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The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active hit the market on April 9, a direct spin-off to the Samsung Galaxy Watch. The new product ditched the large face in favor of a more streamlined, 40mm design. After scouring the internet for some reviews, I found that the original Galaxy Watch received top-marks from nearly ever site and consumer, leaving the Active with an uphill task to supplant the previous iteration. How did the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active do in my wearing experience? Pretty good, but with some issues.
Color, Size, Style
As an aside, I must illustrate my general lack of interest in wearing watches. I do not like the feeling of having things on my wrists and other body parts, especially while typing at work. The main reason I purchased this watch was to be able to go on a run outside and not have to carry my giant phone in my pocket. The ability to load songs onto the watch and use my Spotify application allured me enough to buy the watch. I was pleasantly surprised with my first experience wearing the watch with the lack of weight on my arm.
One of the concerns with the Samsung Galaxy Watch was the giant size; some people did have a problem with the amount of bulk on their wrist. The Active is comfortable and light on my arm. You can buy multiple colors for the wrist band, all of which are simple but relatively sleek.
The smaller screen presents an obvious drawback: navigation. While I do not have any issues moving between screens to see my heart rate, weathers, steps, and exercise habits, the true challenge comes with the application scroll wheel. Naturally, the icons have to be shrunk to a very small size, making navigation a chore. A delicate touch is required to connect with the application you wish to open. While running, I found it exceedingly difficult to try and switch songs on my watch, often settling for the switching through my earbuds (another pain in the rear!).
I did not initially buy the watch for fitness tracking and heart rate monitor, but I am now fascinated with the features. As someone who exercises a good deal during the week, tracking my steps never entered my mind as a priority; however, I now am very cognizant of how much I am walking during my work day. While on the elliptical, I tested the heart rate monitor to the monitor on the exercise machine, and the numbers matched identically. The watch provides built-in exercise features and will sometimes detect the exercise you are doing. I remember going for a bike ride and my watch firing up that I had been cycling for 10 minutes. Pretty cool!
Unfortunately, I have not been as lucky with the Spotify app. Without getting into the details, I spent a large time calibrating, downloading, updating, and making the watch work properly with what I initially made the purchase for. For the most part, Spotify works during my runs; however, there have been occasions where the software went wild, skipping tracks at random and freezing. Beyond that, the watch does a good job of connecting my phone, alerting me when I am getting calls, texts, or other messages. With my phone’s screen often dark while I am at work, the fact that I do not have to click my screen every 10 seconds to see if I missed something is a wonderful feature I did not fully appreciate at first. In addition, your watch can send quick messages in response if you want to let someone know you are away.
Your battery mileage will vary depending on your use. For me, I wear the watch from 7 AM to about 6 PM and set it back on the dock to charge for the next day. My usage is relatively light to moderate, occasionally checking during work for notifications and using some of the features while I workout after work. I easily can get through each day on a full charge, normally sitting around 70-80% life remaining when I remove the watch. If you put the watch through more rigorous pacing, you may be able to get through a full day on a charge, but it could be close.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is a solid recommendation for those who are looking for a light, effective option that lets you do multiple things. If you prefer a larger screen, you may want to stick to the original model; however, I enjoy not feeling like my arm is being dragged to the floor. Currently priced at $200, the watch sits just at the point where you are getting value without being taken to the cleaners. As a first-time user, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active hit all the right notes for me.
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