One of the devices Samsung showed off at Unpacked 2019 was the next generation Galaxy Watch, the Watch Active, and the first thing you’ll notice is that they got rid of the rotating bezel, a staple of the Tizen based watches since the S2. Despite that, the Watch Active is a remarkably pretty device, it’s a remarkably well-made device, and it is an astoundingly light device.
With a 1.1” circular screen, a 10mm thickness (thinness?) and a bizarre 25g mass without the strap, you can see why I say the Galaxy Watch Active fades away, it truly is a marvel of engineering. To make performance and battery issues a thing of the past, Samsung has packed a 230mAh battery into the Watch Active, but what is powering it is even more impressive. The Exynos 9110 is a dual-core Cortex A53 SoC with a Mali T720 MP1 GPU built on Samsung’s second generation 10nm FinFET manufacturing node. This SoC is going to be absolutely minuscule with 750mb of RAM and 4GB of internal storage too, you’ll have enough space for mapping and music for your runs.
The Galaxy Watch Active has wireless charging (using Qi) and a plethora of radios, including Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, Beidou and Galileo, but what’s important is that the Galaxy Watch isn’t going to be offered in an LTE variant, at least as of yet. This may upset some of you, as an eSIM would have been a great addition for this, but not for everyone, and it would have inflated the cost.
So enough of the specs, how was it on the wrist? Well, I didn’t really want to take it off. Swapping my Ticwatch S2 review unit out for the Galaxy Watch Active was strange, as it didn’t feel like I was wearing a watch. It was small, it was light, it slipped under the cuff of my shirt without snagging, these little things make it so comfortable to wear, as well as the ridiculously smooth silicone strap. I don’t know what special silicone it is, but it was very comfortable to wear.
Samsung has once again gone above and beyond with the screen. Despite shrinking it and removing the rotating bezel, the 1.1” 360×360 AMOLED screen on the Galaxy Watch Active is a true stunner, and the bezels are much smaller than they look in pictures, trust me. It did have a bit of an issue with glare, but in all fairness, the event had overhead LED lights blasting downwards, so it is quite easy for any device to catch glare in those scenarios, it’s just more apparent when the screen is so small.
At $199/£229, the Galaxy Watch Active isn’t cheap, but it is a lot less expensive than I was expecting to be. It’s a beautiful smartwatch, with a wide range of fitness tracking features. It can track your sleep, monitor your heart rate and apparently blood pressure, can remind you to breathe if the measurements suggest you’re getting stressed. All of this in a package that wouldn’t look out-of-place on a celebrities arm in my opinion. I have to give it to Samsung here, I’d love to give this another look.