Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Galaxy Watch Active 2: It’s time for One UI Watch – XDA Developers

Samsung has announced the Galaxy Watch 4, and with it, Samsung is folding the “Active” moniker back into the main lineup. Compared to the Galaxy Watch Active 2, its spiritual predecessor, there are some big improvements. These come from both the software and hardware sides of things, and it’s kind of a big deal, not just for Samsung but for the broader Android ecosystem as well.

It’s got more RAM, more storage, a better processor, and a lower starting price. But not only that, there’s an entirely new operating system being used. Samsung is finally ditching Tizen in its smartwatches.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Specs

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Specifications

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Display
  • 44mm: 1.36″ (450×450), 330ppi
  • 40mm: 1.19″ (396×396), 330ppi
  • 46mm: 1.36″ (450×450), 330ppi
  • 42mm: 1.19″ (396×396), 330ppi
  • 44mm: 1.4″ (360×360)
  • 40mm: 1.2″ (360×360)
Processor Exynos W920 (5nm) Exynos 9110 Dual core 1.15GHz
Memory
  • 1.5GB RAM + 16GB internal storage
  • LTE: 1.5GB RAM + 4GB Internal Memory
  • Bluetooth: 768MB RAM + 4GB Internal Memory
Dimension and Weight
  • Aluminum case
  • 44mm: 44.4 x 43.3 x 9.8mm, 30.3g
  • 40mm: 40.4 x 39.3 x 9.8mm, 25.9g
  • Stainless steel case
  • 46mm: 45.5 x 45.5 x 11mm, 52g
  • 42mm: 41.5 x 41.5 x 11.2mm, 46.5g
  • 44mm: 44 x 44 x 10.9mm (42g for stainless steel, 30g for aluminum)
  • 40mm: 40 x 40 x 10.9mm (37g for stainless steel, 26g for aluminum)
Battery
  • 44mm: 361mAh
  • 40mm: 247mAh
  • 46mm: 361mAh
  • 42mm: 247mAh
  • 44mm: 340mAh
  • 40mm: 247mAh
Sensor Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Light Sensor, Samsung BioActive Sensor (Optical Heart Rate Sensor + Electrical heart sensor + Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Sensor) Accelerometer, Gyro, Barometer, HRM, Ambient Light
Price Starts at $249.99 Starts at $349.99 Starts at $269.99

Hardware: The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 beats the Galaxy Watch Active 2 in every way

The new Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic have Samsung’s own Exynos W920 processor. It’s the first 5nm processor to go in a Galaxy watch. It definitely beats out the dual-core Exynos 9110 that was found in the Galaxy Watch Active 2. There’s no surprise there though. A newer processor is undoubtedly going to be a faster processor.

Angled view of Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch Active 2

RAM is the same 1.5GB, but storage has been bumped up from 4GB on the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 to 16GB on the Galaxy Watch 4. That battery is bigger too at 361mAh for the 44mm model, although the smaller model’s battery size is the same. The smaller one is actually 0.1g lighter though, while the bigger one is 0.3g heavier, something literally no one will care about because you won’t be able to tell the difference of 0.3g or 0.1g.

Indeed, everything is a bit better on the Galaxy Watch 4 than it is on the Galaxy Watch Active 2. It has a better processor, four times as much storage, and a bigger battery. While that covers the standard “feels faster”, let’s talk about things you can actually see and feel.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch Active 2 side by side on wooden surface

The screen has a higher resolution on the Galaxy Watch 4. It’s 450 x 450 on a 1.36-inch screen with the larger model (44mm or 46mm case depending on the one you choose) and a 396 x 396 1.19-inch display on the smaller one (40mm or 42mm). That gives it a 330ppi pixel density on either one, which is much higher than on the Galaxy Watch Active 2, which has a 360 x 360 screen on either a 1.4 or 1.2-inch size. In other words, things look sharper and prettier on the Galaxy Watch 4.

Bottom of Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch Active 2

The Galaxy Watch 4 also has a new Samsung BioActive Sensor, which is a three-in-one sensor that detects heart rate (PPG), ECG, and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). The Korean firm says the new sensor is groundbreaking, and indeed, it’s impressive.

Software: Tizen is gone now

Back at Google I/O, the company announced that it was rebuilding Wear OS, a much-needed improvement to a smartwatch OS that hasn’t had any meaningful changes in a very long time. One thing it promised was a unified platform that combines Google Wear OS and Tizen, the OS that’s been used on Samsung smartwatches.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch Active 2 app drawers

We’re getting a taste of that new unified platform with the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4. It uses what Samsung is calling One UI Watch, and it’s meant to provide the best of both worlds. Those worlds, of course, are Google services and Samsung services.

Those Google services include apps from the Google Play Store. Indeed, with the Galaxy Watch 4, you get access to the ecosystem of Wear OS apps, rather than just the Tizen apps available for the Galaxy Watch Active 2. You also get Google Maps, and whatever else you’re missing. But it still works well with your Samsung phone, syncing your settings and such. It’s really meant to be the best of both worlds. But as a side note, the Galaxy Watch 4 does not work with devices that do not have GMS (Google Mobile Services), which means you can’t even pair it with an Apple iPhone or a Huawei device. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 remains compatible with Android and iOS, so there’s wider compatibility.

Conclusion: Should you buy the Galaxy Watch 4 or the Galaxy Watch Active 2?

The question of which one you should buy is always a tricky one, but that’s especially true of smartwatches. The answer is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, due to the much better hardware, and the software that has been tremendously improved. However, many smartwatch users go for deals. If this is your first smartwatch, you might not see the benefit of spending extra on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

Angled view of Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch Active 2

Here’s the deal though. Newer products are better than older ones, except in those rare cases where companies make dumb mistakes, such as no compatibility on non-GMS devices. With the newer product, you’ll also get better support. Indeed, don’t expect any new features to arrive on the Galaxy Watch Active 2, considering One UI Watch is the new thing moving forward.

    Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
    The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 has a new BioActive sensor, and a new unified software platform called One UI Watch.

Ultimately, Samsung has some of the best watches that can be paired with most Android phones. The newer Watch 4 does not work with iOS, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll want to see how it compares to an Apple Watch. The Galaxy Watch 4, and especially the One UI Watch software, just takes the Android experience to another level.

    Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
    The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 still runs Tizen, but it comes in 4G models, or with your choice of aluminum or stainless steel.

If you decide to grab one, make sure to check out the different bands that are available.

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