The glitz and glamour of Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event in February 2019 brought us a deluge of new devices, including the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range and the folding Galaxy Fold smartphone. But with those huge devices, it’s all too easy to forget Samsung also revealed two new fitness-based wearables. It would be a mistake to do so; Samsung hasn’t always had the best record with wearable devices, yet last year’s Galaxy Watch was a triumph — and the Galaxy Watch Active hits the mark with the right price point.
Our Galaxy Watch Active review details a smartwatch with plenty to appreciate, including decent looks and solid software. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Fit — which we’ve also reviewed — is a band in the style of the classic Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro, and it delivers basic fitness tracking features at an affordable price point. Here’s everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active and the Galaxy Fit.
The Galaxy Watch Active gets Spotify integration, automatic swimming tracking, and more Bixby usability
The Galaxy Watch Active has gained a whole host of new abilities thanks to a recent update that makes Samsung’s sports watch even more useful. First, Samsung has improved usability with a new design for the app tray that ditches the turning in favor of a straight swipe — making it much easier to select the app you need. Bixby is also getting a shot in the arm to buff it up, and users will now be able to ask Bixby to perform a variety of tasks, including playing music from Spotify, texting friends, or changing settings on SmartThings devices. The Goodnight Mode has been upgraded to offer its own UI, which strips out all those distracting notifications in favor of simply telling you the time.
But that’s not all — the Galaxy Watch Active can now recognize swimming as a workout, and will automatically start tracking it when you begin your stroke. Health is getting a boost too, and the new Heart Rate-Low Alert feature will alert users when their heart rate falls beneath a certain value for over 10 minutes. Samsung Health’s Breathe Guide has also been revamped to make it easier to follow.
Finally, for the more stylish of you, there’s also a new collection of watch-straps to choose from with the introduction of the new Active Rubber, Active Textile, Active Leather, and Active Leather Dress collections from Strap Studio to choose from.
Design and display
Last year’s Galaxy Watch was a beautiful device, but it was also a large one, and that size made it tough to recommend for people with smaller wrists. The Galaxy Watch Active doesn’t suffer from this issue, as it features a smaller, sleeker aluminum design that’s just at home in the coffee shop as it is in the gym. It’s more rounded than the Galaxy Gear Sport, and it gives the watch a style that’s more like a traditional watch.
Joining this subtle design is a 1.1-inch AMOLED touchscreen running a 360 x 360 resolution, and you’ll find the heart rate sensor nestled underneath the watch’s main body. Like the Galaxy Gear Sport, you’ll be able to swap out the straps for any other 20mm strap with the universal strap attachments. Two buttons sit flush with the casing on the right side of the watch.
You’ll notice we didn’t mention Samsung’s trademark rotating bezel in Galaxy Watch Active’s description, and that’s because it’s not there. Samsung has ditched its familiar control method in favor of focusing solely on touchscreen and button controls. There’s only a 40mm size option for the Galaxy Watch Active, but comes with a 5 ATM water-resistance rating, so it’ll be able to handle a dip in the pool with ease.
If you want something that looks more at home with the gym, there’s the Galaxy Fit. The Galaxy Fit is a fitness-dedicated band in the style of the Gear Fit range, and like those bands, the AMOLED touchscreen is curved around the band, helping it to sit more flush with your arm. It’s super light, and Samsung claims it weighs as much as a single strawberry. There’s a heart-rate sensor underneath the unit, and it also sports a 5 ATM water-resistance rating.
The Galaxy Watch Active is coming with similar specs to last year’s Galaxy Watch. It’s equipped with the same dual-core Exynos 9110 processor as the Galaxy Watch, and comes with 728MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and a 236mAh battery with Qi wireless charging. The Galaxy Fit comes with a smaller 120mAh battery, but Samsung claims this will last around a week.
There’s bad news if you like to go without a smartphone though — neither the Galaxy Watch Active or the Galaxy Fit will be LTE-compatible, so they’ll be reliant on Wi-Fi. However, the former will support NFC for mobile payments and comes with Bluetooth 4.2. The Galaxy Fit uses Bluetooth 5 Low Energy.
Like most of Samsung’s wearable range, the Galaxy Watch Active is running Samsung’s proprietary Tizen operating system with One UI. The Galaxy Fit runs FreeRTOS instead of Tizen.
But the meat of the software is where the fitness-focus really comes into play. Samsung has added a number of health-focused watch faces, and each of them encourages you to complete a series of tasks every day to keep up your fitness level. These watch faces encourage you to burn a set number of calories, move at least once an hour (we’ve never felt so attacked), and exercise for a target number of minutes (these are only available on the Galaxy Watch Active). When it comes time to get some rest, both of these wearables will track your sleep.
Most excitingly, the Galaxy Watch Active will be the first Samsung wearable to be able to detect your blood pressure. To use it, you need to download Samsung’s My BP Lab App, which was developed in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
The Galaxy Watch Active will support 39 different exercises, and will be able to automatically detect a number of these. The Galaxy Fit has an advantage here though, as it contains support for 90 different exercises, with six workouts it can detect automatically. However, the Galaxy Watch Active contains support for third-party apps like Strava or Under Armor — and even allows for Spotify usage.
Pricing and availability
The Galaxy Fit comes in silver and black, and it costs $99. It’s available now from Samsung’s website and other retailers.
Updated on July 25, 2019: The Galaxy Watch Active has had a bunch of new features added.