Apple Watch Series 5 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Design, Size and Straps
We prefer the look of a round watch, but swapping straps is easier on the Apple Watch
Both watches come in two sizes: you have a smaller 40 mil version and a larger 44 mil one, and the larger one on both is not gigantic, it’s moderately large. The cheaper base models of both are made of aluminum, and you also have more premium stainless steel versions, and then the Apple Watch also comes in even pricier titanium body, or even a ceramic one if you are ready to spend more than a $1,000 on a smartwatch. We have the aluminum models here and both retain their good looks even with a lot of use, so no worries on that front.
For navigation, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 no longer has the signature rotating bezel, so you navigate with taps, swipes and a new software trick called "Touch Bezel" where you run your finger over the edge of the watch to simulate a physical rotating bezel, and it works quite well. The Apple Watch on its part features the touchscreen but also the digital crown for scrolling longer lists.
The Galaxy also has a standard quick release system, so it’s easy to change your strap to a different one, while the Apple Watch uses its own proprietary system with pricey bands, but it has the advantage of being extremely easy to swap straps: just push a button and slide the straps in and out.
Watchfaces and Apps
Apple has made some truly awesome watchfaces
The biggest change in the Apple Watch S5 this year is that finally supports an always-on display function, something that Samsung wearables have had for a while now, so it's caught up.
Apple, however, still doesn’t allow for third party watchfaces, while Samsung supports a lot of these and you can even create a watchface yourself via apps.
Speaking of apps, this is an area where the Apple Watch has the advantage: you have a mini App Store right on your watch so you can even download apps without ever opening your phone. You can also install apps on the Galaxy and there are a few nice ones, but the choice and quality of apps overall is in favor of the Apple Watch.
Siri vs Bixby
One of them is of not much use and it's not Siri
One smaller detail we noticed is that the Apple Watch gives a very nice and gentle tap on your wrist for notifications and when it needs to get your attention, while the vibration on the Galaxy Watch Active doesn’t feel nowhere nearly as nice.
Activity and Fitness Tracking
Galaxy wins automatic workout tracking, but Apple Watch is more precise with stats
So! What about health and fitness tracking? Both watches have their own system: the Apple Watch has the three rings that you aim to fill every day, and the Galaxy Watch has something similar, and both will tell you to get up and moving if you sit for too long. We found that automatic workout detection worked better on the Galaxy Watch, it takes around 10 minutes of the workout and it tracks a workout, while on the Apple Watch automatic workout detection doesn’t really work that well, and you need to manually start a workout every time.
You also have automatic sleep tracking on the Galaxy Watch, a feature completely absent on the Series 5, while on the Galaxy you see a nice breakdown of your deep sleep times and overall quality of sleep.
The Galaxy is a 2-day watch, while you need to charge the Apple Watch every night
Finally, we should talk prices: the Galaxy Watch has a starting price of around $300 dollars, while the Apple Watch starts at $400 and can go all the way up to more than a thousand dollars for the ceramic model with cellular connectivity. These differences amplify if you pick the pricier models and the Apple Watch quickly grows in price, while the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is definitely priced way more affordably.
As you can see, the price for the more premium stainless steel version of the Apple Watch S5 with cellular connectivity is nearly double the price of a comparable Galaxy Watch Active 2, a pretty noticeable difference.
At the end of the day, we feel like the Apple Watch is still the more refined watch: it runs faster, Siri is actually quite useful and fast to respond, you have more apps and even small games, and it all ties extremely well with the Apple ecosystem. Plus, you can see that despite lacking third-party watchfaces, the first-party ones that Apple offers look incredibly well made and offer functionality that you cannot get on the Samsung one: from the solar one, to the 9 complications on the Infograph watchface, to the visually impressive smoke/fire watchfaces, the Apple Watch feels way ahead in the watchface game.