Samsung steps up fitness game with two new wearables

Samsung really wants to compete with Apple Watch on the fitness front, as shown by a pair of new wearables the Korean company unveiled Wednesday. The Galaxy Watch Active offers a “full smartwatch experience,” the company said, while the Galaxy Fit works more like a stripped-down fitness tracker.

Framing both new devices as essential for health in the modern world, Samsung ripped a page from Cupertino’s successful health-centric marketing of Apple Watch. But it also dunked on Cupertino with some features that will make Apple Watch owners drool.

Samsung unveiled its new wearables Wednesday during its Unpacked event in San Francisco. The Korean company’s new folding phone, the Galaxy Fold, and its new Galaxy S10 lineup stole the spotlight during the event. But Samsung cleared some stage time for its new wearables, including its AirPods competitor, the upgraded Galaxy Buds.

Galaxy Watch Active smartwatch

The new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active wants to challenge Apple Watch to a fitness smackdown.

The new Galaxy Watch Active wants to challenge Apple Watch to a fitness smackdown.

Of the two new devices, the Galaxy Watch Active more closely resembles Apple Watch (despite its round face). It works with apps (like the Galaxy Watch before it) and comes with a colorful strap made of soft, durable material, much like Apple’s original sport bands.

And, like Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch Active is not all about workouts.

“Its exercise, sleep, stress and health tracking features make Galaxy Watch Active a personal lifestyle coach for those seeking a healthier body and mind,” Samsung said in a press release.

It packs 5ATM water-resistance so you can use it while swimming, just like Apple Watch. But unlike Apple’s locked-down wearable, Galaxy Watch Active offers 60,000 watch faces to choose from, Samsung said.

The new Galaxy Watch Active boasts at least one feature Apple Watch can't match -- thousands of watch faces.

Here’s one feature Apple Watch can’t match — thousands of watch faces.

Galaxy Watch Active blood pressure monitoring

Just like Apple Watch Series 4’s ECG feature, the Galaxy Watch Active’s most interesting new feature won’t be ready at launch. Samsung says blood pressure monitoring is coming March 15. That’s when the My BP Lab research app, which Samsung developed with the University of California, San Francisco, will become available.

“Galaxy Watch Active is compatible with Android and iOS and offers indoor/outdoor activity tracking, and features popular third-party apps—including Under Armour, Spotify and Strava,” Samsung says. “You can use your voice to control Galaxy Watch Active with Bixby’s voice capabilities that allow you to make calls or send messages without ever picking up your phone.”

Samsung’s new smartwatch also offers a nifty feature when paired with the new Galaxy S10 phones. Thanks to work Wireless Power Share, which turns the smartphone into a wireless charger, you can juice up a Galaxy Watch Active by laying it upon the back of the Galaxy S10.

Galaxy Watch Active lands in the United States on March 8 for $199.99, available at Samsung’s website and major retailers. Preorder a Galaxy Watch Active between February 21 and March 7, 2019, and you’ll get a free wireless charging pad.

Galaxy Fit fitness tracker

The Galaxy Fit looks more like a traditional fitness tracker like a Fitbit Charge. But its color AMOLED display brings full touch capabilities, according to Samsung. The wearable tracks workouts and serves up a range of health data “at a single glance,” Samsung said, with a battery that lasts about a week on a single charge.

Samsung says it plans to launch Galaxy Fit in Q2 2019.

Samsung wearables put health first

Both the Galaxy Watch Active and Galaxy Fit can track several different exercises automatically, Samsung said. And they offer manual tracking for dozens of others exercise.

They also offer sleep tracking, measuring the amount of REM and deep sleep, so you can keep tabs on the amount and quality of your dreamtime.

Heart-rate monitoring and continuous stress tracking build on the health features.

“Your body is a delicate ecosystem,” said Samsung marketing exec Elina Vives. (That was a somewhat ham-handed comparison of the Galaxy world to Apple’s vaunted ecosystem, but hey – whatever works.)

Samsung wearables specs

Here are the full product specs from Samsung’s press release on the new wearables:

Galaxy Watch Active specifications

Category / Feature

Color Silver, Black, Rose Gold, Sea Green
Dimensions & Weight 40mm, 39.5 x 39.5 x 10.5mm, 25g
Display 1.1” (28mm) 360 x 360 Full Color AOD, Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
Strap 20mm (interchangeable)
Battery 230mAh
AP Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15 GHz
OS Tizen-based Wearable OS 4.0
Memory 768MB RAM + 4GB Internal Memory
Connectivity Bluetooth®4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n, NFC, A-GPS/Glonass
Sensor Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Barometer, Heart Rate Monitoring, Ambient Light
Charge WPC-based wireless charging
Durability 5ATM + IP68 / MIL-STD-810G
Compatibility Samsung Galaxy, Android 5.0 or above with more than 1.5GB RAM; iPhone: iPhone 5 and above, iOS 9.0 or above

Galaxy Fit specifications

Category / Features

Color Black, Silver
Display 0.95” Full Color AMOLED, 120 x 240, 282 ppi
AP MCU Cortex M33F 96MHz + M0 16 MHz
OS Realtime OS
Size 18.3(W) x 44.6 (H) x 11.2(T), 24g (w/strap)
Memory 512KB internal RAM, 2048KB external RAM, 32MB external ROM
Connectivity BLE
Sensor HRM, Accelerometer, Gyroscope
Battery 120mAh
Charge NFC Wireless
Durability 5ATM water resistance, MIL STD 810G
Compatibility Samsung Galaxy, Android 5.0 or above with more than 1.5GB RAM; iPhone: iPhone 5 and above, iOS 9.0 or above