Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Review

Smartwatches are getting common and most importantly – affordable! Nowadays, they are also packed with features. I bought the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active to replace my TicWatch E. The Galaxy Watch Active is pitched as the lower cost version of the previous Galaxy Watch. I bought it for S$239 from Qoo10 and it retails for S$348.

Why not TicWatch?

TicWatch started off as a manufacturer of affordable smartwatches that are certified to work with Android Wear. However, the TicWatch’s current offerings are getting expensive. Therefore, I started looking for alternatives and decided to give the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active a shot despite it being incompatible with Android Wear.

Galaxy Watch Active vs Galaxy Watch

The looks

Galaxy Watch Active

How different is the Galaxy Watch Active from the other Galaxy Watch series? The most noticeable difference is the lack of a rotating bezel. The other would be the overall size.

Display

The display size differs among the Samsung Galaxy Watches. The smallest being the Samsung Galaxy Active and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm boasts the largest screen size.

In terms of display material, the Galaxy Watch series uses Gorilla Glass DX+ which offers decent resistance against scratches from daily objects.

Model Galaxy Watch Active Galaxy Watch 42mm Galaxy Watch 46mm
Diameter (mm) 40 42 46
Display (inch) 1.1 1.2 1.3
Screen Material Gorilla Glass Gorilla Glass DX+
Technology Super AMOLED

Features

I could not notice any differences in terms of features between the Galaxy Watch models. I explored both the Galaxy Watch 42mm and Galaxy Watch Active at the official retail store. From my observation, they have the same features, less the ability to navigate using the rotating bezel on the Galaxy Watch 42mm.

Battery Life

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm comes with the highest capacity at 472 mAh that supposedly last up to four days. Both Samsung Galaxy Watch 42mm and Samsung Galaxy Active comes with 270 mAh battery.

Model Galaxy Watch Active Galaxy Watch 42mm Galaxy Watch 46mm
Battery (mAh) 270 472

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active in Black
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active for Korean market
Tight fit within the box

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active comes sealed in a small package. The one I bought is meant for the Korean market. As it is meant for Korean market, the Samsung Pay feature do not work out of the box. I had to change the watch’s CSC to Singapore for Samsung Pay to work.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, additional (longer) band and wireless charger

Within the package, you will find the:

  • Samsung Galaxy Watch Active (SM-R500)
  • Wireless charger
  • Additional watch band
  • User manuals

The Looks

Galaxy Watch Active
The back and app button at the side
The heart rate sensor

Battery and Features

So far, I been getting pretty decent battery life on the Galaxy Watch Active. It generally last two work days in between charges.

The always-on-display (AOD) is not on. That is, the screen turns black when it timeout is reached and certain gestures (e.g. wrist flicking) turns on the screen briefly.

Samsung Pay

The NFC payment (through Samsung Pay) has been pretty useful.

  1. Trigger Samsung Pay by holding on to the back button
  2. Enter PIN
  3. Select card for payment
  4. Tap on the payment receiver

Recently, the public transport also support contactless payment so one can zip through using Samsung Pay too. Well, some payment receivers are pretty dodgy and have issues working with such contactless payment. Well, it is probably just me.

Yes, I bought the Galaxy Watch Active meant for Korean market and is able to use Samsung Pay in Singapore after changing the Consumer Software Customization (CSC) value to ‘XSP’. This essentially localised it for Singapore usage.

Operations

The Galaxy Watch Active is powered by Tizen and runs on 1.15GHz dual-core Exynos 9110 chipset and 4GB of storage. The smartwatch runs fluidly smooth.

The small touch screen will need to get used to. Without the rotating bezel on the Galaxy Watch Active, navigating and selecting apps is not as intuitive.

Conclusion

The Galaxy Watch Active has all the software features of the Galaxy Watch 42mm and 46mm. Comparing between the Samsung’s wearable and Android Wear, I am starting to like Samsung’s wearable more as it has got better health tracking feature. However, Samsung’s wearable app ecosystem is pretty primitive compared to Android Wear’s.

For S$239, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is a good smartwatch with the necessary useful features in a thin and light package.