Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3: what we want to see

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The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 will be a year old in August, so the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 might well be landing in the next few months. Unsurprisingly therefore a few things have been leaked and rumored about it, all of which you’ll find below, along with more precise information on the likely release date.

Based on current leaks it sounds like the Galaxy Watch Active 3 could be visibly similar to its predecessor, but with some significantly upgraded internals, which could be enough to make it one of the most exciting smartwatches of 2020.

But there’s plenty that we don’t know yet, so we’ve also included a list of all the things we want from the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 was just a minor upgrade on its predecessor, so we want big changes here.

Update: the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 might be offered in an expensive titanium version, alongside cheaper aluminum and stainless steel ones.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The successor to the Galaxy Watch Active 2
  • When is it out? Probably this year
  • What will it cost? Likely at least $279.99 / £269 / AU$549

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 release date and price

It’s unclear exactly when the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 will land. The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 was announced in August 2019, so with many wearables having a yearly release cycle August 2020 would be a reasonable guess, with the Watch Active 3 potentially landing alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, which is itself likely to land then.

But it’s not that simple, as the original Samsung Galaxy Watch Active was announced in February 2019, so there was only actually six months between the first and second model. It’s been more than six months since the Active 2 though, so really all we’re saying here is that Samsung hasn’t so far stuck to any particular pattern for this range.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3: what we want to see 2

A new Galaxy Watch Active is likely on the way

There is evidence that a new Samsung smartwatch is coming soon though, as wearables with model numbers associated with such a device have recently been certified by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Such a certification basically confirms the device’s existence, and also usually happens quite close to launch, so if we had to guess we’d say late 2020 would be the latest we’d see Samsung’s next smartwatch, and there’s a good chance we’ll see it sooner.

But while these model numbers are almost certainly for a smartwatch (they’re SM-R840 and SM-R850, while the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 for example has the model number SM-R830), we don’t know the name of the device they belong to, and Samsung is also rumored to be working on a Samsung Galaxy Watch 2. So there’s a chance that will land first or instead.

As for the price, there aren’t any rumors about that yet, but the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 had a starting price of $279.99 / £269 / AU$549, so we’d expect the Watch Active 3 will be at least that much – except perhaps in Australia, which didn’t get the smaller (and therefore cheaper) version of the Watch Active 2, but might well get the smaller Galaxy Watch Active 3.

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The Galaxy Watch Active 3 might look a lot like the Active 2

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 news and leaks

There aren’t many Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 leaks yet, but one thing we’ve heard is that it might not look much different to the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Like that wearable it might come in both aluminum and stainless steel versions, and in black, silver and gold colors (with the stainless steel model only available in silver and gold).

Having said that, another leak points to either this or the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2 being available in a third material, namely titanium. This is more expensive than stainless steel or aluminum, but it's also light and durable.

Leaks also point to there being two different screen sizes (likely 40mm and 44mm again), but a bigger 330mAh battery in the smaller model (up from 247mAh in the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2). It’s likely that there would also therefore be a bigger battery in the 44mm model, but we don’t know how much bigger yet. In the Watch Active 2 it’s 340mAh.

It has also been reported that the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 will have 8GB of storage, which is double the 4GB in the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Having said all that, it’s possible that some of these rumors are actually referring to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 2, so we’re not at all sure what to expect yet.

What we want to see

There are a number of things we’d like Samsung to change, upgrade, and add for the Galaxy Watch Active 3. The following seven are the main ones.

1. An ECG on day one

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3: what we want to see 4
The Watch Active 2 has an ECG, but it hasn't been activated yet

Technically the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 already has an ECG (electrocardiogram), but despite being advertised at launch, at the time of writing it has still not been activated.

So while we fully expect the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 to have ECG hardware, we also want the software to be functioning from day one.

2. More third-party apps

While no wearables are home to the same sort of app selection as you get on smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is particularly lacking.

That’s thanks to Samsung using Tizen, which has a smaller app offering than Wear OS, which is in turn more limited than watchOS.

We’re not sure how much Samsung can do about this, but it could probably work to incentivize developers to make apps for the platform, so we’d like to see it try.

3. A rotating bezel or crown

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The Samsung Galaxy Watch has a rotating bezel

With the limited space available on smartwatches, a physical rotating bezel or crown can be a great alternative to swiping across the screen to navigate the interface, but this isn’t offered by the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Sure, there’s a digital dial, which is better than nothing, but this still involves interacting with the screen. So for the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 we’d like to see this moved external.

The Samsung Galaxy Watch already has a rotating bezel, so imitating that would be an obvious option, but a rotating crown might be better – it’s a more compact solution, and would help differentiate the two devices.

4. More power

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 has an Exynos 9110 chipset, which, while not exactly slow, is the same as you’ll find in both the original Samsung Galaxy Watch Active and the Samsung Galaxy Watch, so the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 could really do with a new chipset.

An upgrade in RAM wouldn’t go amiss either, so that the Galaxy Watch Active 3 feels like a slick, speedy, flagship device.

5. More accurate exercise tracking

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The Watch Active 2 is great for some exercises, less so for others

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is packed full of exercise-tracking features, but not everything is measured accurately. In our review we found that it struggled with certain exercises, despite having modes for them, with crunches for example only being registered when the hand (and therefore also the Watch Active 2) was extended far over the knees.

If an activity can’t be tracked reliably then there’s arguably not much point in tracking it at all, so we’d like to see this improved for the next model.

6. Make it fit for diving

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 can survive and even track a swim, but it’s not suited to diving, which, while not unusual, does slightly limit it in a pool.

So for the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3 we’d like to see its water resistance upgraded so that you won’t have to take it off before jumping in. Better yet, we’d like to see Samsung add a specific dive-tracking mode as well.

7. Better battery life

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 has a respectable two days of battery life. That’s enough for it to have the Apple Watch 5 beat, but it’s no match for the likes of the Fitbit Versa 2, which is a key rival, so we’d like to be able to get at least another day out of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 3.

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