Samsung has just released the much anticipated update to its Galaxy Watch. It comes with lots of upgrades over the original, so much so that the company decided to skip a number and call it Galaxy Watch 3.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Now it joins Watch Active 2 as a top-of-the range smartwatch in Samsung’s arsenal. That one is a more sporty take on the whole concept, but it also comes with lots of functionality packed in.
If you’re in two minds on which one is right for you, keep reading. We have put them side-by-side to make the decision easier for you.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs Active 2: Design
Samsung watches are fairly similar in design. They are all circular and very premium looking. Samsung has largely stuck to the formula that works, and who can blame them. It would be a bit disappointing if they, too, came out with an Apple Watch lookalike. We have too many of these as it is.
Put Galaxy Watch 3 and Active 2 next to each other and you’ll notice a few differences. They are not major, but they are subtle. Watch Active 2 is designed for the active types, hence it’s more streamlined and has a sleek form-factor. Watch 3 looks more like a conventional watch.
While both sport the same quality and size AMOLED display, this is packed into a slightly larger case with Watch 3. There you get the options of a 45mm and 41mm chassis. Samsung says they are around 15% slimmer than the original. Active 2, on the other hand, offers the choice between 44mm and 40mm and both of these are a fraction thinner than Watch 3.
As far as build, the new timepiece comes in a choice between stainless steel and titanium. The second is very lightweight but also very pricey. Active 2 offers a stainless steel and aluminium casing option, and due to the smaller sizes these are a bit more lightweight than Watch 3. The exact specs can be seen in the table below.
Samsung has decided to retain the physical rotating bezel for navigating around the Tizen OS. To remind, the company ditched this for Watch Active 2 in favour of a digital rotating bezel. You also have the two physical buttons on the right and touchscreen for navigation.
The similarities under-the-hood are aplenty. The Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15 GHz is the same, as is the built-in GPS, fitness tracking sensors (Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro, Optical Heart Rate, Ambient Light), NFC and optional LTE variant.
There is a difference in memory capacity, tough, with Watch 3 coming out on top thanks to its 1GB of RAM and 8GB of Internal Memory. The LTE model of Active 2 is the exception as it comes with 1.5GB of RAM. Samsung looks to have decided this much is not necessary and that 1GB is enough.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs Active 2: Battery life and water resistance
Moving on to the all important battery life. Fully featured smartwatches are still struggling with this and Samsung is no different.
Both of these devices sport a 340mAh lithium ion battery for the larger size and 247mAH for the smaller one. This keeps them going for around two days (depending on use). Nothing really to write home about but expected considering the amount of technology packed into a small body and the always-on screen.
When it comes to water-resistance the wearables will do the trick. They sport a a fantastic 5 ATM water-resistance rating and will monitor your swim sessions with appropriate statistics. What’s more, they both have a MIL-STD-810G rating so can take quite a beating.
Here are the full specs.
|Galaxy Watch 3||Active 2|
|Material||Stainless steel 316L casing, choice of leather bands. Also a titanium iteration.||Stainless steel 316L casing or Aluminium casing|
|Dimensions||45mm version (45 x 46.2 x 11.1 mm)
41mm version (41.0 x 42.5 x 11.3 mm)
|44mm version (44 x 44 x 10.9mm)
40mm version (40 x 40 x 10.9mm)
|Display size||45mm version (1.4 inch)
41mm version (1.2 inch)
|44mm version (1.4 inch)
40mm version (1.2 inch)
|Display resolution||360 x 360 pixels||360 x 360 pixels|
|Display||Circular Super AMOLED
Full Color Always On Display
Corning® Gorilla® DX
|Circular Super AMOLED
Full Color Always On Display
Corning® Gorilla® DX+
|Battery||45mm version (340 mAh)
41mm version (247 mAh)
|44mm version (340 mAh)
40mm version (247 mAh)
|Battery life||45mm version (over 56 hours)
41mm version (over 43 hours)
|44mm version (over 56 hours)
40mm version (over 43 hours)
|Water resistance||up to 50 metres (5 ATM)||up to 50 metres (5 ATM)|
|Weight||45mm version (53 grams)
41mm version (48 grams)
|44mm version (42g stainless steel; 30g aluminium)
40mm version (37g stainless steel; 26g aluminium)
|Sensors||Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro, Optical Heart Rate, Ambient Light||
|Processor||Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15 GHz||Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15 GHz|
|Colours||Stainless steel: Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic Silver
Titanium: Mystic Black
|Aluminum: Black, Gold, Silver, Pink Gold
Stainless steel: Black, Gold, Silver
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs Active 2: Functionality
The latest crop of Samsung watches are fairly similar in functionality. They will all track your activity and health around the clock and come with the company’s Tizen operating system.
The standard fitness tracking sensors, built-in GPS – its all there. But Watch 3 comes with more comprehensive sleep tracking, new running features and a few more sports modes.
A more obvious difference is that the latest watch comes with the ability to track blood oxygen levels. This has just been enabled via a software update. The feature works mostly during the night and can alert to potential sleep issues.
One might wonder if this will come as a software update to Active 2 considering it has largely the same sensors built into it. Samsung might decide against it to keep the two devices distinct. The other possibility is that the company has upgraded the sensors, hence Watch 3’s ability to track this.
The other extra that you get with Watch 3 are fall alerts. If the device on your wrist determines you have taken a tumble, it will text or call emergency services for you after a while. This will provide them with your location and a brief sound recording.
Galaxy Watch Active 2
Then there’s the ECG functionality. This has been all the rage over the past year or so, since its introduction on the Apple Watch. This is also available to Active 2, or will be in time. Samsung is still securing regulatory approval, so it will be enabled on a country-to-country basis.
The same is the case for blood pressure measurements. The company is treading new ground here and is the first with the ability to read blood pressure via the optical sensors on the back of the device. You can read more about how this functions here.
|Galaxy Watch 3||Active 2|
|Blood pressure||Yes (not yet enabled in all countries)||Yes (not yet enabled in all countries)|
|ECG||Yes (not yet enabled in all countries)||Yes (not yet enabled in all countries)|
|Sleep tracking||Yes (more comprehensive)||Yes|
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 vs Active 2: The bottom line
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Active 2 are largely alike in terms of features. Unsurprisingly, the first of these comes with a few extras. This includes the ability to track blood oxygen levels, fall detection, more comprehensive sleep stats, some new running features and a few more sports modes.
Another difference is in design. Active 2 is more streamlined, its smaller so will suit the more sporty types. Watch 3, on the other hand, looks more like a conventional watch.
Galaxy Watch 3
You won’t go wrong with either of these. Watch 3 starts at $400 on samsung.com so quite a premium on the $270 of Active 2. Active 2 remains a solid buy, particularly now that its price has fallen.
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