Why a Galaxy Watch Active is still great for iPhone users

iPhoners, you might want to give the Galaxy Watch Active a chance.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active Review 2020 | samsung galaxy watch active rose gold product
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
Seamless Apple Watch alternative
Wide app variety
Heaps of customisation options

You might think it’s odd, or even outright disloyal, for an Apple fan to even consider getting a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. If your gut instinct is telling you to scream no loudly at such a betrayal, give me a chance to change your mind.

I’m an iPhone and MacBook user, and I chose the Galaxy Watch Active (no, I’m not mad). 

Here are 6 reasons why you should consider it too:

1. Round, not square, watch face

Starting off with the most controversial one: I’m not the only one who thinks the Apple Watch’s square-faced design is rather chunky or even just plain ugly #sorrynotsorry. 

How the Apple Watch looks may not be a dealbreaker for you, but it certainly made me think twice about whether I could bear the Apple Watch’s appearance for the sake of having a more streamlined Apple ecosystem of devices (iPhone, Macbook, AirPods, Apple Watch, Apple TV, HomeKit … the list could go on).

The big question is, where do you draw the line before you finally say no to the next Apple product?

2. Longer battery life 

This point is straightforward. The Apple Watch Series 5 has 18 hours of battery life. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active offers on average 43 hours, while the Galaxy Watch Active 2 44mm version ups that to 60 hours.  

If you prefer not having to charge your watch every night and want the reassurance that it’ll easily last through one entire day, the Apple Watch is a serious pain. 

In terms of charging time, both the Apple Watch and the Galaxy Watch Active take 2 hours to reach 100% charge (or 90% in 1.5 hours).  

3. Most features are iPhone-compatible

Most people just assume that iPhones are completely incompatible with the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. In fact, you can still do most things: receive all notifications that get sent to your watch, track step counts, heart rate and other health stats, monitor sleep and stress levels, listen to music downloaded onto your watch, stream Spotify when connected to WiFi and even browse the net.  

Heads Up icon

Galaxy Watch Active features that don't work with iPhones:

– Samsung Pay
– Replying messages and taking calls via your phone
– LTE connection (4G data SIM not compatible with iPhones)
– Google Translate
– Twitter

4. Greater watch face customisability

There are a lot more restrictions over what does and doesn’t make it onto the Apple App Store. On the Samsung Galaxy Store though, developers have heaps more freedom over releasing their own apps, and watch faces too. 

samsung galaxy store watch faces

For example, there are a limited number of Apple Watch faces that iPhone users can choose from that approximately total just under 35 designs overall. Galaxy Watch users don’t face such limits since there are numerous third-party developers easily able to develop and share their own watch face designs on the Galaxy Store for free or that are available for users to purchase (you can check out how accessible this is yourself via Galaxy Watch Designer, part of Samsung Developers free online resources).

5. An alternative range of apps

If you’re tired of constantly using the same apps you’ll find on your iPhone or iPad, why not add some variety to your collection with a wide range of free apps available on any Galaxy (or Tizen) Watch?

While there’s no official YouTube app available on Tizen OS the software the Galaxy Watches run on, you can easily download a free YouTube viewer such as Player4YouTube to get around this. You can also browse the web via Gear Browser. Plus, with the terrible air quality due to the summer bushfires you can even monitor the daily air quality index by using the GPS location of your smartwatch or via favourited locations through app Air365. 

Flying Bird Winter Galaxy Store
As a bonus, here are just a handful of the games adapted for playing on your Galaxy Watch:
  • For fans of Flappy Bird, check out Flying Bird Winter.
  • Relive your childhood Nokia Snake game with a revamped, circular version called Snake Circle
  • Want a virtual round of tic tac toe? You can play against the computer or other players with Gear Tac Toe right from your smartwatch.
  • Tetris diehards can try TetriS2, the Tetris game customised to be played using the Galaxy Watch’s circular dial.

6. “Hey Bixby, I’m tired of Siri”

Which is the better voice assistant?

For those who actually care about which voice assistant you’re talking to, Bixby can arguably follow voice commands better than Siri. It’s able to carry out voice commands for most functions that can be controlled via touch on your smartwatch and be programmed to pull up third-party apps. 

While you can think of Siri as being able to dig through heaps of detailed information and provide you with a specific answer to your question verbally, Bixby will actually pull up apps you want to open and action commands. For example, by clicking the “Hey Bixby” button shortcut, Bixby can take selfies, change the background wallpaper, take a voice recording, open a game you want to play and more.

Galaxy Watch Active vs Apple Watch

We pit the key features of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active against the Apple Watch Series 3, and the Galaxy Watch Active 2 against the Apple Watch Series 5.

Since we’re focussed specifically on whether an iPhone user should get a Galaxy Watch, for the most realistic comparison, we’ve taken out the functions that aren’t compatible with Apple devices.

Galaxy Watch ActiveApple Watch Series 3Galaxy Watch Active 2Apple Watch Series 5
Battery Life45 hrs18 hrs60 hrs (44mm version)18 hrs
Offline Spotify streamingNoNoYesNo
Tap and PayNoYesNoYes
Voice AssistantBixbySiriBixbySiri
Sleep trackingYesYesYesYes
Swim trackingYesYesYesYes
Heart rate monitoringYesYesYesYes
eSIMNoYes ($469 version)NoYes
Third-party appsLotsSomeLotsSome

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Want to find out more? Read our Galaxy Watch Active 2 Review.


Not sold on Samsung? Here's our Fitbit Versa 2 Review.