Galaxy Watch Active: Release Date, Price, Specs, Features, Reviews
Samsung’s array of S10 smartphones and its Galaxy Fold were the headliners of its February 20 Unpacked event. But alongside the flurry of handsets, came the global tech giant’s new challenger to the Apple Watch Series 4, the Galaxy Watch Active.
The wearable is Samsung’s second addition to the Galaxy Watch family after it rebranded its line of wearables from the “Galaxy Gear” moniker. The newly announced Active serves as a lower-cost, light-weight, and fitness-focused alternative to the bulkier Galaxy Watch. Apple may dominate the global smartwatch market for now, but analyst data suggests that giving consumers a more diverse roster of wearables to choose from could be Samsung’s best chance at closing that gap.
The number of Samsung’s smartwatch shipments quadrupled during the final quarter of 2018, according to a Strategy Analytics report released in February. Apple’s lead is still commanding, it controls half of the industry’s market share after all. But the lower price point and sleek look of the Galaxy Watch Active could help win over consumers.
While the Active might seem like a tempting buy if you’re looking for a relatively affordable smartwatch, it might not be for everyone. Samsung’s latest wearable is specifically geared toward users trying to get or stay in shape. It isn’t an extension of your smartphone, so choose wisely.
Galaxy Watch Active: Price and Release Date
The Active comes in one size and one connectivity, option so it has a refreshingly hard and fast price of $200. That’s $129 cheaper than the original Galaxy Watch, and $200 cheaper than the Series 4, making it the more affordable of the bunch.
The Galaxy Watch Active will be released March 8 and is currently available for pre-order. Anyone who reserves one before its release will receive a free Galaxy Charger Pad, which is a pretty good deal, as those will run you $60 on their own. But there’s one big downside the Active: It doesn’t come with a cellular option.
Apple’s $400 GPS and cellular Series 4 variant lets users send and receive messages and use its map app when they’re not connected to Wifi. The Active only comes in a Wifi model that will can serve as a communication or navigational tool when it’s connected to the internet. That’ll be fine while you’re at home or at work, but if you’re trying to be, well, active, by bringing the device outside, you may find the functionality a bit limiting.
In other words, if you’re looking to augment your smartphone wherever you go, this ain’t it chief.
Galaxy Watch Active: Features
The Active is more like a gym buddy wrapped around your wrist. It’s thinner — roughly half the weight of the original Galaxy Watch — and it comes with a unique blood pressure tracking feature that could be a way to compete against the Series 4’s electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor.
Blood pressure tracking on the Active was developed through the My BP Lab app, a collaboration between Samsung and the University of California, San Francisco. The app isn’t FDA approved like Apple’s heart rate tracker, and it’s still in its beta phase. But Samsung told CNBC that the smartwatch worked with the app well enough to enable this feature and begin tracking users’ heart rate.
- When users first set up the app, they set up a blood pressure reading measured by a cuff to get an accurate first.
- The app uses the raw signal from the reading to calculate blood pressure.
- The device has an optical sensor to measure heart rate.
Where it may win is the design: Samsung went with a more minimalistic user interface to make workout and biometric stats front and center. The watch is said to “give you advice” when you’re exercising to ensure you’re getting the best results at the gym. It can track more that 39 activities, count steps, monitor sleep habits, and comes with a built-in GPS. Plus, Bixby can be used to make calls and send texts (when the watch is connected to Wifi, that is).
The Active also supports Qi wireless charging, which makes the free charging mat even more tempting. Plus, all of the S10 phones can be used as a wireless charger, too, thanks to their Wireless PowerShare feature. This way users don’t have to carry around a charger.
Galaxy Watch Active: Specs
Samsung newest wearable includes:
- 4GB of storage
- 766MB of RAM
- 1.1-inch 360x360 display
- 230 mAh battery
- Exynos 9110 processor
- 5ATM water resistant
Galaxy Watch Active: Color Options
The Active comes in four different colors: silver, black, rose gold, and sea green. As of March 1, the silver option is out of stock on Samsung’s online shop. It’s unclear when the company will be restocked.
Galaxy Watch Active: Early Reviews
While tech publications have yet to give the Active the full review treatment, the early impressions have been overwhelmingly positive despite some skepticism over the efficacy of its blood pressure tracker.
Damien Wilde from 9to5Google* praised its minimalist design:
“It’s smooth like a pebble and although I feel the buttons are a little recessed, it’s a beautifully minimal smartwatch and one that I would happily queue in line for,” he wrote.
CNET’s Vanessa Hand Orellana preferred the Active’s light-weight body compared to the standard Galaxy Watch for when she hits the gym.
“I would definitely prefer it over the regular Watch for working out,” she stated.
Husain Sumra from Wearables wasn’t convinced by the Active’s blood pressure tracking promise, but will wait to see how it shapes up.
“We’re a little skeptical of the My BP Lab app, especially as it doesn’t have FDA clearance, but there is still a chance Samsung and UC San Francisco pull that off,” he said.
Finally, TechRader’s James Peckham said it’s high-end aesthetic makes a steal of its price: “It does feature a high-end design, a large display and some new exciting health features,” he wrote. “Perhaps the best news, though, is that it comes at a much lower price.”