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Apple Watch SE vs Galaxy Watch Active 2 (2020): Which One Should You Get?

It’s now easier than ever to get your hands on an Apple Watch, thanks to the new and affordable Apple Watch SE. You get to save at least a hundred bucks if you decide to buy it over the Apple Watch Series 6. We shouldn’t forget, however, that there are other budget-friendly smartwatches out there that come with potentially better features.

Take the Galaxy Watch Active 2, for example, known for its advanced fitness tracking capabilities and impressive battery life. To see which model is really worth your money, here’s an in-depth comparison of the Apple Watch SE and Galaxy Watch Active 2, taking their design, display, features, apps, and battery life into consideration.

Apple Watch SE vs Galaxy Watch Active 2 Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch SEGalaxy Watch Active 2
 New Apple Watch SE (GPS + Cellular, 44mm) - Gold Aluminum Case with Pink Sand Sport BandSamsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 (44mm, GPS, Bluetooth), Aqua Black (US Version)
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Sizes40mm and 44mm40 and 44mm
Display Resolution448 x 368 pixels360 x 360 pixels
Always-On DisplayNoYes
ECG SensorNoYes (not FDA-approved yet)
Sleep TrackingYesYes
Fall DetectionYesNo
Water Resistance5ATM5ATM
Battery Life18 hours3 days (when always-on displays is turned off)

Design and Display

The Apple Watch SE looks every bit like a smartwatch while the Galaxy Watch Active 2 can pass off as a traditional wristwatch.

Both the Apple Watch SE and the Galaxy Watch Active 2 are offered in 40mm and 44mm size options.

Similar to all of the older Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch SE has that distinct smartwatch design. It has a rounded rectangular shape which makes it look like a mini version of the iPhone. It does, however, sport a much bigger screen than its predecessors which lends it a bolder, more impressive look. It’s available in two sizes, namely 40mm and 44mm, and has a sharp and vibrant OLED display with 448 x 368 pixels. While the Apple Watch Series 5 and 6 already have always-on displays, the SE lacks this feature and so you’d have to keep raising your wrist to activate its screen.

Just like the Apple Watch SE, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 also comes in 40mm and 44mm size options although that’s where their design similarities end. While the Apple Watch SE looks every bit like a smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has a round display so it can pass off as a traditional wristwatch. Just put a leather strap on it if you’d like to wear it to a formal event. As for its display, the coolest thing about it would have to be its digital rotating bezel which lets you easily navigate through the widgets. While its 360 x 360 screen resolution may not be as hi-res as that of the Apple Watch SE, it makes up for this by having an always-on display.

Features

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is the perfect running partner while the Apple Watch SE is geared more towards general health.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 has built-in running programs to help boost your speed and endurance.

Apple definitely raised the bar when it came out with its ECG sensor but it’s not the only one with that technology anymore. Samsung equipped the Galaxy Watch Active 2 with its own ECG sensor although it’s not functional just yet because it still needs to be approved by the FDA. The most notable feature of the Galaxy Watch Active 2, however, would have to be its built-in running programs that help you improve either your speed or endurance. You’ll be given both aural and tactile cues to let you know if, for example, you need to slow down or speed up. Other features you can enjoy include sleep tracking, automatic workout tracking, and swim tracking.

Funnily enough, the Apple Watch SE doesn’t come with an ECG sensor even though Apple’s known for this feature. Apple’s new blood oxygen sensor is also missing on this model. Unfortunately, you’d have to splurge on the Apple Watch Series 6 for these advanced capabilities. So what can you do with the Apple Watch SE? Geared more towards general health, it has an always-on altimeter, gyroscope, accelerometer, noise monitoring, fall detection, emergency SOS, and international emergency calling. And because it runs on the watchOS 7, you get to enjoy extra features such as sleep tracking as well as a hand-washing guided app.

Apps and Battery

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 has better battery life but the Apple Watch SE can be used with more apps.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 can last up to 3 days on a single charge.

Because the Apple Watch SE doesn’t have an always-on display, you’d expect it to have better battery life. That’s not the case though because just like the Apple Watch Series 5 and 6, the SE can only last up to 18 hours on a single charge. This goes down even more if you’re using its GPS feature or playing music. This means that you’d have to charge it pretty often if you want to use it on a daily basis. Take note that it takes a pretty long time to charge as well (2.5 hours to be exact) which is quite annoying if you need to head out of the door ASAP. As for the Galaxy Watch Active 2, it gives you 36 hours worth of juice with the always-on display. Turning this feature off extends its battery life to 3 days.

While the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has the Apple Watch SE completely beat when it comes to battery life, the latter makes up for this with its impressive variety of apps. You can find almost everything on the App Store, whether it be apps for entertainment, fitness, travel, education, you name it. This makes the Apple Watch SE an extremely versatile smartwatch that can help you in pretty much all areas of life. Samsung’s Tizen OS app store has nowhere near the amount of apps that the App Store does but there are a couple of popular names on there including Spotify.

Verdict

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is better than the Apple Watch SE in more ways than one.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 may not be as popular as the Apple Watch SE but it’s actually better in more ways than one. It has an always-on display which ensures that your stats are always accessible to you. It’s even equipped with an ECG sensor (although the FDA has yet to clear it) that can detect signs of atrial fibrillation. If you’re a runner, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is an especially good match for you because it can coach you as you train. The best thing about this smartwatch, however, would have to be its 3-day battery life, saving you from the hassle of charging it every day.

As for the Apple Watch SE, there’s nothing too remarkable about it aside from the fact that it’s one of the more affordable ways to get yourself an Apple Watch. Of course, it’s the better pick for you if you’re already immersed in the Apple ecosystem. Another reason to go with the Apple Watch SE is if you want to enjoy the variety that the App Store has to offer.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Galaxy Watch Active 2 better than the Apple Watch SE?

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 has an always-on display, ECG sensor, and built-in running programs, all of which are missing on the Apple Watch SE. To boot, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has better battery life.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does the Galaxy Watch Active 2 have ECG?

Yes, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has an ECG sensor although it still needs to be approved by the FDA before it can become functional.

๐Ÿ“Œ Can you swim with the Galaxy Watch Active 2?

Equipped with a water resistance of 5ATM, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is safe to swim with. It’s also capable of swim tracking.

๐Ÿ“Œ Which one should you buy, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 or the Apple Watch SE?

If you’re already immersed in the Apple ecosystem, the Apple Watch SE is the better pick. But if you’re looking for more features and better battery life, go for the Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Last update on 2020-10-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Denise Jose
Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.