Samsung Watch Active 2 review: simple, beautiful and complete

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Many choose smartwatches based on design, colors, aesthetics and this also makes sense, on the other hand, the path of choice made for loved ones and old wristwatches more or less follows the same path. If we were to consider the Samsung Watch Active 2 in this respect then it would be promoted with flying colors, but the truth is that there is much more to tell.

One thing is certain: the house in Seoul has shown continuity like few in the segment and its small line-up (Watch Active 1a gen) has been renewed in small steps, up to this new generation that takes on the burden of directly challenging the popular Apple Watch 5. A direct challenge that leaves out all the others, if we look at them closely we find in fact many similarities and two key factors that characterize them: a maximum speed of navigation in the interface, limited battery life.

So much power, all or almost all the most important biometric sensors and a great Super AMOLED display, round on Watch Active 2 and square on the Apple counterpart. Two different operating systems that have been able to obscure over the years many of Google's Wear OS solutions, with Tizen 4.0 able to have its say and evolve towards a simple, reactive and concrete UI. Not to mention that on the dedicated store we find more and more applications that excite our imagination, some useful, some nice forcing that maybe serve more to snatch a "wow" from friends than anything else. See Youtube (unofficial).

IT IS GOOD IN EVERY OCCASION, WHICH IS SPORTS OR MORE CASUAL

I have a 44mm version with a black strap, the one we could call more classic, but Samsung has worked so hard on customization and made available an infinite quantity of materials. The choice is wide, the costs change but anyone can find the perfect combination that can make even the eyes happy. The round dial has not changed much compared to the past, certainly the frames have been reduced compared to the first generation but I still see room for improvement.

To be honest, the frames are noticeable anyway because most of the screens have a black background, the Super AMOLED, therefore, helps a lot in avoiding, at first sight, the unsightly discontinuities. The Watch Active 2 therefore boasts very classic, clean lines, with two physical keys that protrude very little to the right; then the microphone is placed between them and on the diametrically opposite side the small speaker that reproduces sounds, music, calls.

I like his minimal character, he immediately convinced me and I find it suitable for any situation, be it more sporty or formal, it is an accessory that blends well and can be customized to your liking thanks to the many options available: aluminum, stainless steel, straps in the most disparate materials.

TECHNICAL SHEET 44 AND 40 MILLIMETERS:

  • Display: Super AMOLED / 1.2 inches (40mm) - 1.4 inches (44mm) / 360x360 pixels / 16M colors
  • Dimensions: 44.0 x 44.0 x 10.9 mm
  • Weight: 44mm 30 / 42g without strap - 40mm 26 / 37g without strap -
  • Processor: Exynos 9110 dual-core 1.15 GHz
  • Memory: 0.768 GB RAM / 4GB ROM (1.5GB free) - 1.5GB RAM (LTE version)
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyroscope, HR Sensor, Brightness Sensor
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 2.4GHz, GPS, Glonass, Beidu, Galileo, NFC
  • System: Tizen OS 4.0
  • Battery: 247/340 mAh (40 / 44mm)
  • Price: 40mm from 299 euros / 44mm from 319 euros

EXCELLENT MANAGEMENT OF NOTIFICATIONS

If I wear a smartwatch then I like to have a complete one on my wrist, without too many compromises around the corner. I spend too much time in touch with smartphones and have a similar accessory that allows me to receive and interact with the many notifications I receive from a more than real meaning to its use. With a swipe on the left you access the communications received, a tap and you go into detail, be it a WhatsApp message or an email, I can easily scroll through the text and then reply.

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We have predefined phrases, the classic emojis and even the icon of the microphone to dictate the text to be sent, a function that uses the classic Google engine to understand words. Quite accurate, if you punctuate the words well, with the necessary pauses, it is credible to be able to develop even medium-long answers with few errors. But don't expect miracles.

No photos, notifications with images received from IM platforms like Telegram or WhatsApp show only the camera icon but not the object itself. Perhaps the only limit of this Tizen 4.0, well thought out and now also navigable by the "touch ring" available by stroking the edges of the display.

