Samsung's Galaxy Watch 3 and Watch Active 2 are FDA-cleared for impending US ECG activation

Samsung's Galaxy Watch 3 and Watch Active 2 are FDA-cleared for impending US ECG activation
Even though Samsung's first foray into the then-fledgling smartwatch market predated the commercial debut of the OG Apple Watch by almost two years, it pretty much feels like the Korean tech giant has been playing catch-up since forever.

One of the big reasons why Apple's wearable devices are so far ahead of the competition is a virtually unrivaled set of health and fitness tracking tools, but for what it's worth, the freshly unveiled Galaxy Watch 3 looks almost ready to significantly close the functionality gap from that particular (and particularly important) standpoint. At least on paper. Here's how.

Lives will be saved soon enough

Much like last year's Galaxy Watch Active 2, Samsung's hot new Tizen-powered intelligent timepiece theoretically supports ECG monitoring technology. Unfortunately, much like its predecessor, the Galaxy Watch 3 will be released stateside with said life-saving feature disabled. 

The good news is the company can commit to a relatively firm timeline for US ECG activation right off the bat, and this time around, said commitment actually seems to mean something. At long last, Samsung appears to have obtained FDA clearance to use the game-changing functionality on both the Galaxy Watch 3 and Watch Active 2, although you may still have to wait a few more months before a software update will roll out and enable the now-dormant electrocardiogram sensor.

Everything should be in place by the end of the year, at which point the Apple Watch lineup will finally get a mainstream rival in its mission to save lives in addition to simply improving them. That's not an exaggeration, mind you, as an electrocardiogram can tell you a lot about your heart's health, signaling numerous cardiac abnormalities, some of which can be fatal if not diagnosed timely and correctly.

Of course, just because Samsung has managed to score FDA approval for this feature, that doesn't mean you'll get 100 percent accurate and reliable ECG readings on your wrist, so you should always visit a doctor's office before panicking or self-medicating. ECG monitoring is already live in Korea, alongside another important health tracking feature introduced with the Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Take that, Apple!

Yes, you will be able to also measure your blood pressure with the help of a Galaxy Watch 3 or Watch Active 2 in the US soon, and if Samsung moves fast enough, this functionality could beat a similar feature reportedly planned for the Apple Watch Series 6 to market.

As always, however, the devil is in the details, with Apple likely to be working on a wrist-only blood pressure tracking method, while Samsung's technology sounds a little more cumbersome for the time being. Technically, the Galaxy Watch 3 and Watch Active 2 are touted as capable of performing "cuff-less" blood pressure measurements, but said cuff is still required for the initial setup operation of the Health Monitor app and regular calibration recommended to take place every four weeks or so to "ensure accuracy."

That's not exactly ideal, but on the bright side, you don't need to use a medical device or calibrate anything to get an entirely new feature to work. All you have to do is wait until later this quarter for a software update to drop and activate the SpO2 sensor on the Galaxy Watch 3.

Also known as a pulse oximeter, this will be in charge of measuring and tracking your blood oxygen saturation over time, joining forces with the ECG and blood pressure monitor, as well as good old fashioned heart rate tracking, to keep an eye on your health in a more comprehensive and reliable way than ever. 

As you might have already guessed, the Apple Watch Series 6 is pretty much guaranteed to come with a blood oxygen sensor of its own, but at least Samsung is no longer two or three steps behind its arch-rival when it comes to this type of stuff.

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