Samsung's Galaxy Watch Active is only four months old, but, in an unusual move, the company is rolling out its next edition, the Galaxy Watch Active 2.
The new smartwatch comes in two variants, one with Bluetooth 5.0 (for increased range) and one with LTE. That LTE model will afford much more freedom, letting you take calls and respond to messages without having your phone nearby.
Wareable verdict: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review
The rotating bezel is also making a return due to popular demand – sort of. It's no longer a physical dial to rotate, but a touch-sensitive one built into the watch's bezel. Functionally, it will work the same way it does on the Galaxy Watch, but it'll be interesting to see if a digital rotator can give off a similar tactile feel. We've seen a similar kind of feature pop up on the Misfit Vapor smartwatch, though it wasn't the best. So we hope Samsung has done a better job of it.
The new watch comes in 40mm and 44mm versions, bringing its dimensions in line with the latest Apple Watch models. Both offer 20mm interchangeable bands when you need to mix those looks up. While the LTE version is only available in stainless steel with a leather strap, Samsung is offering the Bluetooth model in either stainless steel or a lightweight aluminium with a fluoroelastomer band. There's a good range of colours to choose from too: the aluminium comes in black, silver and rose gold; the stainless steel comes in black, silver and gold.
The 44mm model features a 1.4-inch, 360 x 360 resolution Super AMOLED display while the 40mm Active 2 packs a smaller 1.2-inch 360 x 360 Super AMOLED screen. Both include Corning's Gorilla Glass DX+ tech to add an extra layer of durability.
On the sensor front, Samsung says it's improved the optical heart rate sensors on the Active 2. There are now eight LEDs, which Samsung says will sample readings more regularly and with more accuracy. You'll be able to track 39 workouts, with seven of those automatically tracked including running, swimming and cycling. There's now also an updated Running Coach, so you can monitor your running pace in real-time and enjoy seven different running programs to help meet your goals.
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The Watch Active 2 promises some interesting social features, including a fuller Twitter experience (you can retweet from the watch) and the ability to watch YouTube videos on the watch's super AMOLED screen. We're less sure about the usefulness of that one. If you love your watch faces, a new mode lets you match your face to your current outfit simply by taking a photo inside the Galaxy Wearable companion app.
ECG and Under Armour Edition
Samsung has now also officially announced the Galaxy Watch Active 2 Under Armour Edition. After we revealed the UA model existed, professional leaker Evan Blass tweeted an image of the special edition smartwatch, and Samsung has now confirmed the partnership. This Under Armour edition of the watch costs $309, which is $30 more expensive than the Bluetooth-only model. It will come with a special silicon band, six months of premium membership for MapMyRun, and the ability to connect to Under Armour's Hovr running shoes.
As we previously reported, the new watch has an ECG sensor, too, but this will not be working at launch. Samsung told us it's "looking for meaningful partnerships in the future" for this, and told us to hold tight for more details in the future. Translation: it won't be able to do much until Samsung receives the same FDA clearance Apple got for its own smartwatch ECG.
We've now heard indications that this could be coming in Q1 2020, though, meaning we won't have to wait too long to try out the ECG, in the US at least. It may take longer to come to other regulatory jurisdictions. On top of that, the watch will also pack in fall detection, also coming live in 2020, to detect when users have take a serious fall and potentially set off alerts and alarms.
In terms of battery life, we're promised up to four days of juice, but mileage will vary depending on use. We expect LTE will drain the battery a fair amount. That four days, though, would be a big upgrade on the couple of days we managed to get from the Galaxy Watch Active.
Price and release date
The Bluetooth-only Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 will start at $279.99 for the 40mm version and $299.99 for the 44mm. We don't have details on how much the LTE version will be priced at just yet but it looks like that will vary based on carrier. Both go on sale 27 September, with pre-orders starting 6 September. Samsung says LTE will work with "all the major carriers" in the US, and will work with both Android and iOS smartphones.
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