Updated: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active BP Monitoring Availability Leaves Some Users Frustrated
Samsung pulled the wraps off its new wearables offering back on February 20, and among the devices was the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. This device was touted by Samsung as the first wearable to support blood pressure monitoring on your wrist. Health features have become a big selling point for wearables since the Apple Watch Series 4 launched, with the ability to read electrocardiograms for those with abnormal heart rates. Of course, high blood pressure is one of the most common medical conditions out there, and people who need to keep an eye on their blood pressure were excited to get a wearable that could monitor it for them all day, discretely with no need for an obtrusive blood pressure cuff.
The caveat with the Galaxy Watch Active was that if you pre-ordered to get the free wireless charger for the device, you would have the watch a week before the My BP Lab 2.0 app launched, that promised to enable the blood pressure monitoring feature. Users who ordered the wearable for the BP feature are now showing up on line outraged that the feature doesn't work. The My BP Lab 2.0 app did launch late on March 15, and users on compatible devices (more on that later) are finding that the watch will not connect to the app. Reviews of the app on Google Play show multiple users who bought the watch for BP readings, who are reporting that the watch won't connect to the app, giving a message that says the app is no longer available.
The above caption is from Samsung's official press release on the device. One review from a user Keith Ferguson claims to have received a response from Samsung support that says the blood pressure monitoring feature, in general, has been canceled "for now" on the Galaxy Watch Active. Ferguson goes on to call Samsung out for false advertising, which would be rather misleading in contrast to the marketing bullet above here.
Personally, I pre-ordered the watch specifically because of the blood pressure monitoring feature. I didn't want a wearable for any of the other stuff it can do, I have high blood pressure, and all I wanted was the BP monitoring feature for the most part. I poured over the press release and Samsung product page for details on the functionality before I pre-ordered, because I never pre-order anything, specifically for these situations that Samsung's failure with this feature highlights -- you sometimes just can't trust marketing.
Not only is the Galaxy Watch Active not supported by the app as Samsung promised, nowhere in any of the documentation does it say the BP feature won't work on iOS devices. Samsung says the Active is supported on iOS with no mention of any features not working. There is also no mention that Samsung isn't involved with the app specifically, like many users I assumed we were waiting on a Samsung app for the BP support and that its app was tied to the study. To be clear, the watch itself has all the basic functionality for iOS users, because the Samsung Galaxy Watch app is available and 100% functional on iOS. The My BP Lab 2.0 app is only offered on Android, however and that's where the rub is for iPhone users that may consider the device. I did search the Apple App Store before pre-ordering, and the app wasn't there, but Samsung had been clear the app wouldn't launch until March 15, and with no reason to believe the BP feature wouldn't be supported on iOS, I thought the app would turn up on the 15th- it didn't.
I figured if My BP Lab 2.0 wouldn't support iOS, I'll go down and pay for a cheap mid-range Android device and download the app. Nowhere does Samsung mention that you must be running a Galaxy S9 or higher for the BP app to function. Nowhere in the description of the My BP Lab 2.0 app does it say the app is limited to specific devices. Early versions of My BP Lab used the optical fingerprint sensor to read blood pressure, and the only place that is mentioned was buried in the FAQ on the developer's site for the app; the FAQ states "The Samsung S9 / S9+ / Note9 / S10 / S10+ has a built-in optic sensor on the back of the phone." However, the Galaxy Watch Active has its own optical sensor, and with no mention from Samsung or on the app page that the app functions only with specific devices, the assumption for many may be that it works with any Android device that is paired with the Galaxy Watch Active.
You can't even download the My BP Lab 2.0 app unless you have a Samsung smartphone that supports the app in its original version. So where does that leave early adopters like me? With a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active that so far doesn't do what it promised, and no word from Samsung yet as to a resolution. We have reached out to Samsung for an official comment and will report back here as information becomes available.
An updated version of the My BP Lab 2.0 app has been released which seems to enable BP monitoring. Once we are able to verify these claims, we’ll present a more in-depth addendum to this piece. While reports indicate the BP feature is now functional for some users, blood pressure monitoring on the Galaxy Watch Active remains, at the time of writing, non-functional on non-Samsung S9 or higher smartphones; the author and other reports confirm this. The fact that device limitations were never called out by Samsung remains.