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Last Updated : Jul 22, 2019 05:33 PM IST | Source:

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active review: Small form, big surprise

Essentially, the Active is just a scaled down version of the company's flagship Galaxy Watch. It loses out on the spinning dial and the battery life, but gets everything you would expect from its bigger sibling at a fairly lower price point.

Stanford Masters @stany_2091

Samsung had originally unveiled the Galaxy Watch Active at the Galaxy Unpacked event back in February. A whole four months later and the smartwatch finally made it to Indian shores, retailing at a price of Rs 19,999 on the company's website and Amazon.

Essentially, the Active is just a scaled-down version of the company's flagship Galaxy Watch. It loses out on the spinning dial and the battery life, but gets everything else you would expect from its bigger sibling at a fairly lower price point. It gets a 1.1-inch AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3 and runs on an Exynos 9110 dual-core processor with 768 MB of RAM and 4 GB of onboard storage. Like all of Samsung's watches, the Active also gets the Tizen-based wearable OS. While this has its pros and cons, it does function fairly well with Samsung's watches.



The Active is a pretty little watch. You have a choice of four different colours – Rose Gold, green, silver and black. Now, I cannot claim to have large wrists. This makes it extremely difficult for me to find something that does not look overly big. The Active, thankfully, is fairly sleek that way. It fits really well and can hide under my jacket sleeve with ease. It's light too, so it doesn't feel like it's weighing down your arm.

To some, the watch might seem a little bland. Sure, all of the watches come in one solid colour, but you could always buy another pair of straps from Samsung to change it up a little. The straps themselves are pretty standard. So if you wanted, you could buy a set of 20mm straps from anywhere else and they would fit into the Active without a fuss. I found, however, the black Active to be pretty okay, and it went fairly well with most of my outfits.

Straight out of the box, you do have a slightly lengthy pairing process. Now, the watch is not exclusive to Samsung devices and while it obviously functions better with a Samsung smartphone, it wasn't too bad with even with my OnePlus 6. Notifications come up almost as soon as they hit the phone, so you're not missing out on anything. Every so often though, there was a slight delay when the watch had to notify an incoming call. This was rare, so it isn't much cause for concern.

The screen, at 1.1 inches, is a little on the small side and one tends to miss the spinning dial on the Galaxy Watch and Gear series. While the dial made things extremely precise, the Active relies a lot on swipes. Plus, navigating the screen is a little tedious and those with thick fingers will probably find it a little difficult to type down a reply to a message. There are two buttons to help with your navigation and it gets much easier to use once you figure out what they do. The top essentially functions as your back button while the one below that takes you to the home screen or the app drawer if you are already home. There is customisability on the buttons too. By default, a double press on the top button will bring up Samsung Pay and long-pressing the lower one summons Bixby, which can be customised to open any of the apps installed on your watch.


In terms of apps, the Tizen-based OS has several. Of course, it is not close to what Wear OS offers but it gets a lot of health tracking apps tailor-made for the Galaxy Watch. Speaking of health tracking, the Active does this beautifully. For instance, if the watch is tracking the steps on your walk, it will automatically record it as a workout if you increase your pace to a brisk walk.


The Active is IP68 water-resistant. It could sit at the bottom of a 1.5-metre glass of water for half an hour and nothing should go wrong. So, I took it swimming. The active has a 'water lock' mode that keeps the display from registering touches when active. Combine that with the Samsung's Health app while swimming and you can track your laps around the pool. There is a caveat to this though. The watch will count lengths you swim, but if you happen to take a break halfway and then continue on, the tracker will register two lengths.


The thing I find funny about smartwatches is their ability to track sleep. I don't really understand the science behind this, but I tried it out. It appeared to track my stages of sleep and fairly well too. It managed to record the time I fell asleep and woke up pretty close to how I remember it. Now, I don't usually wear a watch to bed so I wasn't so psyched about this feature. If I wake up fresh in the morning, I probably slept very well.

Coming down to battery life, considering its size, the Active does well for itself. It usually went two days at a stretch even with my morning swim but  could potentially go longer when not pushed. This is probably not that good news because as a health tracker, the Fitbit Versa can run up to at least five days before hitting empty.


However, for all those who love Samsung, the Galaxy Watch Active is a neat little thing. It will tell you when you get a notification, ask you to pick up a call on your phone and even track your health for you. It may be a little bland, but it can be classy. Despite its size, the Active has some pretty high-end features for a not-so-high price.

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First Published on Jul 22, 2019 05:33 pm
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