Both Huawei and Samsung have taken a far more sporty approach to their smartwatches. While Samsung still sells the Galaxy Watch, it's the Active that's proved to be a bit of a surprise hit and sprung a successor months after the first one launched.
Huawei begun smartwatch life proving that tech companies were capable of making an attractive watch with connected features. In recent years, it decided to move away from Google's Wear OS in favour of using its own Lite OS operating system. One of the reasons behind the move was to address a problem that still plagues many smartwatches; bad battery life.
With the Watch GT 2 and the new Watch GT 2e. it's certainly achieved pushing stamina well beyond a few days play and still make a really nice watch.
The Watch GT 2e and the Galaxy Watch Active 2 are certainly strong options for Android phone owners who don't fancy living with a Wear OS watch. They both work with iPhones too, so they're could make great Apple Watch alternatives too.
We've lived with both watches now. So we've picked out the key differences between the two to help you decide which of these sporty smartwatches you should go for.
Huawei Watch GT 2e v Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Design
The design approaches from Samsung and Huawei are clearly very different. While both are clearly well made smartwatches, they look a little different on the wrist.
With the Active 2, you have the option of two cases sizes. Whether you go 40mm or 44mm, you're getting the same fully round watch with the smaller model offering a slightly smaller screen.
Crucially, both sizes use the same AMOLED touchscreen display technology and that's a good thing. Samsung's displays are some of the best in the business and the Active 2 has really a top notch screen. There's two physical buttons and surrounding the screen is a capacitive bezel that can be swiped to scroll through watch screens.
We should talk about Samsung models here too. For starters, there are 4G and Bluetooth models and Samsung has also launched Under Armour and Golf edition of these watches too. These essentially offer slightly different bands and some small software extras.
The Huawei Watch GT 2e unlike the GT 2, comes in just the one size (46mm), which does mean it's a larger watch than the Active 2. While the look is relatively minimal too, it does have that added bit of character thanks to the attractive numbered bezel.
It also has physical buttons to accompany a 1.39-inch, 454 x 454 AMOLED display, which is a great quality screen to find on a watch this price. The more breathable strap is a new addition over the GT 2 that is still interchangeable if you need to revert back to something less sporty.
So which one is nicer to wear? Huawei's watch definitely has a bit more going on with the design and retains most of the good features introduced on the GT 2. The Samsung on the other hand opts for a more simplistic look, but that doesn't mean it's not a really nice watch to live with. These are two really well put together options that we've liked living with for very different reasons.
Huawei Watch GT 2e v Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Sports tracking
Both of these smartwatches promise a lot in the way of what they can offer someone that wants to track their health and fitness.
Let's start with the basics that these two cover off. Both have built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor and a waterproof design with swim tracking enabled. If you care about open water swim tracking, both offer that support. There's also automatic exercise tracking available on a series of exercise modes across both watches, though we'd always say go manual if you can. That way you'll get richer, more reliable data.
In terms of sports tracking performance, the Active 2 did a do a good job overall though did tend to slightly overreport GPS distance. Swim tracking was pretty reliable too though similarly did at times record slightly longer distance covered. Heart rate monitoring accuracy was generally good, but like a lot of wrist-based monitors, comes up short for accuracy during high intensity workouts.
Workout tracking is generally straightforward to do, though locating data on the watch and in Samsung's Health app can feel a bit clunky.
Huawei offers a lot of the same core sports tracking modes as well as covering activities like hiking and climbing. It also covers a lot of more niche activities like street dance and skateboarding. The metrics on offer for those activities though are very basic.
There's extras for runners in terms of the added guides that offer running-focused plans to follow. You also get the benefit of extra training insights that are commonly found on vastly more expensive sports watches. So VO2 Max measurements and knowing when to take a day off the gym.
Like Samsung, those workout tracking features are really easy to use. We found GPS really accurate and the heart rate monitor performed a lot like Samsung's sensor. Good in general, but problematic at high intensity. The experience of reviewing the data on the watch felt a lot nicer to do here as opposed to Samsung's smartwatch.
An important aspect to mention is that while Samsung will let you sync data to other apps like Endomondo and Strava, it's not the same story for Huawei. Data can only live inside of its Health app. There is the ability to export GPS data and technically move it to other apps, but it's going to be a bit of a pain to do.
