Samsung updates Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Active with a host of new features introduced with Galaxy Watch Active 2, our choice for the best smartwatch for Android users. These include new features for Bixby Voice, more customization options for the dials, new Samsung Health features, and a touch interface for the Galaxy Watch Active.
The addition of the Touch interface to the Galaxy Watch Active is particularly welcome after we complained in our review that the rotating surface of previous Samsung smartwatches was missing. The touch interface felt intuitive in the test of the Galaxy Watch Active 2, so hopefully it can be transferred well to its predecessor. The Galaxy Watch already has a rotating mechanical bezel.
Samsung is also changing a number of UX elements on both Tizen-based smartwatches. The icons for apps in use have been moved. The current time will now be displayed while you are using or talking on the Stopwatch app. The icons on the watch's quick panel are now easier to customize. There are also new customization options, including 24 new side dials and complications, for a total of 41.
Bixby also gets some updates to its functionality for both watches. According to Samsung, Voice Assistant can now be used to start training routines and control SmartThings devices. It now works in more languages, including French, German, Spanish, Italian and … British English? However, our experience with the Galaxy Watch Active 2 makes it unlikely that the new functionality is a revolution. On the Active 2, we found that Bixby is still a mark against the smartwatch, and that the voice assistant often feels unresponsive and restrictive.
Finally, Samsung Health gets some new features for both watches. The Daily Active feature now logs fitness goals and lap times while running or cycling. There is also a new low heart rate alert feature. Considering that we have called Galaxy Watch Active 2 the "first smartwatch and second fitness tracker," you should probably expect reasonable expectations of the new functionality.
Despite this, it's great to see that Samsung's two previous smartwatches are getting big updates, especially if you can buy the Galaxy Watch Active for about $ 80 less than the successor to Samsung's US business. You get a slightly smaller display and a smaller battery, but the two clocks share the same Exynos 9110 chipset. Choosing the Galaxy Watch model for one of the two Active models will not save you money, but it's the right choice if you need a mechanically rotating bezel.
According to Samsung, the new updates will be introduced regionally from today.