Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 Has A New Touch-Sensitive Bezel – Okay, look, it’s confession time. I’ve spent the last year and a half or so complaining that there aren’t any good smartwatch options for Android users. But here’s a question for me. What if I’ve been too hard on all these watches? Now, look, there aren’t any great options. There’s nothing as good as the Apple Watch for iPhone users, that’s just facts.
But this watch right here, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 from Samsung, it is a useful smartwatch. Not great, but good. So anyway, if you have an Android phone, and you wanna smartwatch, you should give this thing a look. And if your Android phone happens to be a Samsung phone, you should definitely give it a second look. Because this thing is actually kind of a looker.
All right, so the Active 2 is a smartwatch that comes with a round OLED screen that comes in two sizes, a 40, and a 44 millimeter. This is the 44 millimeter. It starts at 279, which ain’t bad, and it comes in a few different colors and finishes, and there’s also an LTE version if you wanna spend more money.
Now it runs this operating system called Tizen, which is a custom Samsung thing that also happens to run their TVs. Anyway, the watch can work with both iPhones and Android phones. But if you have an iPhone, well, trust me, you should just move on, get an Apple Watch if you want a smartwatch. Anyway, the Tizen underpinning here doesn’t really matter so much as the interface that’s on top of it.
And I love it, and I hate it. It’s a hate/love relationship. See, Samsung designed everything her to work in circles, because the watch is round. You spin your finger around the slope to do things, like look at widgets or notifications, or even apps. And I love that, it’s evident and really consistent, and it’s fast to get around. That whole circle system, by the way, is why this is the Galaxy Active 2. The first Galaxy Watch Active was released like six months before this one, and six months isn’t a very long time between models.
But the thing is, Samsung just straight up didn’t think about how this OS works in circles, so the first one didn’t have a bezel. This is one does have a touch-sensitive rotating bezel that you can run your finger around. I will say that a touch-sensitive bezel, it’s not quite as fun or as relaxed as an actual, physical rotating one, but it works. And overall, I think this hardware works really well. It’s simple, but it’s not necessary. And it’s clean without being boring.
Plus, the OLED screen is excellent. It’s always on, and that is how watches are supposed to be, and I don’t know why it took Apple five years to get that right (laughing). Look, why is this watch good? It gets the basics right, it mirrors notifications, it lets you reply to incoming messages, it has a bunch of health features for tracking most of the stuff that you’d expect, and it has a battery that lasts a full day. It’s comfortable to wear, and it’s not aggressively chunky; it just kinda blends in.
It also does some really nice stuff that I haven’t seen other smartwatches do well. Like it has this goodnight mode, which is actually really smart. It turns off the screen, and notifications, and goes into a sleep-tracking mode. You can set up these widgets on this watch, which you could scroll into with the touch-sensitive bezel, and I use them all the time. It’s actually a feature that Google pretty much straight up copied for AOS, and they should’ve copied it because it’s excellent.
It also comes with Spotify, and you can download Spotify music directly to the watch, which is excellent. Not so vast is the third-party app ecosystem. There’s really not a lot of things you’re gonna want there. Also, if you’ve seen anybody recommend the YouTube or Twitter apps for this watch, just trust me, you don’t want them. Besides, you know, there’s a full Samsung internet web browser here if you wish. You can watch YouTube on that. There’s also no apps map built-in, and I haven’t found a great third party option that I really like.
Now, the watch faces are, well look, they’re fine. There’s a ton of ones built-in, but I haven’t found on that I love, just one that I kind of like. Plus, all the complication option, they’re just, they’re too complicated. There are third-party watch faces, though, in the store, which is excellent. But finding a good one requires wading through a lot of really, really bad ones. But look, top-level, this is a watch that looks pretty good, can handle fitness stuff, lasts all day, and has a friendly interface. Why is this just a good watch, and not, well great? (smile).
I’m not even talking about aesthetics. If you aren’t already using a Samsung phone, you have to install a least like three things on your phone just to get started. And that doesn’t even include Samsung Health or Samsung Pay. And well, the voice assistant on this watch is Bixby. And look, I don’t wanna make fun too much of Bixby, because honestly, it can do some basic stuff okay, like transcription, but overall, it is slow, and it’s, you know, it’s terrible.
Overall, I would say that this is the best asterisk smartwatch for Android users. I don’t think there’s anything better, so this is the defacto the best. But while it’s right, it’s not great. And that’s the asterisk. For Android users, good is about as good as it gets, and you know, I’ll take it.
If you got questions about this thing. Let me know down in the comments. Also, are you interested in a smartwatch? I’m curious about that too, what are you looking at right now?