Huawei Watch GT 2e v Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Health and fitness tracking
When it comes to fitness tracking, both count steps and automatically monitor sleep. Samsung offers a bit more in the way of motivating you to keep moving regularly during the day. It does that by suggesting exercises you can do (even while sitting down). Huawei has inactivity alerts, but it doesn't do much more than tell you to get up and move. From an accuracy point of view, we found it pretty consistent for steps and sleep.
It was a similar story as far as the Huawei's fitness tracking skills are concerned. Data seemed very reliable for both step counts and sleep. Unlike Samsung though, it offered more detailed insights, particularly for sleep.
We should also talk health and wellbeing features here too. Both watches will continuously monitor heart rate to offer insights into your current state of fitness. There's stress tracking driven by heart rate measurements and guided breathing features on both watches too.
Huawei includes an SpO2 sensor to offer on the spot measurements that could help indicate whether you may be struggling with illness. It's not a medical grade feature, so more of a guide than anything more definitive. Like Apple, Samsung has included an ECG sensor to offer more accurate, medical grade-like heart rate readings. That could help detect serious heart health conditions. Unfortunately, the feature is not ready to do that yet until Samsung receives the required approval.
If you want something that's great for sports tracking, we say go for the Huawei. Just be aware of the restrictions around where your data can live. For fitness tracking, it's Samsung for us. Just about. It does more in the way of keeping you active even if it lacks some of the more detailed insights you get on Huawei's watch.
Huawei Watch GT 2e v Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Smartwatch features
When it comes to what Samsung's Tizen OS and Huawei's Lite OS offers those staple smartwatch features, it's quite clear that the Watch Active 2 is more smartwatch than the Watch GT 2e is.
In terms of smartwatch features, the Watch GT 2e delivers phone notifications both for Android and iPhones. There's also a built-in music player with room for 500 songs, though it doesn't have support to store music from music streaming services. You also get a good mix of watch faces that can be customised to show off your fitness data. That's really your lot though.
Of those features, there's a disparity in terms of what you can use when you're paired to an iPhone or Android phone. The music features for instance works with Android phones only.
With the Active 2, you're getting everything we mentioned above and a whole lot more. There's apps, notifications, a music player with Spotify support, Samsung Pay and LTE if you opt for the LTE model. Samsung's Bixby smart assistant also makes an appearance, though it's not the most useful in its current state. As a package though, it offers more than what Huawei does. The GT 2e is more fitness watch with some smartwatch features thrown in.
Huawei Watch GT 2e v Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Battery life and price
If you want the watch that gives you the most battery life, it's the Watch GT 2e you need on your wrist. Delivering big battery life has been a priority for Huawei and it's delivered an impressive 14 days of battery life. In testing, it is capable of going that distance. Potentially power-sapping features like the display and using sensors like GPS, don't drain the battery life in a concerning way.
In comparison, the Watch Active 2 isn't capable of keeping away from the charger for that long. While Samsung promises 3-4 days battery life on both the 40mm and 44mm models, our time suggested it's closer to two days. If you're more liberal with things like screen brightness and not overusing LTE, these will help you to get closer to more than a couple of days.
When it comes to price, the Huawei Watch GT 2e is the cheapest coming in at ¬£159.99, which is ¬£40 less than what the Watch GT 2 cost when it launched last year.
Pricing can vary for the Watch Active 2 depending on size and the addition of LTE. The 40mm Active 2, which has Bluetooth connectivity only comes in at $279. The 44mm Active 2 Bluetooth model comes in at $299. If you want LTE/4G, that pushes the price up to $429.
Huawei Watch GT 2e v Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Verdict
So do you go Huawei Watch GT 2e or Galaxy Watch Active 2? If you want a fuller smartwatch experience, it's a bit of a no brainer. Go for the Active 2. Huawei's watch is certainly more fitness watch than smartwatch. You've got an app store, the ability to share data with other platforms, richer music features and generally just more what you'd get from an Apple Watch or a Wear OS watch.
If you care about sports and fitness tracking, then for us the Huawei does a better job of it. Samsung's offers more in the way of motivating you to keep moving during the day, but The GT 2 e offers a bit more reliability and offers some really nice detailed insights for aspects like sleep monitoring. It also has that benefit of a battery life that is miles ahead of Samsung's.
These are two great watches there's no two ways about it. But if you want a good all round experience, the Active 2 is the one to get.