cycling, to all the various kinds of workouts – you wouldn't miss any.
    Another interesting thing about the watch active 2 was the High-heart-rate warning. Occasionally, during workouts, my heart-beat would jump to over 150 BPM, where the Watch would alert me. In fact, In a lot of the cases, I would myself check the BPM to ensure it was within the desired range.

    The Health monitoring was especially useful for keeping a track of:

    1. Pace (if walking, or cycling) – average pace, minimum pace, maximum pace
    2. Calories Burned
    3. Distance Walked
    4. Time of Workout (which was, extremely accurate +-1 minute)
    5. Sleep tracking (REM, deep-sleep, awake)
    w5.jpg

    w4.jpg
    [​IMG]

    All of this, seamlessly, accessible through the Samsung Health App, which allows backup-restore if switching phones (which I constantly do). The Samsung Health App, provides a great interface, and allows you to keep track of all the past activity. I found it useful to track my sleeping-patterns, workouts, distance-walked over the last-week. Moreover, it also provides you with a chance to connect with the other Samsung Watch users.

    Tizen OS

    Before opting for the Watch active 2, I went through all the available smart-watches. Unfortunately, the Google's wear OS was not refined enough for the wearables it was available on, and had not-so-positive reviews. That said, Oppo – on the Oppo watch, has greatly improved the Wear OS experience. It's likely, OnePlus will also opt for the Wear-OS, and with the refinements and an improved integration, it can be up there with the best.
    Unfortunately for me, for the time-being, Tizen was the best option. Why?

    Watch Faces
    This isn't talked about much – at least on the internet. From my experience, Samsung Galaxy Store provides you with over a million watch faces. You can scroll endlessly and still have watch faces to find. However, the quality of the third-party watch faces, isn't as good as the official watch faces. In my experience, I found it very hard to access the 'neat' watch faces. Unfortunately, as a OnePlus 8 pro user, I could not access all the designer watch faces – or the paid watch faces, as they are limited to Galaxy users only. So, although you can find tons of third-party watch faces, the paid one's won't be accessible unless you own a Galaxy phone. I was not warned about this – and received little to no support from Samsung.

    IMG_20200911_190105-01.jpeg

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    IMG_20200911_190217-01-01.jpeg

    IMG_20200911_190331-01.jpeg

    IMG_20200911_191124-01.jpg
    3rd Party Support

    Tizen OS also supports a number of 3rd party watch face applications, including Facer, Watchmaker, Pujie Black and many more. This allowed me to take the watch customization a step further.

    Smoothness

    Tizen OS, over the years, has largely improved. The OS is smooth, provides a great navigation system through the software 'virtual' bezel, decent application organisation and much more. I did not encounter lag, making and receiving phone-calls was easy, receiving texts and responding to texts was convenient as well. Everything was accessible on-a-glance.

    Always-On

    What I believe, Samsung achieved with the always-on display was exceptional. The watch, provides everything at a glance, and the always-on display was extremely useful. Besides, unlike the Apple Watch, Watch active 2, had a 'live' always-on, which essentially means, you could see live-ticks, or information updated in real-time, which is an added bonus, for whatever reason you may consider.

    The Cons

    The only drawback, was Bixby. It is accurate, to a certain degree only. I never found myself using Bixby, as opposed to the Google Assistant. I strongly believe, voice actions should be a major part of the smartwatch ecosystem, due to the lack of space to integrate too much functionality.


    Design

    The Watch was light-weight, and would go well with almost anyone. I did not found the 44mm version too big or the 40mm version too small. I believe, having owned both, Samsung did an amazing job with the size. The watch doesn't feel too heavy on the wrist, is comfortable and durable (although not as much as the original Galaxy watch), but to-date, I have had no scratches. The glass is strong, having bumped into the wall twice, still remains scratchless. The side buttons, are reasonably sized, they do not look ugly nor do they pop-out. I opted for the Watch active 2, for its slim design and the elegant look.

    Samsung Health App
    Another great application that provides seamless integration with the watch active 2. The app provides a simple, clean and a minimal design providing all the details at-a-glance. I found myself using the app more often than I expected to – for tracking weekly sleep cycles, heart-rate, step-count. Not only this, there's an additional together option – to interact with the Samsung Health Community. Amazingly, the interface is very sleek.

    Screenshot_20200916-214554.jpg

    Screenshot_20200916-215835.jpg

    Screenshot_20200916-214558.jpg


    Watch Active 2 Plugin (for non-Samsung devices)
    Active 2 plugin is essentially the Galaxy wearable app - designed to work on non-Samsung phones. On my Oneplus 8 pro, the application works seamlessly, with a few drawbacks, however. I found myself unable to find paid watch faces – no matter what i tried. Other than that, a few applications were region specific – such as Spotify, which I could not install.

