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Samsung has released several impressive smartwatches in recent years, but they’ve always underwhelmed us when it comes to sports tracking, with chunky designs and uninspiring, basic fitness features.
That may all change with the lightweight Galaxy Active. It’s the first Samsung smartwatch that looks to be a credible rival to the sleek sports tracking package offered by the Apple Watch, especially since the Galaxy Active is priced at a competitive £229.
Most of the features of the standard Samsung Galaxy watch have been brought across to the slimline Active, with the most notable exception being the rotating bezel used to control the watch. We loved the rotating bezel, but losing it no doubt helped bring the Galaxy Active down to its featherlight 25g weight, and the watch has a touchscreen that can be used to move through its menus.
The other potentially significant change from the Galaxy is that the Active’s battery is much smaller, and although Samsung claims it will still last a couple of days, we struggled to get that from the Galaxy, which is listed as having seven days of battery. We reckon the Galaxy Active will definitely need a charge everyday (like the Apple Watch) if you’re using the heart rate tracker continuously and recording outdoor activities regularly and since this is a sports-focused smartwatch, you probably will be.
The Galaxy Active’s sports credentials are solid with a built-in GPS, heart rate monitor and 39 different exercise modes, including automatic tracking of sports like running, cycling and rowing.
We have found Samsung’s native sports tracking to be lacking in basic details, but third-party apps like Strava and Endomondo are available for those who want more in-depth stats on screen during activities.
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In contrast to the sports tracking, the everyday activity tracking on Samsung smartwatches is great, with extra widgets to track things like your water or caffeine intake alongside the usual steps and calories. There is also a Spotify app for the watch, which has dedicated memory for music.
Samsung also says that the Galaxy Active will be able to measure blood pressure from your wrist, which would be a standout feature not offered on any other major smartwatch. This feature is still in beta mode and not available to test, and the Galaxy Active is not an FDA-approved device as yet, unlike the Apple Watch.
All of those features mean the Samsung Galaxy Active is shaping up to be one of the most well-rounded smartwatches available at its price, with rivals like the Fitbit Versa not having built-in GPS or as many apps. We look forward to seeing if the Galaxy Active lives up to its on-paper promise when we put it to the test.
Pre-order from Samsung | £229
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.