Samsung Galaxy Watch Active - As the clock ticks outside...

In recent weeks I was allowed to work, exercise and sleep with the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. And guess what; With this Watch Active, Samsung comes very close to the ideal smartwatch. The watch has a beautiful and solid design, is easy to operate and automatically registers numerous activities and data. Still, a few major frustrations, which we often see with Samsung wearables, remain.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Price € 230,-

Colors Black, green, silver, rose gold

OS Tizen OS

Screen 1.1-inch AMOLED

Weight 25 grams

Housing 40mm

Dimensions 3.95 x 3.95 x 1cm

Storage 4GB

Battery 230mAh

Connectivity Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS

Other Waterproof, interchangeable straps

Website 8 Score 80

  • Pros
  • Complete fitness tracker
  • Price
  • Display
  • design
  • Negatives
  • Battery life
  • heart rate monitor

Let me start with the strongest point of the Galaxy Watch Active: the design. Because Samsung has made a beautiful watch. The Active is only available in one size, but this small 40mm watch is the perfect size for the smaller wrist. Where a "normal" Galaxy Watch is a lot bulkier and heavier, the Active feels so light that you don't even realize it's on your wrist.

Samsung let us test the green version of the watch. The watch is also available in black, but the color options (including rose gold) give the already elegant gadget a striking jacket it deserves. The watch strap is easy to change yourself. And luckily, because after only two weeks, the silicone strap of this model already started to show considerable wear.

Controlling the Galaxy Watch Active

The small size has ensured that Samsung has omitted the rotating disc, which is on the more expensive Samsung Gear Sport, for example, with the Active. Although it takes some getting used to without this handy navigation aid, the operation of the Watch Active is more than fine. The screen may be very small, and you will sometimes have trouble tapping a tiny icon on the 1.1-inch screen, but it never gets frustrating. That is entirely thanks to the well-organized software shell that Samsung has built on its Tizen OS. No matter how much you swipe through screens and menus, you always know where you are. The home screen is easily found again with the push of a physical button. A home screen that you - as we are used to from Samsung - can completely adjust to your personal taste and wishes.

What you can also adjust are all the screens that you see when you swipe to the left. Here you can place numerous Samsung Health screens that show, for example, what your heart rate is, how much you have already walked today or what your stress level is. If you swipe in the other direction from the home screen, you will arrive at the notifications. During the test period I found the way the Active displayed and handled notifications very reliable. It is also ideal that you can give short responses to incoming messages via the watch.

Small is beautiful

The display is beautiful. Very beautiful even! The color reproduction on the small AMOLED display is powerful, and the brightness can be boosted high enough to read everything well even in direct sunlight. The only drawback is that the edge around the screen, the so-called bezel, is very thick. Which is especially striking because it is otherwise a small and minimalist device, and there is no turntable. Keep in mind that you have to put this watch on the charger almost every day. The small battery (230mAh) lasts well for a day where you use it intensively, but not much longer.

Already after two weeks, the silicone strap of this model started to show considerable wear


It is not without reason that this watch bears the name 'Active'. The elegant appearance hides a very complete sports watch. The manufacturer has packed the device with all kinds of sensors. For example, the watch automatically recognizes six different activities, including running, cycling and climbing stairs. Especially the presence of a GPS chip will be a big plus for the runners and cyclists among us.

In addition, you can also register numerous exercises by pressing the screen. And that makes tracking a visit to the gym or a workout in the park very easy (and fun!). And the same goes for swimming, because the Galaxy Watch Active is completely waterproof. You can then read out all this data extensively with the Samsung Health app. An application that has made great strides in terms of possibilities in recent years, but still leaves much to be desired when it comes to connecting third-party apps.

Accurate heart rate measurements are a must with a sports watch. And the Galaxy Watch Active is fairly reliable in that regard. The big, inexplicable peaks and dips of previous Samsung watches are all but gone, but the accuracy of an Apple Watch or a Fitbit Charge 3 isn't met. When checking measurements with other heart rate monitors, the Active deviated just a little too much. In addition, you can find the option in the menu to have the watch continuously measure your heart rate, but the Watch Active does not really do that. It seems that the sensor switches 'on' when it detects movement, while with a continuous measurement you also want to keep checking your resting heart rate. A small detail, but if a constant measurement is important, then a Fitbit Versa is a more reliable choice.

The Galaxy Watch Active likes to monitor your sleep. I would love to, because sometimes the watch thought I was asleep, while I was just watching a movie at night. The measurements that are taken during sleep are accurate, but do not match the precision of, for example, the wearables from Withings. It is nice that the Samsung Health app can show a lot of details about the quality of your sleep.


Via the built-in microphone you can give Bixby various voice commands, dictate a text or make a phone call (if you also put on a headset for sound). It's a pity that you can't set Google Assistant as your default speech buddy, but it's understandable in view of Samsung's holy belief in their own voice assistant. If you don't have a Samsung phone, Bixby's function on this watch is negligible. Fortunately, you can easily change the function of the Bixby shortcut (press the bottom button twice) to another app.

Conclusion: Buy Samsung Galaxy Watch Active?

With 230 euros, the Galaxy Watch Active is in the higher price segment for sports watches, but if you consider that it is also a full-fledged smartwatch (with all the functions you can expect from it in 2019), it is a well-priced product. In addition, it is one of the most beautiful smart watches on the market and it collects tons of data that you can read in detail in the Samsung Health app. It's a bit disappointing that you have to charge the watch every day and that the heart rate measurement is just not up to the level of the competition. Still, we can recommend the Galaxy Watch Active to anyone with a Samsung phone who is looking for a complete and rock-solid smartwatch.

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