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Let’s shed some light on the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Specifications and add in an opinion or two; for those of you looking for a full review, as it stands, a future Samsung Galaxy Watch Review is 50:50.
The Galaxy Watch Active appears to be an extension of Q1.2017’s Samsung Gear Sport which itself was a competent enough fitness device bundled with oodles of ‘meh’. I won’t dwell on what the Gear Sport lacked but am reasonably excited by Samsung’s glitzy marketing for the Galaxy Watch Active. It still is a ‘smart watch’ or ‘fitness watch’ rather than a ‘sports watch’ and there is no big surprise there as the Galaxy Watch Active is broadly sitting in the same market space as the Apple Watch, Fitbit Ionic/Versa, Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music and many of the WearOS watches working on Google’s slowly improving platform.
Being a ‘smart, fitness watch’ is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing – if done well. A potentially very profitable thing indeed. And Samsung has a big advantage here in the sense that some of their higher-end devices run the proprietary Tizen OS, whilst other Samsung devices run Android. So there is a sense here of ‘captive market syndrome‘ which will guarantee sales but also a sense of ‘Jeez will it run the apps that I like?‘.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active – Sporty Apps
Samsung has held the crown jewels of music streaming for a while, namely Spotify support. Garmin has recently stolen the sceptre from them but, I guess, Spotify Support alone is good enough for Samsung. (FWIW: Apple have their hands on the orb too). As you can see from the image below, Samsung’s range of supported SPORTY apps could probably also be classified as ‘good enough’
- MyFitnessPal – Diet Stuff
- C25K – Couch-based stuff
- Strava – Two-wheeled based Stuff
- Swim.com – Wet Stuff
- Endomondo & MapMyRun – sorry I’m running out of ‘stuff’ based lines. You know what they do and even if not then you’ve heard of them and know that other people use them a fair bit. (See: how popular are those sports apps 2019)
The Fitness piece from samsung is different to that from ‘sporty apps’ and Samsung takes the wider ‘recovery’ and ‘stress’ spheres and present them in a much more consumer-friendly way than VO2max and HRV (hey! you and I understand them…no-one else does).
Samsung seems to have done their research and have figured out that lots of people are really into incorrectly diagnosed SLEEP STAGES. It’s mostly harmless, I suppose. Sleep Stages data focusses attention on a key area of health (good sleep) and just like 10,000 steps, sleep stage guestimation is very well-intentioned.
All Is Not Lost
Sporty people should not worry. You have a friend in Stefan at QOOAPPS. Stefan specialises in just generally being awesome with Sporty Watch 2.0 on Samsung GALAXY. Go on…you know you want to click: link to qooapps.com (no financial links to me but there are lots of links to sporty sensors and other training platforms 😉 )
- You want to have a fitness watch that shows Live HR Monitoring?
- You want to check your current Heart Rate Zone because you want to lose fat or improve your endurance?
- You have a STRYD® footpod and want to see live data without your phone?
- You have a BT HR chest strap and want to use it because it’s more accurate?
- You want to sync your Workout with TRAININGPEAKS®, STRAVA® or just want to have the fitness data file with HR for your own analysis?
I’ve not tested qooapps on GWA
The rendered images that I’ve seen do look nice. The multitude of watch faces look nice as well, although it’s now 2019 and the degree of innovation in how to present your daily fitness progress has somewhat hit a brick wall since we all tried to close our three rings with an Apple Watch.
That always sounded a bit painful to me but what’s not to like about those three rings being turned into a pretty heart AND with a perhaps slightly condescendingly worded pat on the back (image to right)
Maybe that message is only enabled by the ‘snowflakes’ setting? I’ll let you know when I get my hands on one.
Still not good enough for you? Well, it’s good enough for Her Maj.. Seriously. It is/will be/maybe/might be…if she wears one. If. (See image to right, which IS on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active page…hence why I mention it here)
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Specifications
The world’s media do not seem to have done a good job with the Galaxy Watch Active imagery.
I can’t find a picture anywhere of the optical sensor on the rear. All I have is the schematic that I’ve shown further below. That should be good enough for a quick thought on the optical HR which does look to be improved on the two sensors/receivers on the previous Gear SPORT. The Galaxy Watch Active appears to have a central transmitter array and then 4 receivers arranged equidistantly around it (or the other way around, it doesn’t matter too much). This is an arrangement that could offer improved accuracy. However, it WILL still be hit and miss as to whether the oHR works for you at sporty levels of exertion.
Samsung will NOT be waving the magic wand of oHR accuracy.
Similarly the GPS (GNSS) chip MAY have improved over the Gear Sport. The new specs show GALILEO support is now added and was not there previously. Whether this means that the chip is changed and now capable of using those satellites or whether it now actually uses GLONASS/GALILEO is another matter entirely. Indeed GALILEO is not fully functional until 2020 and my understanding is that notable accuracy increases in GNSS will only arrive if a dual-frequency GALILEO setup is used. I doubt very much if the Galaxy Watch Active will be as good as Polar GPS-only devices from several years ago even with GALILEO enabled, it is MOST likely that Samsung will be focussing on the extension of battery life via more power-friendly GNSS chips.
The ‘light sensor’ may be something as simple as a sensor which detects if the device is not being worn and, if so, turns off the oHR to save battery.
Otherwise please enjoy the specs below, the only other thing which stands out is the MIL-STD-810G durability certification and proper waterproofing.
|39.5 x 39.5 x 10.5mm
25g (Without Strap)
|Display||1.1”(28.1mm) Circular Super AMOLED (360 x 360)
Full Color Always On Display
Corning® Gorilla® Glass
|AP||Exynos 9110 1.15 GHz|
|OS||Tizen OS 4.0|
|Memory||0.75GB + 4GB|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n, NFC, GPS/Glonass/Beidou/Galileo|
|Sensor||Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, HR Sensor, Light Sensor|
|Charge||WPC based wireless charging|
|Durability||5ATM + IP68 / MIL-STD-810G|
|Compatibility||Samsung, other Android: Android 5.0 or higher & RAM 1.5GB above
iPhone: iPhone 5 and above, iOS 9.0 or above