Update:Samsung's own Galaxy Wearable app has leaked the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. Read on below to see everything we've just heard about the upcoming smartwatch.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch is notable for a lot of reasons, not least of which being that it’s a highly capable smartwatch – in fact, it's number one in our best smartwatch ranking – and it doesn’t run Wear OS or watchOS, relying instead on the Tizen operating system.
With a stylish design, long battery life and loads of tracking skills it does enough to compete with any wearable running those better-known operating systems, but it isn’t perfect by any means, so we’ve come up with a list of improvements that we want to see on the next Samsung smartwatch.
Originally we wrote these expecting them to be improvements we'll see on a Samsung Galaxy Watch 2, but since then we've heard rumors of a product called the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active.
You'll find what we want to see as well as everything we've learnt so far about Samsung's next smartwatch. That includes possible release timing, price and features.
Cut to the chase
What is it? The next smartwatch from Samsung
When is it out? Maybe February 20, or later in 2019
What will it cost? Probably at least $329 / £279 / AU$499
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active release date and price
The Samsung Galaxy Watch landed on August 9, 2018, alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, so there’s a fair chance that the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 will land in or around August 2019, possibly at the same event as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.
Before that, we're expecting to see the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active that will likely sit alongside the Galaxy Watch range.
The Watch Active has been spotted on Samsung's own official Galaxy Wearables app suggesting it'll be ready to launch alongside the Galaxy S10. We're expecting to hear about that phone on February 20 at a special launch in San Francisco.
However, there’s no guarantee of that and there are no exact release date details yet.
There aren’t any price rumors yet either, but the Samsung Galaxy Watch launched for $329 / £279 / AU$499 for the 42mm version or $349 / £299 / AU$549 for the 46mm model, with prices going up if you want a version with LTE. So we’d expect the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active will cost at least that much and it may cost more.
Samsung Galaxy Sport or Galaxy Watch Active?
The next smartwatch from Samsung is unlikely to be called the Galaxy Watch 2 – that's probably a name reserved for a follow-up to the original watch and we'd expect that to launch late in 2019 or perhaps even later.
Rumors initially suggested it'd be called the Samsung Galaxy Sport, but we've now seen consistent leaks – including Samsung's own website – that suggests it'll be the Galaxy Watch Active.
It suggests an adventure-led design with a more rugged look, and it may eventually be the final name of this next Samsung wearable.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active news and rumors
There aren’t yet any whispers about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2, but there are lots of renders seemingly showing the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. That may show us Samsung's next smartwatch as well as give us a hint of what to expect on the Galaxy Watch 2.
First up, we have the most important leak that was spotted on the company's own Galaxy Wearables app. It also showed off the Samsung Galaxy Fit and Galaxy Buds headphones.
That also matches a render spotted by 91Mobiles, meaning we're almost certain this will be the design of the new watch. The renders show it'll have a round design, chrome body and two circular buttons on the right hand side of the watch.
It also confirms the company won't be including a rotatable bezel on this device, like there was on the Galaxy Watch.
It's not currently clear if the company would offer up two different sizes like it did for the Galaxy Watch.
Giving credence to the leaks above, we've also seen the below render provided by Tiger Mobiles that shows the same design but in three different colors.
Those are blue, black and rose gold to go alongside the silver variant,
The earliest leaked renders showed a hint of the design as well, which you can see below. The main change being that the bezel is smooth rather than toothed and looks like it might not be rotatable.
The two buttons on the right edge are also a different shape, which matches what we've seen in later leaks.
Then there's also a quick look at the user interface the company will be using on the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active.
A leak from SamMobile has suggested Samsung will be revamping its software to keep it in line with its relatively new 'One UI' look used in a beta on the Samsung Galaxy S9 and expected to feature on the S10 series.
Exactly how it will change isn't clear, but below you can see a screenshot of leaked watch faces we currently expect Samsung to include on the new atch.
We don't currently have a clear idea of the spec to expect.
Looking into the future, it’s very likely that Samsung is also working on the Galaxy Watch 2. We can take some educated guesses as to certain features that it may have.
For example, it’s sure to retain most or all of the features found on the Samsung Galaxy Watch. That includes GPS, a heart rate monitor and NFC, along with tracking for various sports, sleep and stress.
It’s also likely to have a circular face and a rotating bezel, especially as the likes of the Gear S3 also have those things.
What’s less certain but still very likely is that the Galaxy Watch 2 will run Tizen. Samsung has been using Tizen on wearables for a while and although a move to Wear OS was rumored for the Galaxy Watch, no such change happened in the end.
It’s possible that Samsung will switch to Wear OS for the Galaxy Watch 2, especially as Google’s smartwatch operating system has a healthier app ecosystem. But there are plenty of reasons to like Tizen and Samsung hasn’t shown any real sign of giving up on it.
What we want to see
The Samsung Galaxy Watch is a great smartwatch but one with plenty of room for improvement. The following seven features are things we’d really like to see on the Galaxy Watch Active or Galaxy Watch 2.
1. More third-party apps
The Samsung Galaxy Watch runs Tizen, rather than one of the big-name wearable operating systems, and one downside of that is that there are fewer apps available than you’ll find on Wear OS or watchOS.
So by the time Samsung launches the Galaxy Watch 2 we’d like to have seen it work with developers to get key apps like WhatsApp, Google Maps and Facebook Messenger on the platform.
2. Better stress tracking
The Samsung Galaxy Watch tracks a lot of things and mostly does a good job, but stress tracking is definitely a weak link.
While it’s available, it required us to manually measure our stress levels rather than tracking them automatically in our tests (despite claiming that it can do it automatically), and its accuracy could be questionable, since the data seems mostly based just on heart rate. So we’d like to see this feature overhauled for the next model.
3. Group challenges
Competing with friends can be a big motivator to get more active and handily the Samsung Galaxy Watch lets you do this. Your friends don’t even need a Galaxy Watch of their own – a Gear watch or the Samsung Health app will do just fine.
However, you can only challenge friends individually, rather than having a group competition. It seems like this would be an obvious and easy feature to add, so hopefully Samsung will.
4. Compatibility with more wireless chargers
The Samsung Galaxy Watch charges wirelessly, but not just any wireless charger will do, you need a proprietary one that comes with it. This is inconvenient and if you’re ever without your charger means you’re likely to soon have a dead watch (though the Galaxy Watch at least has good battery life).
So for the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 we want it to work with standard, everyday wireless chargers. That way if you’re at the office or a friend’s house without yours there’s at least a chance someone will have one you can borrow.
5. Big improvements to Bixby
Another downside of using Tizen rather than Wear OS is that the Samsung Galaxy Watch is reliant on Bixby rather than Google Assistant.
This is a problem, because Bixby is nowhere near as good as Google Assistant (or Siri or Alexa for that matter), with one particularly major issue being that it simply struggles to understand us.
While you don’t have to use Bixby to interact with the Galaxy Watch, it has the potential to be a major feature, but until it gets a lot better it won’t be.
6. Better iOS compatibility
The Samsung Galaxy Watch works with both Android and iOS, but it’s definitely better with Android, because while you can read notifications on the watch when paired with an iPhone, you can’t reply to them or initiate communications, making it a lot more limited.
This may not be something Samsung can solve, as it would likely require a change on Apple’s end, but it’s something we’d like to see nonetheless, as it could make the Galaxy Watch 2 a real alternative to the Apple Watch 5, or whatever we’re up to by then.
7. Wider LTE availability
There are versions of the Samsung Galaxy Watch that support LTE, but only on select networks, which won’t suit everyone. For the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 we’d like to see an LTE model available on more or less all networks, so it’s an option for everyone.