Samsung makes good, underrated smartwatches. It was hard to get a lot of attention in a category so heavily dominated by a single player. Nevertheless, according to recent figures, the company has succeeded in holding second place in the global market share. At 11.1 percent, this is slightly less than a third of what Apple was able to generate.
The line stands in stark contrast to Apple's offerings. Samsung's smartwatch philosophy is in line with Samsung's mobile device brand: be creative and try new things. Compare this to the annual improvements of the Apple Watch. The company offers a key product that decides to get a bit better bit by bit.
Only half a year later, it returned with the Galaxy Watch Active 2 bringing with it some improvements, including improved heart rate monitoring (the ECG sensor is still in beta) and the addition an LTE model and a larger 44mm version. Luckily, the optimized design has been retained, providing a welcome alternative to some of Samsung's larger and more comprehensive offerings. Oddly enough, the company has decided to move away from the rotating mechanical bezel with the Active line, which for a long time was Samsung's most important distinguishing feature in this category – perhaps in the spirit of maintaining that kind of minimalism. Simply put, the best way I've found for connecting to smartwatches, including the Apple Crown.
The Active 2 tries to turn the feature into a digital version with haptic feedback. Essentially, you stroke the outer edge of the device, and the feel simulates the click of the wheel. It works better than originally thought, but the lack of original functionality is still pretty blatant. We hope that the company rethinks the omission of future versions.
As with the latest Apple Watch, there is an option that will always be displayed on the screen, although it will affect battery life. However, with the feature turned off, I could live more than two days on a single charge, which is not too shabby. That's better than Apple, though both companies are still lagging far behind what Fitbit can get out of a device.
In 2019, all smartphone manufacturers should look for ways to recharge lives – especially those that offer some kind of sleep tracking. Now that other features like the ECG have become ubiquitous, this should be the next big boost for the entire industry.
My Style is a fun, but ultimately unnecessary trick where the app lets you customize the color of a dial using a smartphone photo of your clothes. App selection is still pretty limited compared to Apple's offering, though here are some key features like Spotify. This now includes offline playlists. Other important apps like YouTube have also been improved.
It's hard to imagine that the company can compete with third-party apps with an Apple, but Samsung has long had a distinct advantage over the Apple Watch: Android compatibility. With Google's Wear operating system consistently unconvincing, Samsung has a real chance of gaining even more market share.
It would be nice if the Active Watch 2 was a bit more expensive. Apple's decision to retain older devices means you can pick up Series 3 for $ 200. There are also the $ 200 Fitbit Versa 2. Some may find the price of $ 280 worthwhile for the (upcoming) addition of things like ECG, but for most consumers, the $ 200 Original Watch Active continues to be the better deal.