The Galaxy Watch Active impressed us when it debuted earlier this year alongside Samsung’s Galaxy S10 smartphones. The sporty, sleek Active immediately jumped to the head of the class for Android smartwatches. But as much as we liked Samsung’s latest effort, the Galaxy Watch Active still had a ways to go to challenge the Apple Watch as the best smartwatch available.
It sounds like Samsung’s ready to take another stab at dethroning Apple. The company reportedly has a Galaxy Watch Active 2 in the works, with all signs pointing to a debut in the next few weeks.
Why a Galaxy Watch Active sequel so soon when the Galaxy Watch is approaching its first birthday? That’s something only Samsung can explain. But with a rumored release date looming, the pace of Galaxy Watch Active 2 leaks is beginning to pick up, giving us a pretty good idea of what to expect.
Here’s a closer look at what we’ve heard about the Galaxy Watch Active 2, including its release date and new features.
When is the Galaxy Watch Active 2 coming out?
Samsung has already scheduled one of its Unpacked events for August 7 in New York City (at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, to be specific). It’s widely expected that the Galaxy Note 10 will be the star of the show, since Samsung’s phablet typically makes its debut in August and rumors about that phone are pointing to an imminent release.
But Samsung rarely rolls out just one thing at Unpacked. The Galaxy Watch Active, after all, shared the stage with both the Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy Fold at the last Unpacked event in February. (The less said about what’s happened to the Fold since then, the better.) So it makes sense to assume that Samsung has more than just a new Galaxy Note to show off two weeks from now. Rumors point to both the Galaxy Watch Active 2 and the Galaxy Tab S6 tablet joining the Note 10 in the spotlight on August 7.
How much will the Galaxy Watch Active 2 cost?
The Galaxy Watch Active costs $199, and most rumor sites expect the new version to start at that amount, too. One potential wrinkle is that Samsung could come out with different models, with one offering LTE connectivity. (We’ll talk about that in a moment.) If so, that’s going to drive up the cost. For what it’s worth, the version of the Galaxy Watch with LTE connectivity costs $50 more than the standard version that pairs with your phone over Bluetooth.
What will the Galaxy Watch Active 2 look like?
Did you like the look of the original Galaxy Watch Active? That’s good, because expect the sequel to look very similar, including the non-rotating bezel (a concession Samsung made to keep the size of the Active more compact).
Still, leaked renders posted by multiple sources show some differences between the original version and the rumored Galaxy Watch Active 2. A Sammobile post from June shows a round power/home button surrounded by a red ring. (Nobody seems to know if the red ring is there for any specific function or just for aesthetics.) The back button is more rectangular, presumably to make it easier to find by touch. Sammobile also says that there’s now a circular rim on the back of the watch surrounding the heart rate sensor.
Android Headlines posted what it described as an official render of the Galaxy Watch Active 2, and it also features that red ring around the power button. The strap appears to be leather in this render, though it’s reported that the silicone strap that came with the original Active will also be an option here.
The version of the Galaxy Watch Active 2 showcased in Android Headlines’ render is black, but silver and gold are also expected to be color options for the new watch.
What features is Samsung adding to the Galaxy Watch Active 2?
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 should retain many of the features from the first version of the watch including enough water resistance for swim tracking, heart rate tracking, wireless charging and Spotify playlist storage. But Samsung has a few changes planned to make the new version of its watch more compelling.
ECG heart monitoring: Like the Apple Watch Series 4, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 will include an electrocardiogram monitor, according to a report in Wareable. But just as that feature didn’t arrive on the Apple Watch until a few months after its release last year, Samsung’s watch is going to ship without ECG monitoring in place, while it waits for FDA approval. That feature may not be ready until 2020, Wareable reports.
LTE connectivity: As mentioned briefly above, multiple rumor sites expect two versions of the Galaxy Watch Active — one that pairs with a phone over Bluetooth just like the current model and one that features its own cellular connection. (Wareable also says there will be an UnderArmour-branded version of the Bluetooth-only model.)
That will mean a bigger battery for the LTE version of the Galaxy Watch Active. Sammobile says that model will run on a 340 mAh battery, while the Bluetooth-only watch will feature a 247 mAh power pack. Both batteries will be larger than the 230 mAh battery in the original Galaxy Watch Active.
The Bluetooth-only Active will be able to pair with either an Android phone or an iPhone. But Wareable’s reports claims that the iPhone won’t pair with the LTE version initially.
New Sizes: The Galaxy Watch Active currently comes in a single 40mm version. A 44mm case will join the mix this time around, multiple sites report.
Surpassing the Galaxy Watch Active will be a tall order, but features like LTE connectivity and ECG monitoring (once it’s available) make us excited about this potential sequel. Samsung will still need to address one of the biggest challenges facing its smartwatches — the lack of an ecosystem of compelling apps — but perhaps that’s something the company can address when it unveils the new Galaxy Watch Active.
We expect we’ll find out more in the days leading up to Samsung’s Unpacked event on August 7.