Galaxy Watch Active vs. Apple Watch Series 3: Which should you buy?

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Get your fitness on

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

A smartwatch lover’s dream

Apple Watch Series 3

Galaxy Watch Active has “active” in the name for a reason. It’s a robust fitness smartwatch that’s ideal for athletes with plenty of perks, which include built-in GPS, activity, sleep, and stress tracking, up to two days of battery life, music storage with Spotify, and more.

$165 at Amazon


  • Built-in GPS
  • Activity and sleep tracking
  • Samsung Pay
  • Great battery life


  • No cellular connectivity
  • Heart-rate tracking is basic
  • Tizen OS has a learning curve

The Apple Watch Series 3 may not be marketed as a fitness smartwatch, but it can serve as one. You’ll have nearly a day of battery life, built-in GPS, health and fitness tracking, superior app support, music storage with Apple Music, and optional cellular connectivity.

$199 at Amazon


  • Built-in GPS
  • Activity tracking
  • Apple Pay
  • Optional cellular connectivity


  • Shorter battery life
  • Lacks dedicated sleep tracking
  • Cellular model is more expensive

It’s no secret that Samsung and Apple are consistently in a neck-and-neck competition, especially when it comes to the wearable market. Both companies have gotten extremely good at knowing their audiences. The result is two incredible smartwatch lineups that cater to similar crowds.

Two worthy contenders in these lineups are the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active and the Apple Watch Series 3. While these aren’t the newest devices from either company, there’s still a lot to enjoy. They’re both ideal options for someone on a budget who’s looking to invest in a fitness smartwatch. There is some overlap between the two when it comes to key features like onboard GPS, activity tracking, and NFC payments, but there are also some small nuances that could very well be the deciding factors.

When all is said and done, both of these smartwatches are fashionable and feature-packed timepieces. However, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is available to a wider audience, has a more traditional look, comes with better battery life, and has a lower price tag. These are a few of the reasons that we prefer the Galaxy Watch Active. Of course, the Apple Watch Series 3 is still a solid contender, especially if you’re already an Apple fan.

Making distinctions

Source: Android Central Pictured: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

One of the most obvious factors right from the start is regarding your OS preference. Are you an Android or iPhone user? While it’s great that the Galaxy Watch Active can pair with both, you’re going to have a better experience when you pair it with an Android Phone.

If you’re an iPhone user, an Apple Watch is going to be your best option by default, especially if you want to reply to text messages from your wrist. While there might be some lengthy workarounds for using an Apple Watch with an Android phone, it’s a giant headache that won’t be worth it in the long run.

Galaxy Watch Active Apple Watch Series 3
Dimensions 39.5 x 39.5 x 10.5mm 38.6 x 33.3 x 11.4mm
Display 1.1-inch AMOLED, 360 x 360 1.5-inch OLED, 340 x 272
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi b/g/n
Sensors HRM, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, light sensor Barometric altimeter, Optical heart sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light sensor
Storage 4GB 16GB
Water resistance Up to 50m Up to 50m
Notifications ✔️ ✔️
Built-in GPS ✔️ ✔️
NFC payments ✔️ ✔️
Sleep tracking ✔️
Optional Cellular ✔️

There’s also a major difference in the design. Many people prefer a traditional circular watch face, which makes the Galaxy Watch Active a better pick. We should note that it also beats the Apple Watch’s battery life by about a day or so. However, the Galaxy Watch Active only comes in one size, 40mm, and four colors: black, silver, rose gold, and green. The Apple Watch is available in 38mm or 42mm and two colors: silver and space gray.

While design and battery life are important, so are the features and functions. Both of these watches offer heart-rate monitoring, but the Apple Watch is a bit more advanced in this area. Neither of these models have an electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor, but the Apple Watch Series 3 does have an FDA-approved irregular heart rhythm notification. This feature tracks your heart rate in the background and will alert you if it detects irregularities that could be related to a heart condition called atrial fibrillation.

The Galaxy Watch Active, on the other hand, only offers basic monitoring along with low and high heart rate alerts. There is My BP Lab, which can record blood pressure readings. Some people might find this feaure to be useful but it’s not quite as impressive or advanced as the irregular heart rhythm notification offered by Apple.

Source: Android Central Pictured: Apple Watch Series 3

The good news is that both models offer solid fitness and health tracking features. While the Apple Watch still isn’t offering its own sleep tracking feature, there are many different apps that can be downloaded to resolve this. Whether you prefer to use the native activity tracking in either device or you like to connect your favorite fitness apps, like MyFitnessPal or Strava, there’s plenty to choose from.

Speaking of apps, there’s no getting around the fact that the app selection on the Apple Watch is superior to that of the Galaxy Watch Active. Tizen OS has come a long way, but it still doesn’t live up to Apple’s selection. That being said, Android users will likely be able to find everything they need when it comes to apps. However, iPhone users might be less than thrilled with the Galaxy Watch Active’s app selection.

Decision time

While we’re partial to the Galaxy Watch Active, there are valid reasons to choose either of these smartwatches. Those who are already accustomed to Apple devices and want a watch with cellular connectivity will benefit from the Apple Watch Series 3. Be prepared to add $100 on to the price tag for this feature, though.

It’s worth noting that the Galaxy Watch Active has a second edition, which includes a more expensive LTE model. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 offers two sizes and comes with ECG. One of its major selling points upon release was the new digital touch bezel, but the latest update brings this feature to the original Galaxy Watch Active as well. Apple’s latest release, the Apple Watch Series 5, also comes with ECG. There are still two size options and it finally offers the always-on display that Apple users have been waiting for.

If you’re not investing in a smartwatch for LTE connectivity, you could be perfectly happy with the original Galaxy Watch Active. It offers a sleek, timeless design, up to two days of battery life, and can be enjoyed by both Android and iPhone users. Not to mention that it has a budget-friendly price tag that’s even a bit lower than the Apple Watch Series 3, which makes it all the more appealing.

Get your fitness on

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Keep going longer

Fitness and health tracking, heart-rate monitoring, GPS, music storage with Spotify, and two-day battery life. What more could you need? Cellular connectivity, maybe. Otherwise, the Galaxy Watch Active is a fitness tracking champion that you’ll be glad to have on your team.

A smartwatch lover’s dream

Apple Watch Series 3

Extra smarts

The Apple Watch will likely win the heart of existing Apple users. It’s a more seamless experience, after all. You’ll also have optional cellular connectivity if you’re willing to pay for it. Don’t forget GPS, health and fitness tracking, advanced heart-rate monitoring, and music storage with Apple Music.

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