    Screenshot_20200916-214436.jpg

    Other useful things:
    1. Internal audio: The watch has a decent speaker, which is loud enough to be heard in a crowd. However, having the audio at highest made the audio jittery. I had little to no trouble receiving phone calls.
    2. Internal Microphone: Decent. The microphone is not top-tier, but it gets the job done. I found myself bringing the watch closer occasionally while speaking – but hey, it's better than nothing.
    3. Haptics: Decent. I value haptics on electronic devices – the haptics on the Watch Active 2 are somewhat on par with the Apple Watch –and do an exceptional job while navigating using the virtual bezel.
    4. Charger: The wireless charger packs in great speed, charging the watch to full in about 2h. However, the charger has no LED to indicate charging, which would be an added bonus. In addition, a charing dock is more secure, compared to the circular pad we get with the Watch active 2.
    5. Strap: Samsung did an amazing job with the straps. You can use the generic watch-straps with the Active 2 without any hassle. This is a plus, as it allows you to customize the Watch, taking the physical customization a step ahead. Besides, the straps are easily available, and cheaper. Unlike the Apple Watch, which does not support generic watch bands.


    Special Mention:

    Unfortunately, my Watch active 2 charger died - never to wake up again - 2 months in. This was rather disappointing, as It was plugged into a low-voltage power adapter.
    I believe Samsung did not do a great job with the charger – something I hope to see OnePlus do – with the quality and attention to detail they provide to charging.

    Another thing I found was, as advertised, Active 2, was not shipped with ECG and Blood Pressure Monitoring out of the box. However, it has passed regulatory checks in South Korea. Once FDA approval is granted, we can see a working ECG and Blood Pressure Monitoring on the active 2.

    w2 charger.jpeg
    [​IMG]

    The Watch itself, does an amazing job - in what it's supposed to do. Default watch faces carry amazing animations, tons of customizations and a host of information. Currently, It's the best smart-watch you can opt for, if your budget allows.


    If you like this, please give it a thumbs up and let me know in the comments. Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020

    #1
  2. Sin_of_Wrath
    Donut Sep 7, 2020


    #2
    rishwan.97 likes this.
  3. noorishhassan
    Cupcake Sep 11, 2020

    noorishhassan , Sep 11, 2020 :
    I’ve been planning to get the Samsung watch active 2. This was a very extensive, detailed review and it helped me a lot.
    I hope you get selected!!
     

    #3
    rishwan.97 likes this.
  4. crunchy_jupiter
    Cupcake Sep 13, 2020


    #4
    rishwan.97 likes this.
  5. rishwan.97
    OnePlus Accessory Tester Sep 14, 2020

    rishwan.97 , Sep 14, 2020 :
    Thank you for the feedback.
     

    #5
  6. rishwan.97
    OnePlus Accessory Tester Sep 14, 2020


    #6
  7. rishwan.97
    OnePlus Accessory Tester Sep 14, 2020

    rishwan.97 , Sep 14, 2020 :
    Thank you, i hope so too.
    hope for the best!
     

    #7
  8. Q1598892261369
    Cupcake Sep 14, 2020

    Q1598892261369 , Sep 14, 2020 :
    Great comparitive and comprehensive review. I myself have a watch Active2 and found this very accurate and extensive.
    Good luck for this, you deserve it.
     

    #8
  9. rishwan.97
    OnePlus Accessory Tester Sep 15, 2020

    rishwan.97 , Sep 15, 2020 :
    Thank you, I'm glad it was helpful and accurate. Hoping for the best!
     

    #9

  10. #10
    rishwan.97 likes this.
  11. rishwan.97
    OnePlus Accessory Tester Sep 17, 2020

    rishwan.97 , Sep 17, 2020 :
    Thanks a lot man. Fingers crossed, hoping for the best 🤞
     

    #11
    sandeep.ebenson likes this.
  12. TheGadgetGirl
    The Lab - OnePlus 8T Reviewer Oct 1, 2020


    #12
    rishwan.97 likes this.
  13. rishwan.97
    OnePlus Accessory Tester Oct 1, 2020


    #13
  14. nimmur2000
    Eclair Oct 8, 2020

    nimmur2000 , Oct 8, 2020 :
    Well written article but can you talk about notifications? Main issue on many smartwatches are around notifications during calls or other messages. Do you get immediate notification?
     

    #14