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Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Review: Great Wearable Hampered By Bad Battery Life

You win some, you lose some

Samsung’s new smartwatch may sound like it’s a chunky wearable, but the Galaxy Watch Active is anything but. This sleek new smartwatch is aimed at people who are serious about getting fit but don’t want to spend oodles of money on Apple’s offerings.

While the Galaxy Watch Active has a lot of compelling features, it’s hobbled by mediocre battery life compared to its competitors and even some members of Samsung’s own lineup.

Minimalist design that’s so unlike Samsung

The Galaxy Watch Active’s design is so unlike Samsung that we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the company outsourced the design process to another firm.

The Galaxy Watch Active has a modern, minimalist design that just has rounded edges and a sleek-looking watch face.

The two physical buttons set on the side only extend a few mm past the metal chassis of the watch, just enough so you’d be able to quickly find them by feel.

While the Galaxy Watch Active is supposed to be the cheaper version of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch, we like its design more than the mechanically complicated one on its bigger brother. No fancy rotating bezels here – and that’s alright.

Physically the Galaxy Watch Active is around 20% smaller than Samsung’s flagship smartwatch, which makes it perfect for smaller wrists (AKA women). It does come in different colors, with our review unit coming in a fantastic shade of rose gold.

The loss of the bezel means that it’s a bit harder to navigate through the 1.1-inch touchscreen panel and navigate through the Tizen OS since the icons are so small.

The two buttons on the side help out a little bit in terms of navigation, with the top moving you back a page and the bottom taking you back to the watch face or if you’re already there, giving you a quick glance at all the apps that you have installed on the watch itself.

Tons of features installed to keep you healthy

One thing I really like about Samsung’s wearables is their Health App, which has a ton of features for health-conscious individuals.

The stand-out feature so far is the watch’s capability to read stress, and subsequent reminders to take a breather to lower stress levels. We’re not sure how the Watch Active is able to quantify stress levels but the data displayed matched what I’ve been feeling lately.

The watch also has a large collection of indoor exercises you can do (around 21), and tracks your activity pretty well. You get step and calorie counting which are pretty standard, as well as heart rate via the sensor on the bottom of the watch. The watch can also do Blood Pressure Monitoring, though that’s something that only US-based customers can do since it was developed with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

There’s built-in GPS in the watch so you don’t have to bring your phone along with you if you want precise location data when you’re out on a run. Speaking of, you can download your music directly to the watch if you don’t fancy the idea of bringing your phone with you when you’re out and about. While the watch has around 4GB of storage, there’s only 1.5GB left for users after Tizen and all the necessary apps are installed but that’s more than enough space for most people who just want a few tracks to listen to when out on a jog.

You can install additional apps on the watch but most of the stuff you’d want already comes pre-installed, truthfully. Samsung’s Bixby assistant is also present on the watch, but honestly, we prefer Google’s solution over Samsung’s.

Battery life is meh

The biggest problem with the Galaxy Watch Active is battery life. Since it’s physically smaller than Samsung’s flagship wearable, there’s less space inside of its body for a battery. The wearable only has a 230mAh battery, far behind the 472mAh that’s on the larger Galaxy Watch.

That translates to barely two days of battery life, which means you’ll have to constantly remember to put the thing in its charging cradle every two days.

That’s quite annoying and is far behind the 5-day battery life of Samsung’s flagship model as well as the offerings of FitBit and Huawei.

Verdict: A good option even with the mediocre battery

Samsung’s latest wearable has a lot of great things going for it, wrapped up in package that’ll appeal to both sexes. It’s just unfortunate that its battery life isn’t as good as other offerings in the market.

If you can get over that, then we’d whole-heartedly recommend the Galaxy Watch Active for both casual and hardcore fitness buffs looking for a sleek and decently priced smartwatch.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is priced at Php 11,990.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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