Another smartwatch debuts and that not so old debate is reignited. What’s the best smartwatch if you’re an Android user? You’ll hear Fitbit Versa 2, Huawei’s GT-2 and also Samsung’s many options. Add another layer to that question and that debate gets blunted. The best bet for an Android user who also needs 4G/LTE connectivity. An Apple Watch alternative that allows you to leave your smartphone behind and still stay connected to calls, texts and even music. It boils down to two Samsung smartwatches – the Samsung Galaxy Watch (LTE) and our pick – the Samsung Watch Active2 that has just made its 4G version available in India.
The first reason why I pick this over the slightly clunkier Galaxy Watch (LTE) is form. We checked out the silver colour variant - stainless steel kitted with a leather strap, and it’s truly elegant. It’s over 20 gm lighter than the Galaxy Watch. This one’s more boardroom than gym accessory, one that can also pass off for a conventional fashion watch until you get up close with its bold Super AMOLED display that’s slightly larger than the Galaxy Watch. This 1.4-inch circular display (360 x 360 pixels) is also more vibrant. Just like other Samsung’s watches, it’s easy to swap straps. If you obsess about finding the perfect match with your outfit of the day, you can snap a picture of your outfit and the watch will create a watch face to match. Mighty cool.
The biggest draw of this watch is its ability to function as a standalone device. Leave your phone at home when you head to the gym or an outdoor run. I tried this with a Jio connection and it worked seamlessly. Call volume is great and data connectivity was a breeze too. The biggest value-add was Spotify connectivity. You can listen to music from the cloud or download songs on to your watch; you’ll need a Premium Account though. This is a great feature if you want to carry your Spotify playlist with you. There’s also an option of transferring music files and images from your smartphone.
The Watch Active2 is sorted on the wellness front. If you love looking at your gym stats, you’ll enjoy the drill-down data that the watch generates. There’s automatic tracking for seven exercises that include most of your gym drills like rowing or Elliptical training plus manual tracking. You get the usual heart-rate monitoring and sleep tracking; we also dig the clever Good Night mode that turns off all notifications and the always-on display. I managed a full day’s battery life with 30 minutes of exercise tracking, the always-on display and also more than an hour plugged into Spotify.
If there’s one thing that lets the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 down, it’s the rather bare App store. While there are heaps of watch faces to choose from, the App store has remained stagnant. But that’s also an area that none of the watch’s other Android rivals have a big edge. It’s why this might be your only option if you’re an Android user (the watch also works with iOS) looking for a 4G-enabled smartwatch that looks good with a cool rotating bezel interface.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 costs Rs 35,990 and comes in three colour options (all steel) – black, silver and gold.
(Ashwin Rajagopalan writes extensively on Gadgets & Trends, Travel & Lifestyle and Food & Drink. He owns and manages Brand Stories, a creative Content outfit and www.bytesize.in, a premier lifestyle blog with a focus on short-format content. Instagram: ‘ashwinpowers’)