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Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review: A capable, connected, smartwatch

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review: Samsung has now added a touch-based digital bezel on the side and introduced an LTE variant. Here’s our review for the same

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rs. 35990
Written by Shruti Dhapola | New Delhi | Updated: January 18, 2020 8:44:05 am
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE, Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE: The latest Samsung watch packs LTE in a slimmer form factor. Here’s our review. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Last year, Samsung introduced a new series of smartwatches called the Galaxy Watch Active, which offered a sleeker design compared to the regular variants. One big change in the Active series was that the physical rotating bezel on top of the watches was gone. But Samsung quickly followed this up with a second iteration called the Galaxy Watch Active2, and this time it added a touch-based digital bezel on the side. The company has now made the LTE variant of this watch available in India, and here’s our review.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE: Stylish design

The Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE variant only comes in a 44mm stainless steel variant. It does look stylish and very premium, with an excellent display. It was a little big for my hands, but it should fit well for most people. The black leather strap appears to be premium as well, though I would recommend getting a different band if you plan to use this for a lot of exercise sessions or want to take this for a swim.

The Galaxy Watch Active2 continues to offer some very stylish watch faces as well. I quite liked the simple analogue one. You can hard press on the Watch face and change it if needed. For more options, you will have to go to the Galaxy Store and download on the device itself.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE, Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review Samsung gives three options for managing the mobile networks on the Watch, along with options to toggle data on and off. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE: How smooth is 4G, battery impact?

The LTE capability means you can leave your phone behind and continue to get notifications, calls, etc on the Watch, once you have activated the eSIM. Of course, in order to do that, you will need to make sure your network provider supports eSIM facility. At the moment, only Airtel and Jio offer this capability in India.

So is LTE worth the fuss? I didn’t exactly have a smooth experience in the beginning, but that’s not Samsung’s fault as I found out eventually. I converted my regular Airtel SIM into an eSIM and assumed all would be fine. Except the Watch would refuse to connect to LTE and the app would show an error on the Pixel 3 XL. Resetting didn’t seem to solve the problem either.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE, Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review The error I got when trying to connect with Pixel 3 XL.

After several calls back and back forth with Airtel and even Samsung customer care, I was finally told that I could only use LTE with a Samsung phone on the Airtel network. I didn’t need to convert my physical SIM to an eSIM either.

Finally, with a physical SIM and a Samsung phone, the Watch Active2’s LTE feature was connected on Airtel. I should point out that this Samsung device-only condition is something Airtel has imposed for now. On Jio, my colleague was able to use the Galaxy Watch LTE with a Pixel 3 quite smoothly.

LTE is, of course, a useful feature on your Watch, though it is battery draining. Thankfully Samsung does give options of keeping it on auto, meaning the Watch is on Bluetooth when near the phone and switches to LTE when needed.

You can keep LTE always off depending on your needs or keep it always on. The LTE experience itself was quite smooth. Calls worked fine, and message notifications were easily available. Quality of calls depends on the LTE network itself, which as we all know can be patchy in India.

With LTE, I would say the battery life is impacted. Around one and a half days at best with power saving on, which extends the battery life for sure, but kills almost all features.

My main issue was that there wasn’t a flood of notifications or activity training taking place on the device to cause the battery to drain so fast, even with LTE on. I certainly did expect a bit more.

Even when I used the watch without LTE on the Pixel 3 XL, the Watch lasted around the same time, though there were a lot more notifications coming on that device, and I had tracked more exercise sessions when the device was tethered to the Pixel 3 XL.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE: Touch Bezel, Fitness and notifications

The other big change in the Galaxy Watch Active2 series is the Touch Bezel. Samsung’s watches traditionally had a physical rotating bezel on top, which could be used to control the device. However, the first Galaxy Watch Active did away with that for a more sleeker design. In the new variant, the bezel is back in a digital form. It is turned off by default, though you can go to the settings and turn it on.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE, Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review The Touch Bezel feature on the Watch Active2 is the other new USP. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

The Touch Bezel is on the edges of the screen and you can just keep rotating to access the apps, widgets on the screen. I don’t mind the Touch Bezel given it allows for quicker navigation on the Watch, but if you have never used the feature, it might be a bit confusing as well.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE, Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2’s step tracking, which I found was prone to jumps in some instances. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

The Galaxy Watch Active2 remains an excellent device for fitness tracking. The watch has plenty of options for tracking specific exercises, you can even get it to track exercise sets for when you do squats or use dumbbells or other machines in the gym. I found the set tracking very accurate when doing squats and it frees you from counting. After each set, the Watch tells you take a break for a minute, though you can just adjust this as well.

One issue where I did find a problem with the Galaxy Watch Active2 was in the steps tracking. I noticed that moving my hand vigorously, while standing stationary did cause a jump in steps. But otherwise, there were no sudden jumps when I was sitting at work or in the car. The Galaxy Watch Active2’s health data needs to be viewed on the Samsung Health app.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE, Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review The Galaxy Watch Active2 when alone on LTE, and not near the smartphone. (Image source: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Regarding the smart functionality of the Watch, it can show notifications from your smartphone, and all major apps including WhatsApp, Messenger, etc. With WhatsApp or SMS or other messaging apps, a set of custom replies are shown when you tap on it. The option to dismiss the message does not appear in this list. I would have preferred this because you don’t want to always reply to a notification. You can, however, edit the list of auto-responses to these messages.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE review: Verdict

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE’s big USP is the 4G connectivity and the new touch-based bezel. At Rs 35,990 the watch is not exactly cheap, but if you want constant connectivity on your watch, then it is certainly more affordable than Apple’s LTE Watches in the market.

In terms of performance, the Galaxy Watch Active2 LTE is excellent, it has comprehensive fitness tracking, the UI is not bad, and the LTE works well too. If you are looking for a smartwatch which packs all these features for your Android device, then this is a good option to pick.

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