PERFECT FOR SPORT BUT ATTENTION TO BATTERY

Compared to last year we have a few more grams on the scale (42g without strap) and slightly more generous dimensions (44.0 x 44.0 x 10.9 mm), especially on this larger 44mm variant. No matter, it remains light on the wrist and an excellent companion in physical activity thanks to the many modes provided and to the third apps, now an added value on which Samsung is focusing a lot.

On the dedicated store we can find, among other things, applications such as Endomondo, Myfitnesspal, Swim.com and Strava, valid solutions and alternatives to the native app with which we can monitor running, cycling, walking and swimming. Support for the Galileo, GPS, Glonass and Beidou constellations allows you to quickly trace the routes, follow our progress and heart rates in detail, with tables and averages that can be consulted within the application even on smartphones.

The coupling with the satellites is very fast, the guaranteed accuracy is excellent and through Bluetooth 5.0 it is possible to connect wireless headphones, so as to have voice information even on the partial to every kilometer and their own musical pieces to cheer us up. But do not overdo it, once the satellites are hooked up, the battery juice is quickly reduced. In my experience, it is possible to reach a maximum of two full days of use on a single charge, but if we take about 30 minutes of physical activity, with accurate detection of the position, the battery falls to less than a day and a half.

So the 340mAh of the battery is not enough to change the paradigms of the Watch Active series, which is powerful and functional but capable of guaranteeing a range just above that of a long-lived smartphone. Let's say that the basic idea is different compared to many other smartwatches on the market, the duration of a cycle requires a close relationship with the magnetic charging base. It is important to point out that it is also possible to recharge it using a Samsung smartphone with a PowerShare system (see Galaxy Note 10 series and Galaxy S10 series), but compatibility with other products has been limited: with P30 Pro by Huawei it is not recharged, the same is done with different headers of third party owners. Sin.

CALLS IN FREEDOM AND SPOTIFY OFFLINE (WITH PREMIUM)

Audio is an important component of the Watch Active 2 and this is certainly not obvious for such a device. We can then listen to some songs directly from the wrist, through the small speaker, or send the audio to the connected wireless headphones. What's new for Watch Active are the calls, managed via the smartphone and with average acceptable quality, both for us and for our interlocutor.

It may seem like a stretch, it is true, but you would be surprised to discover slowly all the useful situations in which to talk on the phone using the smartwatch. I think about when I cook with dirty hands and I don't want to put my hands in my pockets or drive in my car and I talk freely with both hands on the steering wheel. This is not the first time that Samsung has adopted this solution, it is certainly one of my favorites because it is always useful.

There is also the possibility of downloading up to 500 songs into the internal memory using Spotify, now easier to navigate between playlists, songs, recent and search. I find this possibility extremely useful, introduced on the Samsung already by the Gear Sport a few years ago, especially for sports and travel, whether it is frequent in the train or in the air when the connection to the network is not available and you do not feel like to always use the smartphone. Needless to say, we need a Premium plan from the music streaming platform.

CONCLUSIONS

The day that they will find a way to improve their battery the Tizen-based Samsung smartwatches will be almost perfect, unassailable, but up to that moment it will be necessary to consider this aspect well. We are used to recharging the smartphone daily and here it is a question of doing the same with another device - a matter of habit - but limiting it to the proprietary base alone (or Samsung smartphone) completely clashes with the idea of ​​use on the move. In our office, for example, we have several third-party accessories such as a lamp with wireless charging on the base, none provides power to the Watch Active 2.

Argued the only real criticism directed at this device, I can only confirm what was also said last year: the new generation Samsung is one of the most credible, reliable and intriguing choices of the entire smartwatch landscape, studded with cheap, copied and aspiring best buy with little or no support for third-party applications. The price is in line with the direct competition: the 40 mm model starts from 299 euros and the 44 mm from 319 euros, but on the official store there are numerous possible combinations of materials and straps that change the final price.

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